I’ve searched high and low for a cruelty-free nail polish remover but couldn’t find any that specifically stated that they were cruelty free. I ended up finding several products that claimed to be natural or made with natural ingredients and then e-mailing the company to ask if it tested on animals. Representatives from both Fisk Industries, Inc., (owners of the Barielle brand) and La Fresh Group wrote back and said that neither their finished products nor the ingredients were tested on animals. So I happily purchased nail polish remover from each and plan to review both.
Barielle makes hand and nail care products that are free of formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP)—chemicals that are suspected to be harmful. Instead, its products are made with keratin, proteins, vitamins, and oil and plant extracts. They make nail polish, and, of course, polish remover. I tried the Non-Acetone Nail Polish Remover. There’s not much distinct about the polish remover itself: it works great, doesn’t dry out my cuticles, and the 4 fl. oz. bottle will last a long time. It’s on the expensive side ($10), and the bottle is made of glass, so it doesn’t travel well (but that’s what the La Fresh wipes are for!). And it’s not available in drug stores or grocery stores. Luckily, you can buy directly from the company’s site and on Soap.com.
All in all, though, the Barielle polish remover is pretty unremarkable. But isn’t that a good thing for an “alternative” product to be? It doesn’t smell like patchouli. Or stain your fingers green. Or require 18 uses to do a good job. In other words, this product fits right in with all the other products on the shelves. Which, for consumers, is important. It’s just nail polish remover with the amazing added benefit of being cruelty free.
Parissa is a company that makes only cruelty-free hair removal products. In addition to being woman-owned, the company is Leaping Bunny certified, which means it passed a rigorous certification process. Check out the company’s other socially responsible aspects here.
Parissa sells hot wax, warm wax, cold wax, and body sugar and all the supplies that go long with them. It also sells “professional” quantities (meaning salons–or dedicated consumers–can purchase in bulk).
But the best products in my opinion are the wax strips–cellulose (not plastic, so they biodegrade!) strips that are “pre-loaded” with wax. I’ve only use face and bikini package because I only wax my upper lip, but the strips come in lots of different sizes. These are by far the most convenient way to remove hair using wax, and my skin has had very few reactions to the hair removal process (mainly I learned that for my sensitive skin, I can’t wax the same area twice in one session or I’ll get a “burned” area that requires a few days to heal). All you have to do is
- rub the strip between your hands for 30 seconds or so to warm the wax,
- pull the strip apart,
- apply each wax-covered side to your skin and press firmly, and
- rip the strip off in the opposite direction of hair growth.
You can purchase the strips on the parissa site, on Amazon, and at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
EcoTools makes great cruelty-free cosmetic brushes, bath tools (like the EcoPouf, a recycled bath pouf) and hair brushes (like this Ultimate Air Dryer brush that I just added to my shopping cart). It also makes false eyelashes with lash glue that is “paraben free, phthalate free, latex free, formaldehyde free, cruelty free, and never tested on animals!” In addition to being cruelty free, the company uses sustainable plants like bamboo (for brush handles) and recycled materials like aluminum. The packaging contains recycled content and is recyclable and (in some cases) reusable.
I’ve bought several of EcoTool’s cosmetic brushes over the past year (from Ulta) and have been impressed with the quality and price. My favorite set is the Starter Set, which includes concealer, blush, angled eyeliner, and eye shading brushes and an eyelash/eyebrow groomer tool. I think this is the best bang for your buck because the blush brush can double as a powder brush, so you can do basically everything with this set.
Jason (one of the oldest natural personal care companies) makes wonderful natural and cruelty-free beauty products. I recently ran out of my go-to eye make-up remover and decided to try Jason’s Quick Clean Makeup Remover Pads.
First, I will point out that these pads are for all make-up, not just eye make-up. I am lazy, so I use general make-up remover for my eye make-up as well. But I know that some people need to use separate remover for their eyes. So I will note that the remover did make my eyes sting a little. I’m sure this is common when you don’t use a make-up remover formulated specifically for the eyes.
Aside from that complaint, I really like these pads. First off, it’s super convenient to not have to find a cotton swab, open the bottle, and moisten the swab before you can start taking off your make-up. That’s not a huge inconvenience, of course, but I did say that I was lazy. These pads are premoistened and ready to use out of the jar. They formula works really well to remove all make-up.
It generally takes me 3 pads to clean my entire face including eye make-up. The jar contains 75 pads (which equals about 25 uses for me) and costs $8.79 (which is about 37 cents per use). I think that’s pretty reasonable when you factor in that you’re not also paying for cotton swabs. Another plus is that you can buy these at Walgreens.
Physician’s Formula is cruelty-free (I had previously stated that it was not; my apologies for not researching that fully! See here for my sources: peta2, Physician’s Formula FAQ, My Beauty Bunny). It also makes a line called Organic wear that, in addition to being cruelty free, is 100% natural, paraben free, and free of synthetic preservatives, fragrances, and colors.
I’ve really liked all of the products that I’ve tried in the Organic wear line. My favorite, though, is the 100% Natural-Origin CC Color + Correction Cream (side note: doesn’t “CC” stand for “color and correction”? So you don’t really need both in the product name?). In my quest for cruelty-free make-up, I’ve found plenty of mineral foundations in powder form. This is one of only a few in liquid form. I really like that this product, despite being billed as a tinted face cream and not a foundation, gives great coverage. I use my powder mineral foundations when my skin is behaving and I don’t need much cover up, but I use this CC cream when I have a break-out and need the coverage. I also really like that the consistency is dewy and that the liquid is easy to blend. It is definitely worth a try. IMO, the colors are a little darker than you might expect, so if you’re unsure where you fall on the “light” to “dark” spectrum, opt for the lighter option.
As is probably obvious after reading my reviews on this blog, I am a sucker for bath and body products that smell good. I’ve posted before about another c. booth product that is heaven scent (see what I did there?): the Walnut Shell Body Scrub & Cleanser.
I am also a sucker for body scrubs, which is why I tried a different c. booth body scrub after finding the what I considered to be the holy grail. And I was not disappointed. The Mimosa Honeysuckle Creamy Body Scrub is a triumph on both tactile and olfactory scales. The consistency is like shower cream with soft sand added to it. Compared with the walnut shell scrub, the “scrubbies” are smoother and fewer in number. So it’s safe to say this cream is a less aggressive exfoliant.
Also, whereas the walnut shell scrub’s fragrance is nutty, vanilla, and a little musky, the Mimosa Honeysuckle Creamy Body Scrub is fruity and sweet, and a little like champagne. It. Is. Wonderful. c. booth makes a few other products in this scent, so if you’re not big on scrubs, you
can absolutely must try the body wash and body souffle.
I’ve posted before about my battle with dandruff and itchy scalp. I’ve found that Organix Australian Tea Tree shampoo and conditioner almost completely eradicate my scalp issues (check out my post on that subject), but I’m always on the look out for products that will boost my scalp and hair health.
Which is why I tried Arbonne’s Intelligence Thermal Fusion Hair & Scalp Revitalizer (that’s a mouthful). It’s a gel/lotion that you apply to your scalp after your regular shampooing and conditioning and massage in. You leave it on for 5 minutes and then rinse. Every time I use it, I notice a warm tingling feeling. The package warns of skin sensitivity, but I didn’t have any problems (and I have very sensitive skin). After I use it, my scalp feels great.
Because my dandruff and itchiness are under control with regular shampooing and conditioning, I don’t use this very often. I usually use it when I’ve been using a different shampoo and conditioner or when I haven’t washed my hair in a couple days and instead relied on dry shampoo (in other words, when I will likely have signs of dryness and dandruff).
DISCLAIMER: All that being said, I always use it with the shampoo and conditioner that I know correct the dandruff problem, so it’s not 100% clear that the revitalizer is making any difference at all. And for $30 for 2.4 fl.oz. bottle, I’m not likely to buy it again because I can’t pinpoint exactly why I need it.
This Burt’s Bees Lip Gloss was a no-brainer for me to try because (1) I really like all of their other products that I’ve tried, (2) I respect Burt’s Bees’ company policy, and (3) the glosses are sold at grocery stores and pharmacies, so they’re super accessible and relatively cheap (about $7).
The gloss is super shiny but not sticky. There’s no weird taste or smell. The color is not saturated (as one would expect from a gloss); it’s just the right amount of color in my opinion. And the color you get on your lips is what you’d expect from looking at the color of the tube. My favorite colors are Nearly Dusk, Ocean Sunrise, Rosy Dawn, and Sunny Day. All of them have shimmer, and all the glosses are 100% natural.
Burt’s Bees also make Lip Crayons (deep, matte color), Lip Shimmers (not much gloss; lots of shimmer), and Lip Shine (less color; more glossy).
I’ve tried a few brands and types of dryer sheets and decided to review them all together so you can compare. I’m basing my critiques on 3 criteria: effectiveness, “green”ness, and affordability.
Honest Dryer Cloths
$6.95 for 32 sheets (each cloth can be used twice)
- Effectiveness: The cloths are very effective at removing static and making my clothes soft. The fragrance is really nice but not overwhelming.
- Greenness: Like all Honest products, the cloths are free of SLS, fragrance, dyes, phosphates, 1,4-dioxane, chlorine, DEA, formaldehyde, and caustics and they are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, non-toxic, pH neutral, and vegan.
- Affordability: These sheet are pretty price, but you can use each cloth twice, so theoretically you get 64 loads in each package.
- Other: The cloths are pre-moistened. I really like this feature because I sometimes fluff my hang-dry clothes in the dryer, and this moisture creates a little steam that works to remove wrinkles.
Seventh Generation Natural Fabric Softener Sheets
$4.99 for 80 sheets
- Effectiveness: The sheets didn’t make a big difference. It got rid of static but didn’t seem to soften my clothes.
- Greenness: These sheets are unbleached, recyclable, biodegradable, and processed without chemicals containing chlorine; USDA Certified Biobased Product.
- Affordability: These are SUPER affordable.
- Other: They’re are made of unbleached paper, so you can compost them after they’ve been through the dryer.
Mrs. Meyer’s Dryer Sheets
$7.99 for 80 sheets
- Effectiveness: These sheets are moderately effective. My clothes didn’t have static, and they felt a little softer. The basil fragrance is lovely out of the box but doesn’t last on your clothes.
- Greenness: They are 99% naturally derived and free of phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colors, parabens, and animal derived ingredients.
- Affordability: These sheets are on the expensive side.
Method Dryer-Activated Fabric Softener
$7.99 for 1 spray bottle (100 loads)
- Effectiveness: This spray works really well at softening my clothes and getting rid of static. The fresh air fragrance is pleasant and lasts on your clothes.
- Greenness: Like all Method products, the spray is free of ammonia, phthalates, chlorine, parabens, phosphates, and animal derived ingredients. And because there’s no sheet, there’s nothing to go in the landfill, and the bottle is recyclable.
- Affordability: Not the most expensive but not the cheapest.
- Other: To use, you can spray directly into the dryer once you’re clothes are in. I like to get a microfiber cloth damp, spray that instead, and throw it in the dryer. Alternatively, if you use those wool dryer balls you can spray them.
SheaMoisture is a company that makes bath, body,face, hair, and baby products from natural, organic ingredients. Its line of products is extensive–it even makes hair dye! The company has a pretty cool history too: Sofi Tucker started selling Shea nuts at the village market in Bonthe, Sierra Leone in 1912. She then created hair and skin products with those Shea nuts and started selling those. Her grandchildren started SheaMoisture and today are continuing her legacy. Its products are free of lots of the baddies we’re supposed to avoid like phthalates, parabens, artificial colors and fragrances, mineral oil, and petroleum. And of course the company is cruelty free.
SheaMoisture’s Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk is a great leave-in styler and curl tamer. In the summer months, my wavy hair gets really frizzy. If I let my hair air dry without any product, it would triple in volume. I know that I could blow dry it, style it, etc., but I’m SUPER lazy and let it air dry every day even though I know it will look terrible.
This styling milk is the perfect solution for people like me who are hair-lazy. I towel dry my hair and then comb a generous amount of this product through my hair. Then I braid it or put it in a bun (I suppose curlers would also work) and leave it alone. When I eventually let my hair down, it’s not frizzy; the curls are defined. Other pluses:
- Smells lovely, like sweet coconut
- Is not sticky at all
- Acts as a detangler, so great for wet hair
- Hard to use too much (i.e., doesn’t seem to weigh my hair down even if I use a bunch)