my journey to cruelty-free skin (and where I'm going from here)

Dogs should be in laps, not in labs!

Dogs should be in laps, not in labs!

There's a lot of stuff happening this Friday, but I've been talking to a lot of people about cosmetics and beauty lately, and I'd like to take a minute to raise some awareness about cruelty-free cosmetics.

First things first: I am not vegan. It's something I really want to be able to do eventually, but my past history of disordered eating makes it very hard for me to restrict my diet in particular ways, so it hasn't been something I can do successfully yet. I’ve taken many steps toward it and I am confident I can one day overcome the psychological barriers that are keeping me from my goal.

Second: I am not 100% cruelty-free. It's an educational process to learn about which companies are CF, and animal cruelty is part of so many things, from household cleaners to makeup.

However, I stopped buying makeup and skincare that isn't cruelty-free about six months ago, and have had a lot of success with it. And I want people to know that it is entirely possible to go cruelty-free without having to completely change the way you shop or how you do your makeup. It’s a matter of scale, and what timeline you want to be on, and how committed you really are to being a conscious consumer. Consumerism makes it really hard for us to make mindful choices! But it isn’t impossible, and these are the things I’ve learned along the way:

the sins of the parent company shall be visited upon the subsidiary

Navigating cruelty-free language and certification is difficult, and there are multiple levels to it. Many “brands” can advertise being cruelty-free while still being owned by a parent company that is not. For example, BareMinerals is itself a cruelty-free brand; however, it is owned by parent company Shiseido, which is not cruelty-free.

One of the most common reasons this happens is because most of the larger cosmetic corporations sell in China. China requires all cosmetics to be tested on animals before hitting the retail market, even if the brand is not a Chinese brand. Since many of the parent companies are trying to get a piece of that huge Chinese cosmetic market pie while also getting cruelty-free consumer dollars, they will keep some of their brands cruelty-free by not selling those brands in China. However, you are still supporting animal cruelty when you buy BareMinerals makeup, even if the brand itself is cruelty-free.

it can be tough to find cruelty-free cosmetics and skincare from retailers

The first time I went to Sephora after deciding to only buy cruelty-free cosmetics, I was SO disappointed. Sephora carries very few 100% CF brands in store (I used to think I could count on Tarte, and then they BETRAYED me when I found out they were owned by Kose). There are a lot of great independent, small and cruelty-free brands out there (think Glossier, Juice Beauty, Milk Makeup, Colourpop, etc.), but most of them are sold online to reduce costs and stay competitive.

It can be really frustrating to have an experience that I used to love taken away from me. I remember actually crying when I realized I couldn’t buy a Caudalie face mist I loved anymore, because going into Sephora and picking up the beautiful glass bottle and looking at all the beautiful things really relaxed me and brought me joy.

Even though going to Sephora is frustrating now, I’ve found a surprising ally in my cruelty-free journey: Ulta! I shopped at Ulta a lot as a teen, and I have discovered that they carry some of my favorite CF brands in store (Mario Badescu, Juice Beauty, Pacifica, e.l.f.). Even though Ulta is otherwise a minefield for animal cruelty since they carry so many drugstore brands, they have become my go-to for skincare shopping.

it can be a slow process, and that's okay

I am not someone who is successful at short-term overhauls. At one point, I considered throwing out all my makeup and skin care and completely restocking with CF items. After thinking it through and reflecting on my past behavioral tendencies, I realized that I am usually only successful at making life changes if I do it slowly and purposefully.

Since my money had already been spent on my current regimen of cosmetics, I simply replaced things that ran out with CF items. Was it more expensive per item? Yes. But my bank account didn’t take quite the hit, since I integrated the products more slowly. I also found that I am now a lot less likely to just pick things up on a whim, because a) I don’t want to frivolously spend money anymore and b) I need to take time to research the brand and make sure they are fully CF.

I still have some non-CF products that I use, and that’s okay. In a moment of weakness I rebought my Neutrogena Hydroboost cleanser because it is a great cleanser and it is really inexpensive. Will I do better next time? Yes. Am I going to beat myself up over it? No.

small changes accumulate and become a lifestyle

Now that I have comfortably gotten a handle on my skincare and cosmetics, I’ve started researching cruelty-free hair products for curly hair. Disclaimer: it’s looking grim. I’ve also started switching over my household cleaners where I can, but even that can be tough. Has anybody found a CF alternative for Dra-No that actually works? Because I sure haven’t.

But! I am not giving up. Becoming 100% cruelty-free and, eventually, vegan is really important to me, and it’s a process that I am willing to invest multiple months/years into if necessary.

Becoming cruelty-free resonates with me on a deep level, and I’ve felt my spiritual connection with my skincare routine and makeup improving as I have become more mindful about the impact my money has.

my current skincare products

Neutrogena HydroBoost cleanser (the only non-CF skincare thing left!)

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Cleanser (1-3 times per week)

Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner

Mario Badescu Aloe Facial Mist

First Aid Beauty Mattifying Gel (they were CF in February when I bought this moisturizer, but as of March 2017 they no longer guarantee their CF status)

Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream

Drunk Elephant Night Bright Duo

Pacifica Anti-Fatigue pudding mask (seriously smells like chocolate pudding and I want to eat it)

Pacifica Purifying mask

Sidenote: apparently Pacifica doesn't carry either of these masks online? Hit up Ulta and see if you can find them!

my current makeup toolkit

Tarte In-Bloom Palette (technically CF, but owned by a non-CF company, so I will not be rebuying)

Pixi Eye Shadow Mesmerizing Minerals Palette in Plum Quartz

Pacifica Stellar Gaze Length & Strength Mascara

NYX retractable eyeliner (technically CF but owned by L’Oreal, will not be rebuying)

Kat Von D Tattoo liner (basically everyone’s ride-or-die liquid liner)

e.l.f. Setting Powder

e.l.f. bb Cream

Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer (this is so good and I am v sad about not using it anymore once it’s gone)

Colourpop Highlighter (Lunch Money and Churro are my two faves)

Colourpop Blotted Lip

Cruelty-Free resources

Cruelty-Free Kitty (great reference for CF brands)

Bunny Free app (for on the go barcode scanning)

Kiera Rose (vegan vlogger and Lush fanatic)

LaMadelynn (CF and vegan beauty blogger)


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