The Cruelty-Free Review

A review of compassionate products, foods, and recipes

Humane Cosmetic Act Introduced to US Legislation

Huge news you guys–new legislation was introduced last week to END ANIMAL TESTING FOR COSMETICS  IN THE US!!!

I can’t put enough exclamation marks at the end of that sentence.

Read the story at VegNews, then hop right over to Cruelty Free International to see how you can encourage your state representative to support this crucial bill. Together, we help the US join other countries in ending the needless and inhumane animal testing that still takes place every day. Do it for the bunnies!!

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DIY in ’15


When I started writing this post, all I could think about was how I wished it was 2005 instead of 2015 because then I could title it “DIY in ‘05” and it would totally rhyme. But still, if you say “one-five” instead of “fifteen” then the rhyme still works.  These are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night. Aaanywaaay….

Obviously, this is all about how I want to try and make my own cleaning and beauty products this year.  Long story short, after 10 years of living in the same apartment Robert and I lucked into renting a condo. It’s bigger than our old place and in a nicer area of town, but with the upgrade in the quality of living conditions, we also got an upgrade in the rent. So I’m trying to be more frugal and want to try the DIY route that seems popular these days. I’ve seen loads of ideas and recipes for making homemade laundry detergent, all-purpose cleansers, body scrubs, shampoo, spider repellant (something I’m VERY interested in, now that we have a garage with lots of boxes in it) and so forth. People swear that they save a ton of money by making their own stuff and that’s definitely something I can get on board with!

I decided to start with something very basic, something idiot-proof that even I couldn’t mess up, so I decided to make a sugar body scrub. Winter in Colorado equals very, very dry skin, especially with the extreme cold temperatures we’ve had lately. So sugar scrubs are a great way to slough dead, dry skin, and are especially effective when combined with an oil to moisturize. There are only about a million and one recipes for DIY scrubs, but I found one that called for just sugar and coconut oil. I said it was basic, didn’t I? Besides, that’s pretty much all the ingredients I had at the time. So I combined 1 cup of plain white sugar with ¼ cup coconut oil. I mixed everything together with my hands, which provided just enough warmth to gently melt the coconut oil and blend with the sugar. I tried it that night in the shower and it was just perfect. Gently exfoliating and moisturizing without being greasy. But like I said, it was very basic. No smell, no color (which is why I won’t bother with a picture. Imagine a Tupperware container with white sugar in it. There’s my scrub). A few drops of an essential oil would certainly elevate to something more indulgent.

But it was cheap! A 2lb. bag of sugar costs about 90 cents and the coconut oil was about $9.00 for a 32oz jar. If I’m doing the math correctly (and there’s a good chance I’m not!) that works out to about 60 cents for the batch of scrub, which makes enough to last 1 ½-2 weeks, if used every other day or so. Not too shabby when you consider store-bought scrubs can cost $5-10 or more. And given that sugar and coconut oil are staples of cooking and both have long shelf-lives, there’s little chance they will go to waste.

So, my initial foray into the world of DIY was a success! I didn’t spend any money since I used what was already on hand and it was effective. Now I want to hear from you. Has anyone else tried DIY products? Was is actually cheaper and did it work? I’d love to hear any and all experiences!


Play Dirty


About six months ago, I made a bold decision and cut my longer than shoulder-length hair into a pixie cut. I made the change after half a summer of sweltering at night with hair stuck to my face and having no energy to do anything with it other than throw it up into a ponytail every day. I needed a change. I’ve gone from long to short hair before, but this was the most drastic change ever and one that would require actual styling.

Unfortunately, before leaving the salon I bought the hair cream the stylist suggested without doing any research and ended up buying a non-cruelty-free brand. It’s a decision I regretted, but given that the product cost $20, I wasn’t going to throw it out. I did begin looking for a replacement for when I did run out, and I instantly turned to LUSH to see what options they had. Enter Dirty Hair Cream, my new favorite LUSH product. I asked for a sample to try and haven’t looked back since.

First of all, don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s found in the Men’s section of the store. It isn’t just for men, and frankly it has the best scent of just about any LUSH product I’ve tried. It’s not overly masculine, though it does contain sandalwood, pine, and oak moss oils. It’s a little tough to describe, but I can only say it smells fresh. The scent lasts all day, which I love because I’ll occasionally get a random whiff and it will just make me happy.



Okay, it smells great, but how well does it work? Amazing, that how it works. It’s surprisingly light for a cream, so it doesn’t weigh down fine locks or make hair greasy. It creates a lot of texture and you can use as little or as much as you need for the type of hold you want. I use about a jellybean size amount for a medium-hold—not cardboard stiff, but able to stay in place for 10+ hours. I do keep the sample jar in my purse so I can do touch-ups when needed! The staff member at LUSH who gave me the sample said she uses it just to swipe down flyaway hairs and runs a little through her ponytail to add texture, so it’s very versatile.

Another great benefit of Dirty is the coconut oil that conditions your hair and scalp. In fact, I usually only wash my hair every other day now since Dirty keeps it smelling fresh and looking soft.

A 3.5oz jar costs $15.95, which I think is incredibly reasonable, especially since it’s vegan! And depending on how much you use, it will last a long time. If you live near a LUSH and are looking to change up your styling routine, hit them up for a sample and try it for yourself. You might just find your new styling BFF.

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Women don’t sweat, they glow…


I like to work out during my lunch break at work. It’s a great way to give myself a boost of energy when I’m lagging halfway through the day and it frees up time after work since I don’t have to go to the gym. I can get in a pretty good sweat doing a tabata workout, but therein lays the problem-the sweat. I never get to the point of being drenched but it would definitely be obvious to others if I didn’t have the decency to reapply deodorant. I also use Pacifica’s Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes to help wipe the sweat glow away 🙂

Way back when I first started this blog I reviewed Pacifica’s perfume. They have greatly expanded their product line to include makeup, facial cleansers, moisturizers, BB creams, and these wipes. Combining gently cleansing coconut water with exfoliating papaya and soothing aloe vera, these wipes are great for removing excess oil while leaving skin soft and hydrated. Each 8 by 5 inch cloth is perfectly moistened and made without harsh chemicals so they work for any skin type. They aren’t the best at removing make-up though, especially water-proof make-up so you’ll want to stick with a stronger cleanser for that. The coconut scent is refreshing without being overpowering and will make you feel like you’re walking on the beach.

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What I really love about the wipes is the packaging. I’ve used a lot of wipes in this kind of packaging and without fail every pack suffered from not closing tightly enough to prevent the wipes from drying out. Pacifica’s packaging snaps shut completely, keeping the cloths moist for weeks. 30 wipes come in a pack and cost $5.99, which is a great bargain especially since there’s no worry about the cloths drying out. The package fits easily in a purse, making them travel-friendly. 100% vegan and biodegradable, these wipes are a must-have, whether you use them for regular cleansing or just to freshen up while on the go.


Arbonne Vegan Protein Shake

*I was provided with free products to try, but the opinions are 100% my own*


A while back I was contacted by Sara, a consultant for Arbonne International wanting to know if I would like to try their vegan nutritional shakes. For those of you who have not heard of Arbonne (like me, until Sara came along :) ), they offer high-quality skin care, cosmetics, and nutritional supplements that are all botanically-based, cruelty-free, and vegan. Being a big fan of Vega I was definitely willing to try a different product to compare to Vega. If you haven’t read my review of Vega One or just need a refresher on my thoughts, hop over here, and then keep reading.

Arbonne’s shakes come in chocolate and vanilla, both of which I got to try. The serving size is 42 grams, just slightly larger than Vega’s 38.6 grams so I used the same 8 ounces of liquid to mix it with. The first thing I noticed about the Arbonne shakes was how quickly and completely they dissolved. I had no issues with clumps, something I can’t say for Vega. As for taste and texture, Arbonne wins by a country mile. I never despised Vega’s taste although I couldn’t discern much difference between the flavors (I’ve tried the Vanilla Chai and Berry) and I could still tell I was drinking a protein shake. Arbonne doesn’t suffer from the chalky or gritty feel that many shakes have. The vanilla was subtly sweet and didn’t taste artificial. Hands down, the chocolate was my favorite. It was creamy and indulgent and loaded with chocolate flavor. It’s amazing that with a whopping 20 grams of protein per serving (5 more than Vega) that these shakes are so smooth and flavorful.
Speaking of nutritional value, protein is about the only category that Arbonne wins at compared to Vega. Here are links to each product’s nutritional chart.

That’s not to say that it lacks in anything but Vega can brag that their shakes provide 50% recommended intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as greens, antioxidants, and probiotics. Which is all well and good but as I stated in my Vega review, it’s so very important to make sure you get the majority of your nutrition from whole, plant-based meals. That being said if you’re looking for a shake that provides long-lasting fullness as a meal replacement, Arbonne comes out on top. I drank it for breakfast each time and went nearly 3 hours before feeling any signs of hunger.
Arbonne also wins in the cost category. A large tub of Vega which contains 20-24 servings (depending on the flavor) will run you about $66. Arbonne is the same price, but with 30 servings per container. Still pricey, but if you’re thinking about throwing down serious money for a protein shake, those extra servings could be a deal-breaker.

And not to throw salt in the wound, but Vega has endured a few recalls last year. In November, Health Canada asked Vega to recall about 108 lot numbers of their shakes due to the product being contaminated with an antibiotic that can cause several severe health conditions. Vega initially refused the recall but under the weight of public protest they complied about a week later. Back in June they recalled 15 lot numbers of their protein bars due to trace amounts of milk found in them. This resulted in changing the labeling to read: “May contain dairy”. You can read the FDA press releases for each recall here:
Vega One Nutritional Shake Recall
Vega One Sport Protein Bar Recall

There doesn’t seem to be as much furor about the bars containing milk as there was for the antibiotic contamination but I’m certainly disappointed by both occurrences. For one, the bars can’t really be considered vegan anymore. Strict vegans and those with dairy allergies definitely have to avoid them. As for the antibiotic contamination I don’t understand why they would resist a recall, even a voluntary one. I know that the actual chances of someone having a reaction were slim but why even take the risk? I’m sure Vega had their reasons but I don’t know if it was worth alienating some consumers.

If you’ve been wanting to try vegan protein shakes for the first time or just looking to change up your routine, consider giving Arbonne a shot. You can’t buy Arbonne in stores so if you’re interested, contact Sara at: or check out her website at She is very knowledgeable about all the products she sells and will answer any questions you may have in a timely manner.


Guest Post at That Was Vegan?

Hey gang! I’m helping Barb with a guest post while she’s hanging out with elephants in SE Asia. Hop on over there today to see my post, than make sure you come back here Friday for my first review of the year!


Budget Buy: Avalon Organics Regreshing Vitamin C Renewal Gel Cleanser

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Facial cleansers are one product I rarely splurge on. Sure, I will spend a little more for a really good mask or exfoliator, but as for a cleanser made for everyday use my requirements are only these: cheap and effective. And those are the two things I love most about Avalon Organics Refreshing Vitamin C Renewal Gel Cleanser.

Starting with the effectiveness, AO’s RVCRGC (you don’t need me to keep spelling it out, do you? 🙂 ) is fortified with (duh) Vitamin C, an ingredient known for its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C also naturally brightens the skin, making it perfect for morning use. Lemon bioflavonoids and white tea extracts help soothe skin, fight the signs of aging, and remove toxins and impurities. The gel lathers up fabulously and only a very small amount is needed. It washes off completely without leaving skin feeling dry or stretched out and is great for any skin type. The bright, citrusy scent works wonders for waking me up, no matter how groggy I feel. It’s like being kissed by an orange (my apologies to Seal for ripping off his song 🙂 )

The value of the cleanser just can’t be beat. At only $12.50 for 8.5 ounces (often on sale for even less at Whole Foods)  and even with every day use one bottle will last me for months. Not two or three months, but more like five or six months. No lie.

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I emailed AO to verify that this particular product is vegan. The label says 100% vegetarian ingredients but I couldn’t identify any that wouldn’t be vegan. The reply I received assured me that it is in fact vegan. I also inquired if AO would consider labeling that specifies their products as either vegan or vegetarian. I was told that my inquiry would “be forwarded to the leadership team”.  I hope they seriously consider updating the labeling. It certainly would make shopping much easier for vegan-conscious consumers. Why not promote your product as vegan instead of using potentially ambigious phrases like ‘100% vegetarian’. It’s not like you’d lose customers. I mean, who in their right mind would purposely refuse to buy something just because it’s vegan?

Okay, off the soapbox! I simply love this cleanser and have been using it for over a year and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  Cheap and effective might not sound like the best   endorsement for a product but in this case it really is high praise.

Avalon Organics products can be purchased on their website, natural foods stores, and many chain stores like Target and Walmart.


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The Eyes Have It


Urban Decay is a cruelty-free company with a huge line of cosmetics.  From eye shadows to primers, lip gloss to foundation, UD offers something for everyone. Additionally, many of their products are vegan and are easily identified as such with a purple paw print on their website and store displays. Today I will review their eye shadow. Unfortunately they don’t have an all-vegan eye shadow palate, so I will only be reviewing the four vegan shades from the Ammo palate.


For starters, UD’s eye shadows are perfectly balanced between being light and creamy without being flaky or heavy. They glide on very smooth and blend well, making it easy to customize your look and can be applied wet or dry. Finishes range from matte, to luminous, to shimmery and colors range from muted nudes to bold purples and blues.  Of their 75 available shades, 32 are vegan so there are plenty of options available.

The four vegan shades in the Ammo palate are Smog, Mildew, Maui Wowie, and Shattered.

From left to right: Shattered, Maui Wowie, Mildew, Smog

From left to right: Shattered, Maui Wowie, Mildew, Smog

Smog is a deep coppery shade; Mildew is a mossy green with flashes of gold; Maui Wowie is a metallic golden beige with silver glitter; and Shattered is a turquoise hue with flashes of gold. Of these, Mildew is my favorite. I have green eyes so this shade really compliments them and brings out the gold flecks. It’s a nice shade of green without being too dark. Smog and Maui Wowie are shimmery, neutral shades that look great on their own but also make a good base to layer on other colors. Shattered is bold, gorgeous and perfect for a night out. I always get compliments on how pretty the shadows are, especially when I combine colors. I really like using Smog on the entire lid and adding Shattered as a liner right along the upper lash line. It adds just the right amount of color that’s appropriate for work but still gives a sense of fun.

These shadows have decent staying power, lasting about 5-6 hours before showing signs of creasing. I have yet to find an eye shadow that doesn’t crease so I think that’s pretty good. The colors also stay very strong so reapplying isn’t really necessary, unless like me you forget you’re wearing shadow and keep rubbing your eyes 🙂 I did notice that the shades that contain glitter are looser and I would often end up with some of the shadow falling onto the top of my cheeks during application. With the neutral colors, it actually added a pretty little shimmer to my skin, but with Shattered I had to wash it off since it gave my skin a bluish color. I hold a piece of toilet paper against my skin under the eye while applying to prevent this from happening.

The only other real downside is the price: at $18 a pop, it’s hard to stock up on a lot of colors without running up a crazy bill. That’s part of the reason I sacrificed a bit of my morals when I bought a palate that didn’t have all vegan shades. I got 10 shades for $38; I could only have gotten 2 individual shades for that price. Of course the amounts in the palates are smaller so if there is a color you really love and would use a lot it certainly makes sense to pay for a full-size portion. The good news is that UD is always adding new shades and works on converting non-vegan products to vegan so I imagine we will eventually see a vegan palate. Overall if you are looking for a quality, vegan eye shadow I highly recommend UD.  UD is available online and in specialty beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora.



A Featherweight Moisturizer

Using the term ‘featherweight’ in a product review could conjure up negative perceptions about the product in question. Is it weak and ineffective? Is it unable to stand up to its claims? In the case of this review the answer is no and no. In fact the term featherweight is the perfect description for LUSH’s Enzymion, a moisturizer made for those with oily skin.


With summer in full swing it was time to switch my heavy night moisturizer suited for the cold, dry air of winter to a lighter cream that could help control the oil situation that worsens in summer. I haven’t met a LUSH moisturizer I haven’t liked and Enzymion is no exception. Fortified with fresh fruits like lemon, papaya, and lime, this moisturizer helps soak up excess oil and creates a mattefying look. What makes this a ‘featherweight’ is how  incredibly light it is. As soon as it absorbs into the skin it’s almost like it was never there. Even after a hot, sweaty night (minds out of the gutter guys 🙂  ) my T-zone doesn’t look like the remains of an Exxon Valdez spill. And as light as this cream is it still manages to provide the right amount of moisture to keep skin soft. I have tried a lot of moisturizers that are designed for oily skin and this is the first that hasn’t had the result of being too over-drying–usually due to water or very astringent ingredients being the main ingredients in the product. In Enzymion  the astringent citruses are combined with avocado and evening primrose to create a the perfect balancing effect.


I always use a day cream with SPF and that has made my face oilier as a result, but I have noticed a lot less oil since adding Enzymion to my night routine. It’s light enough to use as a base for makeup on hot days so you won’t feel like you have cake batter melting off your face. The scent is a mild mix of aloe and citrus and is very summer appropriate. The only real drawback is the price; a 1.5oz jar will set you back $39.95. I know it sounds like a lot but believe me, I wouldn’t have written such a glowing review if I didn’t think it was worth it. If you’re lucky enough to live near a LUSH store and are unsure about spending that kind of money on a cream they will happily give you a free sample to try.

I would like to hear from those of you who suffer from oily/combo skin. What are your favorite treatments and products? Does your skin go through phases and how do you adjust?

Also, I will be  updating the blog theme until I find something new I like, so try not to let the changes bother you. It might change more than a few times in the next few days until I find something that ‘speaks’ to me 🙂


Not-So Budget Buy-MyChelle Fruit Fiesta Peel


I truly believe that every once in a while you have to splurge on something that makes you feel good. Whether that’s a new pair of shoes, a massage, or a meal at a fancy restaurant, treating yourself can go a long way to improving your confidence and self-image. My splurges are usually on skincare products, as evidenced here. Most of the time I try to be frugal when I comes to buying skincare items, especially if it is something I use every day. I know there are moisturizers and cleansers out there that cost an arm and a leg and that’s just not a cost I can justify if I will be using the product every day and thus buying it often.

A few of the exceptions I make to this are with eye creams and masks/peels.  I don’t mind spending a bit more for an eye cream because they tend to last longer since such small amounts are used. With masks/peels I’m definitely willing to spend more because I want to get the most out of the once or twice weekly applications. I have used a lot of different masks and peels in the past, but none are quite as intense as MyChelle’s Fruit Fiesta Peel.

MyChelle, a company created here in Colorado, creates skincare products that are made with the highest quality and most effective plant-based ingredients. Their face care products are geared towards specific skin types: All/Combo, Youth blemish control, Oily/blemish control, Dry, Age spot/UV recovery, Age defense, and Sensitive. Based on your particular skin type and needs you can create an entire regimen of products that cleanse, tone, moisturize, protect, and treat. I decided to splurge on the Fruit Fiesta Peel because it targets wrinkles. The formula features Lactic Acid, an anti-aging ingredient that cleanses and moisturizes, and various fruit extracts that work together to nourish and moisturize skin. What I love about this peel is that you can actually see the fruit in it. One of the ingredients is raspberry (which provided soothing, anti-oxidant skin protection) and you can see the pulp and seeds right there. It almost looks like jam. How often do you use a product where you can actually identify a specific ingredient just by looking at it?


When I say this peel is intense, I am not kidding around. Almost immediately after applying it your skin will start to tingle and itch. You only have to leave it on for 1-3 minutes but those will be the longest minutes of your life. Nothing will feel quite as good as splashing cool water on your face to wash it off. But once it’s off your skin will feel amazing. Fresh, tight but not dry, and still slightly tingly. I can honestly say I haven’t noticed a reduction in wrinkles, but then mine aren’t that bad. Someone with more pronounced wrinkles might have more effective results. I just love how my skin looks and feels after using it. It’s a great way to wake your skin up in the morning. This is definitely not for sensitive skin types and even those who have tough skin may want to limit the use of this to once a week, which is how often I use it. Whole Foods locations often have a MyChelle representative who is more than happy to offer a sample of any of their products and this is a great way to try this peel before dropping $30 on a 1.2oz bottle.  You can also purchase the Dry/Mature trial kit which contains a sample size of the peel.

All of MyChelle’s products are vegetarian and most are vegan; a complete list of their vegan products can be found here. The website also offers a lot of info on how to get the most out of your skincare regimen, how each ingredient works, and which products to use for your skin type. None of their products are exactly cheap but you are getting what you pay for: quality skincare that is tailored to achieving the most effective results. I can’t think of anything better I’d want to splurge on 🙂