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
Advertisements

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.

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!

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!

Sunday Skin Favourites: Wallet Friendly Masks!

As you know, in my last post, I raved about GlamGlow’s Thirstymud Mask. I’m still obsessed, even though the mothball scent is starting to occur. Surely that means it’s starting to turn. Right? Whatever the case, I think it is pretty awesome, despite the smell change. When I wrote the post about Thirstymud, I was so tired that I couldn’t focus on writing much more. I did want to talk about all of my favorite masks and promised myself that I would write a post about them.

First, I should clarify what kind of skin I have: dry, sun damaged, mildly sensitive, with blackhead issues on my nose. Also, I do get the very occasional hormonal breakout (so annoying as my skin is dry). In an effort to take care of my skin, the products I like to use are generally in the hydrating, calming, soothing, brightening, and occasional exfoliation realm. Therefore, the products I use frequently and love are not suitable for everyone.

The masks I have been obsessed with lately are:

  1. Lush Cosmetics Oatifix ($6.95)
  2. Lush Cosmetics Catastrophe Cosmetics ($6.95)
  3. Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque (ranges from $3.99-$5.99)

For those of you who don’t know, Lush Cosmetics makes masks completely preservative free, called Fresh Face Masks. Every week, each store is shipped small batches of these masks and they are kept in a small refrigerator. Those of us who are obsessed with these masks know the day of shipment, so that’s when you’ll find us at or local Lush. I generally shop at the two South Bay locations: Valley Fair & Oakridge malls. Their delivery day is Thursday. For a long time, I really wanted to try them, but I always seemed to go to Lush on a Wednesday. Of course, no fresh face masks left! Finally, I went in one Thursday & decided to purchase a mask. The first one I purchased was Catastrophe Cosmetic, then a week later, I bought Oatifix. Ever since, I’ve been totally in love. Another fun fact about Lush is their recycling program. Pretty much all of their packaging is recyclable. So, if you bring in 5 clean, empty pots (make sure it has a recycle marker on it), you can get a Fresh Face Mask for free! I was able to get a new pot of Oatifix on Thursday, which allowed me to splurge on a Catastrophe Cosmetic & some leave in hair treatment.

Oatifix is a blend of oatmeal, bananas, kaolin, ground almonds, illipe butter, and some essential oils & other ingredients. I have a feeling I can make a duplicate of this at home & get pretty much the same results. At $6.95, I don’t mind buying a tub of it every few weeks. The main purpose of this mask is to hydrate & calm the skin, so it is ideal for normal to dry skin, especially anyone with a sunburn! Two consecutive Sundays, I managed to burn my face. Oooops! This helped, at least, soothe the skin and add a bit of hydration to the raw skin I had left of my face.

Catastrophe Cosmetic is another great mask for soothing irritated, angry skin. Its main ingredients are calamine powder, irish moss, and blueberries. We know how wonderful calamine is for bug bites, poison oak & ivy, and other topical rashes. Irish moss is a great hydrating and calming agent. Blueberries are little antioxidant powerhouses. Another great ingredient is Blue Chamomile, which is commonly used topically for irritated, sensitive skin. Between this & Oatifix, my skin has been able to heal itself, even just superficially. (I am well aware of the deep damage the sunburn has done to my skin & there is not a lot of repair that can be done.) This mask is great for all skin types, from super dry to insanely oily. It does have some kaolin in there, which helps draw out impurities without stripping the skin.

All Lush Fresh Face Masks are left on the skin approximately 5-10 minutes. You can leave them on longer, but I find that 10 minutes does the job. Enough time to make a cup of tea and get my bed ready for cozy time.

Finally, let’s talk about Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. If you live anywhere in the US, you must have seen this at some point in your life. Most of us have been in a CVS, Longs, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, etc. We’ve grabbed toothpaste, sunscreen, body lotion, soap, shower gel, or any other hygiene necessities at some point in our lives. Therefore, by default, we have seen the ultimate drugstore staple: Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. And, quite a few of us have used it in the past, currently use it, and/or call it a staple. For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me break it down. It is a simple clay mask that is targeted for clarifying the skin, whether it be acne, blackheads, or plain old oily skin. It has the added benefit of being minty fresh. As I mentioned before, I have dry skin. So, why would someone like me use a mask like this? Because, people with dry skin get breakouts and blackheads too! Also, clay isn’t bad for dry skin. It can be very healing on any skin. I use this frequently on my nose and leave it on overnight. Once a week I’ll use it all over & simply rinse it off once it is dry. This also serves as a great pimple fighter when I get hormonal breakouts.

There are other amazing masks that are cost effective. But, these three are my favorites & the ones I use most regularly. Freeman, as many people know, make some great inexpensive masks. Anyone born in the 70s & 80s are surely Freeman savvy. Also, I do use some expensive ones as well, but not as frequently, and have mentioned the two I love before: GlamGlow Thirstymud & Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask. I hope this can inspire some of you to try Lush & their Fresh Face Masks. They have quite a few options for many different concerns. They also have vegan options!! Both masks I mentioned are vegan, which is a huge bonus for me. And, Lush is very much anti-animal cruelty, so you are supporting a positive, supportive, worldly company by purchasing from them.

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! Stay hydrated & protected! And, if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your winter!

Drink up!

Masks have seem to come back in style quite heavily recently. The oil trend has died down, and masks have taken over. I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say it: the US is often late to both the progressive party & trendy party. So, what European & Asian countries have been doing for decades, the US is only really just catching on now.

I’ve always been a fan of masks, ever since I was a kid. I’d poke through the beauty stash of both my mother and grandmother in awe of the pretty bottles they had. However, it wasn’t until I moved to California that I truely discovered the joy of masks. I never really saw any of the women in my life do a mask, probably because I was too young to remember. By the time I was 10 or 11 and starting to feel my body change, I started to grow into my feminine side. I would hit up Payless (later RiteAid) and stock up on some Freeman masks and my friends & I would go to town with them at sleepovers. And, let’s be real here, I still love Freeman masks, don’t you?

Long gone are the days of innocent pre-teen girly sleepovers. It’s been about a year since I’ve slept over at a friend’s house, and that was out of necessity. Our time spent together no longer involve stuffed animals, Ouija boards, and yearbooks. Well, we might still get out the yearbooks and gawk at our lithe, carefree bodies & smiles. But, more often than not, wine is involved, which makes sense twenty years later. Point is: if I sleep over at a friend’s house, it is because it’s always wise to not operate a vehicle if a wine glass has been accurately used. So, no masks are applied to our faces. We’re lucky if the makeup even comes off.

So, it is up to me, during down time to pamper my skin. I have quite a few face masks that I absolutely adore and always suggest to people. There is one currently out there that is my ultimate favorite.

The mask I have been obsessed with is GlamGlow’s ThirstyMud mask. At first, I was really put off by the smell. I had smelled a tester that had obviously gone off and it smelled like moth balls. Then, I was lucky enough to receive a jar to try. When I cracked it open and took a whiff, I was surprised. It smelled like coconuts and apple juice!

GlamGlow ThirstyMud

This mask is a lifesaver!! It’s full of amazing ingredients, such as apple fruit extract, coconut fruit extract, ginger root extract, green tea leaf powder, olive leaf powder, and so many more. I learned it feels best chilled, so I keep it in my fridge. This mask is essential to anyone with redness, irritated skin, sunburned skin, surface dehydration, or genuinely dry skin. It’s great for all skin types, however those dealing with the issues I just mentioned will greatly benefit from this mask. This mask can be left on as little as 10 minutes or as long as all night. And, I always wear this mask overnight. My skin does really well when I use the mask this way. The company even suggests using this mask in-flight to prevent that dreaded dehydration many people get after a long flight. For my skin, I feel that the apple extract helps gently exfoliate and brighten, while the coconut, green tea, and olive are replenishing, and lastly the ginger helps energize my skin.

Please, if you can afford this $69 mask, invest in it! It is worth every penny. If not, stop by a local Sephora and, at least, pick up a sample to try. And, fret not my loves, I will write a post about my other favorite masks, which include a plethora of cost effective masks!

In the mean time, please visit (and follow & like) my other blogs, twitter, and Facebook:
DJ Toaster Biscuit
A Life In Paperback
@DJToasterBiscui
@RealEllieMcHale
@lovenugget
DJ Toaster Biscuit at FaceBook

And, I have a very special GIVEAWAY in the works! Keep your eyes peeled. It involves hitting a like button or two & hitting one or two follow buttons. Also, get your creative juices flowing. I might ask for a haiku, ya hear?