American Cruelty-Free Haul & First Impressions

 
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Last week Sean & I hopped over to Florida to stay with family and enjoy some sunshine and much-need R&R. Alongside the excitement of getting away, I had really been looking forward to the opportunity to pick up some American cruelty-free beauty products that aren't readily available this side of the pond.

Here's a round-up of what I got, and what I think of it so far:


Hits

Pacifica | I believe Pacifica is available at Holland & Barrett in the UK, but they seem to stock quite a limited range. Whilst browsing Target I picked up the Pineapple & Hyaluronic Facial Mask and the Purify Facial Cleansing Wipes. I’ve used the pineapple mask already and it was great, for a sheet mask it was comfortable to wear and didnt peel off as it dried out, it smelt really nice and left my skin soft and refreshed. I’m also really enjoying the cleansing wipes, they don’t leave my skin irritated or feeling stripped like other make-up wipes have done and have a nice coconut smell! I’d definitely be keen to try other Pacifica products in the future. 

Tarte Pearly Girl Vegan Teeth Whitening Pen | I was really excited to pick this up as I’ve found it really hard to find cruelty-free/vegan whitening products in the UK. This pen contains a clear gel product that you paint onto clean teeth and as it dries, it foams up in your mouth. It has a pleasant minty taste, and unlike whitening products I’ve used in the past, didn’t leave my teeth feeling sensitive the day after use. I’ve used this a couple of times since I bought it and I already think I can see a difference, I would definitely repurchase and recommend this product! 

Youth to the People Kale & Green Tea Cleanser | You guys, I LOVE this stuff. I’ve barely started using it and have already scoped out UK stockists so I can repurchase it when it’s finished. This cleanser feels so gentle but still cleans away any traces of make-up left on my skin. It smells amazing and leaves my face feeling clean and soothed, and it’s also age-preventing which is a plus. I’d love to try some other products from this brand.

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask | I love anything watermelon scented (or flavoured!) and couldn’t resist this. You apply this mask before going to sleep, it goes on as a smooth, cooling gel and dries clear in a few minutes so you don’t have to sleep with a heavy product on your skin. It smells quite strongly of watermelon which I love, and after washing it off in the morning this leaves my face soft and my skin brightened without any redness. This is another product that I absolutely love, I’m so glad I picked it up and will definitely be repurchasing. If you’re a fan of masks, give this a try. 

IGK Beach Club Volumizing Texture Spray | I recently cut my hair shorter and want to style it with more texture but having fine, naturally straight hair makes it difficult to get any waves or volume. I’ve tried a few ‘beach’/‘surf’ hair products in the past and found that they sat too heavily on my hair, making it look greasy or tangled. This product not only smells incredible (like sunscreen!) but feels really light. It gives my hair a 'grit' and slightly dried/windswept texture without weighing it down or knotting it. I’m a fan! 

Milk Makeup Eye Pigment in Gig | I’ve been admiring Milk make up for a while for their cool, gender-inclusive campaigns and I've been looking forward to trying their products. I browsed their collection in Sephora and settled on the eye pigment in Gig - this stuff is amazing! It took me a few tries to get the hang of applying it, the formula is quite wet so you really only need the tiniest amount. It dries quickly though with a bold colour, and it doesn’t budge all day! This product looks really pretty on its own smudged all over your eyelid, as a base for powder eyeshadows or drawn on as an eyeliner. 10/10, would reccomend! 

Bath & Body Works | I have a bit of an addiction to hand sanitiser and particularly like the 'pocket-bacs' from Bath & Body works because they come in so many interesting scents. I was relieved to find out that Bath & Body works products are cruelty-free and so scooped up a bunch of mini sanitisers, including my favourite Stress Relief scent. I was also embarrassingly excited to discover that they offer full-sized hand sanitisers with a pump (!!), so picked one up in Watermelon Lemonade for my desk. I also picked up a White Gardenia Candle (their candles are amazing - so strongly scented and last ages!),  a stress relief Concentrated Room Spray and a Papaya & Tea Sheet Mask. Why-oh-why do Bath & Body works not ship to England... 

Burt's Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes in Pink Grapefruit | Last of all, I picked up these face wipes at the airport before we flew home. We had a night flight home and I wanted to take off my make-up once we were on the plane. These smell amazing and are refreshing on the skin, perfect for freshening up on a flight when you feel dried out and gross! 

Fenty Beauty Foundation | I was really impressed when Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line launched and I found out it was cruelty-free and offered such a wide range of shades. I’ve also seen a lot of positive reviews of the products, so even though it’s available here, I couldn’t resist trying something out when I spotted it in Sephora. I’ve been using NYX tinted moisturiser for the last few months which is just OK, so I opted for a foundation. This product lasts a long time, and the shade I went for is a great match for my skin tone, but it’s so drying. As someone who already has dry skin, this isn’t ideal but I imagine if you have an oilier complexion it’s a good thing? I probably wouldn’t buy this again but will happily use it up! 


Misses

SpaLife Face Masks | I love sheet masks, they're such an easy way to treat my skin without the hassle of applying and washing off, so I picked up two SpaLife sheet masks to try in PH Balancing Pineapple and Mattifying Nectarine. So far I’ve only tried out the nectarine mask, and it was... OK. It was soothing on the skin if not a little too sticky, but was priced at only a couple of dollars, so I can’t complain. 

Tom's Long Lasting Natural Deodorant in Fresh Apricot | Yikes. I spotted this and for some unknown reason, fancied giving apricot scented deodorant a go? The scent is fine, if not an obvious choice for a deodorant, but this product doesn’t work for me at all. I don’t usually have a problem with my deodorant lasting all day, but I felt like I needed to re-apply this every hour to stay fresh. Not good. 

Good Chemistry | Whilst we were shopping at Target I was super excited to discover that they have a line of vegan, cruelty-free perfumes called Good Chemistry. Fragrance that hasn’t been tested on animals is one of the hardest things to find, so I had to try these out. I opted for the Wild Child Rollerball (bergamot, coconut and bamboo) and Coast Unisex Cologne (citron, ocean and rosemary). To be honest, both of these have a fairly similar scent and don’t seem to linger on my skin or clothes for more than a few minutes.  I’m glad I gave these a go as they weren’t expensive, but I don’t rate them very highly. 


It’s been really fun sampling products that aren’t readily available here, and expanding my knowledge of cruelty-free brands! I really hope some of these brands make their way over here at some point... 

Which of these products would you like to try out? Do you have any recommendations for me based on the products I’ve enjoyed using? 

Check out my other cruelty-free product posts here.  

Cruelty Free Products: Holiday Edition

 
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Sean and I are heading off to Florida next week to stay with family, and this will be the first trip I’ve taken whilst fully committed to cruelty-free products. 

As it’s summer holiday (and soon, festival) season, I thought I’d put together a little round-up of the bits I’ve picked up and some recommendations for cruelty-free holiday essentials and travel-sized minis.


Suncream | I’m so pale a high-factor sun cream is essential for me, even on a rare sunny day in England! I picked up Superdrug’s own-brand Solait Suncream for £4.49 (buy one get one 1/2 price), they have a great range of different factors and products like after-sun. I also spotted a cruelty-free label on Bondi Sands Suncream in Boots, but personally couldn’t justify the price tag, they start at £10.99 each. 

Dental Hygiene | I usually travel with a mini toothpaste and mouth wash, I like to be able to brush my teeth on the plane! Superdrug’s own-brand came through again with Pro Care Mini Mouthwash (£1.50) and mini tooth paste. These are £1 each, or their travel minis are 3 for 2. 

Hair Care | I’ve recently dyed my hair a brighter blonde and use toner a couple of times a week to keep it from going brassy. I picked up a Mini Provoke Touch of Silver Shampoo (£1.50) for our trip, which is the brand I use at home. It’s inexpensive and does the job. I haven’t bothered buying any other hair care bits as we’ll have access to them, but Superdrug’s Own-Brand mini Shampoo and Conditioner (£1.50 each) is cruelty-free, and cult-fave brand Batiste do a Mini Dry Shampoo for £1.50. Great for festivals, camping or city breaks this summer as well as popping in your gym bag / handbag. 

Deodorant | The only brand of cruelty-free deodorant I’ve tried so far is Soft & Gentle, so I’m packing their 0% Aluminium Roll-On Antiperspirant (£2.00).

Body Care | This week I picked up Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Mousse in Medium (£19.95) to prep my pasty legs for my cousins wedding this weekend. I’d heard rave reviews about this brand by tanning icon Jules Von Hep, and it hasn’t disappointed! It’s colour correcting so gives you a natural glow (not orange!) and doesn’t smell of biscuits like some self tanner, plus it’s easy to apply if you’re inexperienced like me. I’ll definitely be using this to give myself some colour before I have to put on a swimsuit! I don’t need to pack any other body care products for Florida, but have a couple of suggestions. For past trips I’ve purchased a Mini Original Source Shower Gel (£1.50) - these smell great and are vegan! Superdrug also offer own-brand cruelty-free shower gels. To freshen up on long flights, Yes to Cucumbers Facial Wipes (£3.99) are leaping-bunny approved and if you’re a germaphobe like me, Soap & Glory Hand Sanitiser (£2.50) is a must have for planes/airports/life in general.


If you’re heading off on holiday and have been struggling to find a cruelty-free option, I hope this post has been useful! I still think that there are quite limited resources on. products that are available in England. 

Even if you’re not committed to only buying cruelty-free beauty, perhaps you could challenge yourself for your next trip away, and switch your summer essentials out for some of these bunny-friendly alternatives! 

Check out my other cruelty-free product posts here.  

UK Cruelty Free Products

 
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When I was on my lunch break yesterday I was accosted by a group of people sporting rabbit ears and super-cute face paint, accompanied by someone in a full bunny mascot suit. They were a team from the Body Shop gathering signatures for their Forever Against Animal Testing campaign. Apparently if they get 8 million signatures, the Body Shop and Cruelty Free International will be able to ban animal testing for cosmetics forever. Even if you eat meat or aren't passionate about animal rights, I'm sure we can all agree that animals don't deserve to suffer for our vanity or products we can do without. A global ban on animal testing would be incredible, so if you're inclined or see a team of bunnies in a town near you, please take a few minutes to sign the petition

After reading up about this, I was inspired to share some recommendations for the cruelty-free products I use here. I'm not going to focus on make-up (for the curious - some of my favourites brands are Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury & Glossier) because there's an impressive range of cruelty-free beauty available and hundreds of beauty-bloggers, so it's easy to make conscientious decisions. When I started transitioning to products that aren't tested on animals, alongside make-up reviews I found a lot of recommendations for U.S products, but struggled to find suggestions for affordable essentials like toothpaste, shampoo and cleaning products that can be purchased over here. Sure, bathroom cleaner isn't as exciting as bronzer, but it's necessary!

Here's what I've purchased recently and whether or not it's worth buying: 


Hits

Soft & Gentle Antiperspirant | Apart from roll-ons which I find uncomfortable or natural deodorants which I don't trust to get me through a full working day and a trip to the gym, Soft & Gentle is the only cruelty-free deodorant brand I've found so far. These antiperspirants don't leave marks on my clothes, last all day and keep me feeling fresh. I don't rate either the two scents I've tried, the Wild Rose & Vanilla (far too perfumed) or the Jasmine & Coco Milk (the better of the two), but they don't linger after application so that's incidental. I'll stick with this brand, and plan to try their 0% aluminium range next. 

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Gradual Tanning Lotion | I've purchased this product in the past but I picked up the Palmer's Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion on a whim the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find a statement against animal testing on the back. This lotion smells delicious and leaves you bronzed after just one application, good for days when you want a glow!

Shower Gel | Much like make-up, it's not tricky to find a great cruelty-free shower gel. Original Source products have always been a permanent fixture in our shower (I love the Mint & Tea Tree Shower Gel) and at the moment we're using the Green Banana and Bamboo Shower Milk which smells great and leaves your skin really soft. We're also big fans of the Treacle Moon Bath and Shower Gel in One Ginger Morning, despite the twee packaging. If you're looking for a place to start with products that aren't tested on animals, both these brands are affordable and the products last a long time. 

Anatomicals Face Masks | I recently picked up some Anatomicals face masks in 'Look You've Got Chocolate All Over Your Face' and 'Hawaii Five-Glow'. These are reasonably priced at £1.50 and soothing on the skin... would buy again.

Method Hand Wash | There's only so much you can say about hand soap, but I highly recommend the Method Foaming Hand Washes. We've currently got Pink Pomelo and Green Tea & Aloe (which smells like spa/hotel toiletries) on the go and because they're foaming they last for ages. Method also offer refill pouches for some of their products, including their hand wash (although they only seem to have one scent available at the moment), which is great if you're trying to reduce your plastic consumption. 

Cleaning Products | If you aren't already bored of me waffling on about deodorant and soaps, brace yourself, I'm about to talk about cleaning. A lot of people are aware of animal testing in the cosmetic industry, but might not have given any thought to the brands behind their household products. Method offer a good cruelty-free cleaning range. So far we've tried their Anti-Bacterial Spray in Wild Rhubarb (which smells so good!), the Kitchen Cleaner in Clementine and the Daily Shower Cleaner. The brand Ecover have products from dish washer tablets to Limescale Remover that are certified by Cruelty Free International. As a more affordable alternative, Tesco have a suprisingly wide range of own-brand cleaning products that are not tested on animals. I recently picked up their Window & Glass Cleaner Spray and Bathroom Cleaner. I haven't been disappointed by any of these products, they all do the jobs they're supposed to and are guilt-free.

Misses

Kingfisher Natural Toothpaste | Kingfisher's Natural Toothpaste in Mint was my first foray into cruelty-free toothpaste and... it's just OK. It doesn't lather much whilst brushing, nor does it have a particularly strong 'mint' flavour. After a few minutes of cleaning your teeth it's pretty much tasteless. In the past, my preference was for super minty, whitening toothpastes and without a lingering flavour or much foam this product just doesn't leave my mouth feeling as clean as others I've used in the past. It does the job but I'll look for an alternative once it's used up. 

Kind Natured Shampoo | Much like the toothpaste, the main downfall of the Kind Natured Colour Care Shampoo is that doesn't lather enough, which doesn't leave my hair feeling cleansed. I've seen some other haircare brands that aren't tested on animals, so I won't repurchase this!


I'll end this post by saying I'd really encourage anyone to try to and swap some of their products for cruelty-free alternatives. Perhaps this is an odd comparison but when Sean first started eating gluten-free five years ago there weren't many product options available. It's been really interesting for us both to see an ever-increasing range of higher quality items available and I'm sure it's down to the increasing awareness of gluten-free diets. I believe in voting with your wallet and we often try new gluten-free products to support the companies making them. Attitudes towards animal rights are changing, not just in the food we eat but in the fashion & cosmetic industries too. When I picked up the Anatomicals face masks they were on a whole stand highlighting different cruelty-free brands in Boots. In another example, last year Gucci announced they were going fur-free and Donatella Versace vowed that the Versace brand will stop using real fur just this week. It's really remarkable for such influential brands to take this kind of stand. I'd hope that the more people put their hard-earned cash towards bunny-friendly products, more brands will pledge to end animal testing. 

I'll keep sharing my recommendations here... let me know if you have any!

February Round-Up

 
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In contrast to the endless misery that is January, February really flys by, doesn’t it?

February was busy and tiring, I’ve had a lot on at work recently and have been pushing myself in the gym, but we got up to some fun things! Sean & I celebrated Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. I know Valentines day isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea, but I actually think it’s pretty cute. I enjoy picking out a card for Sean, and I don’t even mind seeing everyone’s soppy social media posts. More love in the world can only be a good thing.

This month we caught up with one of our oldest friends - George - who we hadn’t seen for a few years. We also went out with a group of our friends to ‘Junkyard Golf’ -  a boozy mini golf-course with a bar half-way through. Alcohol unfortunately didn’t help my game, I truly suck at mini-golf, but it was fun! 

Here’s a short round-up of some of the things I enjoyed:


Queer Eye | Sean and I discovered the 'Queer Eye' re-boot on Netflix and, you guys, I can't even express how much I love this show. I remember watching the original ‘Queer Eye For The Straight Guy’ with my parents, but this re-make is amazing. The 'fab five', a team of five gay men, revamp the lives & looks of men who have lost their mojo. Not only are the team adorable and hilarious, but every episode of this show reduced Sean & I to tears at least once.  It’s so touching and I plan to re-watch it at least 50 times between now and Season 2. Watch it!

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Chinese New Year | I was in London for meetings on Chinese New Year this year, and before getting my train home I walked over to China Town for a look around and to take some photos. Sean & I had a celebratory meal at Sojo in Oxford, and ate our favourite Gan Bian beans & stir-fried shredded potato, a dish my sisters  recommended when they came to stay with me last summer. One day I'll make it to China to celebrate the New Year with my relatives there, but for now, I will take any excuse to stuff my face with delicious food...

Running | To balance out stuffing my face, I spent a lot of time running this month. It might be difficult to relate to this one if you’re not unfit or overweight, but hear me out. At the start of the month I could barely run for 1 minute without shin splints, getting out of breath or getting a stitch, but this month I decided to push myself. I committed to running at the gym (and twice outdoors!) as frequently as I could and I’m really proud to say that as of today I can easily run for ten minutes without a break, and can push myself to 15 minutes most times. In March I’d like to push myself up to 15-20 minutes and work on my speed. I’ll keep you posted!

Florence | In February I played through 'Florence' on my iPhone. Florence, which could be described as a visual novel or interactive experience, tells the story of Florence and her love interest Krish. You follow the daily monotony of her life pre-Krish, snoozing her alarm, riding the subway to a dull office job, scrolling through people's Instagram posts and enduring strained conversations with her mother. After meeting Krish you experience the awkward magic of new relationships through Florence's eyes, finding a routine and fumbling through conversations. The mechanics here are so clever, on Florence's first date with Krish the conversation bubbles are presented as jigsaw pieces that you have to rush to fit together, but over time these become easier to match up until they don't feel challenging at all. When Krish moves in, you have to put away some of Florence's things to make room on her shelves for his belongings and when - spoiler - he moves out again, it's hard to remember which things belong to each person. The story Florence paints of relationships is real, human and at times moving. There are moments anybody who has fallen in love could relate to and when I finished the final scene, I wished there was more. At £2.99 for about 45 minutes of run time you might not be able to justify buying this, but I'd really recommend giving it a shot. 

What did you do last month?

January Round-up

 
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This January felt like it was 100 days long and I mostly spent it sulking about being cold/tired/hungry, not achieving any of my 'resolutions' and counting down the days until payday. 

I thought I'd start doing little monthly round-ups of things I've done that don't warrant a whole blog post and sharing some recommendations for things I've enjoyed, so here are a few of my favourites from the past month:


The Heart of It with Estee Lalonde | I've loved Estee's Youtube videos for a long time; she's cute, hilarious, relatable & Canadian - what's not to like? This month I realised her podcast series is available on Spotify and quickly binged through every episode. She's covers topics like feminism, tattoos, identity and travel by sharing her personal experiences and interviewing some amazing women. I particularly loved the episodes where she interviews her Mom and social historian Madeleine Marsh.

Basquiat 'Boom For Real' | I'd been wanting to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective 'Boom for Real' since it opened in September and on it's last weekend, I snuck off to the Barbican Centre after a day working in the city. I haven't been to an exhibition for ages and despite my five years of art schooling I wasn't very familiar with Baquiat's work so I didn't want to miss the chance to see this retrospective. I'll admit, his work isn't necessarily 'my thing' but it was interesting to learn more about him and it felt so good to wander around and make some time to enjoy an exhibition. 

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Night in the Woods | To be honest, I delayed writing this post so that I could finish playing NITW. This game has quickly gained a spot on my list of favourite titles. You play as Mae, a 20-year old anthropomorphic (...can you believe we're only three posts in and I've used the word anthropomorphic twice?) cat that returns to her back-water hometown after dropping out of college. As you reconnect with family & friends and figure out a routine for life back home, you uncover pieces of Mae's troubled past and investigate eerie events around town. The characters and the writing of this game are outstanding, contributing towards a story that is both hilarious and incredibly touching. Night in the Woods is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, XBOX and PC and I really recommend you play it.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby | I'd not heard of Samantha Irby before, but I was drawn to the lurid yellow cover of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and I'm glad I picked it up. Irby recounts events in her life and covers topics that aren't always easy to talk about - poverty, disability, weight, race - with refreshing self-depreciation and unique humour. If you like essay collections, this is worth a read!

Breaking Bad | I'm sure you've seen Breaking Bad and loved it, so I'm not going to tell you how great it is. If it's been a few years since you watched it though, do yourself a favour and watch it again. Sean & I first finished the show about three years ago and in January we decided to give it another go. It's been just long enough that we'd forgotten the plot lines and are back to binge watching 'just one more episode'. So bloody good. 

What were your favourite things last month?