This year I treated myself to two advent calendars, and was spoilt having two mini gifts each day from 1st to 25th December. Some of these products have been amazing discoveries. I’ll be honest though, some have been quite disappointing. Not all the products were cruelty free, though I knew this would be the case when I purchased them. A couple of products I was looking forward to weren’t to my taste (the Nudestix pencil for example I thought sounded great but the shade was too pale for what I like in a lip pencil). I think overall the Look Fantastic box had more products that I loved, but it was more expensive and yet the quality of the box was poor. Some of it was already open when it arrived, and it was difficult to open the days without seeing the items next to them. I much prefer the M&S approach of separate mini boxes (though appreciate this isn’t the most eco-friendly approach).
Here are the cruelty free (to the best of my knowledge) items I have enjoyed most from the advent calendars:
Alpha H Liquid Gold
Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream
Foreo Luna Play (and Day Cleanser)
Inika Loose Mineral Blush
Josh Wood Radient Shine Hair Treatment Oil
Pixi Brow Tamer
Pixi Glow Tonic
Rosie from Autograph Lip Glossy in Supermodel Shine
I did enjoy my advent calendars and think they were worth the money, though I think next year I need to choose just one as I have lots of sample products I won’t use (though I’ve gifted some and plan to give others to family and friends). I’m really hoping there might be more cruelty free options next year though as it would be great to have a 100% cruelty free advent calendar.
It’s only 4th December but I’ve already had some fantastic items in my beauty advent calendars. As a reminder, I went for the M&S calendar and the LookFantastic calendar – neither have all cruelty free items but the majority in both are. Here’s some highlights so far…
Pixi Glow Tonic – Day 1 in LookFantastic calendar was a teeny tiny 15ml bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic. In my nighttime skincare I alternate between this and the Freedom Glycolic Radiance Tonic (both of which I love) so this will be really handy to take with me when I’m travelling.
Inika Loose Mineral Blush (Blooming Nude) – I’ve heard a lot of good things about Inika so was delighted to receive this full sized loose mineral blush in Blooming Nude for Day 3 in my LookFantastic calendar. I’ve never tried a loose powder blush and confess I had to search Youtube to find out how to use it! You only need a tiny bit of product but it gives a lovely natural flush which lasts all day. I don’t tend to wear blush every day but this is lovely and not too ‘made up’ so I’ve worn it today and yesterday over my usual CC cream. It’s £21 so not cheap, but I think it will last ages. Great value for an advent calendar item!
This Works Sleep Plus+ Pillow Spray – I have tried this before but got out of the habit of using it. My sleeping pattern is terrible at the moment (it often is!) so getting this in Day 4 of the LookFantastic calendar was a welcome item. I have a slightly earlier than usual start tomorrow so will be trying to wind down early tonight and using this to help me sleep. I’ve included the link to the 75ml spray which is the best value way of buying this, but if you want to try it out first there are plenty of gift sets available which include the smaller sizes like I got.
Pixi Brow Tamer (Translucent) – This was one of the items that I was particularly looking forward to from the M&S calendar so I’m glad it’s one of the earlier items (Day 4) – it’s the full sized product worth £12. I don’t tend to do much, if anything, with my brows but have been wondering about trying out a brow gel. This product doesn’t do a whole lot, but I don’t want a whole lot doing so it does the job for me. I’ve tried it out today and it doesn’t make my brows feel crispy at all; it’s just good for combing through and holding them in place.
So far so good – I’m loving having my beauty treats each day and am looking forward to trying out more 🙂
Last December was a great month. I took some time off work, we moved house (back closer to the area both myself and my partner grew up in and where most of our family and friends are based), we spent time with family and friends around Christmas, and most importantly I had my M&S advent calendar. OK, I might be exaggerating the importance slightly, but it was seriously great. Every day last December until Christmas I had a little beauty treat to try out, and I absolutely loved it. I blogged each day and enjoyed sharing some of the new things I’d discovered thanks to the advent calendar. I concluded in my review post that I’d loved it so much that I was planning to get another this year.
Then earlier this year I learnt about the animal testing that still goes on with many cosmetic companies, and decided to go cruelty free. Suddenly trying new things isn’t so easy. Product purchases involve a lot more research and more careful consideration. I knew I really wanted to have a beauty advent calendar again this year though, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for different advent calendars and doing research to find the best one(s) for me. Sadly, it’s been quite a struggle.
There are some cruelty free brands who have beauty advent calendars (Dr Hauschka and Make Up Revolution for example), but I like the variety of trying different brands and I like to have 24 items (some only have 12 and I’m far too greedy to be happy with that!). So I scoured the spoiler blog posts and looked to see if any of the variety beauty advent calendars offer cruelty free options. I made a spreadsheet and noted which items were cruelty free, and which items I was interested in (to ensure good value for money). In the end, I decided to go for two options; partly because I couldn’t decide between them, partly because they both had some particularly great cruelty free items in, and partly because I’m being a diva and want treats!
I went for the Look Fantastic calendar and the M&S calendar (unfortunately both now out of stock); both of which have around 16 cruelty free items (from my research; some brands I can’t be sure about). Although it’s not ideal to be supporting some brands that aren’t cruelty free, I’m happy that the majority of the items I’ll be trying are cruelty free. I won’t be blogging every item like I did last year, but I’ll probably share some of the items if I find some new cruelty free items that I really like and will be likely to repurchase.
I’d love it if it was easier to get cruelty free versions of the beauty advent calendars; fingers crossed this might become the norm in future. I’m sure there are many people who would be delighted to be able to discover new cruelty free brands.
In the meantime, I’m very much looking forward to starting my advents calendars tomorrow. It’ll be Christmas before we know it! 🙂
I haven’t been wearing make up much recently, but have enjoyed some skincare and a couple of new items.
Sleek Lip Power Plump Pencil in Notorious Nude – I am totally in love with this. I bought it on a bit of a whim but am so glad I did. I love the colour (very natural nude), I love the texture (creamy, almost balm-like), I love the lasting power (it lasts a good 2-3 hours), I love the fact it doesn’t dry your lips, and I love the tingle you get from applying it (this apparently makes your lips look more plump – I’m not sure but either way I like it!). Admittedly it’s not the boldest of looks, but I’m a wimp when it comes to bold make up so this suits me perfectly. I also really like that I can wear this with other make up, or I can wear it on its own when I’m not wearing other make up. I also picked up another shade from the range, Berry Burst, which I do like but is much bolder so the sort of thing I’d usually wear when I’m wearing other make up and feeling a bit braver.
Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel – I didn’t want to love this stuff, but I do. It gets quite a lot of hype on other blogs and isn’t the cheapest product out there, but I’m going to add to the hype because I really like it. I’ve been using it every morning for a few weeks now and it’s lovely. It’s a gel that turns into an oil, and it really helps to both cleanse and moisturise my skin. I like the scent too, though I don’t think I did at first so it might be more of a grower! The frustrating thing is I have no idea how much I have left so I’m wary about running out (I *may* have ordered another earlier today so I won’t be without it!).
Soap and Glory Hand Food in Smoothie Star – I’ll never forget the day my Dad told me I had old lady hands. I was about 19 at the time. Thanks for that Dad! I obviously wasn’t too traumatised though as I’ve never really looked after my hands but the last few months I’ve been keeping hand cream in my bedside table and applying it every night. This one is really lovely – quite rich but not greasy, and the scent is heavenly (it’s the same scent family as the scrub and shower cream I love). Sadly it doesn’t seem you can buy on its own – I got it in a Smoothie Star set.
B Blemish Gel – I had a breakout recently so have been using blemish gel, but I’ve been trying this one as it has hyaluronic acid so is more moisturising than most blemish products which can be very drying. It’s similar in effectiveness to the Superdrug one but doesn’t seem as drying so I’ll be sticking with this one.
Barry M polish in Festival Fever – I recently had an incredibly luxurious day to myself, and one of the things I did was treat myself to a new nail polish and paint my nails. My poor nails have been quite neglected recently (well, pretty much all year to be honest!) so it’s lovely to spend some time tidying them up and painting them. I went for a pretty pink which isn’t my usual choice (purple or deep reds are usually my favourite nail colour) but it seemed appropriate for the season and I’m really enjoying having pink nails. It’s a limited edition shade that is currently available in Superdrug (and is part of the buy one get one half price offer).
Another good month for cruelty free favourites! What have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?
I love this stuff! My hair is fine and lacks volume, but this shampoo really helps. It was recommended to me by a sales assistant in Lush, and after using a sample I was straight back to purchase a full tub! It’s a really unusual consistency – it’s like a thin, slightly gooey gel with sea salt particles in. Some sulphate free shampoo doesn’t lather much but this lathers loads! You do need to really massage it into your hair, but that’s got to be a good thing. It really seems to help add more bounce to my hair and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone with wavy or curly hair.
Repurchase? I haven’t yet as I’m using a Superdrug shampoo and conditioner at the moment which is much cheaper. I imagine I’ll get another one of these in future though.
In my last cruelty free empties blog post I mentioned that I was using this instead of the Freedom Glycolic Glow Tonic, and that I thought I found it more effective. I’d say that’s probably true, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra cost (the Freedom one is £6).
Repurchase? Possibly, but not at the moment. I’m using the Freedom one at the moment.
I really liked this scrub. I’m really into fruity scents that have a hint of vanilla so this is right up my street (it also happens to be the same combination as my favourite perfume!). The scrub itself is nice and coarse and exfoliates well.
Repurchase? Possibly. It’s an online only purchase though and I tend to prefer to buy in store. I also really like the Soap and Glory Breakfast Scrub so am probably more likely to use that (which I can get in Boots).
I’ve been dying my hair for many years now and when I switched to cruelty free earlier this year I didn’t have much luck in terms of covering grey hair (managed to stain the bathroom of course!). I tried a different type and different shade recently though and have really liked the shade; it’s slightly lighter than my natural colour but I like a lighter shade in summer.
Repurchase? Yes, I’ll more than likely get the same next time and then probably a darker/redder shade for winter.
It’s quite a big deal for me to finish a cleanser as I have so many I use! I enjoyed using this one though and used it most evenings for a few weeks as a first cleanse. I hadn’t expected it to have scrub particles in, but they work well. It’s great for both cleansing (including removing make up) and softening skin. It’s fine to use on your eyes and doesn’t irritate them at all. One minor problem I experienced was that the balm separated in the tube so sometimes I would get oil and sometimes a thick balm. It’s not a massive problem as you warm it on your face to become an oil anyway, but it just meant it was a bit inconsistent.
Repurchase? I have plenty of cleansers at the moment so haven’t repurchased yet but would consider it in future. It’s not cheap though so I’ll probably try some of the B and Superdrug cleansers first. I also have my eye on the Sanctuary Spa Cleansing Butter. Can you tell I love trying new cleansers?!
I haven’t mentioned this yet on my blog which is surprising as it’s a product I use every day. It’s a lovely moisturising serum which applies really nicely and leave skin soft and smooth. I use this every morning before moisturising.
Repurchase? Yes, I’m on my third bottle of this and always have a backup ready (because of the packaging you can’t tell when it’s about to run out!).
What cruelty free products have you been using recently? Any recommendations?
I’ve been choosing to purchase cruelty free toiletries and cosmetics for almost 6 months now, and have learnt a lot over that time. I spotted the cruelty free tag doing the rounds (I came across it via April at Another Story for Tomorrow), and thought I’d share my responses. I’d love to hear others’ responses too, so please do let me know if you blog yours by adding a link in a comment (or if you don’t have a blog feel free to share your responses via a comment).
What is your favourite cruelty free face product?
This is a tricky one as I have a few face products I like, but I’m still on the hunt for a ‘holy grail’ foundation (I like the Too Faced Born This Way but I wouldn’t wear this all the time as it’s too high coverage, and I like the Sleek CC Cream but it’s not got great coverage – I’m looking for my perfect in between!). I recently got a travel sized version of Becca Highlighter in Opal (both powder and liquid) as part of the Glow To Go set and absolutely love both so I think I’d say that’s my favourite face product at the moment.
What is your favourite cruelty free eye product?
I don’t wear much eye makeup, but I do tend to wear mascara. I am really loving the Barry M That’s How I Roll mascara, which I find is a good cruelty free dupe for Benefit Rollerlash. This is the only mascara I own at the moment and the only one I’ve been wearing for a couple of months.
I’m really liking vanilla scents with a hint of fruitiness in, so the Lavanila range is right up my street. At the moment I have the Lavanila Lemon Vanilla rollerball which I use most days. I’d love to try some of the other scents but they’re difficult to get hold of in the UK and I couldn’t find them in store whilst I was in the US.
What is your favourite cruelty free nail polish?
As shocking as this may seem (given my previous unhealthy obsession with nail polish and the title of this blog!), I haven’t been wearing coloured nail polish much recently; usually just a sheer or very subtle polish. I really like the Zoya polishes though; a favourite for all year is Zoya Rue, a lovely dusty rose pink shade. My favourite nail polish shade is usually deep purple so I also love Zoya Payton. I really like Barry M polishes too.
Would you give away/throw out products that aren’t cruelty free?
I gave away quite a few of my non-cruelty free items when I first made the transition – I needed a clear out anyway and it was great to be able to pass them on to family and friends. I still have some that I am using up, but am replacing them with cruelty free items as they get used up.
Which brand, that isn’t cruelty free, are you going to miss the most and why?
L’Oreal. I was a fan of their Skin Perfection facial skincare range, and used many of their haircare products. I also really liked their foundations, and their lip products. I also really liked the Body Shop Cleansing Butter but don’t buy from the Body Shop anymore as they are also owned by L’Oreal. I’d be delighted if L’Oreal became cruelty free but I think that’s unlikely to happen in the near future!
So that’s my responses to the questions from the cruelty free tag. Please do feel free to copy the questions and share your answers too – I’d be very interested to hear about your favourite products in particular.
Thanks to some new products and some rediscoveries during June, I have some more cruelty free favourites to share.
M&S Gradual Tan – I’ve blogged about this already so won’t go into too much more detail but I’m really impressed with both the gradual tan body moisturiser and the serum glow booster. Since the weather took a turn for the worse and I’ve been mostly wearing a waterproof coat and either jeans or thick tights, so I haven’t bothered quite as much with the body moisturiser the last couple of weeks, but I have been using the face serum every few nights.
Superdrug Clearly Youthful Glycolic Peel Mask – I’ve had a few blemishes that have been lingering recently, and decided to pick up a mask to try to clear them up. This mask contains salicylic acid which helps clear spots, but it is also designed to help improve the texture of your skin. I’m quite fortunate with my skin but it always responds well to glycolic acid, so as this has both ingredients I thought I’d give it a go. It is seriously good! It’s always great fun to use peel-off masks anyway (please tell me it’s not just me that takes great delight in peeling them off?!) but this makes my skin feel so lovely and soft. I’ve been using this once a week(ish) and find it is definitely helping get my skin back to normal.
Becca Opal Glow on the Go – I was at a conference in the US last month and picked up some bits from Sephora, Ulta, and CVS (I’ll blog about what I got another day). One of my favourite finds was Becca Glow on the Go – a travel sized set of Becca Opal highlighter in both pressed and liquid form. I’ve heard so much great stuff about this highlighter, particularly for paler skin tones, and I can see why. It’s a really flattering shade, lasts well, and doesn’t look glittery like some highlighters can. I’m not sure if I prefer the liquid or pressed version more but am delighted I have them and have been using them both.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm – I’ve almost run out of my night time intensive lip balm and was looking for a cruelty free version. I came across this in Sephora and have been using it both day and night since. It’s very rich so I don’t use it all the time but when my lips feel dry it’s great. It lasts a long time too so really helps to nourish. It’s only a tiny pot but you don’t need much so I think it will last a while.
Another good month for cruelty free favourites! What have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?
Skin Blossom Gentle Face Wash* (150ml, worth £6.95) – I’ve had a couple of Skin Blossom items in previous boxes and given them to a friend, but I haven’t used a face wash like this for a while so thought I’d give it a go. It is indeed very gentle and I can imagine would be good for sensitive skin. I’ve used this a couple of times now and found it cleans the skin without stripping it too much. It’s good for my fairly dry skin and I’ll continue to use it. It’s nothing amazing so I wouldn’t rush out to buy again but I’ll definitely use it up.
Urban Veda Soothing Exfoliating Facial Polish* (20ml), Facial Wash* (20ml) and Day Cream* (10ml) – The collection this month is aimed at combination skin and helps to clarify and moisturise. As with the other Urban Veda range I tried, I’m liking this so far, especially the facial polish which I use in the shower. They’re a great value brand and one I’d consider buying in future. You can get sample versions* of many of the Urban Veda products if you’re interested in trying them out.
Pure & Light Essential Face Cream* (15ml, worth £8.70) – I don’t think this is anything special, but it does moisturise my skin well and doesn’t leave any residue. The scent is OK but the product isn’t something I’d personally rush out to repurchase, especially given the price (£29 for 50ml).
PHB Ethical Beauty Soothing Hand Cream* (50ml, worth £10.95) – sadly I’m not usually a fan of lavender scented things so I have tried this once but didn’t like the scent. I’ll be passing this on to someone who I know loves lavender and always needs hand cream!
June’s box wasn’t as relevant for me as some of the previous boxes and having had four consecutive boxes (see my earlier blog posts on March, April and May beauty boxes) I now seem to have a lot of facial skincare to use up. I’ve therefore decided to take a break from the subscription whilst I use up some of the products I have, but I would still recommend the box and I’ll probably subscribe again in future once I’ve used some of the products up. I do love skincare but I wish it was a little more varied in terms of items in the box (e.g. haircare, make up) to reduce the chance of stockpiling!
Do you have any other cruelty free beauty box recommendations?
If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know that despite my heritage I am very pale. I’m totally fine about this most of the time, but every few years I get frustrated with it and attempt some tanning. I’m not one for sunbathing (though I do quite enjoy sitting in the garden and reading), and am obsessive about sun protection, so my tan usually comes from a bottle.
I’m not brave enough to do a proper fake tan (I think I’m too pale anyway!), so I stick to gradual tan. I had a few brands I used to love but sadly they’re not cruelty free. I struggled to find a cruelty free gradual tan in Superdrug and their temporary bronzing cream made me look like I’d been tangoed (thank goodness for their 100% happiness guarantee returns policy!).
I’ve been using both products since (the face serum every other night and the body lotion every few days) and love them both. I mix a couple of drops of the serum in with my night cream, and apply the body lotion as a regular moisturiser (making sure to use a body scrub in the shower first, and being careful not to use too much around my elbows/knees).
They have a slight biscuity fake tan scent, but it’s very mild (and I like the scent anyway!). They definitely have an effect on colour, but it’s only subtle and fine for those of us who are paler to start with. I did catch the sun a bit in the garden earlier this month, and these products have helped prolong that effect.
You do need to make sure you rinse your hands properly after applying as I did get some staining on the back of my hand one time, but it soon faded.
If you’re looking for cruelty free gradual tanning, I’d definitely recommend checking the range out (they also have darker shades and regular self-tanning products).
Do you have any other recommendations for cruelty free gradual tanning solutions?
It’s time to share some cruelty free favourites again! Here are the products I’ve been loving in May.
Sleek CC Cream – I’m fortunate that my skin is generally fairly good so I don’t feel I need a lot of coverage; tinted moisturisers/BB creams/CC creams are my usual staple. I prefer ones which have SPF in (I do tend to use a separate SPF product as well but still like them to have SPF as well), and the Sleek one is SPF 29 – strange number, but much higher protection than most so all good in my opinion. The other slightly awkward requirement I have is the shade. Despite my heritage from the West Indies (yes really, Francis Barber – a black ‘manservant’ for Samuel Johnson in fact), I am super pale so often struggle to find shades light enough for me. Even the ‘light’ is often too dark. Sleek however have a ‘fair’ option which is paler than the light one and suits me perfectly. I really like this CC cream as it claims to boost radiance and also mattify shine, which seems like a contradiction in some senses but I can see what it means. It definitely removes shine, but doesn’t make your skin look too flat either. I love it and have been using it most days this month – on both make up days and non-make up days. It’s great value too – only £8.99. big thumbs up for this one!
LaVanila Fresh Vanilla Lemon perfume – I added this to my birthday wishlist and was delighted to receive it (it can be tricky to find in the UK but I managed to find a supplier on Amazon). I took a bit of a gamble as I hadn’t ever smelt the scent, but I love vanilla and love fresh citrusy scents so thought I might like this. I was absolutely right; it’s my new favourite perfume and I’m delighted to have found a cruelty free perfume I love. I have the rollerball which is really convenient, but I may have to treat myself to a full sized bottle if I find one whilst I’m in America later this month.
Lush Sea Spray – I got this based on a recommendation from an excellent advisor in Lush Manchester. My hair is naturally wavy/curly, but can go very frizzy and it’s fine so can look very limp/lank (both awful words but I’m sure you know what I mean!). The Sea Spray adds volume and texture as well as holding it in place so it doesn’t go quite as flat by the end of the day. Based on the advice of the sales advisor, I spray it into the palm of my hand before scrunching through my hair (the spray is too concentrated to spray directly into my hair). I find just one spray is enough for me, so I would think this will last ages. I tend to use it on dry hair or almost dry hair. I find it useful for a quick refresh in between washes too.
PHB Ethical Beauty Brightening Eye Gel – I received this in my April LoveLula beauty box and have been using it pretty much every day since then. I wouldn’t say it is brightening, but it is very smoothing and feels lovely to apply. I’ve used a fair few eye creams in the last couple of years and never found any of them amazing, but I really like this gel consistency.
B. Radiant Overnight Mask – I read a review of the B. Radiant Overnight Mask on another cruelty free blog, Brianne Etc., and decided to give it a try. The B. range in Superdrug is often on offer so I’m not sure how much I paid but it’s very rare that you need to pay full price. Even at full price (£11.99) I think it’s worth it. I have dry skin so am always looking for products that will help moisturise, especially overnight when I like to treat my skin. This is a great overnight mask which moisturises really well but doesn’t feel tacky on the skin. I’ve been using it most nights and it’s really helped my skin and hasn’t broken me out. You don’t need much at all so I think it will last a good while.
What cruelty free products have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?