I’ve been on a mission to remove both harsh chemicals and animal-tested products from my home ever since switching to vegetarianism back in August of 2014. My main motivating factor for vegetarianism was simply this — compassion for animals. That led me to dramatically reducing dairy consumption and becoming leery of how animals were being used as testing subjects for human benefit. At that point, I had already been riding the green living “let’s-stop-using-harmful-petroleum-based-chemicals” bandwagon. We come into constant contact with environmental pollutants, and as a mother, it’d be nice to be proactive in attempting to avoid preventable illnesses (cancer???) for the benefit of my children.
So my natural living journey began like so many others…
But let me tell you one thing.
It is not easy to quickly switch from using common household and skin care products at your local store to pinpointing high quality products on a restricted budget.
I started by looking at labels for USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project, Vegan, or Cruelty-Free symbols. Slowly, I’ve been able to set time aside to examine ingredient lists with an overall attempt to avoid care products containing sulfates, (propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl-) parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, dyes, fragrances, etc.
It can get really confusing. I won’t pretend to understand the science behind all of it… I’m a social science major who happened to take one class in sustainability and another class in writing with an emphasis on environmental science. I like to use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to evaluate the safety of individual ingredients in personal care products. I try to eliminate the use of an ingredient if EWG lists it in the highest hazard level. Also, I look at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
To determine whether brands use animal testing, I use PETA’s cruelty-free database. (Side note: I am currently furious with PETA for sending me two letters featuring images of cats being propounding abused and tested on while alive. That may be necessary for some people to understand the reality of animal testing, but not someone like myself who already supports PETA’s mission.) Leaping Bunny is another high quality website that lists cruelty-free brands. They also have a cruelty-free shopping app you can download for free on your phone.
Bonus: If you’re extra compassionate or love food in general, consider downloading the Happy Cow vegan & vegetarian restaurant app too!
My Cruelty-Free and Natural Body Care Routine
Slowly, but surely, and most certainly not perfectly… I ended up with this current natural bath & beauty routine. All of the featured brands are cruelty-free and take steps towards creating effective and safe products.
I currently flip back and forth from various no/low-shampoo methods to traditional shampoo/conditioner washing. Right now, I’m using a cleansing conditioner (no shampoo) to bring out curls & reduce frizz. If interested, I just discovered an excellent support group for no-poo and low-poo hair care hosted on Facebook.
Here’s what’s in my shower:
- Shampoo & Conditioner – Renpure Originals Argan Oil Shampoo & Conditioner
- Co-Wash – As I Am Coconut CoWash Cleansing Conditioner
The cleansing conditioner makes my hair feel clean. I can go 3 days between washing and there is no greasy hair adjustment period like other no-poo methods. It seems like a creamy shampoo without a sudsy lather (which is typically produced by chemicals in traditional shampoos). This is a good method for those who dye their hair
with harsh chemicals like me. It is gentle and contains no sulfates.
Note: I think that dyeing my hair 1-2 per year is much better than using harsh chemicals daily to wash my hair. In the future, I see myself looking into eco-friendly & safer hair color solutions. I am all for “natural” hair color, but playing with color just makes life more exciting. 🙂
I love to buy homemade bars of soap at local farmer’s markets or health food stores. I recently ran out of a generic shea butter/goat milk bar (not vegan, I know) and bought a Shea Moisture Coconut Hibiscus Shea Butter Bar Soap with Songyi Mushroom.
I use coconut oil on my legs after shaving… It’s also great for massage oil.
- Daily Cleanser: Swiss Vita Facial Cleanser
- They boast high quality, natural ingredients that work to counteract & reverse the aging process using a special extract called AC-11 found in the Amazon rainforest. It works great and doesn’t cause any skin irritation or acne.
- Face Mask: e.l.f.’s Hydrating Bubble Mask
- Use ~1 time per week.
- Be careful not to get it in your eyes because it burns! But otherwise, I love all e.l.f products because they are cruelty-free, effective and affordable.
- Face Scrub: Era Organics’ Revive+ Microdermabrasion Manuka Honey Walnut Scrub & Mask.
- Use ~ 2-3 times per week.
- Era Organics is a high quality, cruelty-free & natural brand, check out my past review post on all their mama & baby products (diaper cream, baby wash & lotion, stretch mark cream, etc.)
Face Serums & Moisturizer
I haven’t always used products like this but they definitely keep your skin hydrated during the dry winter months. I’m not consistent with serums and moisturizers, but I aim for using them about 4-5 each week and just rotate through my collection. It’s how I stay young and beautiful. Ha…
InstaNatural Face Serums
- Vitamin C Serum (Favorite)
- Age-Defying Skin Clearing Serum
- Pro-Radiant Skin Brightening Serum
InstaNatural Face Moisturizers
- Vitamin C Moisturizer (Favorite)
- Retinol Moisturizer
Here’s the complete list of InstaNatural products because I can give 4-5 stars on every product they offer. Everything is cruelty-free and natural with effectiveness and quality in mind. Definitely consider their Rose Water Facial Toner… (Read my review.) It will always be one of my favorite beauty products! (Groupon is currently running a promotion for InstaNatural products too.)
It may seem like I have a complex face care routine, but I really don’t… It just consists of a wash, serum and moisturizer with occasional masks. I’ve always enjoyed hosting home spa nights. It’s just fun. See Mommy Has A Blue Face and Mother Daughter Silly Time #PowerofPlants!!
I am not very good at this category yet… The only time I use brands that test on animals is if I still have products from before I decided to start the boycott or if someone gifted it to me.
If you stick to e.l.f. cosmetics, you can guarantee cruelty-free. I love the Bite Beauty lipstick brand for organic & high quality, but it’s expensive and I only received samples from Influenster.com.
Coconut oil is my go-to product for eye make-up remover.
Here’s an updated list (March 2017) of companies to avoid from Cruelty-Free Kitty.
- Heat Protector: InstaNatural’s Argan Oil Thermal Protector Spray
- It’s made with organic argan oil, castor oil, vitamin B5 and sunflower seed oil for added nourishment. Some people don’t like the muskier (non-fruity, non-girly) scent. It grew on the more I used it.
- Taming Curly Frizz: Cantu Shea Butter, a Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream and
- The Cantu Shea Butter (cheaper at Walmart) makes my curls/waves more defined if I use it right after the shower. I use a lot of it in order for it to be effective.
- Shine & Nourishment: InstaNatural Argan Oil Hair Treatment
- I use the Argan Oil Treatment on the bottom third section of my hair if it’s feeling really dry. Just a couple drops will suffice.
- Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant
- I use both the roll on and spray and find it pretty effective. It works best when you are applying it to clean skin. So, if you don’t take a daily shower, you should at least wash your armpits before applying it in order to reach maximum effectiveness. 🙂
- Lavender & White Tea + Chamomile & Green Tea are my favorite scents.