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DIY Black Tea & Rose Petal Body Scrub ::

The scent of black tea is one of my favorites just on its own, but it pairs really well with both citrus and some floral elements. Not to mention that tea leaves make for a nice addition to your all natural exfoliation arsenal. I decided to combine the tea with sugar and coconut oil to make a dreamy all over body scrub. I threw in a handful or so of fallen rose petals (because straight up picking what I assume are my neighbor’s roses would probably be rude), and here we are! Homemade body scrubs are so, so easy to put together, and can be ultra luxurious depending on what ingredients you use. Experiment! No need to bead.

To make this scrub, you will need the following:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • (+/-) 1/2 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1+ tablespoon black tea (preferably loose leaf)
  • handful of fresh rose petals

Measurements are approximate and can be changed based on personal preference.

Check rose petals for any insect friends, then rinse and gently pat dry. Remove any stems or other dirt and debris. Also remove any overly wilted petals, or any that have lost their scent completely. Coarsely chop the petals, and combine with sugar in a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon, using the sugar to further break the petals down. You’re using the sugar as a mechanism to extract the oils from your rose petals, which in turn makes the sugar mixture (and your scrub!) smell delicious. Coarse raw sugar would do the best job, but I used ordinary table sugar in this batch. Stir in black tea. Add the coconut oil (you may not need to use all of it!), and stir to combine. If you have rose essential oil on hand, feel free to add one or two drops. Rose geranium is nice here, as well, and is a less expensive alternative.

Store in an airtight container. The coconut oil will melt at warmer temperatures, but you can bring it back to solid form by storing it in a cool place. If you don’t like coconut oil (the smell can be strong), try a substitute. Sweet almond would be wonderful, here, just be aware that your scrub will be liquid and will require stirring before use.

DIY Black Tea & Rose Petal Body Scrub ::

Tortoise Tidbit: Tortoises may sometimes enjoy rose petals (pesticide free, please) as a treat. McCoy wants absolutely nothing to do with them. TIL.

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I recently got a somewhat frantic text message from a friend about wanting to switch all her cosmetics over to cruelty free brands. Let’s talk about it, without photos of tortured animals, because there are as many reasons to make the switch as there are people wanting to make it.

A “cruelty free” label might mean different things to different people. My personal checklist, in relative order of importance:

  1. brand, parent brand does not test on animals (finished product or ingredients)
  2. brand, parent brand does not sell in countries that require animal testing
  3. high ratio of recognizable and/or natural ingredients
  4. no animal ingredients (I’m not vegan, so I am okay with honey and soaps/etc. with goat’s milk, but I stay away from animal-derived dyes and colorants)
  5. free of preservatives, parabens, etc.
  6. eco-friendly packaging, etc.
  7. Fair Trade or made in the US

Decide what’s important to you. If all you’re worried about is animal testing, then focus on that.

Numbers 1 and 2 can mean doing a little more digging about parent brands, because sometimes labels aren’t 100% accurate, and policies/companies can change overnight. Generally speaking, I try to support brands that come right out and say that they are vegan and/or cruelty free. It means I can that much lazier. I talked about it a little bit in this post, but it’s getting easier to find cruelty free products on a budget. There’s no reason to be intimidated about the cost of switching over. You don’t necessarily need to go through all your stuff and throw everything out. Make the transition a little easier on your wallet. Replace your old products as you finish them, or find a friend who can get some use from them. You’ve already spent the money, no need to let it go to waste.

Let yourself be flexible. If there’s a product I love (a luxury product, or something I use regularly and am 100% happy with), I purchase it. My Venus five-blade razor comes to mind. It’s not made of recyclable material, and I’m pretty sure the moisturizing strips contain all kinds of garbage, but it’s the best razor I’ve ever used. I don’t use the disposable version, and I do my best to make the cartridges last a long time. So do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up. If someone were to hand me an alternative that fit my requirements and was comparable, I would switch in a heartbeat, but until that day comes I’m happy with my choice!

You should familiarize yourself with animal ingredients and the names of commonly used chemicals.  This list is a good place to start, but provides no explanations. Some can be found here. Learn where these ingredients come from, how they’re manufactured, and what they do. Basically, understand what you’re reading when you read a product label. Not all chemicals with complicated names are bad for you and bad for the planet. Some are. Sometimes preservatives are necessary, and sometimes they’re not. Products without preservatives may not last as long. It’s a lot of stuff to to understand while shopping.

Keep in mind that “certified organic” and “certified cruelty free” labels cost money. Keep an eye out for small or local companies that you can support that may not be able to afford the label! Also, just because a product is labeled as “natural” doesn’t make it cruelty free. Many companies have a “natural” product line (which may or may not be tested on animals), but still participate in animal testing. Again, decide what’s most important to you, and shop based on that. Be prepared to compromise.

And please, if it applies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re a hypocrite for wanting cruelty free products while still eating meat (or dairy products, or whatever). I’ve gotten that before (no joke), and it seems to me, to quote Hank Hill, “just asinine.” Spending money on cruelty free products lets companies know that more people want these options. I call that a win for humans and critters alike. Besides, your diet is none of anyone’s business if you don’t want it to be. Heck, your shopping habits aren’t either. Don’t sweat it. Let your choices come from a positive place. Other people can be jerks if they want to be.

If you want to get to know some animal-friendly brands without making a huge commitment to a single product, check out the following curated subscription boxes:

  • Vegan Cuts Beauty Box $19.95/month with free shipping, 4-7 products (full sized and samples)
  • Petit Vour $15/month with free shipping, 4-5 products (full sized and samples)

Neither of these companies are affiliated with this website, but I highly recommend both. Vegan Cuts is perfect if you’re just starting on your cruelty free journey, and Petit Vour is such a treat to receive every month.

If you consider yourself a product junkie, have no fear! Going cruelty free will not cut you off. This is coming from a girl with a 45+ bottle nail polish collection.

Websites and brands to explore:

  • Abe’s Market (affiliate link): You can browse beauty and bath & body products based on the qualities most important to you! Use the “featured qualities” and “certifications” drop downs on the side bar. Each individual product page will also list qualities and certifications. Some of my favorites (affiliate links):
  1. My Konjac Sponge charcoal face sponge
  2. Schmidt’s lavender and sage deodorant
  3. Antonym Cosmetics eyeshadow quad in “croisette”
  4. Karma Naturals lavender nail polish remover (reviewed here!)
  • Vegan Cuts: Check out the body care and lifestyle sections, in particular.
  • Nail Polish Brands I Love
  1. Julep (affiliate link): New customers get $10 off first purchase of $30 or more
  2. Spa Ritual
  3. Zoya
  4. Jamberry nail wraps
  • Other Favorite Brands 
  1. Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs perfume
  2. EcoTools brushes
  3. elf
  4. Hurraw! lip balm (reviewed here and here!)
  5. Lily Lolo
  6. LUSH
  7. Pacifica
  8. Tarte
  • Other Resources, Blogs
  1. Go Cruelty Free / Leaping Bunny
  2. Logical Harmony
  3. Vegan Beauty Review

Please share your favorites in the comments!

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The 2015 LUSH Valentine’s Day collection has arrived! This is not a sponsored post, I just really adore LUSH. Their Valentine’s Day products always end up being my favorites, because they’re fun and a little decadent.  There is something about ultra-feminine pink and shimmery things that speak to my heart. I (a little bit secretly) find great comfort in the ultra-girly, and LUSH always delivers. I think maybe it’s that …My Little Pony quotient. Speaking of, the unicorn horn bubble bar is high up on my list.

I’ve never showed you my Pony collection.

That might need to be a thing.

LUSH Valentine's Day 2015

Last year, I received the Cupid’s Love soap in my Neon Love box (see post). This year’s version has a bit of a different look, and is free of MPG’s. I missed out on The Kiss gloss and lip scrub, last year, so those are officially on my shopping list as well.

You can shop the collection online now, or in stores starting on January 16th.


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These days, a kinder sort of cosmetics shopping can be done close-to-home, and it doesn’t need to completely empty your pockets. More companies are taking the junk out of their products and cutting down on environmental impact by using less packaging, or recyclable alternatives. Hooray!

While I do enjoy a little luxury from time to time (because who doesn’t), I generally tend to stick to the basics. If I can’t make them myself, I need most of my everyday products to be readily available and relatively inexpensive. These are some of my favorites, both old and new, that can be found at most drug and grocery stores (or big box locations like Target and Walmart) here in the states! // favorite drugstore beauty products

1. I love Organix shampoos and hair styling products and have been using them for years. My pixie cut currently only requires infrequent shampooing (no conditioner), and this biotin shampoo is ideal for adding volume.  I like the neutral scent on this one; it means Tj can use it, too. The tea tree mint is another dude-friendly scent. These products are sulfate-free and the company does not test on animals. Vegans should read individual bottle labels. These are a little more expensive than some drugstore brands, but if you’re using shampoo at all, I think Organix is a nice compromise between salon and oldschool-hippie.

2. I am late to the EOS game, but I now have a couple pods floating around the house. You can purchase these at WalMart for $2.96. EOS balms and are 100% all natural and USDA certified organic. They are also paraben-free, petrolatum-free, phthalate-free (and gluten-free, if that’s your thing). I like sweet mint best. Pictured above is pomegranate raspberry.

3. I’ve been using Burt’s Bees lemon cuticle balm since high school. It’s a huge savior in the cold weather, especially. This will run you around $6, but it lasts a while.

4. e.l.f. proudly sports a vegan label, and the company has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to testing on animals. All of their products are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so they’re safe for sensitive skin. Also awesome? The cost. I paid $2 for the eye shadow quad pictured above, which is a nice selection of shimmery neutrals. As someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup, this is great because it means I can experiment freely, but in the very likely event that I don’t finish up a product before its expiration date, it’s not a huge loss. These beauties are so inexpensive because e.l.f. doesn’t spend money on ads or fancy packaging!

5. This is my everyday face wash. Yes to products are incredibly gentle, free of petroleum and parabens, and do not test on animals. Note to vegans: read individual product labels. The cleansing facial wipes are handy for travel.

6. I currently have a couple higher end (though not by much) mascaras, but Physician’s Formula is my less expensive go-to. The Natural Origins is less than $10 (half the cost of my favorite Tarte mascara), and it’s free of all synthetics. Tip: add a drop of lavender oil to your mascara tube to help nourish your lashes! Physician’s Formula is 100% cruelty-free, but vegans should read labels on individual products.

7. I love Mrs. Meyer’s everything, but the liquid hand soaps are an essential.  They do make solid bars, too, if you want something with less packaging. These are made in the US and all products are paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Share your favorite drugstore products in the comments!

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While visiting Philadelphia last month I took the opportunity to schedule an appointment at LUSH spa. As of right now, only two spa locations exist in the US: one in Philly, the other in NYC.

You may know by now that I am LUSH obsessed. Observe. LUSH speaks to my heart with handmade small batch cruelty-free products. Here’s another fun fact about me: before this trip, I’d never had any kind of spa experience. I got a manicure once. The thing is, I am kind of a hippie (mostly meaning that I make very intentional choices when it comes to cosmetics and bath products) and I kind of don’t like strange people touching me.  I turned 30 in October; I wanted to treat myself to something a little out of my comfort zone. Knowing that I can always get behind LUSH, I decided to take a chance. Tj offered to make the experience part of my birthday gift.

I opted for something ultra-girly and chose The Comforter? for my treatment:

“Dive into a world of pure imagination with a hot chocolate body scrub. The Comforter? brings a typical exfoliation treatment in from the cold with warm oils, rolling body massage and music reminiscent of sweet childhood memories. The Comforter? features a sumptuous hot chocolate scrub and velvety rose body serum invented exclusively for the Spa.”


The Comforter? is a soothing, non-invasive treatment. The whole idea behind it is to make you feel safe, warm, and, well, comforted.

I was greeted by my therapist who explained the entire treatment process to me. She showed me the products she’d be using, in both their solid and melted forms. I was encouraged to touch and smell them while she talked about the benefits of each ingredient. It was the best scenario for me. I was able to get through my initial apprehension, and I had a chance to learn everything I wanted to know about the spa-exclusive LUSH products.

The treatment room was lit like a glowing pink and purple nebula, and the music composed for this particular treatment (each treatment has its own soundtrack) was lilting and soft, reminiscent of childhood. It surprisingly, and sweetly, featured a cover of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka.

After my treatment was over, I was invited to make use of a number of LUSH samples, and went back downstairs to enjoy a cocktail of club soda, rose water, and cotton candy.

My only regrets from this experience were not tipping my therapist enough (because I’m a newb) and not being able to take home either of the products used in my treatment!

I was told that they are looking into opening more locations in the US, so I hope you have the opportunity to visit. It was a lovely experience, and I felt like a slightly new girl at the end.

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