The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Budget Buy-Nature’s Gate lotion


Life in Colorado is a constant battle of maintaining moisturized skin. The dry climate here can reduce even the most supple, soft skin to a flaky mess if not properly treated with some kind of moisturizer daily. The winter is worse as the cold and dry air combine and causes the body to hoard even more moisture from the skin. Those who have naturally dry skin are really in a bad way.

I am a lotion fiend. I use it daily after showering, of course, but I also cannot wash my hands without lotioning up after. I go crazy if I can’t use lotion on my hands. I hate having dry feet and will apply foot lotion after showering and wear socks to help keep them soft, even during the summer. I alternate between thick body-butter style lotions and regular liquidy ones (I’m pretty sure I just made up the words ‘lotioning’ and ‘liquidy’. Feel free to incorporate them into your daily use). I have been known to spend upwards of a hundred dollars at Bath and body works buying my favorite scents, though I’m trying to change that since they are not vegan. But can you blame me for not passing up their eternal Buy 3 get 2 free sale? Those words are like crack to me. I have also spent $50 on one tub of the greatest lotion ever, but these days I’m looking for something more budget-friendly AND vegan to sooth my skin.

Two of my favorite things!

When I first started buying cruelty-free products, Nature’s Gate was one of the companies I was drawn to. For one thing they have a picture of a happy bunny on their bottles, which at that time was my only barometer of what was cruelty-free. I bought a bottle of the pomegranate sunflower lotion, used it, and went on to trying other brands. I remember really liking the scent but I don’t remember how well it worked. Lucky for me, NG was on sale at Whole Foods last week and I picked up a bottle of the Acai lotion.

All of NG’s lotions contain their exclusive natural moisture booster blend: Shea Butter, Sweet Almond Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Soybean Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Vegetable Glycerin and Vitamin E. I want to take a moment and explain a little about what sodium hyaluronate is and does, since some people might be weary of an ingredient that sounds artificial.

Sodium hylauronate is a natural substance similar to the fluid the surrounds our joints. It is basically a very long chain of sugar molecules from a salt molecule base. It is well known for its lubricating properties and is often used in knee injections to restore viscosity to the synovial fluid. On the cosmetic level, it works by drawing moisture to the surface of the skin and promoting the absorption of all the other ingredients resulting  in moist, smooth skin.  (

Okay, science lesson over! Pop quiz later…

I chose Acai in order to reap the antioxidant benefits of this super fruit. Acai helps defend against sun damaging free-radicals, something very important to skin care living at high-altitude. The consistency is perfect and doesn’t feel like you’re just rubbing watered-down lotion on.  It also absorbs quickly. After finishing up the last reserves of my BBW lotion I began using this and immediately noticed an improvement in the softness of my skin. Although BBW’s lotions have jojoba, shea butter, and Vitamin E, they also have a sh*t ton of synthetic ingredients so the moisturizing effects are really very temporary.

The acai scent is very sweet but I don’t think it’s so overpowering as to offend sensitive noses. Now I have a confession to make; about 50% of my decision to buy a lotion is based on the scent. I can’t help it. After years of wearing BBW’s vast collection of smells I just can’t bring myself to like the scent of patchouli lotion (a Kiss My Face scent). So although I’ve been experiencing a worse-than-normal level of dry, itchy skin I just couldn’t bring myself to go with the Colloidal Oatmeal version because it just smelled…plain. Like oatmeal, I guess. Thankfully the Acai has worked wonders. They do have other pleasant smells like the aforementioned pomegranate sunflower and papaya so while I may never enjoy my beloved Twilight Woods again, I know I’m doing my skin, and animals, a world of good.

NG’s lotions are geared towards problem skin, though they do have a few that are for normal skin. For those of you with sensitive skin, NG makes a fragrance-free lotion. They also have a ‘glow lotion’ which gradually builds a natural-looking tan which I will definitely try come spring. The price is perfect; I bought an 18oz bottle for $10.99 (normally $11.99) and it will last me at least a month even with liberal daily use. You can pair your lotion with a matching body wash (cause who doesn’t love things in pairs?) which also contains their moisture blend. Look for them in your local natural grocer or you can buy at their


Whip it Good

I hope everyone enjoyed the second Virtual Vegan Potluck! I had so much fun going through all the recipes. Now I’m in the process of going through the extensive list of participants again to pin all the ones I want to try. Thank you to everyone who visited me—it was my most successful day to date! I’m excited to have several new followers and I hope you enjoy my future posts. Big thanks to Annie, Somer, Lidia, and Jason for their hard work at making the potluck successful. This is the start of what I think will become a very popular tradition!

We are officially in ‘holiday season’. I’m not entirely sure when it begins—every year it seems like Christmas decorations come out in stores sooner and sooner. But I think the start of November is really when things pick up. I myself am not a huge holiday fan, even less so this year with my unemployment casting a huge shadow over any merriment I might try to enjoy. However, I am trying to stay positive about my future and one way I’ve done that recently was by making a pumpkin pie. Now that may not sound like a big deal but I’ve never made a pie before so when it came out well, I was ecstatic. And of course with a slice of vegan pumpkin pie I needed some vegan whipped cream.

I know that there are recipes out there on how to make your own whipped cream but I am not that ambitious. Thankfully, Soyatoo makes vegan whipped cream in the can. I wasn’t sure what to expect taste-wise, but I was pleasantly surprised at how similar it was to dairy-based whipped cream. I will say that it has a slight soy-flavor similar to soy milk but it’s only noticeable if you taste it on its own, and who just eats whipped cream with nothing else? I put this on Robert’s slice and he said nothing about it, which is basically like a thumbs-up from Caesar, so it passed that test. It also comes out of the can just like other brands so I think it would be easy to fool anyone that it’s vegan.

What I really liked about this whipped cream is that it wasn’t too sweet. While it does contain sweeteners like maltodextrin and coconut oil, it doesn’t taste like you just ate a spoonful of sugar. Nutrition wise, it’s fairly even compared to other brands. For the same amount of serving of the popular dairy-based whipped cream, Soyatoo contains 0.5 gram less fat, five fewer calories, and of course no cholesterol.

My only qualm with this whipped cream is that you have to remove it from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to using, in order to loosen the contents up. It’s inconvenient, especially if you just want a cup of cocoa because you can’t just take it out, spray some on, and be done. You have to plan the timing of your desserts and drinks. Spontaneity is not allowed.  Still, it’s a small price to pay for vegan whipped cream that tastes this good. Look for it next to other canned whipped cream, and look hard. At my Whole Foods at was at the very end of the cooler, on the top shelf, practically hidden by the other brands.

A whipped cream snow cap for my penguin 🙂