Is it possible to save the world and still look amazing?
I switched to a vegan diet in January 2016, but it wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally got around to replacing my skincare with cruelty-free products. It seemed a little overwhelming – I had no idea which brands tested on animals, and assumed that vegan companies would be far more expensive.
Thankfully, I’m happy to report that it was much easier (and cheaper!) than I could ever have imagined. Thanks to high street brands like Sukin, Lush and The Body Shop, I’ve been able to take care of my skin without sacrificing a single animal – and my wallet is looking pretty good, too!
So, how are skincare products tested on animals? According to the Humane Society, these tests are performed on mice, rabbits, rats and guinea pigs and can include:
- Skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of restrained rabbits without any pain relief
- Repeated force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards such as cancer or birth defects
- Widely condemned ‘lethal dose’ tests, in which animals are forced to swallow large amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.
- At the end of a test the animals are killed, normally by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation. Pain relief is not provided.
All this, just so I can have a good skin day? That doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t see the need to purchase from brands that continue to test on animals when there are so many cruelty-free alternatives out there. The best part? The products I’ve found contain more natural ingredients, so my skin actually looks and feels even better now!
I like to think of it as good karma.
It’s taken a bit of trial and error, but I’ve managed to find a combination of products that work really well for me. Read on to find out what I’ve been loving lately!
Charcoal is majorly on trend right now – I’ve been loving charcoal-infused juices lately, and I even have a charcoal toothbrush! So it makes sense that the benefits also extend to skincare – it’s said to balance the complexion by removing excess oils and toxins. Sounds good to me!
At first it feels a little weird to be applying a black gel to your face, and you could be forgiven for feeling like something out of a horror movie. It foams up really quickly, though, and leaves my face feeling super squeaky-clean.
Try adding a little charcoal to your daily skin routine. You’ll never look back!
I swear by this stuff! I’d never really considered using a serum before – it seemed like an unnecessary extra step in my skincare routine. But when I stumbled across the ‘Super Greens’ range in Holland and Barrett, the ingredients list completely changed my mind. It sounds like a delicious smoothie – kale, spirulina, acai and goji berries, anyone? I’m happy to put those nutrients inside my body, so it makes sense to put them on my skin, too!
This serum is incredibly light and hydrating, and gives my skin a natural, fresh glow. No animal testing necessary!
This is another favourite from the ‘Super Greens’ range – I just can’t resist that ingredients list! I’ve heard really good things about using rosehip oil for acne scars, and this moisturiser contains a generous amount along with avocado, parsley and chlorella. Again, it sounds good enough to eat!
I apply this after the serum, and they work together to leave my skin hydrated and soft. It’s light enough to use morning and night, and sinks in quickly with no oily residue left behind. My skin is super sensitive and I’ve had breakouts in the past caused by too-thick moisturiser, so I’m extra grateful to have finally found my holy grail product!
Have you ever heard of microbeads? They’re basically tiny pieces of plastic found in many exfoliating products, which travel down the plughole and often end up in our oceans. Many countries have started to ban them, including the UK (woohoo!) but in the meantime I want to support companies that refuse to use them.
Sukin are one of these brands – their exfoliating scrub uses natural jojoba beads and bamboo to remove dead skin and leave your face feeling soft and smooth. I use this a couple of times a week and couldn’t be happier with the results. I can’t imagine scratching at my face with plastic when I could be rubbing delicious-smelling jojoba beads all over it!
This little blue mask is an absolute life-changer for anyone with acne scars or uneven skin tone. After my battle with cystic acne a couple of years ago, I’ve been left with scarring and discolouration across my forehead and chin. I used to feel really self-conscious about it, but recently I’ve started to come to terms with my imperfections.
It helps that whenever I use this mask, I see an immediate improvement in my skin tone – the lemon and neroli really brighten my complexion, and my skin feels soft and smooth thanks to the exfoliating ground rice. It’s also fun to give my boyfriend a fright by sneaking up on him with a bright blue face!
I was skeptical when I first heard about Lush’s jelly range, but one application of this mask has left me hooked. The scent is heavenly – I can really smell the lavender, with just a hint of fresh seawater.
If I even have just the hint of a spot forming, I reach for this mask. It has the amazing ability to dry any pimples out before they’ve even reached a head! And it goes on so smoothly. Imagine applying mousse all over your face. Okay, that doesn’t sound too appealing, but trust me – it’s the most satisfying feeling ever.
Unlike most Lush masks, you don’t need to keep this one in the fridge – it can take pride of place on your bathroom shelf. I guarantee you’ll be reaching for it on a weekly basis!
I began using tea tree oil on pimples as a teenager, but quickly abandoned it in favour of expensive, prettily-packaged creams. Fast forward a few years and I found myself picking it up on a whim during a pretty bad breakout. I’m so glad we’ve been reunited!
I find that applying a small amount to affected areas right before I go to bed dries the pimple out almost overnight, and after a day or two it’s pretty much gone! Plus, the amazing smell is lovely to fall asleep with.
The Body Shop’s tea tree oil is organic, sustainably harvested and 100% cruelty free. I can’t think of a better way to beat pimples!
I know it can seem overwhelming to completely replace your skincare collection, which is why I suggest doing it slowly. Next time your cleanser or moisturiser runs out, replace it with a cruelty-free version – that way, you’re not spending a huge chunk of money in one go.
I also recommend researching brands thoroughly, as the language used on their sites can be misleading. Some companies state that their products have not been tested on animals, but don’t mention whether the individual ingredients that make up the product are actually cruelty-free. Tricky, isn’t it? Cruelty-Free Kitty has written a great guide to help you navigate the world of vegan skincare brands – it’s the perfect starting point if you’re feeling a little confused.
Go on, treat yourself to some new vegan skincare – the animals and the environment will thank you!