Ok, so I lied. I told you I would post another yummy recipe this weekend and instead I’m going to talk about New Year’s resolutions. It’s cliche, for sure, but I had a very interesting resolution (for me anyway) last year and what is a resolution but a goal? And don’t you have to evaluate your progress at some point for the goal to be successful? On the eve of making another resolution, I thought it would be a good idea to recap my journey from 2017… in my lengthiest post to date. So pour yourself a cup of coffee/glass of wine/beverage of choice, and settle in for a read.
My New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to swap out all of my bath and beauty products, over the course of the year and as I ran out of said products, with Cruelty Free alternatives. If I could find all natural or vegan products, so much the better. But they all had to be Cruelty Free by the end of 2017.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Cruelty Free, it simply means the product and any ingredients therein are not tested on animals at any point of the process. In late 2016 I started following Kat Von D beauty on Instagram. She is Vegan and hard core against animal testing. Some of her posts were graphic, but it was an eye opening thing for me, and ultimately what prompted my resolution. If you have a strong stomach, do some research on animal testing. It’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things, I think, and something most people don’t even realize is an issue.
Some products claim No Animal Testing, but the best way to guarantee that is to find brands that are certified Cruelty Free. The most helpful resource I found was Cruelty Free Kitty. This website lists out all products and brands, and their respective certifications, as well as where to buy them. I bookmarked this on my phone and used it countless times while in stores shopping to find all of my options. You can browse by brand, products, and stores. It’s great.
I’m a firm believer in tried-and-true products and sticking with what works. I also like to dabble with new products, but I usually end up back with my core brands and products. What works, works. So why change it if you can’t find something 10x better? I was a little daunted by my own resolution, but my plan was to anticipate running out of something with enough time to try a new product while still having a bit of the old one to fall back on if things didn’t work out.
It’s hard for me to judge my success level at this point, because it has been a tumultuous ride. I’ve had some bad experiences, some okay experiences, and not as many awesome experiences as I was hoping for. I’ve been frustrated and discouraged, and I have multiple times busted out old tried-and-true favorites because I just needed consistency, damnit! But I am still committed to seeing this resolution through, and at the moment, everything I am using is Cruelty Free… even if I’m not in love with it.
I’m probably crazy when it comes to hair products, but I swear my hair is the most finicky thing of my life. Everything has to be just so, or it turns into a bad hair month. I don’t know, it’s probably just my own ignorance and lack of skill, but my hair is frustrating and I am always cautious when trying new products. I had been using Tigi Bed Head products for some time and was really happy with them. At the time, I was platinum blonde and their purple shampoo was life. I had also finally found L’Oreal Extraordinary Clay Re-balancing products and was in love. My hair was transformed by this product. It perfectly balanced my oily roots and dry ends, and oh, it was lovely. Having finally found a product I truly loved, I was probably most loath to try to find a Cruelty Free shampoo/conditioner alternative. But, I had made a resolution.
First, I tried some of the Lush hair products. I wanted so badly to like them, but I didn’t love the amount of perfume used in the products. I couldn’t use any other body fragrance because it always clashed with the strong lingering scent of my hair. The essential oil brand I use came out with a line of all natural shampoos and conditioners, so I tried those next. I may have ended up throwing away the conditioner and just using the shampoo as body wash; It wasn’t for me. A little while later, my mom found The Naked Bee and bought me their shampoo/conditioner blend (not on their website, but available at Walmart I believe). I don’t usually go for the 2-in-1 products, but I liked it as a shampoo and paired it with my L’Oreal conditioner. I used the whole bottle and am contemplating purchasing more.
Sometime in the past years I had tried Giovanni brand shampoo. I don’t recall being too impressed with it. I have also tried Kevin Murphy products, as a former hair stylist used the brand on me, but couldn’t justify the price.
At the moment I am using Paul Mitchell products. I bought a selection of their travel sized bottles to try and used them over Thanksgiving while actually traveling. I like them well enough, but am not in love. I am continuing to try new things and hope to find a something I really love.
As for out of the shower products, my current stylist uses It’s A 10 leave in conditioners and recommended them to me. I have been using that for a while, paired with Argan Oil from Jade Bloom. The only other hair product I use is Batiste Dry Shampoo in Bare. I hardly ever blow dry my hair, let alone curl or style it. I’m very much an air dry, all natural gal. My hair is either in a braid, a messy bun, or pulled back with a chopstick. Low maintenance for the win!
My mom started using Clinique when it first hit the market several decades ago. When I turned 13 she took me on a girls date and bought me my first 3 step kit, a purple glittery razor, and a few other “grown woman” essentials. Anyone else have that kind of experience? I loved it. I have tried a few other facial products over the years, but Clinique has always had a place in my bathroom. I swear by their Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. I didn’t have too much of an acne issue as a teen, and overall had very lovely skin, if I do say so myself. So I was devastated to discover than Clinique is not Cruelty Free (among other things), as they sell their products in Asian countries that legally require animal testing.
As I began my Cruelty Free transition, I came to realize something about myself. I have very sensitive facial skin. I had no clue. Clinique just suited my skin so well that I never had any issues before. But now that I was venturing into new product territory, I was faced with a daunting challenge.
The first brand I tried was Pacifica. They also happen to be Vegan. Yay! Actually, this brand happens to check every possible box for me. I bought a selection of products and started uses them… 2 days before heading to California for a week-long vacation.
2 words: BAD IDEA!
Don’t try new things right before vacation. After 3 uses, my face broke out in a rash; red all over and highly sensitive. I was mortified. I took coconut oil, lavender essential oil, and Clinique City Block (tried and true), and that was it. Those are the only products I took with me and the only products that touched my face for the next 2 weeks. Yes, that is how long it took for everything to clear up. It was awful! The following is probably one of the most unflattering photos of me ever taken, but the look on my face sums up how I felt about the whole situation, puffy eyes included.
I got a full refund for the products, and while I still think they are an awesome brand, it obviously is not the right brand for me…
The next brand that I tried was Burt’s Bees. I have tried several of their products, some of which have worked well, others not so much. I at least haven’t had any allergic reactions to them. I just finished my 2nd or 3rd bottle of their Skin Nourishing Gentle Foaming Cleanser, but I am exploring some other homemade cleanser options before purchasing a refill. I’ve tried their Peach and Willow Bark Deep Pore Scrub, but don’t love the residue it leaves behind. I’ve also tried their Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream, but again it left a residue.
As for moisturizer, I have been primarily using a variety of essential oils and carrier oils. I usually rotate between lavender, bergamot, tee tree, and frankincense essential oils. I dilute them (even the lavender) in either rosehip seed oil, argan oil, or coconut oil. I recently got a free bottle of grapeseed oil that I have used twice now and do like. If my face ever feels like it isn’t getting enough moisture (thank you winter weather and high desert climate), I pull out my Celestial facial moisturizer from Lush. It is too rich for daily use, but is a good moisture boost if I’m extra dry. I also have a bottle of Pomegranate oil that is a good heavy serum treatment. I bought it as a carrier, but it is too thick for my liking, at least for every day use.
I am still working on the facial product side of things because I have on occasion experienced a relapse of the reaction I had to the Pacifica products. I know those products caused the initial issue, but similar rashes have continued to occur on certain areas of my face, specifically my neck and chin. It’s very irritating, as I have primarily used all natural oil products and can’t seem to trace the outbreaks to anything. I’ve tracked food, products, laundry soap, etc, and can’t seem to pinpoint anything. I haven’t changed anything in the last 2-3 months so I’m a little curious as to the cause.
It’s because of this that I have, just the other day, made a homemade cleanser. A friend of mine introduced me to the Live Simply blog, which is full of homemade body products and cleaners. I tried a cleanser made of baking soda, some carrier oil (I used a mix), a few drops of essential oil, and water. It took some tinkering to get the consistency right, but I like the way my face looks and feels. It has some exfoliating properties, for which I think my face was overdue. I need to order some of her recommended ingredients so I can try some other recipes. If I can make face products at home that work well, I will be very happy.
Bath and Body
Another brand that my mother uses loyally is Olay. The moisture in their body washes… oh I love it so very much. My body in general does not cope well with the climate in which I live. My hair, my skin, my sinuses… moisture is hard to maintain. Olay body was my favorite thing and I used it consistently. I did on occasion deviate and use some Lush body products. Their Dirty Spring Wash is uh-mazing! Luckily, that product is Cruelty Free so I can keep enjoying it!
When I first started looking for Cruelty Free alternatives to Olay, I was excited to find that Bath and Body Works is a Cruelty Free company. However, I have since started to consider all of the other questionable ingredients they use in their products. So even though I rushed out and bought 3 different body washes (that I am still finishing up), I don’t think I will go that route in the future. I love the Lush body products, and Jade Bloom’s shampoos would work equally well as body wash. So that is my plan when refills are required.
As for lotion, again I love Lush products. I am still nursing a jar of their Sleepy lotion which is heavenly to say the least. But any of their body lotions are good in my book. I am looking in to other lotion brands, but haven’t tried anything yet.
Yay for the easiest category!
I don’t use a ton of makeup. I’ve enjoyed being mostly makeup free through the summer and into the end of the year. However, some days I do feel a little BB cream is necessary. If I can get away with BB cream or tinted moisturizer and some mascara, I’m a happy girl. I have used fuller makeup previously, but I really try to be low maintenance and most mornings I just don’t feel like it.
Clinique’s City Block was long my favorite “makeup” product… well, that and their killer mascara. A tube of City Block can last me 6 months or more, and if I’m not using it daily (I sit in an office with no windows Monday through Friday), it can last even longer. A month or 2 ago I purchased Burt’s Bees BB Cream in 2 different shades. I was tan from the summer but knew it would fade fast come fall and winter. I don’t love the smell (a sort of cocoa orange smell) but the produce sits well on my face, evens out my skin tone, covers problem spots, and has SPF 15. I’d like it if the SPF was a little higher, but overall, it gets the job done. Due to my minimal makeup use, I think I will stick with this for a while.
The only other makeup product I use is mascara. I was a cult follower of Clinique High Impact Mascara and was sad when my tube was due for replacement. The first alternative I tried was Too Faced Better Than Sex. Too Faced is Cruelty Free, which makes it an awesome makeup brand to try. But apparently I have sensitive eyes. I love the look and wear of the mascara, but if I use it too many days in a row, my eyes get irritated. I am still researching other options (Dear Kat Von D, come out with a mascara already!!!!!), but haven’t tried anything yet. As I mentioned, I don’t wear a ton of makeup, so the tube is still going strong.
The only beauty product I haven’t switched to Cruelty Free is nail polish. I go through phases of frequent use and none at all for months at a time, so haven’t thought about the switch much. Truly, I usually get 3-4 paint jobs out of a bottle before it dries up and has to be thrown away. Perhaps in 2018 I will start that research.
It wasn’t initially my plan to switch out household cleaning products, but as you know, one thing can lead to another. A friend of mine uses Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Day products in Basil, and I fell in love. I have started using the dish soap and hand soap. Right now I have some holiday fragrances, but Basil is my favorite.
I have also replaced my Disinfecting Windex (which I used for EVERYTHING) with a simple solution of water and Allerg-Ease essential oil blend. It’s a blend of lavender, peppermint, and lemon, all of which are recommended for household cleaning. I bought 2 bottles early on for use on seasonal allergies. After one season of use, I haven’t had an allergy attack for the last few years. Make of that what you will. Allergies started and ended suddenly for me, so who knows if it was actually the oil or not. I choose to think it was. Anyway, it left me with a lot of oil for which I had no other use. Waste not, I say.
The Live Simply blog has some recipes for laundry products that I would like to try, but I have not yet embarked on that venture. Again, perhaps 2018 will be that year.
I hope that gives you some helpful information and insight into my Cruelty Free journey. It has been rewarding and educational, if frustrating at many times. I am committed to continuing the journey and am proud of myself for what I have already accomplished. I really think it is important to be an informed consumer, as your dollars are essentially votes. What you purchase is your voice to the companies that produce and develop products, and what you say has power. I also believe in making wise choices about what you put on your body as well as what you put in it. You are a living organism that is affected, immediately or slowly over time, by what it is exposed to. So take care of yourself in the best way possible.
In case you are wondering, my 2018 New Year’s resolutions are to develop a consistent yoga practice and to be 100% Whole Foods Plant Based by the end of the year. It is going to be hard to give up cheese and seafood, but I am going to try. More than anything, I want to continue to learn and improve my life, health, and overall well being. I am celebrating my 30th birthday next week and I am truly excited about my life and the coming year and decade. I’m in the best place I have ever been and there are even more amazing things coming this year, and in subsequent years. I’m determined to embrace them all and cherish each awesome memory.
I hope you all have a happy, healthy, and safe 2018!
Currently drinking: coffee with Califia Farms Hazelnut Almond Milk Creamer. My sister told me about this stuff and I finally found. SO GOOD!