Waking up to new flavours: LEBON vegan toothpaste review

Inspired by nature and the sea, husband and wife duo Stephanie and Richard founded LEBON, a glittering, luxury oral care brand just oozing style. I have one word: G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S. With Fergie ringing in your ears, let yourself be tempted by LEBON’s beautiful, vegan friendly products made with certified organic ingredients in France. There are nine flavours to choose from, including but not encompassing Cinnamon, Rose, Blackcurrant and of course, your classic mint. All of the flavours are natural and are sourced in Grasse, France and there are no nasties such as SLS, Parabens, sulphates or fluoride in sight.

 
LEBON vegan toothpastes
 

The opulent and elegant toothpaste tubes add a touch of glamour to your bathroom, but have no fear, Darling they are still recyclable and eco friendly. The tubes are made from recyclable material aluminium whilst the outer card boxes come from PEFC certified sustainably managed forests.

Although LEBON do export their products to China, they assured me that they’re cruelty free. “We carefully checked about the animal testing regulation on the Chinese market and we can confirm that no testing on animals is required for our toothpastes. We are very careful about this, and we only work with distributors which have the same vision as we do. So none of them test our products on animals.”

LEBON Green Tea and Sweet Mint Toothpaste
LEBON Mango and Mint Toothpaste
LEBON Ylang Ylang, Yuzu and Mint Toothpaste

I was very kindly gifted a whole rainbow of LEBON’s vegan products to try, each with their own unique flavours. The toothpastes have a dense texture which smooths on well, but doesn’t lather up as much as I’m used to. Saying that the 75ml tubes last really well, usually about a month or so between two people using it twice a day, although this could stack up as the toothpastes are £20.50 a pop!

All of the LEBON toothpastes contain certified organic aloe vera and green tea which help to protect gums and prevent tooth decay naturally and I have to agree that my teeth always felt clean and healthy after brushing. BUT, something I have discovered with several of the LEBON toothpastes so far is that the hint of mint doesn’t last long or maintain a fresh breath which is a little disappointing for both me and anyone else in close proximity!

Over the past few months I have been testing out these three goodies:

Back to Pampelonne: Mango and Mint Toothpaste £20.50 / 75ml

 
LEBON Mango and Mint. Back to Pampelonne
 

I was a little weirded out by the Mango flavour of ‘Back to Pampelonne’. I’ve never been a massive fan of mango anyway so I think this is mainly down to personal taste. For me the fruity flavour just didn’t seem appropriate for cleaning your teeth first thing and I couldn’t get used to it. It was quite sickly and it’s not something I would buy again.

Rhythm is Love: Ylang Ylang, Yuzu and Mint £20.50 / 75ml

 
LEBON Ylang Ylang and Yuzu Toothpaste Rhythm is Love
 

I was quite apprehensive about the Ylang Ylang and Yuzu flavour, mainly because I wasn’t 100% sure what it was and so I didn’t know what to expect. After asking Dr. Google I discovered that ylang ylang is tropical tree native to India, Indochina, Malaysia , the Phillipines and Indonesia, and is known for the perfume extracted from its flowers. Yuzu, on the other hand is a citrus fruit originating from China and Tibet, with tart flavours like a grapefruit or lime. So we were looking at a sharp, floral flavour? Hmm…

However, the toothpaste won me over completely. It actually had a very subtle flavour with just a hint of these notes so that it was fresh, light and a slight twist on your standard mint. The delicate balance meant the toothpaste was refreshing but not as overpowering as mint, I was pleasantly surprised! I also felt like this toothpaste maintained a fresher breath for longer than many of the other LEBON toothpastes too.

Le White: Green Tea and Sweet Mint £20.50 / 75ml

 
LEBON Green Tea and Sweet Mint Toothpaste Le White
 

Another flavour that I approached with some trepidation was the Green Tea and Sweet Mint. Green tea is quite bitter and earthy but the flavour of the toothpaste was slightly floral and the sweet mint lifted it to become another surprisingly pleasant option, I think it actually might have been one of my favourites! I also had a good experience with the freshness issue and felt like the minty flavour was more long lasting.

Overall my experience with the LEBON products has been a good one, I am a sucker for pretty things and the natural flavours and ingredients are effective and delectable. My favourite out of these was the Green Tea and Sweet Mint, but I enjoyed trying something different and waking up to new flavours in the morning. Generally it will come down to personal taste - literally. I’m nearly out of my LEBON toothpastes now with a couple more to try, but if you’d like to see how I got on with some of the other flavours, you can find them on theBodysection of our product pages.

You can also read more about LEBON on our Vegan Beauty Brand Directory.

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

Nailing the 'no-makeup' makeup look: Honeypie Minerals vegan makeup review

If you’re currently transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and wish to update your makeup bag then minerals can be a good place to start. Not only are they a flexible product which will give you both a natural ‘no-makeup’ look and the option for buildable coverage, but they are generally better for your skin and can be made with 100% natural ingredients. The most well-known mineral brand in the UK market is probably Bare Minerals. Bare Minerals do offer some vegan products in their range and although certified by PETA Cruelty Free, they are owned by Shiseido. Shiseido do sell in China and therefore carry out animal testing, so it depends whether you deem Bare Minerals a brand worth investing in.

 
Honeypie Minerals Vegan makeup
 

There are many alternative mineral brands out there, many of which are featured on our UK Vegan Beauty Brands Directory but I have been lucky enough to be gifted a generous selection of vegan friendly products from Honeypie Minerals which have definitely hit the spot. As I am getting older I am choosing to wear less makeup, less often (it’s a lot to do with laziness tbh) and Honeypie Minerals is the perfect answer for a light, barely there makeup which can also be ramped up for more coverage when required.

See our video below for a demo of how to use these products.

 
Honeypie Minerals Vegan makeup
 

Independent brand Honeypie are as cute as they sound. The collection of affordable foundation, blushers, bronzers, eyeshadows and lip conditioners are 100% natural and made by hand in the UK.  Mixed and blended in small batches on site, their production reflects their forward thinking, eco-friendly values. Their plastic sifter pots are made with recycled plastic and can also be recycled again. BUT they also have the sheer genius option of compostable and biodegradable paper pouch refills so that the plastic jars can be used again and again. Orders are sent in eco-friendly packaging such as recyclable cardboard boxes, biodegradable paper tape and compostable pellets. It’s inspiring and refreshing to hear a brand working towards improving their environmental impact.

 
Honeypie Shade Chart.PNG
 

Image taken from Honeypie Minerals website: https://honeypieminerals.com/pages/shades

One of the issues these small brands like Honeypie face is not having the facility for clients to try before they buy. But Honeypie Minerals have worked hard to resolve this too, the clever clogs. On their website, there is a detailed yet simple chart (snippet above) to help aid you in your quest to find your perfect match, depending on the tones and colour notes in your skin. Honeypie also offer sample pots to try, (three shades for £2.50) which are redeemable upon the purchase of a full sized product. These guys have seriously got it all figured it out.

Disappointingly there isn’t a huge selection for darker skin tones, but there is a wide range for those with lighter skin and, unsurprisingly I ended up with the palest and fairest option as usual thanks to my ‘cool’ undertones (where’s that fake tan at?). I was a little unconvinced that my skin tone could be determined via an online chart, but I was extremely impressed with the colour match of the foundation. The ‘Fair’ mineral foundation perfectly blended into my skin but added a glowy softness to even out imperfections. The tones that Honeypie chose to accompany the foundation for my skin were spot on too (except perhaps the bronzer, see below for why) but there is a delicious palette of beautiful tones and shades to choose from so you can create your perfect vegan makeup look. See our video below for how to create natural ‘no-makeup’ looks like these:

 
Honeypie+Minerals+Natural+vegan+makeup
Honeypie Minerals Makeup
 

All in all the products are easy to use, although you do need the right tools for the job. Skin should be clean, well prepped and moisturised and a Kabuki brush is a MUST for applying mineral powder, it’s not something you can apply with your hands. Honeypie Minerals endorse Eco Tools, another brand featured on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory – as all of their brushes are synthetic, vegan and cruelty free but I have my good ol’ Wunder 2 brush to hand. I was a little frustrated that most of the powder fell out into the lid of the pots as I carried them around in my makeup bag which meant things could get a little messy, but nothing to cry about.

 
Red, spotty, uneven toned skin

Red, spotty, uneven toned skin

Smooth, even, natural looking makeup

Smooth, even, natural looking makeup

 

The Honeypie Minerals range is non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types but especially for oily, sensitive and acne-prone skin due to the pure, quality ingredients. ‘Our three main base ingredients are all natural and healthy for the skin (Mica, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide). Our powder products are silky to the touch, with anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.’[1] I do suffer from spotty, congested skin but I find the Honeypie makeup always gives me the coverage I want without feeling heavy or looking cakey. The yellow corrector is amazing at combatting redness and dark circles and the foundation blends the overall tone whilst keeping oiliness at bay all day.

I was really impressed with the Honeypie Minerals range and would happily buy from them again. The products are buildable, long wearing and keeps skin looking even, smooth and glowy – an absolute winner.  

Watch our Beauty-not-cruelty video below to see how to create a natural makeup look using the Honeypie Minerals range:

 
Honeypie Minerals Swatches
 
Honeypie+Minerals+Fair+Foundation

Fair Foundation £13.99:

Luxurious, silky mineral powder for fair, porcelain skin with cool pinky undertones. Gorgeous, smooth buildable coverage for fresh, natural ‘no-makeup’ skin. The lightweight formula allows skin to breathe and also contains natural protection against UV-light exposure.

Yellow Corrector £7.99:

Beautiful, fine powder to reduce, brighten and neutralise unwanted colour such as dark circles, skin pigmentation and redness. Worked an absolute treat. (Honeypie also offer a Green corrector for concealing redness, rosacea, blemishes and other imperfections.)

Honeypie%2BMinerals%2BYellow%2BCorrector
Honeypie Minerals Peach Blusher

Peach Blush £7.99:

Fab soft, warm and glowy toned blush which I loved, a great alternative to those who want to avoid pinks and red tones.

Sunkissed Bronzer £7.99:

The bronzer was a little dirtier and yellow toned than I would usually choose, I’m not sure it gave my skin a summer glow and it was the only Honeypie Minerals product that I wasn’t sold on. As far as I can tell there’s only one bronzer shade to choose from. However it still had a great texture and could be used lightly and subtly to add a little dimension to the face without looking too sculpted.

Honeypie Minerals Sunkissed Blusher
Honeypie Minerals Latte Eyeshadow

Latte Eyeshadow £5.99:

Sumptuous, flexible warm coffee coloured loose eyeshadow with a hint of dusky pink. Use to softly line eyes or use a base for a sexy smokey eye. Long lasting, it absorbed oil and stayed put throughout the day.

What is your favourite vegan foundation?

[1] https://honeypieminerals.com/pages/faqs

Watch our Beauty-not-cruelty video below for how to create a natural makeup look using the Honeypie Minerals range:

 
 

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

Seriously stepping up my bathing game: Westlab Mineral Salts review

 
Westlab Salts
 

I’ve always struggled to find time for a little bit of relaxation, and despite being a big fan of bath time, I’m fully aware of the water usage and I always get a twinge of guilt when I turn on the taps. But when Westlab very generously gifted me a selection of full sized salts to try I knew it was a great excuse to seriously step up my bathing game. Having a relaxing bath is not only great for the body but also our wellbeing and mind; taking the time to switch off is a real luxury and I always feel rejuvenated after a good ol’ wrinkly skin loving bath. I’ve been lucky enough to experience some pretty epic natural hot springs and mineral baths around the world and although not quite on the same scale, I was more than happy to try and recreate them in our titchy bath with some of Westlab’s wonderful products.

 
Westlab Bath Salts
 

According to Westlab, they are the UK’s No.1 trusted mineral salts brand. They offer a wide range of 100% vegan products for different requirements and skin conditions. Whether you suffer with eczema and psoriasis, dry or irritated skin, or struggle with restlessness, irritability, poor sleep quality, anxiety or depression, Westlab can recommend specific bath salts to aid such troubles made with pure and natural ingredients.  They are proud of their product traceability and source direct from responsible suppliers around the globe to ensure their range is of high quality, their prices affordable and their products accessible to all. While the majority of the packaging I received appears to be unrecyclable plastic (humph), the bags are made from recycled plastic and they do provide some products in recyclable bottles, jars and boxes. Westlab have pledged to make all packaging recyclable by 2020 however so change is afoot. Rejoice!

 
Westlab Salts
 

I do have some concerns about the sustainability of salts and I couldn’t find any information regarding this on the Westlab website. Surely these natural resources will eventually deplete? Will the changes to the world’s climate upset the natural production of each salt source? I couldn’t find a great deal of info on this, except a few articles which seem to suggest the Dead Sea Salt resource in particular is under threat, although this is more to do with the industrialisation and pollution of the area[1]. Himalayan Salt is mined by hand and the resources are currently expansive and serve to support Pakistan’s economy[2], however they too are ultimately finite[3]. By the way, if you get a chance, google the Himalayan salt mines – the images are beautiful! Westlab do state that their salts are sourced ‘responsibly’ but there is no information about where or how the salts are obtained. Watch this space!

With such a lot of salt to get through, I thought I’d better crack on – it’s no wonder it’s taken me almost 10 months to complete the review!


Reviving Epsom Salts £5.99 / 1kg

 
Westlab Epsom Salt
 

Derived in Epsom, England, these salts were discovered hundreds of years ago when locals realised that the bitter water had laxative and wound healing properties[4]. The white grains of the Epsom Salts look like how you and I would imagine salt to be, it could almost be mistakenly sprinkled on your chips at tea time. However, the Epsom salt is quite bitter - it’s actually a chemical compound of magnesium, sulphur and oxygen, a.k.a magnesium sulphate[5]. Although it’s a mineral many of us do not get enough of, Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in our bodies, and it is ‘involved in more than 325 biochemical reactions that benefit your heart and nervous system[6] so it’s a pretty important chappie.

 Although some question whether magnesium can be absorbed through skin[7], Westlab claim that their pure, pharmaceutical grade standard Epsom salts help relax tired and aching muscles by drawing out lactic acid and therefore it’s pretty awesome for use after sport and exercise. The brand have many fitness and athlete ambassadors and although I couldn’t even dream of reaching that standard, I was intrigued to see if the salts worked after a long and hard weekend of manual work (moving a furniture warehouse – she weeps). Westlab recommended dissolving 2-4 cups of the salts in a warm bath (which was about half the bag!), step in soak for 20 minutes and allow the mineral to work its powers to detoxify and relax muscles. I was impressed with how easily the salt dissolved, especially considering the quantity going in, and I have to say it was a well-earned relax. My muscles were tired and achy, my hands were sore and my brain had switched off a while back. When I surfaced I was pleasantly surprised, my muscles felt noticeably better and my body felt clean and revitalised. Whether or not it’s a placebo, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it did the trick for me. I lent the salts to a friend who was also struggling and she reaped the benefits too. Tick tick boom!  

Soothing Dead Sea Salt  £5.99 / 1kg                              

 
Westlab Dead Sea Salt
 

Comparable to the Epsom salts, the finer, crystalline grains of Dead Sea Salt is another naturally sourced product rich in Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium. The ‘unique mineral-rich lake’, where the salt is sourced is ‘located in the Jordan Rift Valley which borders Israel and Jordan and is (good fact for you!) the lowest point on earth, at 1410 feet below sea level[8].  There is more research and evidence to suggest that regular bathing in Dead Sea Salts can benefit arthritis and psoriasis[9] as people have been using the water and its salts for centuries. Westlab also claim that it is suitable for use on skin prone to eczema, acne and psoriasis. Luckily, I don’t suffer from any of these skin conditions, however I do have some sore, itchy dry skin on my feet which Westlab’s high quality genuine sourced salts are also designed to care for. I was intrigued to see if the salts would benefit my terrible tootsies.

I used less salt this time, maybe a cup worth, and once again enjoyed the 20 minutes of pure relaxation. It dissolved a dream. Afterwards, the skin on my feet definitely felt soothed and not so itchy, although the skin had become quite flaky. Grim. For a significant improvement the salts have to be used regularly, which I admit is not something I am great at. I did enjoy using the salts though and after a few sessions I noticed that the red, bumpy skin on the back of my arms which I have always battled with also seemed less raised and much softer.

Cleansing Himalayan Salts £5.99 / 1kg

 
Westlab Himalayan Salts
 

These beautiful pink salts originate from the Punjab region of Pakistan, near the foothills of the Himalayas. It is pretty close to standard table salt and contains 98% sodium chloride[10]. The rest consists of trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, which give the salt its pretty pink colour[11]. This is why Westlab claim that it contains over 80 minerals, all of which help to cleanse and detox skin and body for smooth, radiant and healthy looking skin. It is a good ‘all-rounder’ and, although Westlab don’t state it, it can also be eaten!

However, each time I used the Himalayan salts I found myself sitting on a layer of uncomfortable grittiness on the bottom of the bath. I tried a few techniques to dissolve the salt but out of the three this one always seemed to take the relaxation out of the experience a little! I didn’t really notice any difference in my skin condition and a handful of times I needed to shower afterwards as my skin felt a little itchy afterwards. This was my least favourite salt, and I don’t think I would invest in more. 


Cleansing Himalayan Bath Fizzer £3.49

 
Westlab Himalayan Bath Fizzer
 

As an extra treat I was also gifted a bath bomb made with the Himalayan salts and also other oils such as May Chang, Ylang Ylang and Almond to leave skin radiant and glowing. I have never been a huge fan of bath bombs. I know, I know, crazy right? Although they’re really fun to use, I often find the fragrances overpowering and the ingredients a little irritating on my skin.

The Westlab bath fizzer has a rose and pomegranate fragrance which was very floral and VERY granny, not my favourite but pleasant enough. The bomb left quite greasy, soapy residue on the surface which I assume were the oils but this also meant I had to clean the bath straight away which is not ideal after a relaxing bath… Similarly to the salts, I needed to shower afterwards as my skin felt a little on the dry side, and I didn’t feel any instant benefits. Needless to say it didn’t change my opinion on bath bombs…

 
Westlab Bath Salts
 

Overall this has been quite a tricky product to review. To reap the full benefits of the salts I think it’s advisable to bathe in them regularly, as the local people would have done centuries ago where the salts have been harvested. However, in our modern day it’s not only difficult to find the time to bathe, but I’m also very aware of the water usage and so I didn’t want to run a bath too often. My favourite to use was the Dead Sea Salt due to the way it instantly dissolved and the small improvements I saw on my feet and arms, and I also enjoyed using the Epsom Salts although I do have reservations whether the magnesium effectively penetrates the skin. I didn’t get on so well with the Himalayan, but it tastes great (Westlab don’t state that it can be eaten). I didn’t get through all of the salt, so despite my reservations about its sustainability they do last and it’s not a product you would need to replace regularly. There are many other ways that the salts can be used too (Westlab list them here). Maybe I could get creative and try making my own body scrub with the leftovers?

If Westlab divulge more information about the sustainability of their sources and manage to keep to their 2020 plastic free pledge this will be a big thumbs up from me. It would encourage me to support them further and I would feel more comfortable about using their products. Ultimately, the salts are vegan friendly and a pure, natural ingredient with years worth of evidence backing up their benefits. I can’t deny that it’s refreshing to find a product which hasn’t been plumped up full of chemicals and who knows what else. Plus, a little more me time thrown into the mix is a huge bonus.

 

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

[1] https://www.prevention.com/beauty/a20466677/skin-care-products-soured-from-the-dead-sea/
[2] https://www.ittefaqsalt.com/himalayan-salt-sustainability/
[3] https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/6-reasons-end-your-love-affair-himalayan-rock-salt/
[4] https://www.livestrong.com/article/248504-dead-sea-salt-vs-epsom-salt/
[5] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/epsom-salt-benefits-uses#benefits
[6] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/epsom-salt-benefits-uses#benefits
[7] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/epsom-salt-benefits-uses#benefits
[8] https://www.livestrong.com/article/248504-dead-sea-salt-vs-epsom-salt/
[9] https://www.livestrong.com/article/248504-dead-sea-salt-vs-epsom-salt/
[10] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315081.php
[11] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315081.php

Approaching beauty from a different angle: Articka vegan body wash review

 
Articka vegan
 

Self-proclaimed Indie brand Articka are a relatively small, young company, founded in 2017 by two person team Claire and Jason whom have both been diagnosed with life changing conditions. Their aim is to create gender neutral, all-inclusive products which are effective for a range of skin and hair types and which are as sustainable as possible with minimal environmental impact. With such strong values at their core, they are an inspiring, forward thinking UK brand with a fab range of 100% vegan and cruelty free products made with recyclable PET packaging sourced from the UK. Although Articka’s products aren’t 100% natural or organic and do contain SLS, they do not contain any parabens, silicones, mineral oils, synthetic colours or animal derived ingredients.  

 
Articka
 

Articka generously gifted me some vegan beauty products to try, a full sized Body Wash and couple of cutie pie samples too. While, I have to admit I wasn’t blown away by the products, I did enjoy the clean, contemporary style of the products and the fresh, unusual scents. Articka pride themselves on being all-inclusive and gender neutral and I felt this was demonstrated clearly in their products. All three fragrances crossed the boundary of stereotypical male and female scents and plonked themselves somewhere in between, offering a beautiful mix of earthy and natural aromas which would be perfect for any bathroom, whether it be a family, couple or individual. The body wash I was given contained the delicate blend of Sweet Orange, Glycerin and Geranium, a lightly floral yet by no means typically feminine fragrance. It was definitely a quirky and acquired taste and it’s not what I would usually opt for. If I’m brutally honest I probably wouldn’t choose it again either; I much preferred the fresh, woody, earthy natural scent of the Lime rind, Mandarin and petit Grain Body Wash, it was like taking a stroll through peaceful woodland. Sigh.

 
Articka Sweet Orange, Glycerin and Geranium Leaf
 

Articka claim that the Glycerin deeply hydrates and absorbs moisture – preventing over drying, and the Sweet Orange is also known for its softening properties. Personally I didn’t notice any difference in the texture of my skin either way, but dry skin is not something I have been burdened with. I enjoyed using the body washes though, they’re clean, simple and easy to use and do the trick, lathering gently and cleansing skin effectively without any irritation. Mine lasted me three months in total.

 
Articka Quirky but quality
 

I gave the Juniper Berry, Spearmint Leaf and Lupine Seed Shampoo sample a thumbs up too, it had an invigorating aroma of pine trees and albus oil although sadly it didn’t last as long as I would have liked, and neither did the aroma. I only got about three washes out of it and so I felt like I couldn’t give it a proper trial. It didn’t lather as well as a standard shampoo (it was quite gentle and soft) but my hair was clean and combed well without any of my usual issues with itchy scalp. Once again, the product was clean, simple and effective.

 
Articka logo
 

It’s so refreshing to find these independent, artisan, vegan brands such as Articka who approach beauty products from a different angle. The Articka story and their all-inclusive, non-discriminatory message is inspiring and ever important in today’s world. I was slightly frustrated that you cannot determine which products are recommended for which skin/hair types on their website without clicking into each product detail page, and I would like to see more organic ingredients. However, so far I think that the brand hold their own against a sea of beauty brands thanks to their unique aromas and their all-inclusive formulas.  

 You can find out more about Articka on our Beauty-not-cruelty Vegan Beauty Brand Directory.

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

 

A true vegan skincare hero: Botanicals' vegan Gentle Cleanse Melt product review.

 
Botanicals Gentle Cleansing Melt
 

In the past few months I have become more aware and conscious of the damaging effects that the beauty industry and its products, ingredients, packaging and production is having on our environment. Although veganism is still extremely important to me, it has become pressingly evident that we also need to support brands who use natural and organic ingredients, who create little environment impact and have sustainability at their heart. You can read more about this on my article ‘9 significant steps to better beauty’.

 
Botanicals+Logo
 

Botanicals are a real gem who tick all of these boxes for me. Born in England, they create and blend all of their products by hand using natural, organic, biodegradable and sustainably sourced ingredients with minimal and recycled or recyclable packaging. Oh, and did I mention that they’re vegan friendly too? Their vegan beauty products are all certified by the Soil Association: Organic – the go to certification for organic beauty in the UK.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a Chamomile & Mandarin Cleansing Melt from Botanicals, which is suitable for normal/combination skin and is made with 87% Organic ingredients.[1] The product surpassed all of my expectations and I have well and truly fallen in love with it.

 
Botanicals Gentle Cleanse Melt
 

The melt is designed to cleanse skin, dissolve makeup and impurities whilst balancing your skin’s natural oils, to work holistically alongside it. It worked an absolute treat and cleansed my skin effectively and quickly every time, I barely ever found any leftover dirt on my cleansing pads (damn right they’re washable) afterwards which shows that it really lifts away the days grime and stubborn eye makeup. It has a thick, oily consistency unlike anything I have used before, (Botanicals call it a ‘semi-solid consistency’) but it’s not heavy or slimy as it melts gently upon contact with the skin. I was a little concerned that the oiliness would cause my skin to break out, but my skin loved it and I had no adverse reactions at all. Hoo Rah.

 
LOUISA-15784.jpg
 

The pampering balm is concentrated which means it contains zero H2O. Therefore, you got it, the product lasts longer and also reduces both Botanicals’ and my water usage at the same time.  The overriding fragrance is calming and soothing lavender, which feels fantastically relaxing as you gently massage it onto your face.  If you choose to use a hot cloth to remove the melt it feels like a full on facial and a real luxurious treat for the skin. This method also helps to open the pores and therefore improve the performance of the balm, allowing more stubborn impurities to be released and wiped away. A true vegan skincare hero.

 
Botanicals Gentle Cleanse melt
 

I don’t have any faults with the melt whatsoever, and I can’t recommend it enough. The Botanicals’ balm is affordable, effective and long lasting (my 30g pot lasted over three months!) and I would 100% buy it again. Botanicals are doing great things and I am encouraged that small brands like this are making choices to stick to better ingredients, practices and production.  Please support them and brands like Botanicals as, in the words of The Soil Association One small swap can make a world of difference’.[2]  

 [1] They also offer a Rose & Camelia Melt which is suitable for mature and/or dry skin.

[2] https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/beauty-wellbeing/organic-beauty-wellbeing-week/

You can find out more about Botanicals on our Beauty-not-cruelty Vegan Beauty Brand Directory.

It’s Organic September and this week the Soil Association are hosting the Organic Beauty and Wellbeing week. This year their tagline is #onesmallswap to encourage us to make little changes to our lifestyles to battle climate change and biodiversity loss. Check out their website for more details.


Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

Witness the thickness: Umberto Giannini vegan haircare review

 
24-01-2019-14507.jpg
 

British gem Umberto Giannini offer sleek, salon standard luxury and vegan haircare with a variety of ranges to cover all hair types - whether you have straight, curly, long, short, frizzy or flat barnets. Their entire range is vegan friendly and most are also certified by PETA.

I’m ever yearning for voluminous hair so I was instantly sold on their ‘Thick-tastic’ range which promises just that. On first impressions I was won over by the unusual, slightly sweet scent of warm peach & vetiver (a fragrant grass native to India), it felt like going to the hairdressers for a treat. Both the vegan shampoo and conditioner themselves are a fun lilac colour and the (I’m gonna say it!) phallic bottles are modern and stylish. However, I was shocked to learn that they are NOT recyclable. This seems like an unacceptable option for me, especially now that there are so many alternatives available. I appreciate that there are no additional unnecessary parts in the packaging such as a pump (it’s just a bottle with a lid), but surely this can be made recyclable. I have recently learnt that plastics which are highly coloured are far more difficult to recycle, so perhaps this is the reason – surely we would all happily purchase something a little less fabulous if it can have another life?

 
Umberto Giannini Shampoo & Conditioner
 

Thick-tastic Thickening Shampoo £7.00/250ml and

Thick-tastic Strengthening Conditioner £7.00/250ml

When I first started using the Thick-tastic shampoo and conditioner my hair felt squeaky clean and smooth. In the words of Umberto Giannini themselves, the Thick-tastic range ‘actually builds the density of your hair’ thanks to the special formula including amino acid arginine; an ingredient apparently proven to reduce hair loss, improve volume and thickness of hair.  Such claims are not always upheld but I definitely noticed a change in my hair. Witness the thickness.

The problem was, I already have quite thick hair… Once my hair had dried it looked and felt pretty chunky through the length and ends, which was not where I ideally needed the volume! I’m not a huge user of straighteners either so I was sometimes left with what I can only describe as a triangle head, certainly not the glamorous coiffeur I was hoping to achieve. In hind sight, I realise that the Thick-tastic range is designed for those with thin hair, something I should have taken into consideration when buying the products.

 
Umberto+Giannini+Shampoo+%26+Conditioner
 

The professional quality of both products is evident and it was an enjoyable experience every time. The shampoo lathered well and was easy to use, the conditioner was thick and smooth to apply. I only used the conditioner on the length and ends of my hair and this was enough to help it comb through tangle free.

Despite all this, I do still have some qualms with the Thick-tastic products. My clean, shiny hair didn’t last as long as I’d hoped, and by day three I’d be scratching my scalp regularly. I like to leave my hair 3-4 days before washing but I was aware that it looked visibly greasy far sooner than this which was frustrating. I was having to wash my hair more often than normal which seemed counter-productive but both products still lasted me over 3 months in total which is pretty good going.  The other issue was that UG state how the conditioner is designed to reduce hair breakage and increase flexibility (in your hair only, unfortunately), but I found I was still shedding a lot of hair after washing, but this has always been an issue for me so it wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Since learning a bit more about ingredients in beauty products I was a little concerned about why I was having issues with an itchy scalp. Looking at the ingredients label on both of these products is like reading another language, but sure enough, the shampoo contains SLS or Sodium Laureth Sulphate which, although deemed safe in small quantities it is a known skin irritant and clearly didn’t agree with me.

 
Umberto Giannini Blow Dry in a Bottle
 

Blow Dry In A Bottle £7.00/200ml

I also replaced my empty heat protection spray with one of UG’s products, the ‘Blow Dry in a Bottle’. Although I rarely use heat on my hair (I only occasionally blow dry my hair), I do want to look after my locks when I do. And while I’m at it, it contains castor oil for moisturisation and it is designed to aid ‘the perfect blow dry’ to add lift, volume and shine to hair – so I thought I was on to a winner.

On the occasions that I do blow dry my hair, my hair does feel smooth and sleek, but I couldn’t confidently say that this is because of the product and not just a good brush and technique! More often than not, I would spritz it on, comb through and then leave my hair to dry naturally, but even then I can’t really say I see a huge amount of difference in how it dries, except maybe a more glossy finish. My hair still felt quite thick and chunky at the ends and I’ve always had fairly straight hair anyway. So I’m just going to have to hope that at least the heat protection is working!

It’s a very strongly perfumed, floral, synthetic fragrance which I found quite overwhelming, but it does settle down once hair is dry and leaves it smelling good for the rest of the day. The bottle itself is made from recyclable PET plastic, but I doubt the cap, pump and parts are. Humph.

 
Umberto Giannini Thick-tastic haircare
 

Although in general I enjoyed using these vegan Umberto Giannini products and I can’t deny they’re high quality and effective, I clearly chose the wrong products from the off. Since learning more about ingredients and recycling after purchasing these products, I feel that UG could do more to up their game, and therefore I would not buy from them again until they do so.  I feel we need to step up and vote with our cash and as we all know, time is of the essence.

 

You can find out more about Umberto Giannini on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory.

Disclaimer:  This review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

Girl, I want to make you sweat: Nuud Deodorant review

 
Nuud deodorant.jpg
 

If you’ve made the leap to go vegan you have no doubt, like me been on the hunt since then for an effective and reliable vegan deodorant. I’ve tried LOADS now with varying degrees of success (find out more here), so when I came across the ‘Nuud carefree deodorant’ and all of its wonderful reviews, I was pretty excited to give it a try.

When the pretty in pink tube arrived I was first struck by how small it was. How could this dinky little thing last me 6-7 weeks as Nuud had promised? Oh, I was proven so very wrong. The 15ml tube lasted me over 3 months in total, way more that what was expected, which at £12.95 is just over £4 per month (plus shipping is free!) – a healthy investment fo’ sho’.

Nuud+deodorant+Box.jpg
Nuud+deodorant+Packaging.jpg
Nuud+deodorant+Box+back.jpg

It was beautifully packaged too, with a biodegradable, unbleached FSC card box packed with all the information and guidance you need, and the deodorant tube itself is made from sugarcane which is a more sustainable and eco-friendly plastic. The only standard plastic component is the deodorant lid, but Nuud are working on alternatives for this too. Oh, and did I mention that their shipment is CO2 neutral? Pretty good going I feels.

So far, so good. To apply, all that’s needed is a small, pea-sized squeeze. Gently rub the soft, silky cream into your pits, trying to keep it even and not too thick. It dries pretty quickly and disappears completely, its 100% fragrance free and I had no issues with staining, stinging or irritation throughout my whole experience. Thumbs up. It’s also made with only 10 ingredients and there are no nasties like alcohol, aluminium or parabens in sight. The signature ingredient is active ‘Micro Silver’; a natural ingredient that inhibits bacterial growth, is certified and is 99.9% pure. Oh, hello!

 
 

Nuud says that our bodies will need to adjust to the product. We are likely to sweat more at the beginning as our body pushes out the toxins that may have been accumulated from years of wearing other deodorants. Nuud call it ‘healthy sweating’. Urgh. I have been using what I thought were natural deodorants for some time now, so I was kinda hoping I could skip this part, but nope – it still got me!

The idea is that the deodorant will tackle bacteria and therefore prevent the smell that often develops as a result of sweat. Rather than blocking pores and masking smell, it’s a more natural option which encourages our natural perspiration systems to return and therefore happy, healthy pits.  I experienced a good few weeks of pretty excessive sweating, which was both embarrassing and uncomfortable, and I was very self-conscious of the dreaded B.O. too. Frustratingly, I would sweat all over my clothes and leave them too smelly to wear for another day, and I was almost ready to throw in the towel and give up on Nuud when my body seemed to finally cool it, Kermit. I’m still not sure if it was just me becoming more accepting of the sweat situation, or if my body had adjusted at last, but I kept pushing through and ended up finishing the tube.

 
Nuud deodorant.jpg
Pea sized squeeze.jpg
 

Nuud say that the deodorant can last up to 7 days on some people (with washing in between, obvs), but, despite trying, I found I could only leave it 3 days max, although according to Nuud this is the average.  Even this was a little touch and go, and I often had to team it with other perfumes to mask the smell. However it was quite refreshing not to be reliant on applying a product daily, and some days could go past without me realising that I needed to reapply.

 
Nuud deodorant 4.jpg
 

It was a bit of a mixed bag, and definitely requires some trial and error to figure out what works best for you and your body. Although I am not certain that I would rush out to buy the product straight away, towards the end of the stint I did feel more comfortable wearing it and I would consider using it again in the future, but perhaps always be armed with a Plan B in case things get a little hot in here. Plus Nuud give off such positive eco vibes like this:

‘Together we can ensure less production of crap, less pollution, lee empty deodorant canisters, less (petro)chemical industry, less irritated skin, less allergic reactions, less harm to animals, less artificial chemical fragrances, less propellant gases.’
— https://nuudcare.co.uk/

that it makes me think all this is worth it just for a little bit of perspiration – it’s really no sweat when you think about it.

What is your favourite vegan deodorant?

You can read more about Nuud on our Vegan Beauty Brand Directory.

Disclaimer:  This review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

Natural but not up to scratch: An unsuccessful vegan skincare regime from Natural Elements

 
Natural+Elements+Skincare+4.jpg
 

As we become more conscious about the products we use and the ingredients they contain, organic, natural and vegan beauty products are increasingly abundant and sought after (you can read more about this on our recent article here). When British brand ‘Natural Elements’ launched in 2001 they were at the forefront of this movement. Their mission was to create ‘healthy products with real scientific benefits’. By blending high quality natural extracts such as plant-derived ingredients, vital oils and aromatherapy based essential oils they aimed to develop 100% natural preventative measures against premature ageing.

Free from harsh synthetic ingredients such as parabens, alcohols, pegs and petro-chemicals Natural Elements offer skincare with good ingredients (but which are not necessarily 100% natural!). Made in the UK and originally designed for professional holistic therapists only, Natural Elements offer a wide range of affordable, accessible, cruelty free and vegan skincare and vegan haircare with options for everyone, including specific skin types and concerns, from baggy eyes to cellulite (sign me up for both!).

 
Natural Elements
 

Natural Elements very kindly sent me a skincare pack to try for my skin type - Normal/Combination. I am prone to the odd spot and can get quite oily skin, but I generally don’t get much sensitivity or irritation. On initial impressions I was a little put off by the simple (and a little dull) packaging, which all came in a plastic pouch which I don’t think is recyclable. Similarly, although all of the bottles are glass, the lids, pumps and parts are all plastic - a problem we face with many skincare brands. Boo.

 

Clarifying Face Wash  £14.99 / 200ml

 
Natural Elements Clarifying Facial Wash
 

So, first things first folks … the Clarifying Face Wash. According to Natural Elements the ingredients are designed to actively repair skin whilst combating irritation and sensitivity. The rich antioxidants of the Cellulose Gel and Passion Flower should protect your skin against environmental damage and therefore help to prevent those pesky aging signs. It has an almost fragrance free (and slightly boring) scent and I wasn’t wowed on first impressions, but I found it suitably effective.

The soapy soft liquid lathers up gently and doubles up as both a cleanser and make up remover, even for those peepers. I started using the product back in March and because the light, gel like texture is quite runny you don’t need to use a lot. I still have half a bottle of the stuff to get through which would normally be frickin’ awesome, but if I’m honest it was a pretty underwhelming experience and I am actually looking forward to moving onto another cleanser. It just doesn’t feel particularly luxurious or enjoyable to use, it’s like washing with hand soap.

I personally didn’t feel any huge benefits from the vegan cleanser, if anything my skin felt more lack-lustre. In fact, when I first began using the product I noticed that I started to get some very dry, raised, irritated areas on my forehead and chin, which is pretty unusual for me. I am convinced it was down to the Face Wash because I later learnt that the product should not be used with a toner or other cream cleanser. The Natural Elements Face Wash contains actives such as Cellulose Gel, Aloe Vera & Passion Flower which if combined with a toner (especially an astringent one), it can cause a reaction. I was a little annoyed that this had not been made clearer on the packaging, it was only after doing my own digging that I found this out, and I’m sure many consumers would also make the same mistakes. I immediately stopped using a toner and found that the irritation did reduce, but my skin texture did not return to normal for about a month until I eventually stopped using the Clarifying Face Wash. Not a happy bunny.

Konjac Exfoliating Sponge  £6.99

 
Natural Elements Konjac Sponge
 

I must have been hiding beneath a rock as this was my first run in with a Konjac Sponge, but I see them popping up everywhere now! They are pretty special sponges, made from a natural, perennial herb: The Konjac Root. This wonder plant has been used since ancient times across Korea, Japan and China for medical and edible purposes. Konjac Sponges are used to gently exfoliate dead skin cells whilst nourishing, protecting and hydrating skin. They are 100% natural, pH neutral and can even come with added antibacterial and anti-fungal properties to eliminate spots, blackheads and dead surface skin cells. 

I was won over instantly by the Konjac Sponge. It has a great texture, striking the perfect balance between firm and soft and it’s super relaxing and easy to use - a brilliant alternative to a flannel. It can be used solo or teamed with a little cleanser, either way it feels brilliantly soothing and luxurious on the skin and leaves skin feeling soft and clean without any irritation or dryness you might feel after using harsher exfoliators. I was pretty sad when it finally fell apart after about a month - as Konjac Sponges are a natural product, they will deteriorate eventually and break down, sometimes as quickly as few weeks if not cared for. The sponges will biodegrade amongst compost, although it seems to defeat the object a little when they are sent in individually wrapped plastic packaging like this one …

I do have a few concerns about how sustainable these sponges are, no doubt as we witness another beauty boom the production of the Konjac Root will multiply, so we will need to keep an eye on how and where the sponges have been sourced from, although where you can find this information I’m not yet certain. Nevertheless I am looking forward to getting another!

Holistic Facial Oil - Organic Retinol Alternative £21.99 / 50ml and

Blending Facial Cream £15.99 / 50ml

Natural Elements Holistic Facial Oil
Natural Elements Blending Facial Cream

The Natural Elements Holistic Facial Oil has been designed for younger people that are looking to prevent premature aging. This is a natural alternative to Retinol in the form of fruit oils. These fruit oils in particular work to increase your cell turnover whilst protecting against free radical damage, the main source of fine lines and wrinkles. Extracts of Peach, Jojoba, Orange, Grapefruit and Patchouli are blended to detoxify, refresh and hydrate the skin, whilst balancing sebum production and enhancing radianceWowee.  Although this one is suitable for all skin types, it’s more specifically for normal, combination or oily skin that is prone to blemishes, which is me all over! I’m not usually one for oils, and I always use them a little hesitantly but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt given all the benefits described above. The oil has a subtle, fresh and uplifting citrus scent and you only need a tiny amount, which means the oil lasts forEVER … five months and still counting!

Natural Elements recommend mixing the vegan face oil with their Blending Facial Cream as it enables the product to sink in better and sit comfortably on the skin. Different to a normal vegan Moisturiser, this product should not be used as a standalone product. The key active ingredient, Grapeseed is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Natural Elements claim that this will help to tighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark circles. The product is also designed to prep skin for makeup, leaving it matte and shine free, which seems contradictory straight after using an oil!

I followed these instructions and began using one or two pumps of the Facial Oil twice a day, with a little of the Blending Cream. The Blending Cream has a very light, comfortable, lotion texture and I could really feel the water content in the product. It definitely helps the oil to sink in quickly and effectively, I noticed the difference when I used the oil directly as it left my skin feeling a little sticky and shiny. However the oil did feel luxurious and relaxing on application, it glides smoothly onto skin and also encourages a gentle self-massage which is always a winner!

It’s always tricky to comment on anti-aging products, as I can’t see into the future and how my skin will look with or without these products. However I didn’t fall in love with either of these. I enjoyed using the Face Oil but I have used others which have sat more comfortably on my skin and I noticed that the hair around my face turned greasy pretty quick - gross. Sadly all too often my skin didn’t feel moisturised enough and seemed quite dull, pallid and unhealthy after using the Blending Cream. Makeup sat ok on top, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was matte or shine free! I tried various quantities and combinations of the two products but it was all a bit of a faff, and if I‘m honest I was looking forward to starting a new, more straightforward, nourishing and hydrating cream.

 
Natural+Elements+Skincare.jpg
 

So all in all it wasn’t a very successful vegan skincare regime for me, and needless to say I wouldn’t purchase any of these again (except maybe another Konjac Sponge once I’ve done some research!) The products didn’t excite me and made my skin look and feel worse. It might interest you to know that since I have stopped using the products my skin is returning to its normal, happy, healthy state and is less irritated and bumpy. It’s possible that I chose the wrong products for my skin and I would be better suited to others which are less active, but my experience with these products has not encouraged me to find out.

Have you any experience with Natural Elements?

You can find out more about the brand on our Beauty-not-cruelty Vegan Beauty Brand Directory.

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

BECO is more than just bloody brilliant products. It’s a movement. BECO = Better Considered.

 
BECO Better Considered Handwash and Bar Soap
 

Launched by award winning social enterprise CLARITY – The Soap Co., BECO creates ‘real jobs for real people in the UK who are visually impaired, disabled or disadvantaged.*’ A.K.A. Better Considered.

If all households in the UK used BECO in their bathrooms, consumers would help to create nearly 45,000 new jobs for people with disabilities.
— BECO Good, Clean, Fun Information leaflet

BECO currently offer a small but significantly special vegan beauty range that’s affordable, accessible and all round better considered, from the ingredients to production, and packaging to equal opportunities. Choose either the hand soap or bar soap in three fragrances: Honey Blossom, Spring Meadow or Wild Berries, not forgetting their latest addition, the NEW Shampoo bar.  

All products are made in the UK with ingredients that are 100% eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty free, Paraben and SLS Free AND hypoallergenic. You can find BECO products close to home in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Boots and Ethical Superstore.

 

One Bottle of Feel Good Socially Enterprising Better Considered Foaming Hand Wash – Spring Meadow £3.50/250ml

 
BECO Spring Meadow Foaming Hand Wash
 

LOVE IT. First impressions of the Spring Meadow hand wash was that it smelt divine. Fresh, light and florally with a hint of citrus, the fragrance stays put long after you’ve washed your hands. It’s a delight to use, the soap lathers brilliantly and leaves hands feeling super soft as well as smelling sweet.

The palm oil free, liquid soap is designed to foam up as you pump, which means you get a lot more soap for your spend, and saves water too! According to BECO, each bottle can save up to 88 litres of water (that’s the equivalent of 440 cups of tea!)* and will last up to 2.5 times longer than your usual liquid hand wash**. I found the hand wash lasted a whopping 5 months between two of us, although I have to be honest and say it wasn’t used every day as we are partial to a bar soap.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because the foam means the soap lasts longer, it also means you’ll need to replace it less often, so it reduces your plastic usage too. Once again, Better Considered.

BECO+Spring+Meadow+Hand+Wash
BECO+Spring+Meadow+Handwash
BECO+Spring+Meadow+Hand+Wash
BECO+Spring+Meadow+Foaming+Hand+Wash

One Bar of Feel Good Socially Enterprising Better Considered Triple Milled Organic Soap – Wild Berries  £3.00/100g

 
BECO Wild Berries Hand Soap
 

My favourite was the 97% organic, vegan bar soap. Although I didn’t sense the wild berries scent (it smelt more coconutty to me!?), it was a gentle, soft soap which I could happily use on my body as well as my hands. I felt no stinging or irritation and often used it pre shave. For me this wins hands down thanks to the minimal packaging (the box is 100% recyclable and the bar 100% biodegradable) and it felt more of an all-rounder whilst still lasting fricking ages – 4 months in total! The soap held its own and didn’t break apart into smaller pieces or go soggy (something I have found with several vegan soaps) so I was absolutely chuffed with it. Although it does contain Palm Oil, it is sustainably sourced.

 
BECO Better Considered Soaps
 

So there you have it, glowing reviews of both soaps from BECO. The products and brand ticked so many boxes for me and I would definitely purchase both of these again. I’m looking forward to trying out the Shampoo Bar too – Hurrah! Being better considered has never felt so simple.

*https://betterconsidered.org/beco-website#oursoap

** BECO Good, Clean, Fun Information leaflet

Which would you choose? Bottle or Bar?

You can read more about BECO on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory.

Disclaimer:  These products have been sent to me to test and review by the brand. I have received no monetary benefit for this review. The review is 100% honest and reflects my experience. Product and brand information is correct at the time of publishing but please check the product website before purchasing.

9 Significant Steps for Better Beauty: Advice from Natural Skincare Experts BYBI & Weleda.

 
 

If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt already a conscious consumer who strives to select your purchases wisely. There are so many factors to consider it can be an overwhelming and daunting task, and when it comes to the Beauty industry, it’s hard to know where to begin.

I was privileged enough to attend two exceptional skincare events last month and both were highly educational, thought provoking and inspiring. I whipped up to Derbyshire to Weleda’s head office for their Blogger & MUA event for a tour of their awe inspiring gardens, and more recently joined the BYBI ‘Susty Summit’ at their stylish HQ in London.

 
Logo.png
 
Logo.png
 

Discussions at both events broached this issue and I came out buzzing to share their knowledge and advice. It became clear to me how important it is to make the effort to get down to the nitty gritty, so I’ve tried my best to collate the information into 9 significant steps for better beauty; with the aim to help you know what to look out for when you’re next contemplating a new mascara or moisturiser.

1.        Get Hot on Ingredients

2.       Avoid Greenwashing.

3.       Search for Certifications.

4.       Choose Organic.

5.       Choose Sustainable.

6.       Support PSCO Certified Palm Oil

7.       Find Waste Free and Recyclable Products

8.       Consider Ethics & Social Impact

9.       And finally, take a step back.

 

1.       Get Hot on Ingredients

This is the biggie. Understanding what is actually in our products is SO important, but it’s not plain sailing. There can be 30 – 50 ingredients in one single beauty product, and taking the time to check out the INCI list on the product packaging is a time consuming, confusing and boring task.

 TIP: The first few ingredients on the INCI list will be a higher percentage of the total, so start with these at least.

 However, there is some hope on the horizon. At the Weleda event, I was lucky enough to meet the founders of ‘EVRE LAB’. These geniuses are compiling a searchable database of ingredients using technology, scientific evidence and research to help us easily determine what’s in our products. Wowzer. Watch this space!

 

But why is it so important to know what’s going in our products?

Well, although not all chemical ingredients are necessarily bad, there are many which are harmful to our bodies, the environment and the world’s wildlife.  If like me, as a vegan you carefully avoid animal derived ingredients we may unknowingly purchase products which still contain harmful ingredients to us and our planet.

Our skin is the largest organ of our body so every product we use will either sink in to our bodies, or be washed off down our drains and into our water, rivers and oceans.

So which ingredients are good and bad?

This is the tricky part. A good sign is when brands list each ingredient in English alongside its Latin name. This hint of transparency implies that they’re not trying to hide anything. Look for natural ingredients where possible from plants, trees and fruits.

According to BYBI and Weleda there are some big No Nos to look out:

·         SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) is a foaming agent and a skin irritant if used in high concentrations. Although it is safe in low doses, bear in mind that if it is found in each and every one of the products you use on a daily basis, it may tot up. Watch out for other foaming agents and fillers like preservatives too.

·         Although microbeads have been banned in the UK, this only refers to ‘wash off’ products, so we need to remain vigilant, and while you’re at it, avoid other ingredients that don’t biodegrade such as petroleum or other plastics.

·         Disodium EDTA and Oxybenzone is used in sunscreen and is now known to be environmentally toxic.

2.       Avoid Greenwashing.

As more people choose to avoid such ingredients and buy clean, clever industry experts have clocked on and so the market has seen a large increase in ‘greenwashing’ where labels such as ‘natural’ and ‘organicare plastered over products which may in fact be anything but. There are no legal standards for the use of these terms on beauty products, and therefore these labels can be used even though the product contains as little as 5% certified natural or organic ingredients[1], which is obviously very misleading.

 It’s back to the INCI list we go, hunt for those natural ingredients and check the small print for more information.

TIP: Head on over to The Soil Association to sign their petition to encourage brands to #ComeCleanAboutBeauty and stop greenwashing[2].

 

3.       Search for Certifications.

One sure-fire way to find truly better beauty products is to buy only from reputable sources. Keep an eye out for trustworthy high standard certifications who will have put the supplier/brand/product through a rigorous certification process such as:

  • NATRUE (certified Natural, and/or Natural & Organic Ingredients)

  • Soil Association (Organic Ingredients)

  • Leaping Bunny (Cruelty Free).

  • PSCO (Sustainable Palm Oil, more info below)

  • Fairtrade (Supports rights of producers and traders)

Natrue.jpg
Soil Assoc Organic.png
Leaping Bunny.png
RSPO.PNG
Fairtrade+International.jpg
 

4.       Choose Organic.

Did you know that in just one tablespoon of healthy soil, there are more than seven billon organisms – that’s more than the amount of people on the planet![3] Organic farming uses less pesticides, no artificial colours, preservatives or GM Ingredients and although this is becoming more widely available with regards to our food, it is less considered when it comes to our beauty products[4].

But the methods are the same. If we look after our soil, we will nurture healthy plants, who will in turn nurture us. Let’s cultivate happy plants and invest in organic!

 TIP: Keep an eye out for Soil Association certified organic products, you can find such brands on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory.

 

5. Choose Sustainable.

The beauty industry is guilty of glamorising exotic ingredients which must travel miles before arriving on our doorsteps. Although there are methods of transportation which are better for the environment (e.g. by boat), such ingredients are undoubtedly still less sustainable than those that are local to us. BYBI recommend investing in ingredients which grow locally in abundance, with a short harvesting cycle and where the majority, if not all of the plant can be used.

 

If a brand chooses to source ingredients from further field, investigate how they grow, harvest, manufacture and transport it.

TIP: Keep an out for these goodies from the UK:  Calendula, Hibiscus, Buriti, Lavender, Cucumber, Rosemary, Pumpkin and Chamomile.

 

6.  Support PSCO Certified Palm Oil

Our insatiable need for palm oil, which finds its way into 50% of all food, personal care products and biofuel[5] has caused the mass deforestation and displacement of wildlife and people. Inevitably it has also led to bad practice and poor support for the people who produce it.

 Although it is tempting to ditch Palm Oil products completely, it’s important to consider that huge communities of people rely solely on the trade of palm, and it still remains a more renewable and less taxing product than its closest replacements - Soya and Coconut Oil[6].

Instead, we can choose to support sustainable, RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified Palm Oil which works hard to harvest the ingredient responsibly and shift the industry mind set. 

RSPO.PNG
 

7. Find Waste Free and Recyclable Products

Take a second to visualise a fully stocked beauty aisle at your local supermarket or drug store. Now multiply it by the thousands of stores across the country. The globe.

According to BYBI, 70% of the beauty industries packaging is waste. Even worse, in the UK our beauty regimes are responsible for 30-40% of landfill waste.[7]. Shocking, right? Many of us are doing our bit to choose zero waste, plastic free or recyclable products and this should not stop when it come to our beauty products. Support brands who take responsibility for their waste and look for glass, metal and PET plastics which can be recycled locally.

 TIP: Many local council’s do not accept certain tubes/bottles/or plastics at the kerbside but you can arrange for such items to be recycled independently by TerraCycle.

 

 8. Consider Ethics & Social Impact

Does the brand support their suppliers and farmers by offering them a fair wage, regular work, training and education? Do they help to put an infrastructure in place to look after the health and wellbeing of their workers and their families? For example, BYBI’s supplier of Shea Butter supports female communities in West Africa.

 TIP: BYBI recommended requesting to see a copy of a brands Modern Slavery Agreement to determine how committed they are to their workers and ethics.

 

What about closer to home? Does the brand support local charities or reach out to the community?

 

 9. And finally, take a step back.

 Do we actually need all this shit? Healthy bodies produce natural oils and bacteria which clean and protect our skin but these can be easily stripped away by harsh ingredients and constant washing. The natural balance of our pH level can be disrupted, leading us to seek more products to rectify it, when the solution may be to use less and embrace your natural self.

I am guilty of getting swept up with the hype of new and exciting products which promise beautiful, hydrated, wrinkle-free, sexy skin, but 9 times out of 10 I don’t really need it. Or notice much difference.

 

TIP: Stick with products that multi task, both BYBI and Weleda sell Beauty Balms.

 

I appreciate there’s a lot to process here, and it’s a bit of a minefield. And this is by no means all encompassing. It can feel overwhelming and confusing to know where to start, but the more we push brands to be honest and transparent, the easier the choice will be. Support those that pride themselves on these values, who constantly strive for sustainability and question their own processes to make themselves better.  Our choices can make a difference and I hope that this guide helps you to make more informed decisions too.

Thank you to both Weleda and BYBI for opening my eyes to these issues. It feels like we still have a long way to go, the climb will be long and steep, but at least it’s in the right direction.

 If you’d like to know more about Weleda or BYBI’s products, you can find both on our Vegan Beauty Brands Directory. Alternatively, scroll on down for some quick facts.

  

BYBI

·         BYBI (By Beauty Insiders) are a relatively new brand, formed in 2017 by independent women Elsie and Dominika.

·         They started out with a keen interest in beauty and skincare but were frustrated by the lack of effective and natural products on the market.

·         This encouraged them to develop their new and exciting stylish skincare products which includes Scrubs, Serums, targeted skin ‘feel’ Boosters and more. All are made in the UK, contain solely natural ingredients and are 100% vegan.

·         Certified by The Vegan Society and The Leaping Bunny, their cheerful, high-performance products are made with strong values at heart: optimise skin’s health whilst striving to reduce their impact on the planet via ingredients, suppliers and packaging.

·         BYBI are making huge efforts to investigate the sustainability of their products, ingredients and supply chain, and have even put together their own method of measuring this via their ‘Green Score’.

·         All of BYBI’s packaging is recyclable.

·         BYBI’s supplier of Shea Butter supports female communities in West Africa.


Weleda

·         Founded in 1921, Weleda are the world’s No.1 producer of certified natural skin and healthcare products.

·         They are owned by a not-for profit organisation to fund work into holistic medical research and education.

·         Certified by NATRUE, their products are 100% natural and around 80% of their plant ingredients are classified organic and of biodynamic quality.

·         They are also one of two beauty brands worldwide to be certified by UEBT (Union for Ethical Biotrade), a non-profit organisation that provides a globally recognised standard for sustainable sourcing and the use of raw materials.

·         Founded by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner and Dutch doctor Ita Wegman and Oskar Schmiedel, a chemist from Germany, the brand is deep rooted in using natural ingredients to support our body’s ability to heal itself and promote its natural vitality.

·         Weleda control their entire supply chain and own eight medicinal gardens across the globe also home to bees and birds; I was thrilled to get the opportunity to take a tour around their British farm in Derbyshire which predominantly grows ingredients for medicinal purposes.

·         Owning the farms enables them to oversee the whole process from seed to production to product. Weleda are proud of their natural and organic formulas and passionate about the wellbeing of their plants and soils too, promoting a biodynamic environment and permaculture cycle.

·         Their collection is HUGE, from skincare, body care, haircare to baby and more. Thanks to their efficacy and popularity, many of Weleda’s formulations remain much the same to this day.

·         Although not all of their products are suitable for vegans (they do use ingredients such as honey, beeswax, goat’s milk, lactose and lanolin), there is a wide range of options to choose from. You can find a list here

·         Weleda’s packaging is all recyclable, although the soft touch tubes may not be accepted by local councils. Instead they need to be returned to Weleda for recycling.

·         Weleda are building a work programme at the moment to take on patients who have been prescribed spending time outdoors amongst nature to aid their mental health and social wellbeing. Thumbs up.

 
 [1] Weleda’s 2019 Catalogue Pg. 7 ‘Pioneers of Responsible Beauty.’
[2] https://www.soilassociation.org/our-campaigns/come-clean-about-beauty/
[3] https://www.soilassociation.org/blogs/2018/june/14/14-things-you-might-not-know-about-soil/
[4] Side note… check out the Teaspoon of Soil Podcast Episode 2. For some interesting insights into Organic Food.
[5] BYBI Susty Summit Slide
[6] BYBI Susty Summit Slide
[7] https://bybi.com/blogs/journal/recycle-right-with-bybi