The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Burt’s Bees Natural Throat Drops

I have been plagued with a sore throat for the last few weeks, and I adamantly refuse to use those gag-inducing throat sprays for relief. Throat lozenges are okay, but often times are too sugary or medicine-y tasting for me to use more than one a day. But I was tired of constantly clearing my throat and having someone think I was trying to get their attention, so last night at the drug store I decided to break down and get some lozenges.

Imagine my surprise when I saw that Burt’s Bees had throat drops. It was a no-brainer that I got them, and I am pleased to say that they work exceptionally well for throat pain relief. They contain menthol, eucalyptus oil and honey and come in 3 flavors-Honey, Honey and Lemon, and Honey and Pomegranate. I tried the regular honey flavor and really like it, though I would definitely like to try the others. The balance of the menthol and honey make these actually enjoyable to use, without giving you that obvious lozenge-breath.  And the relief from one drop lasted well after it was gone. I used one this morning at 9 didn’t need another one until early afternoon.

The best part, of course, is that they are all natural. No artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or sweeteners. I’ve been a fan of Burt’s Bees for a long time, and I am glad to see them expanding their line of products, all of which you can find on their website. I know that hard-core vegans don’t approve of the use of honey or beeswax in food or products, but my stance is that this is far less egregious than using other animal-derived products. They do use lanolin and milk in some of their products, so I avoid those. And yes, they are owned by Clorox, which conducts animal testing. BB is very up-front about not performing any animal testing, so hopefully their growing popularity will encourage Clorox to stop animal testing on all their products. One can hope, right?

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Help Wanted:A Vegan Lip Balm

This review was supposed to be about lip balm. I had purchased a lip balm at Bath and Body Works called My Favorite Night Balm a while back and I really, really liked it. My lips get very dry and I am always trying new balms, and this one worked incredibly well at moisturizing my lips.  It was great to put it on at night and have nice soft lips in the morning, something that other balms had not done. But then I decided to check the ingredients before writing the review and saw ‘lanolin oil’—sheep skin oil. Yuck. I know, I should have checked the ingredients before my purchase and I certainly learned my lesson from this. Needless to say, that balm went in the trash and I was left with no review.

So this week I’m asking for your help. What are your favorite soothing and moisturizing vegan lip balms? I don’t have any allergies (that I know of yet!) so no ingredients are off limits.  I honestly don’t think any balms I have used in the past have been vegan so any suggestions are welcome!

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Sukhi’s Vegetable Naanwich

I wish I could say that I eat all fresh and home cooked meals. And one of these days, I will be able to take more time to focus on cooking. But for now while I work full time and go to school, I will take what shortcuts I can. And one of those shortcuts come in the form of the frozen Naanwich. Robert and I came across these at Whole Foods a while back and decided to give them a try. Of course I opted for the Garden Vegetable variety and took it to work for lunch.

Basically the naanwich is a piece of naan stuffed with spiced potatoes, carrots and peas. Almost as soon as it started cooking in the microwave, the lovely aromatics filled the breakroom. Everyone thought I had brought leftover Indian food for lunch, the smell was that good. I love the smell of the spices used in Indian cooking, and I love naan, so this was a natural yummy combo for me.  I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and chewy the naan stayed while still producing a steamy hot interior. The veggies were perfectly spiced and even the potatoes retained a little bit of a bite to prived a bit of textural contrast. The portion size is perfect for a quick and filling lunch. And I didn’t even realize this until I checked out the website, but it’s vegan! The only thing I would like is some sort of sauce because the sandwich is a bit dry, but I know that would be hard to do for a frozen sandwich.

I didn’t keep the wrapper to give you the nutritional info and it isn’t available on the website, but I do remember it being realtively healthy, at least as far as frozen meals go. Besides, anything that contains mostly veggies is good, right?  In any case, it’s nice to have a vegan Indian alternative in the frozen foods section for those days when you just don’t have the time to make a ‘proper’ lunch. You can find where Sukhi’s products are near you at their website http://www.sukhis.com . They also have many of their products available for sale online, including the Naanwich, but are only sold in a pack of 24 for $79. So unless you have a lot of freezer space, this probably isn’t an option. I did see that  they have a Veggie Masala burger naanwich that I haven’t seen before, so I hope they decide to bring it to stores soon!

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LUSH Henna Hair Dyes

I was actually going to wait to put this review up since I reviewed as LUSH product not too long ago, but thanks to the snow, I didn’t have to go to work, and I don’t really feel like doing anything school-related, so I figured today is as good as any other.

I came across the henna hair dyes a few weeks back while perusing the Lush website for new products. I’ve never completely dyed my hair or done an at-home dye job, so I wasn’t initially interested. Plus, reading some of the reviews put me off a bit, as it sounded too complicated and messy. But last weekend at the mall, I decided to just give it a whirl. I was looking for a bit of a different look, since I’m still deciding if I want to keep my hair short or grow it out. And what would a review site be if I didn’t take some risks once in a while?

Lush’s henna hair dyes come in 4 colors: Rouge Mama, which provides a red color; Brun Mama which gives a darker brown color; Marron Mama, a reddish-brown blend, and Noir Mama, for dark black color. The dyes are a blend of natural henna and cocoa butter. No synthetic colors or chemicals to be found, which is what really intrigued me. I’ve had highlights done, and I’ve always felt bad about how the chemicals would strip my hair. The clerk at the store suggested I try Marron Mama since it would complement my naturally brown color while adding some red to it. The dyes come in a block of 6 squares, and are meant to be cut so you can use only what you need for your hair length and type. The clerk said that I would probably only need 2 or 3 squares since my hair is so short. Unfortunately, you have to buy the whole block, which costs $24.95. That seemed a bit steep initially, especially given I had no idea how well it would work, but compared to a salon dye job which can cost twice as much, I think that’s fairly comparable.

The directions for prepping and applying the dye are as follows (taken from the LUSH website):

1. Cut henna up into small pieces and put in a heatproof bowl.

2. Add hot water and let steep. Mix to a yogurt-like consistency.

3. Put on gloves and apply from back to front, coating hair thoroughly.

4. Cover in cling wrap for a more vibrant red. Leave on for one to six hours.

5. Rinse, shampoo, and condition hair.

Tips: Always do a strand test first. Use face cream (or Ultra Bland) around your hairline and ears to protect skin. Wrap hair in cling film for a redder color. For darker, richer colors, leave on longer (up to six hours).

However, the directions that come with the actual block of dye differ a bit. They call for using a double boiler to melt the dye and adding water as hot as you can stand and to keep it warm over the boiler while applying. They also suggest laying newspaper down on the floor before applying, and also have all kinds of suggestions as what you can add to enhance the color (coffee, cinnamon, etc). I used the directions from the website and just added boiling water to a bowl to mix, then took that into the bathroom to apply. I used 3 blocks, but it turns out I probably only needed 2. I also did not do the strand test, because I figured in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I do highly suggest the newspaper, as the mixture will begin to pebble up and little balls will drop on the floor the more you add to your hair. This might have something to do with not keeping the mixture over the boiler to keep it warm; next time I will probably try that. It wasn’t a huge mess to clean up so it wasn’t a big deal. I wrapped my head in saran wrap (which I also suggest to keep any of the dye from falling off onto your couch or clothes) and let it sit for 3 hours. This is a time intensive process, so if you don’t have at least the hour suggested to let the dye sit, it probably won’t work out well. The smell—well, that took some getting used to. To me, it smelled a lot like really bitter, burnt coffee. Some other reviews said strong green tea. It wasn’t horrible, especially compared to chemical hair dyes, but it doesn’t smell like roses either.

Finally, it was time to wash out. I got in the shower, stood under the water and began running my hands through my hair. And it made an unholy mess. Next time, I will just stand under the faucet and let the water get as much out as possible before I begin using my hands. I mean it was really messy, all over the walls and shower curtain. And it took a good 5 minutes or so before I finally got all the particles out. Once done, I decided to blow dry my hair to see what the color looked like…and wow, was I surprised! I loved how it was the perfect blend of red and brown and it made my hair super soft too. I got a ton of compliments on it at work the next day, and it actually looked like the color had deepened a bit. I will definitely be using this again. I don’t know how long it will last; some reviews said anywhere from 3-6 months. It probably just depends on how much you use and how well your hair holds color. Below are the before and after pics of my hair; I don’t think it does justice for how vibrant the color turned out, but you get the idea.

   

You can find the henna hair dye at lushusa.com and in their stores as well. If you are interested in trying, you might want to email them or visit a store and see if they would be willing to give you a small sample piece of the color you want to try a strand test first before committing to a whole block. Or, you can just throw caution to the wind like me and just see what happens!

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