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SPAritual for body bliss & nails

I was introduced to the all-vegan Sparitual line of bath, body, and nail care when the day spa I frequent started carrying its products. My first experience was the Look Inside Organic Moisturizing Lotion, which combines olive, sesame, and soybean oils; with shea butter added to this heavenly triumvirate, the lotion left my whole body oh-so-irresistible soft.  All of the bath and body products I’ve tried since that initial purchase have been as luxurious as a spa treatment, and so I like to have a few products on hand for whenever I decide to create a mini-spa day for myself at home. My latest Sparituals indulgence is the Harmonizing Soak Tonic bath conditioner, which features Italian Mandarin.  I am blissful as I relax  and close my eyes, transporting myself back to an afternoon somewhere in southern Italy.  The  essential oil, in addition to inspiring my imagination, is supposed to balance the sacral chakra, located between the navel and the lower abdomen.  For those of you not familiar with chakra-talk, there are seven major energy centers in the subtle body — chakras.  The sacral chakra is a center of creativity and can also be the place of learning to let go.  On a more physical level, imbalances in the sacral chakra often manifest as lower back pain and sciatica.  So when my lower back is getting cranky on me — which it was last week — a bath with this stuff was just what I needed!  For more chakra-related products, check out the Sparituals web site. Another highlight of this product line is the nail care.  I’m not nearly patient or steady enough to give myself manicures and pedicures on a regular basis, but if you are… Sparituals has it all.  To start with, the essentials: cuticle care, base coats, strengtheners, and top coats.  Eco-nail files and the eco-foot file are 100% biodegradable.  Then, there are all the fabulous nail colors to choose from.  Since I bring along my cruelty-free nail color when I go to the salon for my manicures and pedicures, I have a few Sparitual colors that are personal faves.  I love “Endless Possibilities,”  a dark dark brown-red that is perfect for the fall and winter seasons.  This coming holiday season, I’ll be looking festive in “Kiss the Cook” red.  Right now, it’s the time of year for lighter shades to give way to Autumn’s earth tones.  But it’s still feeling like summertime here in Tucson, so I’m keeping it playful and striking a compromise: this week, I’m showing off a deep, warm shade of blue by Sparitual called “Dreams Becoming...

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Cosmetic Brushes

It can be a challenge when you’re trying to switch out some of your tried-and-true cosmetics for cruelty-free alternatives – I remember well!  Finding new products that didn’t stress out my face was hardly an overnight success; I did a lot of searching, a lot of trying new things, and definitely some breaking out (!) before settling into my new staples.  And, while I was trying out all the new powders, tinted moisturizers, concealers, and lipsticks, I knew I also needed to seek out some new makeup brushes.  One of the earliest makeup lessons I got while growing up was about how important it is to have good brushes in the makeup toolbox.  Good brushes translate into a smooth, blended finish… we want our faces to look more Monet than Van Gogh. For years, I’d been using brushes by MAC cosmetics; and some of them are, indeed cruelty-free – they have all-synthetic bristles.  But often cosmetic brushes are made with animal hair (goat, squirrel, sable, pony, badger) … these, we do not want sitting on the counter along with all our cruelty-free favorites.  On the MAC web site, you can look up individual brushes and see exactly which are all-synthetic, which are “natural” (animal hair), and which are a blend of both.  For other cosmetic lines, this information is usually available online, at the cosmetics counter… or you can call the customer care hotline.  Just be sure to be specific when asking about a brush or brushes, rather than asking a general question about what a company uses for its bristles.  As is the case with MAC, the answer may differ from brush to brush.  Also, beware of the eco-friendly products that aren’t necessarily 100% cruelty-free.  Early on, I had a rude awakening when I purchased a pressed-powder compact that was “eco-friendly”: instead of a puff, the compact came with a little brush – and the bristles were not synthetic.  Oops! So my great find in the area of cruelty-free brushes: EcoTools.  These are inexpensive cosmetic brushes that are available at most Walgreens, Wal-Mart stores, and online at Drugstore.com.  The brushes are made from natural and recycled materials: the soft bristles are made of taklon, the handles are made of bamboo and recycled aluminum, and each brush comes in a re-usable recycled plastic case (I use them to pack up the brushes and keep them clean whenever I’m traveling).  Bonus:  taklon, a synthetic fiber, doesn’t have any allergen elements – ideal for those of us with allergies and sensitive skin! In addition to individual brushes for purchase, EcoTools makes a 6-piece and a 5-piece gift set – Santa gave one to...

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Gabriel and Zuzu Luxe cosmetics

I confess that, for all my talk about taking gradual steps, I’m not exactly a “gradual” kind of girl.  I woke up one morning with it in my head that I wanted to replace everything in my home with products that didn’t test on animals, and I hit the ground running.  Household products, leather products, and cosmetics — it was a whirlwind around my home in those days!  I was researching as much as possible as quickly as possible.  I realized many of the cosmetics I’d been using for years didn’t meet my new criterion, so I immediately headed to the Whole Foods Market to find some cruelty-free alternatives.  Thus began what continues to be an ongoing adventure in search of new and terrific make-up products. During that first Whole Foods visit, I became acquainted with two cosmetics lines, Gabriel and Zuzu Luxe.  They got my attention simply because both had elaborate displays and “testers” in the cosmetics aisle.  Zuzu, as it turns out, is owned by Gabriel.  Since my first cruelty-free cosmetics shopping venture, I’ve learned about so many other brands that don’t test on animals and don’t use animal ingredients, but today I put Gabriel and Zuzu in the spotlight, as the ones who started me out. Although I’ve incorporated other make-up brands into my “pretty up” collection, some of their products remain true cruelty-free favorites: Gabriel Lip Gloss: The “Mocha” and the “Venus” by Gabriel were the first lip glosses I bought.  They’re a little bit heavier than the lip balm or gloss I wear during the day, perfect for evening events. Not only are they cruelty-free, their also gluten and lead free. Zuzu Luxe Mascara: Natural mascaras are sometimes a little tricky… well, actually messy.  Many people I know complain that ones they’ve tried get flaky on them or smear easily.  I’ve also suffered the smudged-look as I’ve tried some other brands.  However, the Zuzu Luxe mascara in Onyx was the first cruelty-free mascara I bought, and I think I got pretty lucky that day. Powder blush: I still use the same “Bella Donna” shade by Zuzu that I purchased during my first cruelty-free cosmetics outing.  It matches my natural complexion and works really well whenever I’m going with earthier, neutral shades on my face… or I’m wearing dark or neutral-colored clothes. Lip Gloss/Lipstick: Lately, I’ve been using the “Crystal” (as in clear) lip gloss.  It’s lighter than the Gabriel glosses, perfect for everyday.  Another great option for the lips, for daytime or nighttime — I recently purchased a lipstick (“Obsession”) from Zuzu, also very light on the lips and moisturizing. Bonus Tip! If either...

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Kiss My (Moisturized!) Face
Aug16

Kiss My (Moisturized!) Face

“A core element of our mission is having a 360 degree view of how our products… and everything it takes to get them to you… affect our planet.” The fact that the Kiss My Face guys incorporated this perspective into their mission statement makes me even more wild about their products. What’s to like about Kiss My Face: They do not test on animals and do not use animal ingredients They use sustainable, plant-based ingredients that are gentle on us and on the planet They use post-consumer recycled materials for packaging, as well as for any displays and brochures They’re not only eco-friendly — they’re also economically friendly.  Great products and prices that will fit the budget. Kiss My Face makes soaps, shower gels, toothpaste, lip balm and lip gloss, shave cream, deodorants, moisturizers, hair shampoos and conditioners, organic facial care and sun care.  They also have Kiss My Face for Kids – a line of soaps, shampoos, suncare, and toothpaste especially for the little ones — I’ll be stocking up for the next time my almost 4 year-old nephew comes to visit!  So cute (the products… and my nephew Nicholas)! My personal faves: Liquid Moisture Soaps I use these pump-soaps for the bathroom at my yoga studio and also have used them in my home.  The pear scent is really nice, and I’m happy to report that KMF is also making their soaps paraben-free now.  In my DC apartment, I bought the “fragrance-free” for both the bathroom and kitchen sink areas.  (about $6.00 each).  For those of you who like bar soaps, try the Olive Oil Bar Soap ($2.99). Organic Moisturizers (for the body) “Almost Butter”– A combination of certified organic jojoba oil, olive oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter. “C’s the Day”– Ester C has anti-oxidant, anti-aging properties and stimulates collagen production; almond oil and jojoba oil make your skin super-soft! *both moisturizers are just $10.95 each! Tinted Facial Moisturizer Tinted moisturizers are awesome! Light enough not to feel greasy or heavy.  Perfect for daytime, when I just need to hydrate my skin and even out my color a bit.  KMF’s tinted moisturizers are inexpensive ($9.99) and the “Sisal” shade matches my complexion perfectly. Trial Sizes I LOVE that KMF makes so many trial sizes of their products! First of all, it makes it so much easier for shoppers who are just starting to make the switch to cruelty-free alternatives.  There are so many products out there — buying trial sizes is a good way to figure out what works best for you (especially if, like me, you have sensitive skin or allergies); and, at a little...

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Thank you, Aveda

I remember very well when I started using Aveda products: I was living in Austin, TX and wearing my hair very, very long then. Someone suggested using Aveda’s shampoo, saying that the natural, plant-based product would be easier on my hair than the harsh chemicals of other products — it would keep my very long (and very fine) hair healthy while minimizing any split ends and breakage. That was more than fifteen years ago, and Aveda’s Camomile Shampoo is still my fave. I’ve chopped my hair off more than once since the Austin days, and now I’m back to wearing it longer again, which is always when I seem to make the greatest efforts to be kind to my hair. In addition to shampoos and conditioners, there’s also the issue of color. After visiting Aveda shops for years to purchase my Camomile, I finally came around to making an appointment for highlights. And, just like any other girl when it comes to hair, I had an immediate sense of loyalty to my hair stylist/colorist at the Aveda salon. This loyalty has transferred to Aveda salons in multiple cities, as I’ve moved around. As many of you are aware, I’m in Washington DC this summer for a legal internship, which means I get to revisit my old Aveda salon in the Georgetown neighborhood. A throwback to the graduate-school days! After my appointment at the salon this past week, I was thinking how Aveda got me on the cruelty-free track long before it became a main focus for me. And for that I have to say thank you, Aveda: l love that you keep my hair luminous; I like it even more that here’s been no animal testing or animal products involved. Over the years, I also have enjoyed my visits to Aveda as opportunities to browse around and try other products that all seem to have “pampering” as their middle name. An Aveda salon is bound to be a treasure-trove of hair products, skincare products, cosmetics, essential oils, candles, body mists, and more. They also carry travel sizes of many of their products — which is a fantastic way to sample new things without spending megabucks before getting out the door! Last week, my little treat to myself was a travel-sized tube of the “Foot Relief” cream to revitalize overstressed feet (a bargain-splurge, at only $7.50). Although I’m an urban girl at heart, my feet are getting a bit of a wake-up call this month, with all the walking around they’ve been asked to do since I landed in DC. I always say that walking feet (or tapping feet) are...

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Nail Color

Today, I treated myself to a pedicure. As someone who spends a lot of time on the yoga mat and barefooted, I like to keep my toes pretty regardless of the season. However, now that Memorial Day is nearing — and therefore another season of swimsuits and flip-flops — even those who don’t usually indulge in pedicures may find themselves staring down at their toes and thinking it might be time to beautify a bit. Ready for those open-toe sexy sling-backs? Let’s get ready for all the summer parties and the days we’re going to be spending poolside. There are plenty of cruelty-free alternatives when it comes to nail polish.  I use No-Miss Nail Care products. Right now, I have “Cassadaga Cinnamon”on my toes. I also favor the shade of blue whenever I’m feeling particularly playful. Some other vegan nail polish options: Zoya, Go Natural, Peacekeeper, and Priti. Brands that may be more familiar to you such as Almay and Revlon do not test on animals, so those are good options for those of you shopping at the local pharmacy or grocery store.  Avon also is animal-friendly.  If you have a favorite nail polish, check out Skin Deep to see the brand’s company stance on animal testing and how your product’s ingredients rate on the site’s healthy/hazardous index. How about nail polish remover? I found mine at the local Whole Foods: Almost Natural Polish Remover, also by No-Miss, comes in unscented and vanilla-scented. Its active ingredients are fruit acid and a plant-based acid. The remover contains no acetone, no ethyl acetate, and it’s cruelty-free. Tip: Hold the cotton round (with the remover on it) on the nail for a few seconds before starting to wipe the nail clean. Once I figured that out, the remover worked like a charm! Going to a nail salon? Not all of us are fortunate to have an eco-salon nearby. So instead of “picking my color” as is the norm when first arriving at a salon, I bring my color with me. Of course, I mention mine is cruelty-free polish, and I hope that eventually the local salon may be inspired to start offering a few cruelty-free colors themselves. A definite perk: a little chip doesn’t mean I have to go running to the salon… I have the color handy to make any touch-ups between pedicure appointments.  *One more tip before you head to the salon: Remove your nail color with your cruelty-free polish at home before going to your...

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