animal testing

Oh so CHARMing: an ethical alternative to down comforters

(Disclosure: post contains affiliate links.)

CHARM is turning the traditional approach to down comforters on its head with natural, breathable fiber alternatives.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, then you probably know one of the reasons I got into blogging in the first place was my desire to find natural, affordable, animal-friendly alternatives to the lifestyle products I was currently using. Things have come a long way since I started back in 2008—animal-friendly fashion, beauty, and home goods are continuing to take up a larger market share with each passing year—but there are some goods that remain difficult to replace. Take bedding, for example: if you don’t want to utilize animal-sourced wool or down, the alternative is often synthetic. But synthetics are sucky in their own way, and not just because they’re hard on Mother Earth: they’re not as breathable and often not as soft as a natural fiber, making for a less-than-zen sleeping experience.

So imagine how intrigued I was to discover CHARM. Drawing on years of design experience, and an unwillingness to settle for anything less than perfection, the company is upending traditional comforter design with a plant-powered blend that offers all the loft and coziness of down with none of the ethical complications. (more…)

Product review: Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream

Disclosure: free product was sent for consideration, however the free product does not affect my honest review in any way and all opinions are my own. As always I do my best to provide you with a complete and honest review!

When I was younger I didn’t realize that slapping makeup on when you haven’t been taking care of your skin serves no purpose at all. I thought the solution to dullness, dryness, dark circles and all other assortment of skin maladies was different makeup. Now that I’m a bit older and wiser I’ve realized that I’m better off spending my money on quality products to take care of my skin, and that in doing so I’ll end up needing less makeup overall. Win-win!

The main problems I run into when shopping for skincare products are:

  • Not vegetarian-friendly
  • Packed full of chemicals
  • Way too expensive
  • Irritates my sensitive skin

So with those concerns in mind, I was super happy when IFabbo and Own Skin Health sent me this sample tube of the Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream to try out. (I say “sample” because that is how IFabbo refers to it, but judging by the size of the tube and the website info this is a full-sized product, which made me do a little jig of surprised happiness.)

This product is vegan, Leaping Bunny certified, free of retinol and other harsh ingredients, and priced comparable to drugstore lines like Olay and L’Oreal.

The product: Own Skin Health Lifting Eye Cream; $23.99/0.5 oz.; available online through

The claim: Formulated to lift and smooth wrinkles while brightening skin with clinically proven CLA technology. In eight weeks, reduce the appearance of crow’s feet by 61% and the total number of wrinkles around the eye area by 30%. Free of retinol, fragrances, parabens, and sulfates.

I tried it: I received my tube of eye cream at the beginning of April, so I’ve had ample time to test it out and see how it works! I apply it twice daily, in the mornings and evenings after I’ve washed my face and applied my regular face cream. You need only the tiniest dab–think the size of a grain of rice–for both eyes. I just tap it lightly into place around the eye as with any eye cream. (Jasmine at Green Eyed Monster has a great illustrated tutorial on eye cream application here.)

I feel like this stuff absorbs very well and is non-greasy, but remains hydrating. It has a very light and pleasant silky texture. If you had very dry or mature skin you might wish for something more moisturizing, but I felt like this was really hydrating even after a long day. And since you only need to use such a tiny amount, I know this little tube is going to last forever. I feel like I’ve barely made a dent in it in the six weeks that I’ve been testing it!

Having noted the hydration level, I must also note that this eye cream wasn’t too slippery to wear under my makeup. I have very dark undereye circles and need heavy-duty concealer to hide them; that “sheer coverage” nonsense just does not cut it with me. The trouble with heavy-coverage concealers is that they have a tendency to settle into the fine lines around the eyes and highlight them, which just defeats the purpose of trying to look fresh and rested! The solution is to wear an eye cream under your concealer, but some are so slick that your concealer just melts right off. I felt like this Own eye cream struck the perfect balance between hydration and staying power; I layered it over my moisturizer and under a primer and concealer, and my concealer’s normal wear time was not affected at all. My fine lines, on the other hand, were much less noticeable.

Now, let’s talk about using the eye cream without other products. This cream has an immediate yet subtle firming effect around my eyes, which helps disguise my bags and lines on the days I really don’t have time for makeup. I feel like this eye cream does help me look more well-rested. As far as the long-term anti-aging properties, I do feel there’s been a noticeable decrease in the number of fine lines around my eyes.

Finally, I have to point out that my skin is fickle: it handles some products with aplomb and others not at all. Many mainstream skin care products are full of chemicals that are not only icky but can also irritate sensitive skin, retinol being one of the most potent, so I’m really happy that this product is plant-based and didn’t sting my skin in the least. It also doesn’t have a strong “skin care” smell, if you know what I mean!

Here’s the ingredients list (from the Own Skin Health website), just in case you’re interested: Water, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Glycerin, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid*, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Olivate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Coco-Caprylate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Tocopherol, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Olivate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

My verdict: I love this stuff! I’m normally very skeptical of products that claim to improve your skin by such-and-such percentage so I was very happy to see such good results from this product. I’m so pleased to find a vegan Leaping Bunny-approved product at a mass retail price that works so well for me, and I will definitely consider purchasing other Own Skin Health products in the future!

If you’d like to try this product for yourself, Own and IFabbo have a special coupon code for you to use! Check out through the Own Skin Health website here and use coupon code “CLAIFABBO1” to get 30% off your first purchase of Own Skin Health products.

 Disclosure: free product was sent for consideration, however the free product does not affect my honest review in any way and all opinions are my own. As always I do my best to provide you with a complete and honest review!

My Influenster Holiday VoxBox arrived!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for FOREVER for my Influenster Holiday VoxBox to arrive! It’s packed full of goodies, which I’ll be reviewing in detail over the next week or so. But for now, let’s take a look at the goods!

Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. I was not reimbursed for this review however and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Here’s the full box. I’m going to get a proper unboxing video uploaded on my YouTube channel soon, once my lazy self digs out the mic for a voiceover, but for now let’s look at what I got in brief.

First, you’ll notice a card for Sole Society. I hadn’t heard of this site before Influenster, so this is sort of interesting. Through the end of January, you can get $25 off your first purchase through the site with the code “INFLUENSTER25”. ( I am of course a massive shoe addict, so I’ll probably find an excuse to use this code.

Next, there’s a package of Kiss Nail Dress stickers (retail value $6.99). I’ve never tried these before, but I love the design they sent! I’m super-excited about this product and will probably try these out next weekend when the hubby and I have date night.

The Goody QuikStyle brush (retail value $11.99) is going to be interesting. I got a “half-round” brush that’s supposed to give better blowouts and cut drying time thanks to the microfiber bristles, which absorb water from the hair. I hate the time it takes to dry my hair, so this will definitely be reviewed within the week.

The Quaker Real Medleys+ oatmeal ($1.79 per cup) is the wild card item. I know lots of people are not “oatmeal people” but I love it and I always need breakfast items to go. My one gripe with this product: it has a lot of sugar in each cup (22 grams) and I feel like it’s a bit pricey for regular eating. Still, it’s tasty (I already tried it!).

Then there’s the EBoost packet ($28/20 packets or $39/30 packets). I tried one of these in the orange flavor in my last VoxBox; this one is a Pink Lemonade packet. I’m not a fan of these fizzy packets per se but they DO give you an energy boost (essential for nutty multitaskers like me) and they’re not so bad mixed into a smoothie.

The NYC New York Color Liquid Lipshine ($2.49) is the only item that disappoints me. Parent company Coty tests on animals and since I can’t get any definitive information on NYC’s testing policies, I have to assume that they test as well.This is a nice neutral shade (“Nude York City”) but I’ll be passing it on.

Finally, I qualified for a bonus item this time around (yay, me!). Montagne Jeunesse makes awesome face masques, and this Fruit Smoothie deep pore cleansing masque ($2) looks perfectly suited to my skin type. Oh, and did I mention that MJ is vegetarian and Leaping Bunny-certified?

A look at the Zoya Lovely spring 2013 collection

Fellow nail polish junkies of the world, I do not normally get excited about pastel polish. But I just might possibly make an exception for Zoya’s upcoming spring 2013 collection. Take a closer look:

And here’s possibly my favorite of all the new colors: Neely, a gorgeous minty green. As I said already, I’m not usually a fan of pastels, but this year I’d really love to find a minty green for my fingers, and this looks perfect. And because I know you want to see the rest of the colors in detail (you do, don’t you?), they are also Pinned down below. You’re welcome.

Source: via Martha on Pinterest

From the sneak previews, Zoya and Butter London are both releasing similar pastel collections for spring. However, I kind of prefer Zoya, since they’re a) cheaper and b) I like the formula a little better. What do you think, lovelies? Any must-haves from the new collection?

Swatches: Butter London Bluey, Wallis, and Knackered

Well, a week after my Butter London polishes arrived from Coterie, I finally got around to swatching them. Before I show you the pics, though, I wanted to update you on something else: their Leaping Bunny status.

You might remember that when the polishes first arrived, I noted that the bottles had the Leaping Bunny logo on them and wondered what this meant, since I couldn’t find Butter London listed on the “safe” companies list online. I immediately e-mailed Leaping Bunny and Butter London to ask what was going on!

On Monday, I got this reply from Leaping Bunny:

…a few months ago, we became aware that Butter London was using the Leaping Bunny logo without permission. The good news is, we have been in touch with them and they are in the process of getting certified. Unfortunately, it’s taking a bit of time, but please feel free to check back to see if they have been added to the list. We hope to get them approved as soon as possible. We feel this will be the best result. Even though they have been using our logo without permission, it is always good for consumers and animals when another cruelty-free company is added to the list.

Needless to say, I haven’t yet received a reply from Butter London. This is part of the reason it took me so long to get around to swatching these colors: I’m pretty steamed about their blatant misappropriation of the logo and I do not like being lied to, ever. I’m happy that they’ll soon be joining the Leaping Bunny ranks, and I do think their polishes are lovely, but I’ve just been stewing a bit over this news.

Okay, I’m done griping. On to the swatches!

I got three polishes: Bluey, Wallis, and Knackered. Bluey is a peacock blue with a hint of shimmer, and as you can see after two coats it’s still rather light. I think this would be better with three or even four coats for full opacity.

Bluey, outside, direct sunlight
Bluey, inside, indirect natural light

Next I have Wallis, a green-gold with shimmer. Like Bluey, it would be best with three coats rather than merely two. This is a very pretty and different color and it would be great if you wanted something a little different for the weekend.

Wallis, outside, direct sunlight

Wallis, inside, indirect natural light

Earlier this month I wondered if my drugstore score of L.A. Colors Color Craze nail polish in Cactus could possibly be a dupe for Wallis; now that I’ve tried the two, I think they’re very close. Wallis seems to have more of a gold base while Cactus has a blue base, so while Wallis has more of a green-gold warm shimmer Cactus is a cooler, more muted olive.

Cactus, outside, overcast natural light

Finally, there’s Knackered. This is a holographic polish with a silver-purple-blue-green shifting tint that really changes depending on the lighting. It also has subtle glitter in it. It’s very sheer and needs at least three coats for opacity.

Knackered, indoors, indirect natural light

This polish really looks lavender and slightly metallic, and then when the sun hits it the silver comes out. I don’t see much of the green or blue but maybe it’s just the lighting. I like this color because it’s a little bit different but still very feminine, and since the glitter is so small it doesn’t make me feel like a little girl when I wear it.

Knackered, indoors, direct sunlight
Knackered, indoors, direct sunlight

You know who I could honestly picture wearing Knackered on her nails? A winter bride. You know, with the full winter wonderland theme, complete with matching white faux fur muffs for all the bridesmaids. It’s such a chic and unexpected alternative to the usual pink/nude lineup that brides tend to pick, and this color just seems so very winter/holiday to me. I think it’d be perfect!

For myself, I’ll probably use Knackered primarily as a topcoat over different creme polishes to experiment with the duo-chrome/holographic effect. Earlier this month I swatched this over Julep Toni, a griege lavender, for a more full-bodied effect. The result was pretty lovely, and now I’m eager to see what effects I’ll get layering it over black, blue, green, and silver.

Knackered over Toni, indoors, indirect natural light
Knackered over Toni, indoors, direct sunlight

Have you tried Julep Maven? (Join now for a penny!)

Have you guys tried Julep Maven yet? Julep is a Seattle-based boutique nail salon that offers trendy nail polishes in-store and online. Julep Maven is their subscription beauty box service; and right now, they’re offering a promo code that lets you try out your first month’s box for a penny! 

I couldn’t pass up such an amazing offer, and obviously I wanted to make sure the code worked before I recommended this deal to you, my readers. Before I signed up, of course, I took a moment to e-mail them and ask about their animal testing policies. Here’s what they told me:

We ABSOLUTELY DO NOT test on animals! Never have, never will! We only test on humans. One of the great things about Julep is we have 4 Nail Parlors and amazing customers that let us test and try products on them all the time! Some of our products do contain animal derived ingredients (ei: milk and beeswax and etc.) Here are some products that are completely VEGAN: Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub, Our famous Julep Essential Cuticle Oil, and any Non-Red nail polish. Another great thing our products are “4 Free”, we use NO paraben, NO sulphate phthalate, NO  DBP, and they are tolene and formaldehyde free. We like to say, we took out all of the nasty carcinogens that are found in so many other products.

That’s awesome! Now, on to Julep Maven, how it works, and that awesome penny code:

Like other beauty boxes, Julep Maven starts by having you take a quiz; you’ll get one of five style profile results: ‘American Beauty’, ‘Boho Glam’, ‘Bombshell’, ‘Classic With a Twist’, and ‘It Girl’. I got ‘Boho Glam’, and I’m pleased with how well this fits my personal style.

This is Julep’s idea of boho glam. I like it!

Every month, the team at Julep puts together a beauty box based on your style profile; you can log on and view the items they’ve selected on the 20th of each month. Each month’s box costs $19.99. You receive $40 worth of polishes and treatments, a surprise product in each box, 20% off orders from, and free shipping on your purchases. There’s also a referral program that lets you earn a free month of Julep Maven for each two friends who sign up using your referral link.

But here’s the really awesome part! If you don’t like the box they’ve selected, you can choose a box from a different style profile, or elect to skip the month entirely. (You can find the full details on their FAQ page.) How awesome is that? To my knowledge the ability to skip months is rare.You just have to log in to your account between the 20th and 24th and select “skip a month”, or call them to cancel by the 24th, to avoid being charged.

Now, I’ll move on to that aforementioned promo code. I was really skeptical when I heard that you could get your first month for a penny, so I decided I had to try this service simply to verify the code. Well, it worked for me…my first box is shipping out for just one cent! I used code “COLOR2012” at checkout. I don’t know how long this code will stay valid, so if you’re interested in trying the service, I’d suggest you hop on over there ASAP. Codes have a way of expiring in a hurry, and often mysteriously as soon as you’re ready to use them! (Or at least, that’s been my personal experience.)

Update: Julep is now also tweeting out a code to use, “TWITTER1”, so if the first code doesn’t work for you I would definitely try this new one before you give up!

One more thing: if you do sign up, I’d love it if you use my referral link. (Pretty please!) And make that if you tell your friends about this offer–or re-post it on your blog–that you give them your referral link, too! 

Here’s what I’m apparently getting in my introductory box…

According to the website, my first order includes:

  • Toni – Boho Glam: Greige with a hint of lavender crème
  • Sasha – Boho Glam: Fresh cantaloupe melon crème
  • Best Pedi Crème Ever! exfoliate, hydrate, and nourish your feet

I’m so excited! It looks my polishes will be vegan, since they aren’t red. And this is a pretty pricey deal for a penny–the polishes retail for $14 apiece, and the pedi creme is $22. Yikes! That’s a $50 value!

I’m not sure that I’ll stay signed up for this service–it’s kind of pricey per month, at least for my budget, though I do love that the products are chemical-free. I guess it will depend on how much I love the polishes they send, and of course, what polishes they pick for me each month. The beauty of it is that you can skip a month without obligation, so I might stay signed up for a while and just skip months I don’t adore, and see how it all works out before I cancel altogether. 

Once I get my box I’ll be sure to post swatches and reviews, so watch for those! And let me know if you decide to sign up for Julep Maven, or if you’ve tried them in the past. I’d love to know what other beauty junkies think of them!