Vegan 101: Favorite Skincare

Often times, we forget that our skin is our largest organ and needs just as much love as our internal organs. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a specific daily routine when it comes to my skincare, especially as my days are never the same. For the most part, I take great care of my skin and am sure to slap some SPF on if I know I’m going to be outside longer than 20 minutes. No one is perfect, nor do I expect anyone to be.

Grandmothers, aunts, and mothers were all very correct in saying “you are what you eat.” The care you give your body often is very visible on your skin, in your eyes, and in your hair. Sure, a small group of people are lucky enough to eat horribly processed food and still look great, but most of us aren’t so lucky.

Being mindful of what we put in our bodies is a great way of ensuring our skin, eyes, nails, and hair will be happy. I’m not saying that eating vegan will solve your acne or dry skin or brittle nails. [Trust me, I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or doctor. Please consult a licensed professional if you plan on completely revamp your diet.] If you cannot forgo eating animals & their byproducts, the best thing you can do is limit your red meat, poultry, & pork, and focus more on omega rich seafood and eggs (including the yolk). Not only will your skin, hair, & nails appreciate you, your eyes & heart will as well.

As I choose not to eat any animal byproducts, I have to find other ways of getting great nutrition. I’m a fan of whole grains other than wheat, a variety of nuts (I make my own trail mix with raw nuts, dairy free dark chocolate, & salt), lentils & legumes, dense vegetables & dark, leafy greens, and lots of water. And, I pop a vegan Vitamin D, a vegan prenatal multivitamin (no, I’m not trying to get pregnant), and a vegan B-complex pill every day to ensure all my bases are covered. The nice thing about B vitamins is that any excess is secreted out through urine, so it is almost impossible to overdose on B vitamins. And, I do have days where I forget to take my supplements, so I’m never concerned about excess vitamins flowing through my body. Some people ask why I never take an iron supplement if I don’t eat meat. Simply put: I was only borderline anemic once in my life, and that was when I was about 12 or 13. Puberty & my menstrual cycle hit me really hard & at this time, I had started cutting out meat. My body was just adjusting. Since then, my iron levels have been very impressive (and frankly, often shocking) to everyone who has ever drawn my blood & done labs on my blood & any doctor who has evaluated my blood. I attribute my iron rich blood to the fact I love lentils & spinach.

Anyway, aside from eating for great skin, what one puts on their skin is important. I’m not about bashing skincare/cosmetics companies that aren’t considered vegan. I just like knowing that what I’m putting on my skin doesn’t have any animal byproducts in it. [I’m going to admit right now that, as I’m not perfect, I’m still using up a lot of stuff that I have which isn’t vegan solely based on the fact they have beeswax or honey in them.] When a company puts vegan on their label, that usually means that, by default, they are cruelty free. That’s what I hope, at least.

Here are some of my favorite skincare brands that are primarily or 100% Vegan (all are 100% cruelty free):

  1. Andalou Naturals [Please consult their FAQ page for their nonvegan products.]
  2. 100% Pure
  3. Schmidt’s Deodorant
  4. Tata Harper
  5. Acure Organics
  6. Herbivore Botanicals
  7. Yes To
  8. Juice Beauty

Currently, I am using products from Andalou, Yes To, Herbivore Botanicals, and, of course, trusty ol’ Schmidt’s Deodorant (it really is the best natural deodorant out there). I do mix up my routine sometimes, but right now, I’ve got a good thing going. [I’ll do an updated skincare routine very soon.]

Please not that this list is far from complete, and reflects brands I choose to use for my own skincare. Let google be your proverbial oyster (can we use pea, instead?). Some of the brands listed are budget friendly, others are expensive.

Here are some awesome resources for more comprehensive lists of cruelty free/vegan beauty brands:

  1. Cruelty Free Kitty
  2. PETA’s List
  3. The Organic Bunny
  4. Beauty By Britanie
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Vegan Living 101: Beginning

For a good portion of my life, I’ve been a quasi- to full-blown vegetarian. Seafood was the first thing to go, and I can’t even remember the last time I ate anything from the sea. Chicken was the last to go. For 11 years, chicken was the only meat I consumed, and, while I only ate it once or twice a year, I felt guilty doing so. For the last seven years, I haven’t touched any kind of animal flesh. However, I do occasionally have a splash of milk in my coffee if I’m at brunch and don’t want to make a fuss. I’ll also have the occasional bit of cheese and I’m trying my hardest to breakup with milk chocolate.

Soon, I’ll be living by myself, like I did just over a decade ago. This will be perfect for me to fine tune my vegan cooking skills. The only person I’ll have to feed every day is myself, so I can have complete control over the food that is kept and the food that I eat.

For those of you who don’t understand what veganism is all about, the simplest way to describe it is: a choice to abstain from any animal product or byproduct in everyday life, including nutrition, clothes, household items, cosmetics, and personal hygiene products. (The link provided is the Vegan wikipedia entry, and I feel like it does a good job explaining concepts.)

This means that the diet a vegan eats is completely void of anything that falls under the animal classification, including their excretions. One thing that drives us crazy is when a veg*n (an umbrella term that is inclusive of all vegetarians & vegans) gets asked “but you still eat fish, right?” This is a question that we get asked constantly and often results in some fierce eye rolling or a gobsmacked laugh. Sometimes, we’ll be blunt and ask “were you asleep when your fifth grade teacher taught you about animal classification?” Other times, we’ll be kind and say, “thanks for asking, however fish are technically animals, so we abstain from eating fish,” while screaming on the inside.

Here is a list of things vegans get asked if they eat, but don’t:
1. Fish/Shellfish/etc.
2. Honey
3. Poultry (this one really baffles me)
4. Milk/Cheese/Eggs
5. Anything with gelatin in it (i.e. most gummy candy, anything that is a mass produced gel)

I live in a part of the States that considers itself progressive and liberal. It was a hotbed of counter-culture activity in the 60s & 70s. Even with the runoff from that, I find that people are really confused by the concept of veganism. When having a discussion about it, I have found it turns out that people are confused by even the concept of vegetarianism.

So, a series of blog posts is born! I’m going to share a few posts that cover a variety of topics regarding veganism. These posts will include (and aren’t limited to) pantry & fridge staples, vegan candy, vegan cookbooks, vegan cosmetics & beauty products, vegan fashion, misconceptions, personal meal plans for 1, 3, and 7 days, and my favorite recipes.

Please contact me with any questions or possible topics you would like me to cover. Also, please know that I am not a nutritionist, chef, or MD. The information I am giving is purely from my own research, discussion with other people who live a vegan lifestyle, conversations with nutritionists & doctors, and my opinion. I’ll will be citing the information that I give you & will clarify if something is an opinion. If you don’t like or agree with my opinion, I do ask that you remain respectful in your approach. Part of veganism is respect for fellow beings, human and non-human.

Happy trails!!

Current Faves

Nubian Heritage: Soaps & Deodorant
Maybe a year or two ago, I saw a newish brand of body care at the “holistic” pharmacy in town. I was looking for something to help exfoliate my feet. It was summer time and I’m wearing flip-flops. Nubian Heritage’s African Black Soap seemed as though it was the best choice. And, boy, was it ever!? Lately, I’ve gotten back into using bar soaps instead of shower gels. I’m about to break open the Coconut & Papaya bar (a golden standard in my life). Earlier this year, I noticed that the brand came out with deodorant. As I love the smell of their Coconut & Papaya products, I got a C&P stick. I absolutely love it! Sure, it is just a deodorant, so my underarms still get moist. But, I smell good throughout the day, and the smell isn’t overwhelming. The other day, I bought a fresh stick, but in their African Black Soap variety. I’m going to test it out this week and see how the smell works.

Rocksbox
After browsing Beauty By Britanie, I noticed a little ad banner on her page. I’ve been trying to spruce up my jewelry game (hence the chloe+isabel gig). I was tempted to click on the ad, because who doesn’t want to try out new jewelry for a month? How Rocksbox works is that you sign up, take a style quiz, and, if you have time, browse some jewelry & add pieces to a wishlist. The quiz & wishlist both help their stylists choose what to send in each box. Once you get a box, you can keep the jewelry as long or as little as you want, send them all back or keep them all (you’ll have to pay for them if you want to keep them). If you purchase all the pieces, Rocksbox will just send you a new box of jewelry to try. I’ll be honest, this might be a dangerous new fave. I signed up on Wednesday (June 17th), received my first box on Saturday (June 19th), fell in love with the earrings that came in the box, purchased them for $17 instead of $35, and sent back the other two pieces. I’m hoping that by next Saturday, I’ll be getting my second box. YIKES! If you want to try it out for a month (for free) use the link!

Farm Sanctuary
This will be a forever favorite. If you don’t know about Gene Baur & Farm Sanctuary, you should. Even if you are an omnivore, Farm Sanctuary is a great organization for anyone with a shred of compassion and concern for the planet. With three locations (two in California, one in New York), Farm Sanctuary takes in injured, stranded, sick, and/or abused animals (primarily for the “farm” variety). At each sanctuary, these animals are given the chance to heal and live a happy, full life. As a vegetarian with a soft spot for farm animals, I fell in love with the organization a few years ago. I got the chance to meet Gene Baur, the founder of the organization. His humbleness and kind spirit, and the fact he has personally responded to emails I have sent him, made me even more of a fan. It helps when founders/CEOs are down to earth and live the essence and core of their organizations. If you get a chance, please read Gene’s books (Farm Sanctuary and Living the Farm Sanctuary Life). And, if you ever find yourself in Orland (CA), Los Angeles (CA), or Watkins Glen (NY), I highly suggest you take a tour of one of the Sanctuaries.

Treat Yourself Thursday: I Covet Thee

I’ve been alive for 33 years. Thirty-three!! My 33rd birthday is coming up on the 9th, and there are a few things that are high up on my wishlist.

First and foremost, I’d love to be done with my Paralegal AA. But, that is something no one can do but myself. So, that’s all on me and that’ll be my birthday present to myself this year.

Things that I currently covet:

LASHFOOD Lash Enhancer

LASHFOOD Phyto-Medic Lash Enhancer
If you don’t know already, my lashes are the one part of my physical appearance I am OCD about. I’m picky about everything that relates to my lashes: mascara, makeup remover, eye cream, eye liner, and even the need to make sure I’m taking flax seed oil everyday. I’ve been told I have long lashes. I think they are of average length. But, no matter what, my lashes consistently get complimented. So, I don’t know if I really *need* this product. But, I’ll take anything that keeps my lashes healthy. And, the fact that it is considered vegan (cruelty free, by default), I’m intrigued. I’ll use anything cruelty free that will keep my lashes strong. And, it’s got the ECOCERT seal of approval. For those of you who don’t know, ECOCERT is a European organization that inspects products regarding organic status. Essentially, if something get’s approved by the organization, the product has to maintain honesty/transparency about the origin of the ingredients, and maintain a high level of organic ingredients & a low to nonexistent level of possible toxic ingredients. There are more detailed requirements and there is a lengthy manual as to what is entailed, but you can research that on your own time. Anyway, let’s be real, I’m a sucker for stuff like this.

Dr. Dennis Gross hydra-pure firming serum

Dr. Dennis Gross hydra-pure firming serum
I love this brand, so much so that I freelanced for the company a few years ago, back when it was called MD Skincare. A huge seller for me is that the majority of the products in the line are vegan. Again, by default, that means those products are cruelty free. Furthermore, the entire line should (and does) stick to that philosophy with every single item they create. This serum is something I need in my life. After three years of being a lifeguard, the chlorine & sun got the best of me. I got major forehead wrinkles whilst still a teenager. Since then, I’ve done a decent enough job to prevent them from getting any more noticeable, however, time & gravity still exist. I’d like to preserve my skin just a little longer. I wish I had the $95 to spend on this serum!

Dr. Dennis Gross clinical concentrate radiance booster

Dr. Dennis Gross clinical concentrate radiance booster
As I just mentioned, I was a lifeguard for three years. I am also a fan of being outside when the sun is out. Moving to California at six in the 80s, it’s what we grew up doing. If it was light out and we weren’t in school, the kids would be outside playing until the very last minute. I never baby oiled, thankfully. I wore sunscreen as much as possible. But, sunburns are inevitable when you have skin that is easy to burn and you spend hours upon hours outside. I love the freckles on my body and wear them with pride. They show the world that I enjoy being outside. My face is a different story. The freckling on my face is not worthy of showing up in Vogue. Instead, the sun kissed look is blotchy, red, uneven, and scary. I’ve become quite obsessive about putting sunscreen on during the day and adding lemon juice to my toner in the evening. I trust Dr. Dennis Gross, and I trust that this can help minimize the appearance of some of the discoloration. Sometimes, the lemon juice is just a little too exciting for my skin.

Harvey Prince Hello Eau de Parfum

Harvey Prince Hello Eau de Parfum
I got a sample of this in a Vegan Cuts Beauty Box awhile back and was so happy I did. I’ve been wanting to try this perfume for a long time. The entire day, I kept smelling my wrist and grinning. Such a delightful smell. I love pretty much all fragrances that have lemon or lime notes in it. And, as this is a cruelty free line (and apparently vegan), I am even more excited about it. The notes of the fragrance are: Meyer Lemon, White Grapefruit, Satsuma Mandarin, Summer Forsythia, Pink Plumeria, Wild Verbena, Tahitian Vanilla, Sensual Musk. Delicious!! So, I am not really one to justify a new fragrance for myself. Ignore the entire shelf in my closet dedicated to perfume. I’m in the process of getting rid of scents I don’t really wear. [HINT to my friends: come over and take them off my hands! Some are lightly used, others are halfway used.]

The North Face Stow-N-Go II Sports Bra

The North Face Stow-N-Go II Sports Bra (Size Large)
I have a habit of losing sports bras or wearing them out. I have one similar to this from lululemon, but the support isn’t quick as efficient as it needs to be anymore, due to a *ahem* decreased bust size. Plus, having more than one of these kinds of sports bras comes in handy, especially as I’m back on a running kick and would love to not wear the same bra for two weeks straight. I can get very sweaty when I run & sometimes I forget to put deodorant on. California is in an intense drought, so I’d rather not have to do multiple loads of laundry for one bra. The reason why I like bras like this is because I listen to music or podcasts when I run. I cannot stand holding on to anything when I run more than half a mile. Putting my iPod in a small waist pack is uncomfortable and the earbud wires get in the way. Having a place to put my iPod that is out of the way, comfortable, and easily accessible is great. And, seriously, how many women do you see running with keys, a cell phone, an MP3 player precariously stowed under a bra strap? If you haven’t noticed that yet, you will come summer months. Having a bra like this is very useful for those of us who like to listen to our iPods/iPhones whilst working out. As well as keeping things accessible and out of the way, it ensures that an iPod or cell phone will not go crashing to the ground.

Simple Night Skincare

For two decades, I’ve routinely taken care of my skin in the evening. I remember starting off with the basic Clinique system as an 11 or 12 year old, then moving on to Prescriptives. I loved the Prescriptives system I was using, and felt really special when my mother took me to the Army-Navy on the Bromley High Street when I was 12 or 13 to get it. By the time I was in high school, I soon switched to a hodgepodge of skincare products, still making sure my face was clean and hydrated in the evening.

Now that I’m in my 30’s and have spent the last ten years working in the beauty industry, the one thing that has remained constant is that same kind of nightly skincare ritual. The removal of makeup, cleansing my skin, and hydrating it is very refreshing and peaceful.

I don’t do too much skincare in the morning; I just rinse with water and put some moisturizer on. So, in the evening I stick to a few key products and add makeup remover if makeup was worn that day.

The first step, if I wear makeup, is to remove all traces of the makeup. I’ll start by removing my eye makeup with Aveda’s eye makeup remover. This one is great for me. I don’t like dual-phase removers, but I need to be able to remove waterproof makeup, and this does the trick! Next, I remove the rest of my makeup (foundation, blush, etc.). I switch between Ren’s Purity Cleansing Balm and Nude’s Cleansing Oil. Both are amazing for removing every last bit. They both are massaged onto dry skin for ~30 seconds, then emulsified with some warm water, then either rinsed off or removed with a muslin cloth or washcloth. I always remove with a cloth of some sort to ensure total removal of makeup.

Next, I cleanse my skin. Right now, I am in love with Origins’ Never A Dull Moment cleanser. In the last few years, I have been wary of foaming gel cleansers, as quite a few of them can be drying. But, this cleanser is amazing. Although it is suggested for combo & oily skin types (I have dry skin), this cleanser doesn’t dry me out. It has papaya extract in it, which helps dissolve some of the dry skin lurking, as well as decongests my pores. Even though my skin is dry, I still have blackheads that I’ve been struggling to minimize. Some nights, I use it with my Clarisonic Mia2 and either a deep pore cleansing head or a cashmere cleanse head. Other nights, I just use it by itself.

Next is some toning water. In a bottle I mix Lush Cosmetics’ Eau Roma and Tea Tree Toners, then spray the concoction directly on my face. The Tea Tree is for my pores and the Eau Roma is for my dryness. I pat it into my skin, then let any residual moisture to dry.

Now my skin is prepped for treatments and moisture. The serum I am using right now is Ren’s Radiance Perfecting Serum. It is designed for uneven skin tone, redness, and hyper pigmentation. As it is hydroquinone free, I have never expected it to get rid of my sun damage. But, I have noticed that it does really help with my redness and some scarring I have around my chin from a combination of not diluting pure tea tree enough and a later rash I got from a prolonged overheated environment I was exposed to. As my skin is on the dryer side, this serum sinks right in. If you are looking for a hydrating serum that evens everything out, this is a great choice.

For my eyes, I am using this wonderful treatment I just discovered a couple weeks ago. I’ve never been a fan of really heavy eye creams or treatments, so anything in a gel or serum consistency is ideal. For the last two weeks, I have been using Radha Beauty’s Intensive Youth Eye Gel. Because of the light consistency, I actually want to put this eye treatment on. I pump a little out on my ring fingers and warm it up, then I tap it around both eyes, including eyelids. A huge selling point for me is that this brand is cruelty free. Who doesn’t love cruelty free!? This eye gel is chock full of wonderful, nourishing ingredients, such as (vegan) hyaluronic acid and vitamin E. It is lovely how hydrating this gel actually is. With any skincare, I don’t expect miracles, but I do expect this eye gel to keep my eye area hydrated.*

Lastly, I pop some moisturizer on. I’ve been using Ren’s V-Cence Day Cream. Even though it says it is a day cream, it doesn’t have any SPF, so it works as a moisturizer for any time of day or night. This cream is for all skin types and is designed to keep the skin supple and even. Ren is known for using quality ingredients and not diluting its products with water. This cream is full of nourishing fruit & seed oils and butters that my dry skin appreciates. Because of the synergistic blend of ingredients, it never feels heavy on my skin and absorbs very quickly. Half a pump of this moisturizer is perfect for my entire face and neck. If I’m feeling particularly dry, I might add a little more.

This has been my routine for the past few months. I did run out of eye treatment and went without it for awhile, so it has been a pleasure to start using a treatment again. Especially as I am prone to smiling and laughing a lot. Any way to protect those laugh lines!!

 

*As per the FTC Guidelines, this sponsored post is powered by BrandBacker. I received the eye treatment as a free trial. Everything else was paid for with my own money. Please note that I will only ever accept products that are in line with my lifestyle and I will only discuss products I actually enjoy. Thank you!

Product Love: Body Care

To be honest, I don’t spend too much time or effort on body care products. I always love clean hands and hand wash seems to be the one body care product I’m always overly replenishing. Lotions and creams, well, I have quite a few because I love both the smell & the feel. Do they get used, though? Not really. I only ever have the patience to moisturize my hands, arms, and chest. I rarely find myself splurging on ‘luxury’ body care for that reason. I’ve noticed that almost all of my favorite body care products can be found at Whole Foods, Pharmaca, or any other ‘holistic’ pharmacy, supermarket, etc.

Warning: you might see a theme with many of the products that I love! (I’m a sucker for any thing citrus.)

My favorite hand wash is the Avalon Organics Lemon Hand Wash. The company states that the hand wash contains 70% organic ingredients. Sure, that is by US standards, but it is still better than nothing, right? The first ingredient is Aloe Leaf Juice, which we all know is hydrating and healing. There are no harsh surfactants and no other nasty ingredients. Using just a small amount, the wash leaves my hands clean and smelling fresh. The scent isn’t overwhelming and it is a scent that is generally not offensive to most. And, I always appreciate the $7.99 price tag. I especially love when Whole Foods or Pharmaca has a sale on the brand. Every once in awhile, both stores will sell the brand at 20% off.

Copyright Avalon Organics

To make life easy, my current favorite hand & body lotion is the counterpart to the hand wash: Avalon Organics Lemon Hand & Body Lotion. Again with the non-offensive scent, this is a winner in my life and is the lotion I keep out for visitors to use. At $12 a bottle, I really don’t mind sharing. The company has the same 70% organic ingredients claim on the bottle. The consistency of the lotion is wonderful: never too heavy, yet very nourishing. This lotion is usually in the bathroom to ensure that I’ll get some hydration on my body after I shower or bathe.

Copyright Avalon Organics

On my desk in my bedroom, I keep Aveda’s Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme ($24). I never splurge on hand creme. This was an add on gift my mother gave me for my birthday. This creme I use only once or twice a day, as it is definitely more luxurious than my $8 Avalon Organics lotion. I love that this creme hydrates deeply without leaving a greasy film. There is a very delicate citrus scent (again, with the citrus). This creme is especially useful during the winter when my body seems to dry up more than usual.

Copyright Aveda

When it comes to body wash, I am not the most picky person. As long as it doesn’t have a bunch of unnecessary crap in it and it smells good, I’m happy. Lately, I have been using Andalou Naturals for body wash. It is a (somewhat) local line for me, with their headquarters and distribution center no more than 60 & 80 miles away from home. As far as the scents go, I’m fond of Mandarin Vanilla and Citrus Verbena. Andalou has been revamped a little and have added a few scents. I can’t wait to try them!

Copyright Andalou Naturals

I’ve recently fallen in love with a product a few vloggers have been talking about (Fleur de Force, in particular). For a year or so now, I’ve been meaning to try Lush’s Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner. I put it off because it’s not cheap. At $33, I hesitated every time I considered buying it. But I am so glad I did!! I’m horrible at hydrating my body. It’s rare for me to put lotion or cream on regularly. This is essentially a lotion you put on in the shower and rinse off. The thought of doing that completely baffled me at first. It seemed completely illogical. After reading the ingredients, it started to make sense. As it is full of wonderful oils, it ends up creating this hydrating barrier on your body. This is the last product I use, right after putting conditioner in my hair. Don’t worry, I’m good about turning off the water while I let both do good work. After a couple minutes, I turn the water back on and rinse off from head to toe. And, this smells divine. It has a light rose scent mixed with something sweet, almost gourmand. Technically it is supposed to be a “rose jam” scent. This has helped my skin immensely; it is smoother and less irritable.

Copyright Lush Cosmetics

These are just a few of my current favorites. They are definite guilt free products as they are from environmentally conscious brands and the majority of the ingredients are naturally derived. Most of them are wallet friendly, and the expensive ones will be reserved for special treats.

What are your favorite body care items? Please share!

Fresh Start

Happy New Year readers!!

As I was taking a peek at my stats, it looks as though there are a very few random (or not so?) people in the world taking a peek at this blog. Many thanks go out to you! Thank you for taking the time to browse through some of my posts. I’m not sure if they were appealing at all. The fact that you took time means gallons!

As it is the start of a new year, I am feeling renewed and excited for new journeys I’ll be on over the next twelve months. I will be completing a Paralegal AA sometime between June & August. I will be running a half marathon for the second time in my life. I’ll be apartment hunting, and possibly even making a move out of California.

I’ve got plenty on my plate. Enough to keep me busy and fulfilled. So, this month, expect a few posts about wellness: skincare, exercise (gear, workouts, playlists), recipes, and other uplifting topics. I might not get to them all, but I will get one or two posts up a week.

I wish you all a fantastic 2015! May you find joy and happiness!