To begin, I just want to say THANK YOU to the people reading this. Yesterday, I received not one, but TWO, texts from dear friends.
The first read: “Just read your blog, and while we both know I enjoy cheese far too much, I cannot wait to continue reading your vegan adventures! I’m 100% supportive of you and JB and maybe even vegan D [my brother]!”
And the second: “I am going to try going vegan for a week. Starting Monday (because this place I’m eating at this weekend has a grilled cheese on a donut) but I’m going to need some inspirational words come Monday. Just warning you. <3”
All I can say is “!!!!!!” Seriously, my heart is so warmed by y’all. As I mentioned yesterday, ANY meal without animal products does the planet (and also your belly) good.
Back to the topic at hand. When I first opened my monthly beauty box from Petit Vour, a vegan alternative to BirchBox, I was greeted with the words: BE BOLD. BE KIND. I immediately knew that I had made the right decision signing up for a subscription. It’s refreshing to find a company that has the dual purpose of promoting compassion and helping people look fierce.
As I mentioned in my first post, being vegan is more than just eating a plant-based diet. The Vegan Society defines veganism as “A way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.” Watching factory farm footage is enough to make eating plant-based easy, but I was really overwhelmed by the prospect of giving up the majority of my beauty routine. It took me (literally) years of experimentation and careful curation to finally settle on a suite of “go-to” staples, and I found myself on a new path that no longer included them. I resented people who had never considered what went into the creation of their blushes and lipsticks and who could buy whatever products they wanted guilt-free. Frazzled, I decided that I would not make a decision about what do in regard to personal care items until I ran out of something. Mascara was the first to go. I went to Sephora, and headed straight to the Smashbox aisle to grab my old reliable. As I stood in front of the display, I found myself hesitating.
Makeup itself is problematic. As a woman who works in the business world, I made a personal decision to keep using it, but there are many really, really good reasons to forgo it completely. As I stood in front of the rows of gleaming tubes and compacts, all singing their siren song, I came to a realization: if I could not defend cosmetics as a concept, I could certainly not support cosmetics that test on animals. Paying to support torture, so that I could in turn try to adhere to a ridiculous standard of beauty, seemed exceedingly vain.
“Torture,” you say, “That sounds a bit hyperbolic.” Until I did some cursory investigation, I thought so too. Here is the Humane Society of the United States outlining typical procedures in cosmetics testing:
Q: What animal tests are carried out to test cosmetics?
A: Although they are not required by law, several tests are commonly performed by exposing mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs to cosmetics ingredients. This can include:
- skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits without any pain relief
- repeated force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards such as cancer or birth defects; and
- widely condemned “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.
At the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking, or decapitation. Pain relief is not provided. In the United States, a large percentage of the animals used in such testing (such as laboratory-bred rats and mice) are not counted in official statistics and receive no protection under the Animal Welfare Act.
What other decision was there for me to make? I whipped out my phone and Googled “cosmetic companies that don’t test on animals.” PETA, love ’em or hate ’em, has compiled this handy list. I scanned it quickly looking for any names I recognized, and there it was! Tarte Cosmetics.
Just because a company does not test on animals does not mean that their goods do not contain animal products (crushed beetles, wax from sebaceous glands, and gelatin are common). Thankfully, Tarte has a page dedicated for their vegan products on their website. I grabbed the “gifted” mascara and the “Amazonian clay full coverage airbrush” foundation (whew, what a mouthful) and was, cautiously but optimistically, on my way. The next morning I discovered that I had nothing to worry about. My lashes looked bangin’ with Tarte’s mascara, and the foundation covered just as well as the my former-sacrosanct Mac studio fix had. Suddenly, the concept of vegan cosmetics was no longer scary – it was exciting. I felt like I did in middle school when I was discovering makeup for the first time; I realized there was a whole, wide world of cruelty free products to explore. What a great excuse to go shopping.
I had heard whispers about vegan beauty boxes, and I decided that would be an easy way to discover new items. Before going vegan, I had been a BirchBox subscriber for about 6 months, but I cancelled because I every month I was getting a different hair texturizing spray and a new mascara. The price wasn’t worth it to get the same things over and over when I already knew which products I liked. But now that I’m in the wild again, I need some guidance. Petit Vour, you have been my Virgil on my quest through cosmetics-land.
So, without further adieu, this month’s box contained:
- Meow Meow Tweet Face Cleanser
- 100% Pure Facial Cleansing Brush
- Jacq’s Organics Green Smoothie Scrub and Mask
- FiOR Minterals Eye Liner in Brown Sugar
I enjoy all of these products, but let’s start in order from the one I like the least to my absolute, “can’t believe I lived my whole life without this” favorite.
Description: This everyday cream cleanser is a gentle and effective recipe that will thoroughly cleanse your face without stripping the skin of it’s vital moisture. Think of this as a an oil cleanser that rinses off!
My thoughts: This cleanser smells so good, and I love the way it makes my skin feel. The product description says that it is best suited for combination, acne-prone skin, which definitely fits the bill. Thanks, genetics. The only reason this was my “least favorite” product is because it is the only item out of the box that I won’t be purchasing again. For whatever reason, I’m just not a face wash girl. They always, without fail, dry my skin out too much. I’ve been washing my face with coconut oil and find that it clears my acne and softens my skin. Until that method fails me, that’s the routine that I’ll keep around.
2. 100% Pure Facial Cleansing Brush
Description: 100% Pure Facial Cleanser Brush gently exfoliates, eliminating dirt, makeup, dead skin cells and surface pollutants. It is made with extremely soft and gentle synthetic fibers that feel like a cloud against your skin.
My thoughts: I’m all about exfoliating, and this brush feels incredible! When I took it out of the packaging, it even had a soft, clean scent. My only word of caution: I immediately used it to wipe off the Green Smoothie Mask, which has turned the tips of the bristles a dull gray that I’ve not been able to remove (thus, no product pic!). Totally my fault, but be sure to keep this in mind: probably do not use it in conjunction with the face mask. I will be looking to 100% Pure for new makeup brushes soon. This brush is something that I never would have bought on my own, so I’m glad that I had the opportunity to try it out.
Description: This mask includes a blend of organic sea kelp, fresh ground organic almond meal combined to create a gentle and effective scrub that provides the skin with a rich source of nutrients, vitamins and omega fatty acids.
My thoughts: I’m seriously obsessed with face masques. Before going vegan, I could commonly be found thrown across my couch, Netflix blaring, with my face slathered in a homemade concoction of honey, cinnamon, and who knows what else. JB called these salves my “potions” since he’d stumble upon me making them in the kitchen. The second I saw the word “masque” on the jar, I let out an audible squeal. Jacq’s did it not disappoint. To use, you mix 1.5 teaspoons with water to form a paste, apply, and let sit for ~15 minutes. It tingles and cools while it works its magic. My skin felt so refreshed once I rinsed it off, and I can definitely see myself incorporating this into weekly beauty regimen. I will be buying this product again.
4. FiOR Minterals Eye Liner in Brown Sugar
Description: This 100% natural vegan eyeliner is bursting with certified organic antioxidants and soothing ingredients, gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. Create d’FINEd LINEs or a smudged out smoky look in no time flat. This creamy moisturizing nutrient-filled formula was designed not to tug or pull on the eye.
My thoughts: I’ll admit, when I pulled this out of the box, I was disappointed. I have been a firm black eyeliner girl since I started wearing makeup, barring a short period in high school where I thought electric blue was an acceptable daily look. FiOR proved me wrong. I’ve worn this product every day since receiving it, and have been blown away. It has not smudged. I repeat: it has not smudged. What magical substance is this made of? All ingredients that I recognize and can pronounce, it turns out! I live in Texas, so any eyeliner that can make it through the day without forming dark circles under my eyes automatically gets an A+ in my book. I am so thrilled by this product, and who knows– maybe I will buy brown again once I finish this one!
For those of you who also subscribe to Petit Vour, what was your favorite product this month? What are your favorite cruelty-free beauty products in general?