Update to the cruelty free list

The animal testing situation in China has recently become much clearer to me, and so after some research I have decided to move some brands from this list. The following brands have been removed:

Almay (Revlon)

American Beauty (Estee Lauder)

Bobbi Brown (Estee Lauder)

Bumble and Bumble (Estee Lauder)


Clinique (Estee Lauder)

Coach (Estee Lauder)

Donna Karan (Estee Lauder)

Elizabeth Arden

Estee Lauder

Flirt! (Estee Lauder)

Giorgio Armani

GoodSkin Labs (Estee Lauder)

Grassroots Research Labs (Estee Lauder)


Jo Malone (Estee Lauder)


La Mer (Estee Lauder)


MAC Cosmetics (Estee Lauder)

Michael Kors (Estee Lauder)

Missoni (Estee Lauder)

Ojon (Estee Lauder)

Prescriptives (Estee Lauder)


Tom Ford (Estee Lauder)

Tommy Hilfiger (Estee Lauder)


In light of these updates, any posts containing products from any of these brands will be removed from the blog.

Please note as well that though many Estee Lauder brands have been removed from the list, some were not listed on the PETA “Do Test” list (click here to see the list) and were therefore left on my list marked with an asterisk to show that they belong to a parent company that tests.

Christmas Gift Guide: Smaller Gifts

The holiday season is one of my very favorite times, and one of the reasons is I love gifts. Ok, I won’t pretend I don’t love getting gifts (I mean, who doesn’t?) but I really, REALLY love giving gifts. But sometimes, that perfect gift may be a bit hard to find, and that could cause some major stress. Hopefully this post will give you some ideas for that fabulous (beauty related) present for that special gal, be it your friend, girlfriend, or mom! These smaller gifts could be combined to make one gift, or used to supplement mid-sized gifts.

The Body Shop Mini Body Butters

Found on TheBodyShop-USA.com

These things are really the best! They cost $6  for 1.7 fl oz (50 ml), so they are a pretty good deal. I couldn’t find them on the German or British site, but I’m pretty sure they have them in store. They should be around the €5 mark, and they are often on 3 for 2 at my store! You can normally find a pretty good selection of scents, I know I see Pink Grapefruit pretty regularly at mine, as well as Shea and Olive. I have also seen Strawberry, I believe, as well as Coconut. And Moringa, as shown in the picture. As for picking scents, the Shea and Olive ones are pretty neutral but still smell quite nice, so I think you could hardly go wrong. Personally, I love the Pink Grapefruit one (click here to read my review), as well as the Moringa scent. Coconut is quite nice too (surprisingly, as normally I don’t like coconut-scented things), but Strawberry is just way too sickly for me. You can always smell the full-sized testers if you don’t know for sure.


Crabtree & Evelyn Soaps

Found on Crabtree-Evelyn.co.uk

Found on Crabtree-Evelyn.co.uk

These soaps are so beautiful, really any of the scents would be fabulous. My personal favorites are the Summer Hill and Crabapple & Mulberry scents. They range in price from $6-$10.


LUSH Bath Products

Found on Lushusa.com

There would be no Christmas related post, or gift post at all for that matter, without a LUSH bath product or 15 gazillion. Phoenix Rising (pictured above) is one favorite: it is available all year round, but I think is especially good for this time of year. It is very spicy and cinnamon-y, and is purple and covered with gold glitter. Basically, me in bath bomb form. The Sex Bomb bath bomb is a classic, and probably will be loved by everyone. The Rose Jam bubble bar smells divine, and the Melting Snowman bath melt is as scrumptious-smelling as it is adorable. These products all range from $3-10.

Hildegard Braukmann Face Masks

Found on Hildegard-Braukmann.de

These are a really good way to go- they are really nice quality skincare, provide a little treat, and are really, really inexpensive to boot! These come in all different formulations to suit most skin types.


Be Beautiful, Not Broke

When you are addicted to beauty products, it is all too easy to spend far more than you can afford to. Here are three tips for shopping smart.


1) Look critically at your purchasing patterns

What I find to be really helpful is to look carefully at what you buy regularly and what you spend a lot of money on. For this really concentrate on things like hair care (especially shampoo and conditioner!), skin care, and maybe mascara. These are all things that you might purchase on a more regular basis. After you have compiled a list, think about how much you pay for the product. Then it is time to do some research. Can you get the same results with a cheaper product? The answer may be no, but it also could be yes. If so, ask yourself what it is exactly that makes you continue purchasing the product that you are currently using. Is it for the product itself, or is it for the experience that you get while using it? Then see if the better experience justifies the cost for you. That gorgeous packaging may be worth the extra $20 for you because it is just such a pleasure to use. That is completely fine, I am a sucker for packaging as well. I love my Dior and YSL as much as the next girl. But no matter what, make sure you have consciously evaluated your choice and have found the price justified. Otherwise you may be wasting your money on some expensive product in boring-ass packaging that works well, but not any different to something that you could get for a fraction of the price at your drugstore.

2)Do your homework

Ever bought something on a whim, tried it, and hated it? If that thing was $3 it really isn’t that much of a tragedy. But what if it was $20? $100? $500? To make sure that you avoid this mistake, I am a firm believer in stalking whatever product you are planning on buying before handing over your hard-earned money for it. I do this regardless of whether it is $3 or $30. Make sure you know exactly what you are buying, and what kind of chances it has for working with your particular skin type/hair type/coloring etc. I would recommend reading in-depth reviews on beauty blogs as well as going on sites like MakeupAlley. Reading reviews on blogs are good because you really find out the specifics about the product, such as if there are any particularly good or bad things about the packaging. If you find a blogger with similar characteristics (e.g. skin type) as you, all the better. Sites like the aforementioned MakeupAlley are good for just seeing a huge variety of experiences in one easy location. This will really help you see how the product performed on all different types of people, and it is much easier to find people who have similar characteristics.

Another thing to think about is dupes. I talked about this a bit before, but if you want something, do a quick search to see if there is something as good or better for cheaper. For color cosmetics this is key, I know there are at least a few MAC eyeshadows that have dupes in Wet n Wild, and the quality of these cheap little eyeshadows are often as good (if not better!) than their MAC counterparts.

3) Don’t be afraid to ask for samples!!

You can read all the reviews you want, but nothing beats trying out a product for yourself. This applies more to foundation than anything else, so don’t be shy to take a sample home to test. This is the best way to get a great foundation match, as you can test it out more thoroughly in different lightings and situations at your own leisure. Also, the salespeople are often very good at what they do. But sometimes they haven’t the foggiest notion about what they are selling. They may match you up to the wrong product and/or color, and when you are spending $20+ on an item this becomes a bit of a problem. You can use their guidance (obviously, that is what they are there for), but do not trust them explicitly. You are fully within your rights to ask for a sample of a foundation in a department store, as those foundations are typically not cheap.

Now, for drugstore makeup. When people hear “drugstore makeup” often they think it will be cheap. What they have not considered is that some of that drugstore foundation? $10 a pop. Factor in that with the fluorescent  lighting you cannot easily color-match yourself, you may end up buying 2 or 3 foundations. That’s $30 gone and you still may not have a foundation that you like. Unfortunately, drugstores don’t always allow you to sample their products. But just in case, I would recommend taking along some empty sample containers and filling them up with a couple of good sized pumps. I don’t actually know how happy this makes the shopkeepers, so you may want to do this a bit more sneakily. In any case, they put the tube out there, didn’t they?


All in all, really think about what you are buying and see if there are any ways you can make your beauty addiction a little more budget friendly. I hope this helped!

The Nasties Glossary

Oftentimes, you see labels claiming that they are “free” of something. This something has a chemical-y sounding name, which means that I have no clue what it is or what it is supposed to do. You must have heard it as well, sometime: sulphate free, paraben free, formaldehyde free (or three free)… As I am completely clueless, I figured that there should be at least one other person out there who also has not the foggiest notion about what is going on. For you, comrade, I have compiled a list describing what the hell these things are, and why people are going crazy.


Parabens are a group of chemicals that act as preservatives, to stop the growth of microbes (little tiny organisms, for example bacteria or fungi). They can be identified by looking at the ingredients list, they are all long words ending in “paraben”, for example methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.

The concern over parabens is mainly linked to cancer. Some studies have shown concentrations of parabens in the tumors of breast cancer patients. This is not a clear link at all, they did not investigate paraben levels in the tissue of non-cancer patients, or in other body tissue. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the concern comes from the fact that the chemicals are not altered at all by the body’s metabolic processes, and is free to penetrate the tissue and accumulate there. This may or may not be bad. In addition, the parabens have the tendency to mimic the activity of estrogen, a hormone that the body produces. Estrogen has established connections to breast cancer, around 80% of breast cancer tumors rely on estrogen to grow (Wikipedia). Parabens bind to the estrogen receptors on cells, perhaps leading to breast tumor cells growing and multiplying. According to the FDA, parabens don’t have nearly as much estrogenic activity as actual estrogen, so they may not be able to aid in the growth of the tumors.

Nothing has been proven, and the FDA has investigated the harmfulness of parabens more than once. However, I think it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes with cancer, so I think I will start to avoid parabens.


Here is the place where the beauty community is split right down the center… sulfates are the ingredients in shampoo or body wash that make them foam up. There are three that are most commonly used: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. What they do is break down the oils in your hair, stripping your hair. Some say that this is a horrible thing, some say that it is a necessary ingredient for clean hair. Who’s right? LIke in most circumstances, they both are to a certain extent. Based on what I have read, it really depends on the individual. From what I can tell, if you have curly hair sulfates are pretty bad. Curly hair is more porous than straight hair, making it more brittle and more likely to get dry. It also means it soaks up the shampoo better, and the sulfates really dry it out further. Some people actually say that you shouldn’t wash curly hair at all! I assume they mean really curly hair, like African-American hair. So if you have curly hair, sulfates are definitely a problem. Similarly, if you have skin that tends to be dry, or a sensitive scalp, sulphates may irritate that, maybe giving you eczema. For other hair types, sulfates may be necessary to give you really clean hair. But you can’t use it every single day, and you can’t use it without conditioner, if you do it will dry out your hair too much. With these products, there have also been claims that they thin out your hair. I have not seen any evidence to back up these claims, although there may some out there.


Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is a cancer hazard and can cause irritation in the nose, eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It is supposedly found in some cosmetics, most commonly nail products and keratin treatments (it’s one of the “three free” toxins). This is a well established fact that you can read about on the websites of many government institutions, including OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the California Department of Public Health. However, formaldehyde is not what is being used in cosmetics, as it is a gas. Instead, formalin is used, a solution of formaldehyde and water, normally with a stabilizing agent (mostly methanol is used). This is where the debate comes up. Many cosmetic manufacturers believe that the formaldehyde is soluble in water, although the Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR)* recently proved that this was not the case. When introduced to water, the formaldehyde produced a new chemical called methylene glycol, which is safe for use in concentration under 0.2%, but the safety of the chemical when used in aerosol cans is sketchy. However, the California Department of Public Health says that formalin is dangerous. It is unclear whether they have taken the methylene glycol into consideration.

*the CIR is an organization that reviews the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics. It is sponsored by, and works closely with the FDA, but it is an independent organization.

**The Nail Manufacturer’s Council is an organization founded by the Proffesional Beauty Association.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DPB)

DBP is one of the “three free” toxins found in nail products. As for acute toxicity (how bad it affects you if you are exposed to it only briefly) is low, even in concentrations higher than is what is in nail polish. According to OSHA, someone who swallowed 10 grams of the stuff got sick, but he recovered completely. There goes my habit of drinking my nail polish…? Anyway, you probably don’t even get 10 grams of nail polish in the bottle, let alone 10 grams of pure DPB. However, a study on the effects of DPB introduced to pre-natal boys found that “environmental levels” of the substance impaired testicular function. They didn’t specify what the “environmental levels” were, so I don’t know if that is more or less than what is found in nail polish. I guess just make sure the area where you’re painting your nails is well ventilated, and don’t use nail polishes containing DPB if you are pregnant. Oh, and don’t drink the nail polish…


Toluene is an ingredient in nail products that makes them easy to apply, the last of the “three free” toxins. It is a clear colorless liquid, and has been found to be highly toxic. According to the National Library of Medicine, exposure to low levels of toluene can result in confusion, light-headedness, dizziness, headache, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, nausea, appetite loss, coughing, wheezing, and hearing and color vision loss. Exposure to toluene can cause birth defects in pregnant women. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. The concentrations of toluene in nail products were deemed safe for use by the EU, but they recommend that the areas where you do your nails be kept well ventilated. Still, I think I will not risk this: no more toluene for me! Luckily there are some fabulous brands that make toluene-free nail polish…

Three Free/Toluene Free Nail Polish Brands:

butter London (3 Free)

Wet n Wild (3 Free)

Orly (3 Free)

Essie (contains formalin, called formaldehyde resin)

Nicole by OPI (3 free)

Ulta (3 free)

Red Carpet Manicure (3 free)

Revlon (toluene and formaldehyde free)

OPI (toluene and DPB free, some hardeners contain formaldehyde)


Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on Parabens: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291

FDA on Parabens: http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productandingredientsafety/selectedcosmeticingredients/ucm128042.htm

Wikipedia article on Estrogen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen#Breast_cancer

OSHA fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf

California Department of Public Health fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/hesis/Documents/formaldehyde.pdf

Article by Doug Schoon (Co-Chair of Nail Manufacturer’s Council) on Formaldehyde in Cosmetics: http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/08/exposing-the-formaldehyde-myth/

CIR Council Thing (not quite sure what it is called…): http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/119_final_formyl.pdf

Report on CIR decision: http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/11/cir-confronts-confusing-chemistry/

Nail Manufacturer’s Council: http://www.probeauty.org/nmc/

Cosmetics Ingredients Review: http://www.cir-safety.org/

NY Times article on Sulfates: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/fashion/30Skin.html?pagewanted=all

TheBeautyBrains.com on Sulfates: http://thebeautybrains.com/2007/06/30/sulfates-in-shampoos-what-are-they/

Environmental Health Perspectives study on DPB: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.8100

OSHA on DBP: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/dibutylphthalate/recognition.html

National Library of Medicine on Toluene: http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=30

European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Products on Toluene: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_076.pdf

So Urban Decay Won’t Be in China After All…

According to a recent press release that I found on Temptalia.com (see press release here), Urban Decay has decided not to sell to the Chinese market and therefore open themselves up to the possibility that they’re products may at some point be tested on animals by the Chinese government before release onto the market. The reason Urban Decay gave for its sudden change of heart was that they felt that they really could not honor their “core principles” if they were to sell to a Chinese market. I’m sure this will be fantastic news to those of you who did not feel they could support the brand whilst they sold in China!

To see my earlier post on the deal with China, click here.

What To Do About China

**UPDATE** Urban Decay has decided to pull out of the Chinese market, see post here.

So as you may know, the cruelty-free world has had some controversial news: some highly respected cruelty-free companies such as Estee Lauder (owners of many brands, including MAC and Bobbi Brown) and Urban Decay are expanding into China. “So what?” you ask. Chinese law allows the government to test products going onto the market without the knowledge of the companies, according to Urban Decay’s press statement. And yeah, those would be animals they would be testing on. This has pretty much pissed off a bunch of people that supported the brands because they were cruelty-free. I don’t really like the fact that these products in China may have been tested on animals at some point (Urban Decay still does not test on animals themselves, but by expanding into the Chinese market they open themselves up to the risk), but I also see this as a good opportunity, as does Urban Decay. As I have said before, I do not want my money being used to test on animals. However, I do want my money to go for making a change in the way things are run. Apparently the Chinese market is a very closed market, so the only way to change the policies regarding animal testing would be from within. From what I have heard, it seems like Chinese consumers really don’t think about it at all, there is very little awareness of the horrible things that are done in the name of beauty. I am willing to support these companies expanding into China if they will try to promote cruelty-free testing methods to the Chinese government. And according to their press statement, that is exactly what they plan to do. OK, so Urban Decay is going to try to work some changes, but is Estee Lauder? I have not found a statement regarding promoting change in China in particular (it may exist, though, I just haven’t come across it), but in the FAQ section of their website where they state their policy regarding animal testing, they do stress the point that they work hard to promote alternative testing methods. There really cannot be enough promotion out there, so if a company is doing their fair share, I am not going to boycott them and endanger their campaigns.

And China is already starting to change. PETA sent out a press release that stated that the Chinese government is in the last stages of approving their first-ever non-animal test for cosmetic ingredients, and are working with scientists from the Institute of In-Vitro Sciences, a program which PETA supports. Whether this step has anything to do with Urban Decay or Estee Lauder is hard to say, but nevertheless it is still great. If nothing else, this is a brilliant stepping stone for the companies to use to jump-start their campaigns.

I, for one, am willing to continue to support these companies, but you may not. It is your decision to make, and I am not going to push anything on you, I merely ask for you to do your research before you condemn anyone. For those that have decided to revoke support of these companies, in my list of non-animal-testing companies, I have specially marked out all the brands who have expanded into China, or are owned by a company expanding into China. Where possible, I will suggest alternatives from brands who have not expanded into China, so no matter what your beliefs on the subject, you can still look and feel fabulous.

PETA Press Release:


Urban Decay Press Statement (found on Temptalia.com)


Urban Decay Chinese Expansion Q&A (also on Temptalia)


Estee Lauder Animal Testing Policy


Why I Went Cruelty-Free

This is a video from the PETA that shows the conditions in a laboratory. I first saw this video at school, when a group presenting on animal testing showed it. Before I knew about animal testing, but I just didn’t think about it that much. After seeing this video, I just could not do that anymore. I have a dog, and I love him so much, and I realized that had he been born to a different mother, that easily could have been him. I must warn you though, this video is really horrible, and is hard to watch.

Here is the article that goes with it:


What You Need to Know About Sunscreen (as told by a common skin paranoiac)

OK, let me tell you something. Sunscreen? I hate the stuff. I hate the texture. I hate the smell. I hate how it separates in heat and then suddenly you are standing there like an idiot with a handful of disgusting yellow oil with the occasional blob of white. But I am also terrified of skin cancer and aging. And sunscreen? It helps with both of those things.

For most of you, this probably isn’t news to you. Yes, sun exposure causes wrinkles and melanoma and blah blah blah. So you wear sunscreen. Big deal. But there is more to the story.

I should probably start off by explaining a bit about sun exposure. The type of light that causes damage is called ultraviolet (UV) light. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is fairly irrelevant when talking about sun damage, as the rays are filtered out by the ozone layer. That leaves UVA and UVB. UVB rays are much stronger than UVA rays, so for a long time only UVB rays were considered as a serious cause of skin cancer and other skin woes. The SPF rating that we see on sunscreen is an indicator of how much of these rays the particular sunscreen blocks. However, there is increasing evidence to show that UVA rays, the weaker but more prevalent rays, actually can do quite a bit of damage themselves. Unfortunately, the SPF factor does not take the UVA rays into account. What this means is that if you live in the States, you have to check the sunscreens that you buy to see if they offer any UVA protection. Sunscreen with UVA protection is available; you might just have to hunt around a bit. The ones that do normally say on the label. A list of sunscreens with UVA protection will be provided below. It’s also possible that the sunscreen does have some protection in it, but doesn’t say. In that case you can check the ingredients list for UVA blocking ingredients. Again, a list of ingredients will be provided below. If you live in Europe then you can relax, sunscreens contain these ingredients by default.

There is also the matter of sun protection in moisturizers, foundations, lip balms, etc. Using these products is great, don’t get me wrong. A little bit extra sun protection is certainly not going to hurt. But that should not be the only thing you use. These products are even less likely to have UVA protection than normal sunscreens. Also, you typically would not use enough of the product to enjoy its full benefit. Even if a foundation has SPF 10, if you use a thin coat of it then in reality you might only be getting an SPF of 5.

Another thing to worry about when choosing sunscreen is the other stuff in it. Oxybenzone, a chemical used to absorb UV rays, is FDA and American Academy of Dermatology approved. However, there may be a link between this chemical and hormone disruption and skin cancer. Retinyl palmate is also potentially toxic. I will include a link below for the 2012 Sunscreen Guide from the Environmental Working Group, which evaluates sunscreens on their potential harmfulness.

On the other side, there is Vitamin D to worry about. Vitamin D is a vitamin made by your body when it comes in contact to UVB. It is essential to the body, and cannot really be found in foods. A deficiency of Vitamin D can also cause many medical conditions, and getting enough Vitamin D can decrease the risk of  things like osteoporosis, heart attacks and heart attacks, and various cancers. Because sunscreen blocks UVB, Vitamin D cannot be produced whilst the person is wearing it. The Cancer Council of Australia recommends that people not wear sun protection in the winter, when the sun’s rays are not so intense (under UV Index 3), and a few minutes each day in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon are sufficient if the UV Index is over 3, like in the summer. Darker skin tones may need anywhere from 3-6 times this amount. In the summer around midday, nobody, regardless of their skin tone, should go out without sun protection.

Hope you all are well, and WEAR SUNSCREEN!


Here are the various lists, as promised.


Sunscreens with UVA Protection:

Burt’s Bees Sunscreen (SPF 15/30)

Nivea Sun Moisturizing Sun Lotion (SPF 15/20/30)

W.S. Badger All-Natural Unscented Face and Body Sunscreen (SPF 30)

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunblock (SPF 30)

(or any Alba Botanica sunscreen)

Clarins UV Plus Protective Day Screen (SPF 40)

(Or any Clarins sunscreen)


Moisturizers with UVA Protection:

The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Lotion (SPF15)

Laura Mercier Repair Day Cream (SPF 15)

Laura Mercier Mega-Moisture Cream (SPF 15)

Boots Vitamin E Moisture Lotion (SPF 15)

Yes To Blueberries Age Refresh Daily Facial Moisturizer (SPF 30)

Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Daily Calming Moisturizer (SPF 30)


UVA Blocking/Absorbing Ingredients:



Ecamsule (Mexoryl SX)

Meradimate (Menthyl Anthranilate)



Titanium Dioxide

Zinc Oxide