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Best of Cruelty Free Beauty 2017 – Skin Care

Today’s Best of 2017 is focusing on Cruelty Free Skincare. This is a bit of a tricky category for me because 2017 was the year that I finally started taking Accutane for my stubborn acne. If you’re unfamiliar, Accutane is an often controversial drug taken to (hopefully) “cure” treatment-resistant acne. It has the side effect of completely drying out everyone’s skin, so the second half of the year I was doing everything I could to keep my formerly combo-to-oily skin as hydrated as possible while taking the drug. Having said that, you now know what skin types we are working with here, and since I had two majorly different concerns throughout the year, I will specify which type of skin I had while using the product if it’s relevant. If it worked well either way, I won’t specify the skin type unless it’s still somehow relevant. So, with that out of the way, let’s just get going because there is a lot!

Cruelty Free Accutane Skin Care – Dry & Sensitive Skin Recommendations

As a lot of you may know, I’ve been on an Accutane regimen for a little while now (I just found out I’m about to start my *hopefully* final month!). Accutane is infamous for the extreme skin dryness that everyone seems to experience while on the medication. To give an example, while I’m writing this, I’m on 7 day hair!!! 😳 Yup. It’s been an entire week without washing the not-even-remotely-greasy mop on my head which, I must say, is a positive side effect in my eyes. 😉 With that though, my face has certainly gone from combo / oily to definitely on the dry side. Given that, I have managed to avoid much of the flaky, itchy, tight or other such variations of actual discomfort from the drying effects of the Accutane…with the exception of my nose, which, to be fair, is usually a bit flaky. Since I’ve been using the same products pretty consistently, I feel like I can finally share my cruelty free “secrets” for managing super dry and sensitive skin that is also safe for using while taking Accutane.

August Cruelty Free Favorites 2016

Ok. August is over and I don’t know whether to feel slightly excited or rather sad. I love the summer months so much, but then there’s something kind of welcoming about autumn. So I’m torn between not wanting the warm, sunny weather to end – I hate the cold so so much! – and the new and exciting fall colors with enticing new beauty launches. But August is gone, so no use dwelling on that! Instead let’s wander back through my Cruelty Free Beauty Favorites of the month!

A Twist on “Empties”: Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser

I’m not one for saving my trash. I have enough junk lying around that I don’t need a pile of literal garbage cluttering up my life. That would be one reason why I don’t do “empties” posts. It also takes me what seems like a lifetime to finish things, or I run out of every product I use at once! So instead of doing a collective “empties” post, I think what I will do is review a product after it’s finished to let you know what I thought of it months later…or even a year later. Since I literally just finished a bottle of the Sibu Beauty Seabuckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser and figured it’s about time to review it!

Starting with my skin type – it’s often pretty normal, but tends to get oily on my forehead as the day goes on. I occasionally get a bit of dryness and if I don’t use a good moisturizer it feels tight and dry. It is definitely acne-prone and congested, but getting so much better and, like most women, I am trying to defeat the aging process. JBasically, if there’s a skin issue, I have probably dealt with it. Moving on….

The Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser is labeled for “All Skin Types.” I definitely agree with that claim. It is a very gentle cleanser that is not at all stripping, drying, or irritating yet it still leaves the skin feeling soft and slightly conditioned. I guess I would consider it a gel cleanser, but it also contains very gentle “micro-particles” that gently exfoliate and really gets the skin clean. I do not feel like this would be irritating even on sensitive skins. It is considered a non-foaming cleanser, but it does have a subtle lather – not like soap lather, but there is a little something happening when you rub it in with water. It also claims to remove makeup, and it actually does a pretty good job, though I tend to use something else first. It just a beautifully cleanser that leaves the skin feeling clean, comfortable and balanced!

If you’re unfamiliar with Sibu Beauty, one of their trademarks is the use of the Seabuckthorn Berry. This particular berry can be taken internally as well as used topically. It is quite high in rare omega-7 fatty acids, which is a rare fatty acid that is helpful for collagen production and building healthy hair, skin and nails. Sea Buckthorn berries are also high in Omega 3, 6 and 9. Basically when used topically, it is an anti-aging powerhouse that nourishes the skin. Sibu Beauty uses Fair Trade wildcrafted sea buckthorn and all of their products are non-GMO, Vegan and of course, cruelty free. Yea! J

Obviously since I used the entire bottle, this is a product that I really like. I feel like my adult-onset acne began clearing up a bit once I started using this cleanser. It’s very gentle, yet effective and my skin feels nice and clean without feeling parched, tight or stripped. I haven’t found it even remotely irritating even when my skin has been terribly inflamed, raw and sore. I love that it comes in a pump and the bottle (which contains 4 ounces of product) lasted me a good while. I can’t speak to the improved collagen production or anti-aging aspects of sea buckthorn berry, but I do feel like this makes my skin healthy and happy so I love it and have already opened up a new bottle! If you’re in need of a new cleanser, no matter what your skin type or issue, I would definitely recommend giving the Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser a go!!!

Check out Sibu Beauty’s website here.

Whole Foods Beauty Bag + My Favorite Brands

This past week, Whole Foods highlighted their beauty department with various events that culminated with the availability of a beauty bag! Not being one to pass up samples-that-I-paid-for-but-convinced-myself-they’re-free kinda deal, I thought I’d check out what the bag had in store. Since the bags were supposed to be available on Saturday only, it doesn’t make sense to talk a lot about the bag itself, but I thought I would share some of my own Favorite Beauty Brands that are available at Whole Foods…at least my local Whole Foods! I’m sure there is some variation from store to store, but I feel these brands are pretty universal. All beauty products sold at Whole Foods are cruelty free (though not necessarily vegan) and are free from over 50 questionable common ingredients. So, if you’re browsing the aisles of Whole Foods and decide to do some ethical and good-for-you beauty shopping, here are some of my favorite brands worth checking out (plus a peak into the Beauty Bag at the end)! J

Something that I use every day…first and last thing in fact…is from Sibu Beauty. Sibu Beauty uses the increasingly popular Seabuckthorn Seed Oil in all of their products. They produce not only skin care, but they have a body lotion and also make some oral supplements! Though I have not used a ton of Sibu products, I definitely have gone through a few bottles of the Seabuckthorn Seed Oil (rave here) and the Balancing Facial Cleanser. I love them both! I would like to try more, but am not in the market for new skincare at the moment.

Another fantastic skin care brand at Whole Foods is Anadalou Naturals. The line touts anti-aging “Fruit Stem Cell Science” and includes a full range of skin care, bath and body products, as well as hair care! I have been regularly using (in fact I’m on my second tube) the relatively new 1000Roses Color + Correction with SPF30 CC Cream. I absolutely love their many Masks too…I think I’ve tried nearly all of them (the Kombucha Enzyme Exfoliating Peel is my fav and I reviewed it here)! The Meyer Lemon Creamy Cleanser, the Clementine + C Illuminating Toner, the Blemish Vanishing Gel, also fantastic. I have yet to try something that I actually disliked from Andalou Naturals.
Probably one of the most buzzed about brands is Acure Organics. They products are fair trade, natural and certified organic, and utilize natural plant and food-based ingredients in all of their fantastic products. I have tried a sampling of them, but certainly not all! I recently started using the Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scruba few times a week and it genuinely makes a difference in the appearance of my complexion right away! My face looks much clearer and brighter with a more even texture, plus no irritation! I also noticed a similar immediate result from their Cell Stimulating Facial Mask (a sample of which was in the bag). However my skin went back to looking normal by morning, so the mask seems like something better to use before a big day instead of before bed. I also really love the Shampoos and Conditioners! The Moroccan Argan Oil  + Argan Stem Cell versions smell delicious…if you like almonds as I do. The Argan Stem Cell + CoQ10 Dry Shampoo (more here) is probably one of the best I’ve tried as well! There make body care products, and are probably best known for their facial oils, though I really haven’t given them much of a test. Overall, a fantastic brand with an amazing product line up.
An all-natural luxury body care line that I love is Deep Steep! Their Dry Oil Body Spritzer is truly life changing (full review here). The Hand Cream is wonderful as well! Not only do the products work well, but their scents are spectacular! I can’t even pick a favorite, but my most reached for Dry Oil is the Brown Sugar & Vanilla. Delicious! JDeep Steep sells a full range of body care and has recently added hair care products to the line!
Giovanni is a natural “eco-chic” brand that I often see at drugstores too, but Whole Foods definitely has the most complete selection of their line. They make hair care, body care and skin care items. I especially love the Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub (discussed here) and a number of their hair care items like the Natural Mousse Hair Styling Foam, the 2chic Brazilian Keratin & Argan Oil Ultra-Sleek Leave-In Conditioning & Styling Elixir and the Don’t Be Flaky! Soothing Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. I don’t think I’ve tried any of their skin care products, but I really should given my satisfaction with everything else! J
I am always pleasantly surprised to find Nail Polish at Whole Foods as well. Most recently they’ve added a good selection of one of my favorite brands – Zoya! I love that I can see a wide range of the shades in person. I also first discovered Mineral Fusion Polishes there – another amazing brand with some beautiful classic shades mixed in with the fun, on-trend hues. Though I can find both brands at Ulta now, the selection at Whole Foods is far superior.
I absolutely love browsing all the amazing Lip Balms at Whole Foods. It’s becoming a tradition when I pop in. JI would be remiss if I didn’t mention my typical go-to from Badger Balm, which is the Cocoa Butter Lip Balm in Creamy Cocoa (more here). I also have discovered a similar balm that’s not as hard for those who like a less waxy formula and it is called Mongo Kiss. I grabbed the Vanilla Honey flavor and the scent alone is heavenly! J When I picked up the beauty bag last Saturday, I stumbled across a newcomer to my Whole Foods that I had actually been hunting for – Waxelene! I can already say that in the few days I have been using it, my lips are in the best condition that they have ever been!!! It literally only takes a pin-point dot to cover your lips with the stuff, so the tube will last you decades. If you’re ever at a Whole Foods wondering where I’ve wandered off to, check the lip balm selection because chances are that’s where I’ve been for the past 15 minutes. J
I know that I haven’t mentioned any actual makeup items, but those are available as well. I just haven’t purchased much in the way of color cosmetics from Whole Foods. The few items that I have are not carried there anymore. I know that my Whole Foods currently has a good selection from Mineral Fusion and Gabriel, as well as bits from Pacificaand a few other random brands. I tested a few things from both Mineral Fusion and Gabriel (yes, they have testers!!!) last time I was there and I’m definitely considering purchasing, but I reallydon’t need anything new right now!
So I guess that’s going to do it for this installment of my Favorite Beauty Brands at Whole Foods. I may revisit this from time to time as I feel their selection is constantly evolving. I am always surprised by just how extensive their beauty department is, and I’m glad to see that the stores are making more of an effort to bring attention to their cruelty free beauty selection! I would love to know some beauty products you always pick up or are just intrigued by at Whole Foods. 
The contents of the Beauty Bag are below. Until next time, thanks for stopping by!!!
As promised, here are the contents of the beauty bag – it’s possible they may still be selling them if there were any left over, so it never hurts to check! J
     Derma E Microdermabrasion Scrub
     Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask
     Trilogy Vital Moisturizing Cream
     Gabriel Mascara
     Giovanni 2chic Blackberry & Coconut Milk Ultra-Repair Shampoo
     Pacifica Eye Shadow Duo (a Devocean Lipstick was substituted in some stores)
     RIJI Beauty Bag

January Favorites for 2015!!! Sibu, frank, Daniel Sandler, Deep Steep, Hourglass, Barielle, Deborah Lippmann Urban Decay

Wow. The first month of 2015 is over! I have a love/hate relationship with January since it really is quite a miserable month, but it also includes my birthday…a day which I increasingly dread as the years fly by! J This month has been full of, well just eventful stuff. Now that it’s over, it is time for another monthly favorites!!! J I have some new near-addictions, as well as a total dud. Have a seat, grab a drink and I hope you enjoy this first of 2015’s Favorites!!!

As I said, my birthday is in January. Because of that, there is no more appropriate favorite than this first one – Happy Birthday Nail Lacquer from Deborah Lippmann! JI have always wanted this wonderfully glittery top coat, but never wanted to spend the money. This year I finally bit the bullet and I’m really glad I did! There are tons of dupes for it, but no one does glitter polish quite like Deborah Lippmann. I’m usually not a huge glitter polish person, especially when the base is clear like this one, but I’ve actually found myself adding this as a topper more often than not. It just looks like a confetti-filled celebration. It’s like fun in a bottle…and speaking of bottle, I should add that I absolutely adore the shape of Deborah Lippmann bottles. They’re actually designed to prevent them from tipping over! Anyway, my nails have been well dressed in pretty multi-colored glitter pretty much all month and I have loved it! J

Sticking with nails, another nail favorite is something I’ve been wearing every single day. It is from Barielleand it is the Clearly Noticeable Nail Thickener. I have mentioned my terrible peeling nails repeatedly and I think I have finally found something that actually does make a lasting difference. This is basically just a clear polish, but somehow it manages to seal down any peeling bits and not only prevents further peeling, but seems to help it disappear. Not sure how it does it, but it seems to be working! I can also easily apply this as a base coat or with color on top and the benefits seem to stay the same – and the polish wears just as well, if not better than with other base coats. If worn alone, my nails actually look healthy even when they are not. I think I’m going to have to buy the Clearly Noticeable Nail Thickener in bulk from now on! J And if you’re wondering where to find it, I get mine from Vitacost (referral link).
Moving right along, I have a new body scrub favorite…make that addiction! It is frank. That’s right, frank. Who, or shall I say what is frank? Well, frank is themost amazing body scrub ever! J I have the Coconut Coffee Scrub and it is basically made using finely ground coffee and oils. You just scrub away in the shower, preferably letting it sit on the skin for about 5 minutes and rinse away. It is kind of messy, but I find by the end of my shower most of the super-fine coffee granules have rinsed down the drain. When I get out of the shower, my skin is so, so soft! I have never felt it this soft before, not even with dry brushing. Even better, it is hydrated from the oils and I think by letting the scrub sit for a bit helps the oils to actually penetrate the skin for the ultimate in softness. I don’t need moisturizer, though I’ve been using one anyway. And if silky skin were not enough, I also feel like frank makes my skin look a bit firmer (who doesn’t want that? J) and just all around healthier. It’s truly amazing stuff.  I intend to write a review on it soon, so I’m not going to write my entire thoughts here, but definitely give frank a try and he’s sure to treat you right!
Typically I’ve been following up a down and dirty scrub from frank with a prior favorite – the Deep Steep Dry Oil Body Spritzer in Brown Sugar Vanilla. I reviewed this a while ago and you can find that review here. It is just so easy to use! My only complaint is that, though the mist is incredible, the bottle doesn’t spray from all angles and sometimes I feel like I’m standing on my head trying to spritz it on my back. But I can forgive that because it smells delicious, absorbs almost instantly, hydrates so beautifully and is just all around amazing. I have definitely become an oil-loving convert over the past year! J Between frank and the Deep Steep Dry Oil Spritzer, my skin is probably softer than the day I was born!!! JI think the two will have to be my Valentine this year. Hehe J
To keep my face clear, soft and clean, I’ve been turning to Sibu Beauty’s Seabuckthorn Balancing Facial Cleanser. I typically don’t feel like face washes make much of a noticeable difference in my skin care routine unless my face has a negative reaction to it. However, the Sibu Cleanser made me feel like there was an actual improvementin the clarity, texture and appearance of my skin almost right away! It is a gentle gel cleanser that works into a creamy lather, but also has some sort of very gentle scrubiness to it. I’m not sure what is in it that feels scrubby, but there’s definitely some kind of gentle grit. It’s always difficult to tell with my acne-prone skin, but I really think this has been keeping most of my acne troubles at bay…of course I have two massive eruptions on my face right now, but generally speaking, my skin has been much clearer and just all around healthier looking since I switched to the Sibu Balancing Facial Cleanser.
Quickly moving on to makeup, my first favorite was in my Annual Favorites, so I’m not going to say much. It is the Arch Brow Sculpting Pencilfrom Hourglass. It is just such a quick and easy way to fill in my brows. I love the color (I use Blonde), the texture and the packaging. The shape of the brow pencil itself is a triangle and, though I have thin and sparse brows, I find this is really convenient to just angle differently for thin or thick lines. Thinner pencils take too much time, while a thicker pencil is not thin enough to get the tail ends of my brows. This pencil can do both and I find it to be just perfect. Well done Hourglass! J
These last two products I haven’t used much because I haven’t had them long, but I already know that I love them! The first is one of the new Sheer Revolution Lipsticks from Urban Decay. I have the color Sheer Rapture and it’s just a perfect everyday my-lips-but-better kind of color. It seems to wear pretty well, especially for a sheer formula, and it is surprisingly comfortable to wear. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Revolution Lipsticks, but I absolutely love the new Sheer Version!
Finally we have what I guess is a cult classic. It is the Watercolour Blush from Daniel Sandler. Oh. My. God. This stuff is seriously incredible! I have the shade Cherub and I seriously cannot envision ever grabbing for another blush! It is so easy to apply – a dot is plenty. It lasts literally all day and it creates just the perfect sheer wash of color to the cheeks. It reminds me of the effect that the Josie Maran Watercolor Cheek Gelee (reviewed here) provides, but is so much easier to use. I just put a dot on the back of my hand, tap my finger into to it, apply to the cheeks and stipple with a brush for even distribution. I find it incredibly easy and it is so pretty! Can you tell that I find it pretty and easy? I seriously love the Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush!!! I need them all! J
I feel that I need to address something that was so horrendously awful that I can’t bear to try it out more than once! It’s the new Physician’s Formula Organic Wear BB Mascara in the white tube. I only used it once and would normally give it more of a test, but I can usually tell if a mascara is worth a second chance after one try, plus this was just freakin’ awful. The brush, the formula, the wear, just everything about it. The plastic comb has different length “teeth” on various sides and unless you have it positioned just right, it’s nearly impossible to get on your lashes without smearing it all over your eyelid. It also clumps something awful…and it’s chunky!…plus the more I tried to fix it, the worse it clumped. I tried holding the wand a variety of ways, but nothing worked well and my lashes ended up clumpy no matter what I did. I would have been willing to give it another shot, but it flaked so horribly that I just can’t bear the thought! I veryrarely find mascara to flake or smudge on me, but this stuff left little specks of black all over under my eyes. I may try it once more out of sheer curiosity, but I have absolutely no hope for the Physician’s Formula BB Mascara. Stick to the green tube if you’re looking for a good Physician’s Formula mascara!

Look at the weird gaps between “teeth”. No bueno!
As for the items that I’ve been testing this month (check them out here), I’m still sitting on the fence. I partly feel like I haven’t given them enough of a go, but I also can’t decide on the end results either. I’ll try to keep you posted when I make a decision, but for now, they’re all still in that uncertain “testing” phase. Sounds so scientific, doesn’t it? Trust me; it’s not! J
That’s going to do it for my January Favorites! It’s actually been a pretty good month all around with many changes, but moving in a positive direction. And for me at least, January meant Christmas! How awesome is that! J I hope you all had a wonderful January, though that sounds a bit contradictory since January always tends to be kind of a grey month – both figuratively and literally. Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of my monthly favorites and I hope to have a few more posts throughout February than I did in January! Looking forward to seeing you soon!!! Until then, best wishes and thanks for stopping by. J

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