Hello there, dust sprites. I probably don’t have to tell you this, but I am a makeup newbie. Sure, I wear mascara, and I’m a total lipstick junkie (always have been obsessed with lip products in general), but when it comes to just normal, everyday things like applying foundation, I literally have no clue what I’m doing (outside of just smearing tinted moisturizer or BB cream all over my face). This is the summer I figure things out.
When I was younger, my mom encouraged me whenever I felt like playing with cosmetics. I’m pretty sure she loved the idea; I flip flopped from tomboy to girly girl on the reg, and she really enjoyed my girlier times. Heck, my mom was the mom who tried to convince the other moms to let my friends pierce their ears. I remember her purchasing my very first blush compact (Maybelline) and lipstick (some sort of frosted pink Avon variety). Mostly, though, she bought me endless glitter gel and LipSmacker products in my preteens (and that one green lippie from Wet n’ Wild that like… changed color with your body temperature or something).
Most of you reading know that she died when I was sixteen, which was really right around the time I started becoming somewhat more interested in wearing make up “for real.” It was actually something we argued about a little, because she was way more into the idea than I was. And sixteen year old girls argue with their moms about everything. Literally. In the end, I just never really learned. There was the occasional reddish eyeshadow, black eyeliner pencil, and black lipstick (because baby goth), but I just never figured out the normal stuff. My father supported/tolerated whatever weird teenage thing I wanted to wear or put on (including blue hair and darling customized vampie fangs), but makeup was certainly out of his scope of knowledge. I’m 90% sure he thought my red shadow was just pollen allergies.
Writing this all out really just makes me feel nostalgic, which is kind of how makeup makes me feel in general. It also make me feel so incredibly thankful for my parents. All girls deserve a mom and dad like mine. Nobody’s perfect, and of course I don’t only have warm and fuzzy memories about my mom (again, moms and teenage daughters), but a lot of who I am today is because of her. I appreciate that.
I recently placed a mega-order with Ulta. These products are all new to me, so I thought an unboxing post with some initial thoughts might be fun.
Everything I purchased is, as far as I know, cruelty free (not tested on animals). Some of the parent companies of these particular brands do business in countries that require animal testing. I will provide notes where applicable. Some of the items I actually felt confident about are a little more on the pricey side, but they’re from brands I know I can trust when it comes to transparency. As always, you should use your wallet, and your voice, in the way that works best for you. Logical Harmony is the best resource I know when it comes to researching cruelty-free beauty.
Now let’s get to it! I didn’t take a ton of photos; my bathroom lighting is …less than ideal?
Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in light.
- 100% vegan and cruelty free / Made in the US / formulated without parabens, phthalates or petroleum
I occasionally use a cream concealer with a brush, but I’ve never purchased or used a wand before. Pacifica is a brand I am familiar, comfortable and 100% happy with, so I felt safe making this choice. I have nothing but praise for this brand, and the fact that they make cruelty free beauty more accessible to everyone.
Initial thoughts: The shade is fine for me, as long as I blend it out. I appreciate the lighter coverage; I’ll be able to use this with both a BB cream (which I’m more comfortable with) and a more traditional foundation.
Pacifica Radiant Shimmer Coconut Multiples
- 100% vegan and cruelty free / Made in the US / formulated without parabens, phthalates or petroleum
Let’s learn how to contour! I chose this as a product to learn with because a number of folks online said that it was a very natural and light looking pallette. I’ve also learned over the years that I really can’t use powder-based products because they consistently turn my face into a patchy desert.
Initial thoughts: First, this palette smells incredible: straight up creamy coconut. I don’t know how I feel about the shimmery “contour” color, but I like both the highlight and the blush. These are light, and I like that I can build them up very slowly. In the end, this isn’t really all the great for contouring, but I’ll use the light shades often.
If anyone has any recommendations for a cruelty free matte contour palette, I’d be happy to hear them! Please!
ELF Online Exclusive Contouring Brush
- cruelty free
As it stands, the majority of my tools and brushes are either from ELF or ecoTools, so this seemed like a no-brainer. I appreciate ELF’s lower price point. It’s probably worth noting here that while all of ELF’s cosmetics are apparently vegan, not all of their skincare products or brushes are. I have no idea how to use a contouring brush, but I’m about to find out.
Initial thoughts: I know this is a cheap makeup brush, and cheap makeup brushes are the same as cheap paintbrushes. This is fine for practicing and playing around, but it sheds quite a bit.
Too Faced Travel Size Hangover Replenishing Face Primer
- cruelty free (parent company is not) / silicone-free
According to the internet, a primer is a good and useful thing. I chose this one because it’s travel-sized (in case I hate it) and is made with coconut water (and I’m not ashamed to admit, too, that one of my favorite YouTubers uses it).
Initial thoughts: This is really nice! My skin, especially my undereye area, is desperately dry. I will probably end up purchasing a full sized bottle of this when I run out. I would consider adding this to my “every day” list.
Juice Beauty PHYTO-PIGMENTS Flawless Finishing Powder in translucent
- vegan and cruelty free / made in the US / formulated without parabens, silicone, or synthetic dyes and fragrances / uses organic ingredients
I’ve received Juice Beauty products in a couple subscription boxes, and this is one of those companies I’m happy to shell out a little more money for. There were solid reviews for this particular product.
Initial thoughts: I was not expecting this to be shimmery. Is all finishing powder shimmery? That can’t be right. I need some more practice with this. I probably won’t be buying another shimmery finishing powder when this runs out. Again, if you have any matte recommendations, please let me know in the comments!
J. Cat Beauty Online Exclusive Spray, Set, Go Setting Spray in Go Aloe
- cruelty free
This was inexpensive and seemed like it might be refreshing, especially with summer around the corner.
Initial thoughts: This is a very pleasant way to end a makeup routine. I like it! It also toned down the shimmer on my face a little bit.
Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil in rich brown
- cruelty free (parent company is not) / formulated without parabens, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate
I’ve used other Tarte products, and have always experienced good results. It made sense to me to purchase a new-to-me product like an eyebrow pencil from a familiar brand.
Initial thoughts: This is another one of those light, but buildable products. This means there’s is a lot of wiggle room, which I appreciate because I don’t know what I’m doing. Filling in my brows is …going to take some getting used to. I do love the tiny spoolie brush.
- cruelty free (parent company is not)
I decided to try three different NYX lip products because of that aforementioned lip product obsession. I’ve never purchased anything from this brand before. Price points are solid, and the variety can’t really be beat. Even though I got these for fun, I was still hemming and hawing over swatches for about a week before I made my final decision.
Lip Lingerie in Corset
Initial thoughts: The smell of this product is awful, but the color and texture are amazing. This is a pretty much perfect nude. I will probably pick up one or two other shades of the Lip Lingerie.
Soft Matte Lip Cream in Stockholm
Initial thoughts: This smells exactly like the Bonne Bell LipSmacker Frosting in vanilla that I was obsessed with in middle school. I love everything about this product. I’ll definitely be trying some more shades, but Stockholm ended up being a really nice shade for me.
Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick in Stone Fox
Initial thoughts: I like this formula okay, but this was my least favorite of the three. That said, the color is fabulous. I really couldn’t resist a gray lipstick.
I had a blast unboxing these and just playing around. Thank you, Ulta! Again, if you have any suggestions or tips, please leave them in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @girldust. I love to hear from you!
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:
- brand, parent brand does not test on animals (finished product or ingredients)
- brand, parent brand does not sell in countries that require animal testing
- high ratio of recognizable and/or natural ingredients
- 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)
- free of preservatives, parabens, etc.
- eco-friendly packaging, etc.
- 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):
- My Konjac Sponge charcoal face sponge
- Schmidt’s lavender and sage deodorant
- Antonym Cosmetics eyeshadow quad in “croisette”
- 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
- Julep (affiliate link): New customers get $10 off first purchase of $30 or more
- Spa Ritual
- Jamberry nail wraps
- Other Favorite Brands ♥
- Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs perfume
- EcoTools brushes
- Hurraw! lip balm (reviewed here and here!)
- Lily Lolo
- Other Resources, Blogs
Please share your favorites in the comments!
Karma Naturals nail polish remover is a soybean (non-GMO) oil based product, and is free of the harsh chemicals found in standard nail polish remover. My first reaction to this product was pure delight in the clean, calm scent. Have you ever held a bottle of nail polish remover under your nose? Probably not. That would be terrible, and probably a little dangerous, but this is not that. I wondered if this product would even work. I was wondering if maybe this was just too good to be true. We now have access to hundreds of nontoxic polishes that can truly take wear and tear, but can we really make an all natural product that can remove them without a lot of extra work?
Surprise! We can! Science! I tested this out on four different polishes, and it worked really well.
From left to right: Sparitual Osmium (dark blue creme), Julep Beatrix (clear with mixed glitter), Zoya Lulu (sheer light pink), Scotch Naturals Hot Toddy (tan-grey creme)
I wanted to test Karma Naturals with a few different types and shades of polish. It worked well with even thick glitter, which I was impressed by. The glitter and the darker polish took a little longer to remove than the others, which is to be expected, but eventually came off clean with a soaked cotton ball.
Aside from the smell of this product, the biggest difference is that this feels like an oil. It’s super slick feeling on the nails, and doesn’t dry out quickly like standard polish remover. Also important to note: there is no chemical burn. If you have beat up cuticles, you are safe from pain. I did still wash my hands immediately after use and followed up with a jojoba oil nail serum (read DIY here). This product so much kinder to the skin than acetone, but I would still recommend following with a moisturizer, especially if you have dry or brittle nails to begin with.
Karma Naturals nail polish remover is $12 for a 4 ounce glass bottle, and is available to purchase through Abe’s Market in lavender, tea tree, and unscented with vitamin E. I may try the latter the next time I buy this product, just for the added skincare benefits.
I’m really happy that more and more natural options in both nail polishes and remover are becoming available, and that I have access to them. I think, however, if I truly wanted to push for living a more natural life, I would likely do away with these kinds of products all together. This is something I consider, but I do enjoy dressing up on occasion! It’s nice to have a less toxic option.
If you’ve started making the switch, and have yet to find a nail polish remover you love, I would recommend Karma Naturals.
As for nontoxic nail polish, my favorite still remains Sparitual.
Does anyone have any suggestions for organizing a nail polish collection? I would appreciate any input!
I think I should have a more exciting post for you after such a long hiatus. To be honest, it wasn’t really a hiatus. Timothy was home, with the time to upgrade me to a faster laptop, so I played a lot of Minecraft.
Is that something a self-proclaimed lifestyle blogger should admit to?
I really like Minecraft, though.
Pendleton USA Coyote Butte cosmetics case (wanted)
I think I’ve probably posted something like this a half dozen times, now. Maybe only three times? I don’t know. As I change, my routine changes. I know that it will continue to change. I think that’s normal. Since I last shared my “routine” (still pretty non-existent) with you, I was just beginning to dabble in homemade skincare products. I also had longer hair. And, at the time, I was feeling a little rage against the patriarchal machine, anti-cosmetics industry. I still feel a little that way (will always feel that way), and am still very wary of the cosmetics industry, but have had the chance to play with some products I actually love and am willing to support in a long term sense.
Face: Fat and the Moon masa & olive face paste; homemade serum; homemade lotion (posts about those, soon!)
I have been keeping a tub of coconut oil in the bathroom that I use as makeup remover. It’s really amazing stuff. On the days I’m not wearing any makeup, I don’t wash my face. This works for me. Before bed, I gently wipe a little bit of rosewater on with a cotton ball and follow with some moisturizer. I am looking for an all natural and vegan night eye cream (or a safe DIY); if you have any suggestions, let me know in comments. Please. My skin will be turning 30, this year.
I’m a new convert to mineral makeup. Everyday Minerals is amazing because they make finding the right shade super simple, which was what sold me in the first place. The website walks you through choosing what’s right for your skin tone, and you can customize a free sample pack.
I had been rotating through various bottles of body wash when it finally dawned on me around the holidays that it was totally unnecessary. There is a natural foods store directly across from my apartment in Dover that sells bulk, packaging-free soap slices. They are beautiful and luxurious. It was somewhat of a revelation. With the money I’m saving, I can splurge a bit every other month or so on something decadent.
My nail polish collection is currently massive, so I’ve decided to give my Julep Maven account a rest. It feels good.
One of my goals in the next year or so (especially when I move in with Tj and we become a household) is to limit the plastic waste in the bathroom. By making a lot of my own products, I’m already in a good place, but there is always room for improvement! Leave any suggestions you may have in the comments!
* This post does contain some affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this blog!
Thanks for stopping by. My name is Naomi, and this space is made of girldust. This blog is a picture of my comfortably scattered life on the coast of Maine. I'm trying to be a slightly better version of myself every day. I like old houses, reading, the ocean, ghost stories, and museums. You can learn a little bit more about me here.