cruelty-free

Product review: Andalou Naturals Lavender Shea hand cream

I’ve struggled with dry hands all winter and have tried a few different hand creams, without finding one I really love. Now that spring is here my skin isn’t quite so dry, but I still need something, so I picked up this fresh-smelling hand cream from my local natural foods store.

Andalou Naturals Lavender Shea hand cream review from I'd Rather Be Reading blog

What it is: Andalou Naturals Lavender Shea hand cream; $8.95/3.4 ounces. An organic, vegan and gluten-free hand cream designed to nourish dry hands and cuticles.

What it does: It’s a fairly thick cream that absorbs quickly and smells strongly of lavender, without that baby powder tendency found in some lavender-scented products. It’s less sweet and more earthy, which I like.  I do feel like the scent fades quickly.

I like how this feels on my skin, but it’s still not quite thick enough for the winter months. You still have to reapply every couple of hours or after washing your hands, and I’ll be shopping for something a bit thicker for the colder, drier winter months. That said, I feel like this will be a good hand cream for the spring-to-fall period, when I want something with a medium thickness and a clean scent. I also really love that the profits from this hand cream support projects to benefit women’s education–I feel that it’s important for companies to find ways to give back to society, and human rights and education are important to me.

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Juice (organic), Aqua, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil (organic), Stearic Acid, Prunus Amygdalus (Sweet Almond) Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter (organic), Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter (organic), Mangifera Indica (Mango) Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, Calophyllum Inophyllum (tamanu) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Malus Domestica (apple), Solar Vitis (grape), Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) (Fruit Stem Cell Cultures and BioActive 8 Berry Complex. Organic), Allantoin, Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis Extract, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract (organic), Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil (organic), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Oil, Xanthan Gum, ethylhexyl glycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Lavandula Officinalis (Lavender) Oil (organic).

Product review: Dermalogica Precleanse oil and wipes

(Disclosure: I received samples of the products mentioned in this post for testing purposes; however I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

Dermalogica Precleanse

What it is: Dermalogica Precleanse oil ($38/5.1 oz.) and wipes ($18/20 ct.). Available through major beauty retailers like ULTA or through the Dermalogica website.

What it does: This lightweight cleansing oil works to dissolve excess dirt, oil and makeup on the surface of the skin prior to regular cleansing, allowing your regular cleanser to penetrate more deeply, resulting in a deeper, better clean. The wipes are biodegradable and travel-friendly.

I tried it: I feel like the best test of any “precleanse” or makeup remover is what I like to call the “classic Hollywood face”: foundation, liquid liner, mascara, and of course matte red lipstick. These precleansers took it all off with ease, allowing me to move on with my regular cleanser (which isn’t designed to remove makeup, especially around the eyes).  I usually use coconut oil to remove heavy makeup and I think that these were definitely less messy,not to mention they left behind less residue. Neither irritated my skin or eyes.

Final thoughts: A couple of things keep me from totally loving this duo: first, the price, and second, the long list of less-than-natural ingredients. It’s true that these precleansers are a little less toxic than some others on the market, but they still contain ingredients like phenoxyethanol and a handful of parabens, so they’re not as “green” as I’d like. (You can view the full ingredients list below.) I do have to admit that they’re much less messy than natural oil and if you have nut allergy concerns then these might be a more attractive option. For performance I would give this product a 10/10, and overall a 6/10.

Ingredients: Oil: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, PEG-40 Sorbitan Peroleate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Solanum Lycopersicum (To-mato) Extract, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Decyl Olive Esters, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Citral, Limonene, Linalool, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Butylparaben. Wipes: Water/Aqua/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Butylene Glycol, Neopentyl Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glycerin, Sodium Cocoyl Apple Amino Acids, Prunus Armeniaca Kernel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Mentha Viridis Leaf Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Oil, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium PCA, Sodium Benzoate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tocopherol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Chloride, Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Citral, Phenoxyethanol. Dermalogica is listed on the Leaping Bunny website as a bunny-friendly company.

Product review: Adovia Natural Dead Sea Mud Soap

(Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.)

 

The product: Adovia Natural Dead Sea Mud Soap; $16/4.4-oz. bar. Available through Amazon.com.

The claim: Great for eczema, psoriasis or acne. Dead Sea mud minerals keep the skin hydrated while also cleansing to remove impurities. Made with natural and animal-friendly ingredients.

Ingredients: 80% Palm/ 20% Palm Kernel oil, Dead Sea Salts, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Deionized Water (Aqua), Natural extract (Fragrance).

My experience: I’m not a big fan of using bar soaps to wash my face. For the most part I find that they fall into one of several categories: too drying, too abrasive, doesn’t clean well enough, leaves a film, etc. In short, just not up to par for cleaning my sensitive, somewhat dry yet acne-prone skin.

This soap is really different from anything else I’ve tried. It does a wonderful job of cleaning my oily T-zone without over-drying, and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling scummy. My skin just feels super-clean and pleasant. I do think it’s helping reduce my breakouts, which is awesome, since I’ve been going through a period of stress-related breakouts recently and nothing else seems to be taming them. I don’t have eczema or psoriasis so I can’t say how it would help with those skin conditions.

This soap does have a very faint earthy smell, owing to the natural ingredients. Personally I’m fine with that, especially compared to harsh chemical fragrances (which my skin typically finds irritating). I don’t think the scent would be an issue for most users, since it isn’t overpowering.

My final review: 9/10. It’s a little pricey unless you snag it on sale, but overall I do think it’s a worthwhile investment for problem skin, and it’s a pretty generous size for a bar.

(I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

Product review: Beautisol Exscrub Me? Citrus Face Exfoliant

(Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way and as always all opinions are my own.)

 

The product: Beautisol Exscrub Me? Citrus Face Exfoliant; $17 for a two ounce tube. Available through the Beautisol website. Purchase it here and be sure to use the coupon code “BOGO2014” to buy one, get one free through June 30, 2014.

The claim: A gentle yet effective scrub with jojoba beads that leaves skin smooth and prepped for a flawless self-tanning application. Paraben-free and vegan. (See a full ingredients list at the bottom of this review.)

My experience: Unlike some facial scrubs that feel dry and gritty, this one is creamy, so it feels much gentler on the skin. The jojoba beads do a nice job of exfoliating without over-drying. I feel like this did a much more thorough job of smoothing my skin that some other scrubs that I’ve tried; it left my face super-smooth and soft, with no leftover residue.

The scrub is labeled for all skin types, but I do think it would be better suited to those with normal to combo/oily skin. The drier parts of my face (along the jawline and chin) definitely felt a bit dry after use. If you have very dry skin, you could use a hydrating self-tanner and apply a thicker moisturizing cream later on to keep skin happy. I did test this as a starting point before using a self-tanning mousse and found it really helped improve my overall end result.

Based on the ingredients list, this isn’t the most natural product you can find on the shelf, but it is vegan and free of parabens, sulfates and propylene glycol.

Final review: 8/10. It’s a bit of a splurge for me, but if you’re a die-hard self-tanner, then it might be worth it to ensure even, glowing results. Just keep in mind that if your skin tends to be dry, you’ll want to slather on extra moisturizer after using to avoid ending up with unsightly dry patches.

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Polyethylene (Beads), Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Jojoba Esters (Beads), Behenyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glyceryl Stearate, Sucrose Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Squalane, Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Citric Acid, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil*, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Potassium Sorbate, Carbomer, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Tocotrienols, Elaeis Guineensis (Palm) Oil, Phytic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Alcohol, Tocopherol (D-alpha), Passiflora Incarnata (Passionflower) Flower Extract. (*Certified Organic)

(Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned in this post in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way and as always all opinions are my own.)

EcoTools Flawless Face brush set GIVEAWAY (international)

It’s been forever since I last did a giveaway, so I thought I would pick up a prize as a sort of belated “happy Valentines day” for you lovely readers. This gorgeous five-piece mini brush set from EcoTools caught my eye and I thought it would be just perfect!

This giveaway is open internationally through the end of the month; the last day to enter is February 28th and I’ll be moderating the entries and contacting the winner by March 3rd. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post. Boom! That’s it.

Please click on the “terms and conditions” tab at the bottom of the widget if you would like to see the full giveaway rules. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product review: Steamcream

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Hey beauties! Are you enjoying your winter? We got several inches of snow here yesterday and I’m loving it. If there’s one thing I don’t enjoy about winter, though, it’s the fact that colder temps and drier air turn my skin super-dry and sensitive, and my regular body and face lotions just don’t cut it anymore.

Hence, I was pretty excited when Katie from Steamcream contacted me to ask if I’d like to try a tin of their all-in-one moisturizer, suitable for use on face, body, hands and feet ($20/75ml). After a couple of weeks of testing, I’m finally ready to share my thoughts with you! Steamcream is vegan and natural and contains ingredients like almond oil to soothe and moisturize without piling on heavy synthetics that can actually do more harm than good. You can learn more about Steamcream’s ingredients and sourcing here

The Steamcream formula comes packaged in your choice of a variety of different beautiful tins. I opted for Thalia, with a pretty orange and white floral design, but if you browse their design gallery you’ll see they have nearly two hundred tins to choose from, meaning there’s something there for everyone! The metal tin is very sturdy but small enough to fit in your hand.

Steamcream has what I would describe as an earthy fragrance, due to the combination of almond oil, lavender, chamomile and neroli. It’s not terribly strong and doesn’t linger long, but if you prefer preppy or uber-fresh scents to what I like to call “hippie” scents, you might be disappointed with the fragrance. Just an FYI. Personally I love natural scents, but I’ve also gotten the side eye for saying I like patchouli, so to each their own. I like that the scent fades away quickly so you can add your own perfume or body spray without creating a competing mix of fragrances.

Surprisingly, the formula is very thin–I expected it to have the consistency of a body butter, but it’s thinner than even a facial lotion. Obviously if you’re used to piling on heavy moisturizers in the winter, such a thin consistency seems odd; it’s hard to imagine how Steamcream can moisturize so heavily when it feels like there’s nothing on your skin. However, when I tested out the cream on one side of my face and body versus a thicker face cream and body butter, I found that there was no noticeable difference in moisturization even after several hours. At the twelve-hour mark, the side with Steamcream actually felt like it was retaining moisture better without reapplication–no dry or itchy patches!

The really lovely thing about Steamcream is that it’s truly an all-in-one product: it moisturizes my dry legs and hands like a much thicker product, but it’s still lightweight enough to use on my face without triggering a breakout. Also, since it’s so light and non-greasy, it’s very good for layering under makeup. I think it would be great for someone who didn’t like using very thick products, or for someone who wanted to layer products without feeling that they were slathering a layer of buttercream frosting over their limbs.

If you’re looking for a new cream to add to your winter skincare routine I highly recommend heading over to the Steamcream website and browsing their tins–it’s a great way to treat yourself this holiday season!

Full ingredients: Oatmeal infusion, orange flower water, almond oil, cocoa butter, glycerine, stearic acid, triethanolamine, organic jojoba oil, lavender oil, chamomile blue oil, orange flower absolute, rose absolute, neroli oil, cetearyl alcohol, coumarin*, geraniol*, citronellol*, limonene*, linalool*, perfume, methylparaben, propylparaben. (*Occurs naturally in essential oils)

Disclosure: I was sent a product in exchange for a review. However I was not compensated for writing a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.
 

Unboxing/review: Conscious Box November 2013

Today I’m unboxing the November 2013 Vegan Conscious Box. Conscious Box is a monthly subscription box that costs $19.95 (includes shipping); there are no preview or skip windows in this subscription. Subscribers choose from a classic, gluten-free or vegan subscription and receive a box each month filled with ten to fifteen samples of natural beauty products, food, health items, and lifestyle extras. If you want to learn more about the box you can visit their website. I also recommend checking out the company’s Facebook page, as they often post offers for free or discounted first boxes (which was what prompted me to finally order one for myself!).

When you get your box, you can rate the products and share on social media to earn points; those points are then redeemable on the website toward full-size products, with the points working just like coins. A single review earns you ten points and in turn knocks ten cents off a purchase. Keep building up those points (they tally more quickly than you might think), and you can save on products like food, beauty essentials, household products and more. It’s a nice perk and I think the system of using points to knock down the purchase price is a better way to encourage reviews and feedback than a system where you have to have lots and lots of points to cover the full price of an item, since it will take a long time before you can redeem anything worthwhile.

Okay, on to the contents of the box!

First up we have two food items: a bag of YogaVive Chocolate Apple Chips ($4.49 per bag) and a three-pack sampler of Mighty Leaf teas ($7-$10 for a 15-bag box). The apple chips were just okay–nice and crispy, but it was hard to detect the chocolate flavor. These were a nice snack, but they aren’t something I’d run out to buy, especially for the price. I’m always happy to see tea samples as I do drink a lot of it, and while these are a little pricey for my usual drinking habits I would definitely consider buying them on sale.

The Rebootizer packet ($15 and up for a three-packet box) is supposed to be used as part of an allover week-long detox system, drinking one packet per day, so it’s kind of hard to say how well it works based on one packet/one day of use. I will say that the flavor was strange–like bitter apple cider, but “off” somehow–and while the pouch design is ingenious, it’s not very easy to pop open and shake up per the directions. That said it’s literally a shot glass of a drink so if you needed to detox and wanted to do it in the smallest portion possible, I could see this being a good way to do it.

The MRM Relax-All ($25 for 60 capsules) is a sample of a sleep aid. I’m not big on getting dietary supplements in subscription boxes because I just don’t use that many of them. I’m not big on unnecessary medication and in my long sad pursuit of something to give me a better night’s rest, I’ve found very little that helps. These didn’t necessarily do anything to help me sleep for a longer period of time, but I do feel like these helped me to relax and enjoy a more restful period of sleep, and I didn’t wake up feeling groggy or drugged like I have in the past when taking things like Tylenol PM.

Two travel-size soap samples: one of African Black Soap from Coastal Scents ($12.95 per 15-oz. bar) and one of Lemongrass Summer bar soap from Harmony Acres ($6.95 per 5.5-oz. bar). I could smell the lemongrass, one of my favorite scents, before I opened the box!

The natural perfume sample from Pour Le Monde is intriguing, especially since sales from this perfume benefit the charity Guiding Eyes For The Blind. A full size 1.7 ounce perfume costs $95, so this is a pretty high-end sample to include in the box. The Blood Orange & Juniper lip balm from Ivre de Fleurs is full size (retails for $7.50) and contains ingredients like mango butter to nourish dry chapped lips.

The Sunology Natural Sunscreen sample is a nice idea, but…foil packets! Argh! You just can’t adequately judge a product from a tiny packet, in my not-so-humble opinion. I do like that it has a high SPF (50) and doesn’t contain ingredients that sting my eyes, but it’s just really hard to say how well I like it based on such a tiny application.

The Better Botanicals Apricot Eye Therapy packet ($18.99 for 15 ml) is a lot better, since eye cream goes so far that a 1.5 ml packet will last a good while provided it’s kept in an airtight baggie. I’ve been using this under makeup and before bed all week and it really does help with tired, puffy eyes, making me look much more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed even on my worst days, so I will definitely consider purchasing this in the future.

This box also included a few coupons, but I didn’t count them into the box’s value. Overall, my estimate of the box’s value is as follows:

YogaVive apple chips (full size): $4.49
Mighty Leaf tea (3 bags): $1.50
Rebootizer: $5.00
MRM Rest-All: $0.83
African Black Soap: $0.79
Lemongrass soap: $1.84
Pour le Monde perfume: $6.00
Blood Orange lip balm (full size): $7.50
Sunology sunscreen: N/A
Better Botanicals eye cream: $1.89

Total value: $29.84

Overall, I would say that I was pretty happy with this box. There was a decent mix of items, two full size items and two high-value cosmetics samples (the perfume and the eye cream). I wouldn’t say it was the best value overall but it did exceed the purchase price and I liked enough of the items to give it a thumbs-up.

I’ve seen some really great boxes and some sort of blah boxes come out over the past year, but overall I think I like it enough to stick around and see what the December box will hold. If you’re subscribed to Conscious Box, or to any other vegan-friendly boxes, tell me about it–I’d love to hear your recommendations/rants/general thoughts about these boxes!

Product review: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush

Happy hump day everyone! For me, this is actually day two of a much-needed vacation. This is my last break for a few months, since the madness of the holidays has already begun, so I’m trying to build up my reserve of scheduled posts once again! Today I wanted to share a review of a concealer that I bought this summer. What makes this concealer different is that it’s a) a pencil, like an eyeliner and b) it’s specifically formulated for covering breakouts! Best of all, it’s vegan-friendly and bargain-priced…so read on to see what I thought of it!

The product: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush; in three shades; $3 at eyeslipsface.com

The claims: Salicylic acid and tea tree oil treat blemishes; the brush helps blend the concealer on the skin to create a flawless finish.

Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2%, Synthetic Beeswax, Microcrystalline Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Paraffinium Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Isopropyl Myristate,, Petrolatum, Mica, Melaleuca Altenifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil BHT, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Iron Oxides (CI 77491 CI 77492 CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

I tried it: This is a unique way to deliver concealer: it’s in a chubby pencil that can be sharpened like an eyeliner crayon (there’s a sharpener on the lid); on one end of the pencil is a super-soft synthetic brush that blends the concealer once it’s on the skin. I’ve tried acne concealers before and have either disliked the liquid formula or found that they lacked staying power, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.

Surprisingly, this has a nice opaque coverage and the brush feels much nicer than what you would expect on a bargain makeup product. It blends well and can be built up for more coverage. The wear time is impressive too: I can get several hours without fading or budging.

I do feel that the combo of salicylic acid and tea tree oil helps to diminish the severity of breakouts. It’s nice to have these ingredients in the concealer rather than trying to layer a regular concealer over a spot treatment, since this typically results in the concealer sliding away.

My final thoughts: This is such a steal! Lately I’ve been dealing with those awful stress-related breakouts around the mouth and chin, and this has been a lifesaver–it covers everything up so I don’t feel so self-conscious, but doesn’t further irritate my skin or cause any dryness in the surrounding area. If you struggle with occasional breakouts and want a quick and lightweight way to hide them, I would definitely recommend buying this pencil!