Saturday is normally fashion day around here (unless we have something special up our sleeves) but Em shared a big styled-out post earlier this week, so we decided to try something else. Today, we’re diving into beauty, but with a very important twist. I can’t speak for the entire team (even though I kind of am right now?), but cruelty-free beauty and skincare is a topic I’m pretty passionate about. In true transparency, cruelty-free wasn’t even a thought in my head until about three years ago when I was supposed to do a story about it for my last job. After tons of research, I was SHOOK, and vowed to myself then and there to try to make a change. I did what I always do when I newly get into something: ran to spend money and resolved to never turn back to my evil ways. Well…it was a little harder for me mentally to let go of certain products I’d used for years (specifically Kiehl’s and NARS, neither of which are considered cruelty-free companies as they sell in China…will explain more about that in a sec). It was my acne-prone and sensitive-skinned face vs. the well being of sweet little animals. You’d think that would be an easier decision to make than it was, sadly and shamefully but look, we all have our journeys and I’m pretty much on the other side of it now.
From the get-go, Cruelty-Free Kitty was a huge resource for me to learn more about CF beauty, what it all meant, why it was important and brands that did not test on animals. They have a very useful listing of companies that are both Leaping Bunny certified and PETA approved (you can also search by specifications like 100% vegan, palm oil-free, category, store and more). Anyhow, this post is not sponsored by CFK (or anything, just our genuine interest) but I would be remiss if I didn’t talk you through this fantastic resource. If you have others, please let us know! The site taught me a lot about what it means to be cruelty-free, including not testing ingredients or the finished product on animals, and that also, the term “cruelty-free” is not regulated here in the US, so literally, anyone can slap that language on a product. Make sure to look for the Leaping Bunny or PETA cruelty-free logos to be sure you’re supporting the right brands if this is important to you. Research is very important, and one dead give away is if a brand is sold in China. It’s required by law in mainland China to do animal testing if it’s a non-domestic product such as American or European brands, and a lot of these do not want to give up this enormous market. So while a brand might say its US products are not tested on animals, the brand itself is supporting the cruel practice that, FYI, isn’t even necessary these days.
Originally, animal testing was a thing when we weren’t sure what new chemical compounds and other ingredients were safe to use by the general public, but there are now over 7,000 ingredients that are already proven to be safe and no longer need to be tested on bunnies and guinea pigs and other cute little furry creatures. Animal testing is already banned in the EU, Isreal and India…come on America…GET ON BOARD. In the grand scheme of all the issues plaguing our country, this is probably way down on the list of priorities, but…just sayin’. The good news is that it seems that more and more brands are jumping aboard the CF train (Target even has their own new line called Versed…haven’t tried it, but probably will).
Anyway, you probably didn’t come here today to hear me go on about the specifics. Chances are, if you clicked through, you already know a little (but if not, welcome!), so let’s get into some actual products, shall we? A few of us here at EHD headquarters rounded up our absolutely HOLY GRAIL products that are cruelty-free. These are makeup and skincare picks that we use nearly daily and couldn’t imagine our routines without. This is not an “oh, I just tried this and it’s pretty good, give it a whirl” situation. This is undying dedication, things we’ve purchased on repeat that should they be discontinued, might cause a revolt (a touch dramatic maybe, but don’t get in the way of this woman and her glow tonic, mkay?).
First up is our girl Emily, then I’ll go and so on and so forth. And pretty please, share your own favorites below. We’re all always looking to add top-notch “this actually works” type CF products to our arsenals, so if you have something you use that you would consider “holy grail,” spill.
Perfekt Matte Tanning Gel: As you may or may not know, I’m a lover of the natural-looking spray tan. But it often fades on my legs in the first day or two which is really where I want it most as I personally don’t love a tan face on someone who is obviously fair skinned. This cream goes on chocolate brown, and you’ll freak out, but once it’s rubbed in, it looks relatively natural (a little darker than I think I could ever be) and washes off hands. It will definitely get on clothes so don’t wear white, but it also has SPF 30 and stays on well, and showers off at night. Anyway, I LOVE it.
PCA Beauty: This is ALL I use now. Literally, I’ve totally switched over and now use the toner, facewash, hyaluronic acid boosting serum, and moisturizer. It’s VERY effective. It’s not a highly marketed product, doesn’t have any “cool, millennial” packaging, so it looks simple, not-flashing but I don’t care because all that matters is that the products work.
Mario Badescu A.H.A. & Ceramide Moisturizer: I have used Kiehl’s for years and have been on the hunt for a replacement moisturizer since I found out they are not cruelty-free and I FINALLY found my successor…something I used years ago and totally forgot about from Mario Badescu. This brand flies under the radar but it’s solid. The formula is spot-on for my sometimes-dry-always-oily-30-something-skin, it sinks in fast, and works beautifully under foundation. Just add an SPF on top for day time, and I’m all set with perfectly balanced, hydrated skin. Oh, and at $20, it’s far more affordable than other moisturizers in its category.
REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic: REN has wonderful products and is a “clean” brand (which means it’s formulated without all the bad stuff like formaldehyde, triclosan, SLS, etc. and with less than 1% of synthetic fragrances), but this stuff right here is my everything…100% Holy Grail status for me. I use it morning and night and since I started using it a few months back, my skin has no joke transformed for the better. It’s not dull anymore or clogged, I feel glowy and far more confident makeup-free.
Too Faced Peach Perfect Comfort Matte Foundation: I found this wonderful foundation when I decided it was time to give up my beloved NARS (not cruelty-free). It’s full-coverage and pretty thick but it still looks natural on the skin. It comes in 30 shades, doesn’t transfer AT ALL (finally my steering wheel isn’t covered in the ghosts of my daily makeup), wears beautifully for the ENTIRE day, and controls my crazy T-zone oil. I’ll probably wear this for as long as it’s produced, which is hopefully forever and ever (do you hear me Too Faced?).
Herbivore CBD Face Oil: I love this face oil so much. I have super red skin, and this paired with my Paula’s Choice Toner have helped to significantly reduce the daily redness in my skin. It’s also really moisturizing. I’ve been using oils in place of cream moisturizers for a while, and I feel that they hydrate my skin better and give me more of a “glow.” I’ll put this oil all over my face after I cleanse and tone, and then I’ll add another extra drop to my IT Cosmetics CC Cream to help it apply smoothly and feel less cake-y, thick, or dry. It’s also a great oil to wear on a “no makeup” day.
Tatcha Nourishing Ritual: I first heard of Tatcha on Johnathan Van Ness’ Getting Curious podcast. After listening to the founder’s story and learning about her products, I decided to give it a go and I haven’t looked back. I feel like I FINALLY, after 31 years, have a skincare system that my sensitive, dry, slightly aging skin LOVES. I started out with the starter ritual kit that I got directly from her site to see if I liked it and when I saw a noticeable difference in my skin that was it. They have products for all different skin types so there is something for everyone. I have the Pure One Step Camellia Oil Cleanser, The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder and The Essence Plumping Skin Softener all available at Sephora, too. They aren’t cheap so I am saving up for the Silk Cream moisturizer and Violet-C Brightening Serum. Can you tell I’m hooked and they are going to take all of my money? But hey, this is the only skin bag I’ve got so I need to treat her well.
BLINC Mascara Amplified: I have previously gushed about this mascara but I have been using it for 5 years. Once I was freed from my “Raccoon Eyes” I got from traditional mascara, I vowed to never let this magical eyelash wand out of my sight. How it works is that due to magic (or science?), tiny tubes are formed around your lashes instead of painting the ink onto them. It sounds weird but go with it. Let’s just say no more nasty rings under those beautiful eyes!
Windle & Moodie Invisible Day & Night Cream: This is a “hell yes” product for me. It’s light, moisturizing, leaves zero residue, controls those flyaways and smells GREAT. Both Arlyn and Julie bought it as soon as they tried mine. It’s seriously magical. Now, Windle & Moodie isn’t denoted on Cruelty-Free Kitty (it’s not a large company) but I did some research and found other sites that confirm.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair® Cream Intense Hydration: I am a simple woman when it comes to skincare. Not because I don’t have any pain points, but because I lack discipline and eagerness to try new products (and it’s so expensive to do so). I pretty much go with whatever is recommended via friends, the internet, or otherwise, but when I find something that works, I stick with it. I used to religiously use Origin’s Ginzing moisturizer, but their products are not cruelty-free (huge bummer) and they run out so fast. I went to Sephora and asked one of the gals who worked there to please please help and tell me what to do use for my dry as the desert skin. I was recommended First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream and after trying, I was sold. It’s like slathering on a cool, silky shield and it leaves me feeling fresh and smooth all day long.
Glossier Boy Brow: Some days I really don’t want to put on makeup. Especially in the summertime, I start to feel icky with a lot of product/makeup on so sunscreen and moisturizer are all I want to put on my face. Oh…and Glossier’s Boy Brow. I have thick unruly brows but I prefer them to look natural (which really just means that I don’t get them waxed). I’ve been using this for a few years and I think it works perfectly for what I want to accomplish with my brows. I apply a few strokes going toward the direction of my brows, and a few going against to ensure I get enough coverage for natural, full looking brows and voila.
OUAI Wave Spray: If you read the EHD hair transformation post, you might remember that I don’t enjoy spending time on my hair. My ideal situation is to get out of the shower, brush and go. I am lucky because my hair air-dries fine, but it needs a little product to keep from falling flat. If this sounds anything like you, say hello to your new best friend: Ouai Wave Spray. It smells AMAZING, and gives your hair that extra volume like you just came from the beach…but make it fashion.
Alright, was there anything you saw here that use, love and can also vouch for? Don’t forget to throw some of your own CF skincare or makeup favorites into the comments. Let’s discuss, recommend and share! Thanks for hangin’ out today and see you tomorrow for The Link Up.