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I made a promise to my sweet Cubby that I would switch to using all cruelty-free household and cosmetic products. This blog is intended to help those of you who would like to do the same. Is a new lipstick really worth a dead bunny?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A ginger I shall be...

So apparently, choosing to not color my hair all these years has been totally worth it.

I think at some point in high school, I wanted blonde highlights (because come on, what teenage girl didn’t?), but never ended up bothering with them. I’ve done a wash-out-in-28-shampoos box dye a couple times, but that’s it. I generally always liked my hair color so it wasn’t an issue to me. Not worth the effort (or cost).
Fast forward to late 2011 and I decided I wanted to go red. Full-on red. Flame worthy red. I knew red wouldn’t be an easy color to get or maintain, but I knew it could be done. So after scoping out a few different salons in W’burg, I called around for a last minute haircut (I think I called on a Thursday looking for a Saturday morning appointment) and someone was able to squeeze me in. The haircut she gave me was fine and she even styled it for me pretty nicely since I was going to a party that night so I talked to her about coming back to make me red. I showed her some pictures of reds I did and didn’t like and made an appointment for the following week. Since she knew this was my first time coloring my hair, she said she wanted to ease me in with highlights and we could amp it up the next time if I liked it. I LOVED the colors she put in; one was slightly more auburn and really caught the light and the other was a pretty mahogany that looked very natural. However, it just wasn’t enough. I OK’ed the idea of “easing in” to having color, but I was really ready for a major change.  I was fairly happy, but was already craving more. Worth it so far, but still left me wanting.
The next time I went back, she suggested putting in some blonde with the red to make it more noticeable. Oh. Em. Gee. I looked like skunky, tri-color trailer trash. I HATED it. The blonde did indeed make another color more noticeable – the brown. You could clearly see three different colors in my hair and it looked awful. So I went back a few days later to have her dye it all one red color. I loved it this time and I will admit, the blonde highlights changed to a lighter, more auburn-y red than the rest of my hair so it added some nice dimension. SO WORTH THE HASSLE!
Just when I thought we’d be getting along like a hairdresser match made in heaven, the next time I went back, I asked her for full-on color and she only did touch up color. So the length of my hair (which at this point is several inches below my shoulders) was a very faded, barely red, and the roots (plus a little bit) were a lighter auburn. No thank you.  It doesn’t look awful, but it isn’t RED. Not so much worth it… but not ruined.
So I’m getting to the cruelty-free part, I swear. The good news is that the color line she used, Goldwell, is cruelty-free. Yaaay! But… I was ready to change stylists because it really seemed like she just wasn’t “getting” what I want. However, a large majority of salons use L’Oreal color, which is not cruelty-free. So that has cut down on my options tremendously. Last week, I discovered that a salon in Norfolk that is participating in the “Pamper for a Cause” event benefitting animal shelters AND it’s one that is pretty highly recommended on Yelp. Score!  I called them and inquired about their color and product lines – Italy Colorly 20/20 and Unite products – BOTH CRUELTY FREE!!! Double score!!  I booked an appointment this Thursday to get my hair cut and colored with a color specialist at their salon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed she’ll be able to get me to a nice shade of cinnamon-y auburn, all while helping the animals and using cruelty free products. So, long story made short – finding a good colorist that uses cruelty free products is a pain in the you-know-what, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the end. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trust issues

In the words of Charlie Brown, “AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Shortly after starting my cruelty free research, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Revlon did not test on animals. They were on PETA’s “Do Not Test” list and I found several different websites and blogs that posted they were cruelty free; I verified this information through their website, including a live chat with a customer service rep who assured me that, “All ingredients used by Revlon and all products manufactured and sold by Revlon comply with both U.S. and European Union laws and regulations, including full compliance with all Europe-wide bans on testing of cosmetics and cosmetics ingredients using animals, which are part of the European Cosmetics Directive. Revlon has long been an industry leader in the elimination of animal testing. In 1986, Revlon was the first beauty products manufacturer to close down its animal testing facilities completely. In addition, Revlon holds its suppliers of ingredients and components to the same standards. All chemical supplier purchase orders require confirmation by the supplier that it does not perform animal testing on materials supplied.” What a revelation! How glorious! So much information, right there at my fingertips!
Fast forward a couple months and today, I received an email from the Leaping Bunny (I get email alerts from them; you can sign up too at www.mybeautybunny.com )that Revlon is conducting third party animal testing (see full blog post here; note the quote by the Revlon founder - interesting). In my more recent research, I have been asking that question specifically, but Revlon was among my early research and, partly from my inexperience and partly from the seemingly all-inclusive response given to me above, I didn’t specifically ask about third party testing. I am trying to get more specific proof that Revlon is indeed conducting third party testing, but in the meantime, PETA and the Leaping Bunny are well-trusted organizations and if they now both say Revlon is a [dirty, rotten] company that allows animal testing, then it’s generally safe to assume it’s true.

What.   A.   BUMMER.

This is so disheartening to me. While I don’t tend to use any Revlon makeup products anymore, they used to a make a Luxurious Lengths mascara that I LOVED, and I even just encouraged my sister to purchase a Revlon mascara, based on the fact that it was a cheaply priced, drugstore/Walmart available brand and that it was cruelty free. It was so nice to feel like I had Revlon in my back pocket as a widely available, bargain priced option. I was so proud of them because, despite being such a large company and offering lower priced products, I thought they still managed to be progressive and eliminate animal testing, despite it being an (allegedly) easier and cheaper alternative. I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy yanks the football away at the last second.
After reading today’s LB blog post, I put some more effort into my Revlon research. Revlon is indeed now on PETA’s “Tests on Animals” list. The online Revlon CSR gave me the same exact statement I got from them in March. After reading through it veeeeeerrrrrryyyyyy carefully many, many times, I am disturbed to realize that this is one of the most deceptive animal testing policy statements I have encountered. I broke it down by section and realized just how many loopholes they’ve provided themselves. My full point by point analysis is below but this also made me realize that as careful as I’ve come to be about interpreting these statements, it’s so easy to be misled.
I’m starting to become so disillusioned by big corporations. Yes, I believe in a capitalistic society but I also believe that America is a place where you stand up for what’s right and for your beliefs. End of story. It’s evident that so many companies believe in profits. That in and of itself doesn’t make a company inherently evil, but when there ARE alternatives, it’s so sickening to think that people are still OK with the torture and experimentation of animals for the sake of an increased profit margin, all the while creating images of themselves as trustworthy, seemingly transparent, friendly, ethical, and responsible (generalizations). I’m sure I’ll explore this issue more in my blog; I recognize that it’s so complex and not at all a black-and-white, easily navigable topic.

But, long story short – like Lucy with her sneaky football move, Revlon is officially on my shit list.

I contacted them (7/12/12) through the live chat feature on their website and below is our interaction with my side by side analysis [my comments in bracketed italics]. I KNOW I’m being picky here, but I think that’s the point (I feel like to slip through the loopholes, they would say, a la Marshall on HIMYM, “LAWYERED!”).
Carolyn: Does Revlon contract for third party animal testing on its products or ingredients?
** Thank you for waiting. You are number 1 in line.
Thank you for waiting. You are now chatting with Kelley
Kelley: I'll be happy to help you.
Kelley: Revlon is in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations related to animal testing. All ingredients used by Revlon and all products manufactured and sold by Revlon comply with both U.S. and European Union laws and regulations, including full compliance with all Europe-wide bans on testing of cosmetics and cosmetics ingredients using animals, which are part of the European Cosmetics Directive. [To my knowledge, the ban is not fully effective until March 2013, so this likely leaves a loophole; this statement indicates their products are not tested on animals due to a European ban, but if that ban is not actually being fully implemented yet, they can’t be in violation of it. Sneaky, sneaky.]

Revlon has long been an industry leader in the elimination of animal testing. In 1986, Revlon was the first beauty products manufacturer to close down its animal testing facilities completely. [Obvious loophole for third party testing here.] In addition, Revlon holds its suppliers of ingredients and components to the same standards. [This is not meant to be sarcastic, but literally, specifically what standards?]  All chemical supplier purchase orders require confirmation by the supplier that it does not perform animal testing on materials supplied. [The specification of “chemical supplier purchase orders” could leave a potential loophole. What other suppliers, other than chemicals, are allowed to do animal testing?]

To assure product safety, Revlon relies on the judgment of pharmacologic, toxicologic and medical experts, non-animal alternative test methods and the established safety of formulations and ingredients. [Do not specifically state that they do not also use animal tests.] Revlon is committed to providing safe and effective products and will continue to comply with all government laws and regulations necessary to assure the quality, safety and efficacy of its products. [Leaves themselves open to performing animal tests because of government regulations, either now or in the future.]
Carolyn: I saw that Revlon is now on PETA's list of companies that test on animals; can you please explain why your cruelty free status has changed?
Kelley: This statement is the only information available. [It’s frustrating that they cannot/will not deviate from their set “script” to address a specific concern.]
Carolyn: So you can confirm that Revlon does not solicit outside companies to perform animal testing on its behalf?

Kelley: I will be happy to resend you our statement but this is the only information I have available at this time. [Again, she’s not answering my specific question because of having to stick to the “script” but the fact that they don’t come out and simply state, “We don’t test on animals for any reason, we don’t use any ingredients tested on animals for any reason, and we don’t solicit or allow anyone to test on animals on our behalf for any reason” speaks volumes.]

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Basil dish soap - UPDATED

UPDATED 8/22/12: I just found out that Caldrea (which owns Mrs. Meyer's) is owned by none other than SC Johnson, well known to be an animal tester. BOOOOOO, HIIIISSSSSSS. So I will not be purchasing any more Mrs. Meyers or Caldrea products (which is a super bummer becuase I just sniffed their Honeysuckle scent and it smelled awesome...).

Product: Basil dish soap
Company: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (Owned by Caldrea)

I purchased this bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Basil scented dish soap for use in a fruit fly trap. At work. No joke (and I caught the most fruit flies out of my colleagues). Anyway, I had used some of the same scent hand soap at a friend’s house and really liked it; after researching the company, I found out they were cruelty free, so when I needed dish soap (and Walmart didn’t have Method), this was the winner! The website for this company is http://www.mrsmeyers.com/

I can’t remember how much this product cost (again, didn’t know I’d be doing this blog at the time!) but I seem to remember it was more expensive than the store brand soap but not terribly more expensive than Dawn. While I really like the scent of the hand soap I used, the dish soap is a bit overpowering. It’s reminiscent of basil but of course, isn’t just like fresh basil. The bottle is unobtrusive; it’s not as commercial looking as a Dawn or Joy. It performs… well, like dish soap. I can’t tell if it’s my imagination or not, but it might not be QUITE as effective as conventional dish soap on really super stuck on food. I’ll try to remember to update this post when I’ve been using it a little longer.
Overall, 3 out of 4 paws up. Recommended (but pick your own favorite scent – they have several to choose from).

South of France Shea Butter Body Wash

Product: Shea butter body wash
Company: South of France (owned by Good Health Natural Foods)
As one of my first deliberately cruelty-free purchases, I bought a bottle of body wash to replace my beloved ultra-moisturizing Olay body wash. I selected a bottle of South of France Shea Butter Ultra Moisturizing Body Wash. South of France is a smaller company based in North Carolina. They make soap, body wash, and lotions. They’re owned by Good Health Natural Foods. You can find out more about them here http://www.goodhealthnaturalproducts.com/south-of-france/

The body wash itself is a large bottle and I think it was around $10 (I got it a while ago and didn’t keep notes at the time; this blog was not a factor back then) at Fresh Market. The scent is light and smells just like shea butter (I know, surprise!), which is actually not a draw for me. I’m not a huge fan of the scent of shea butter. However, it’s not overwhelming and it doesn’t really perfume your skin too much, so I’m OK with it. I like the pump bottle, it lathers well, and has lasted me over two months so far (and still going!). Granted, I do switch things up with a body scrub every few days, but it’s still very long lasting. It’s lightly moisturizing… but doesn’t live up to my gold standard Olay (which is SUPER MEGA AWESOME moisturizing). However, the South of France body wash doesn’t contain mineral oil like Olay’s does, so at least that’s a plus.
Overall, I give it 3 out of 4 paws up.  I’d come back to it if I can’t find something else more moisturizing, but if you don’t care as much about that, I’d definitely recommend.

Friday, July 6, 2012

A small victory

I’ve been gathering up some research in anticipation of starting this blog and I couldn’t think of a better day to start than today. Some of you may be aware that about a month ago (June 2012), Urban Decay cosmetics made an announcement to start selling their products in China (which, for those of you who don’t realize, REQUIRES animal testing to demonstrate product safety). UD has always been a leader in the fight against animal testing; opposition to animal testing is one of their core values and their motto was “we don’t test on animals; how could anyone?” They also have an ever-expanding list of vegan products. So needless to say, this decision was a huge shock and a slap in the face to their loyal customers, who are most often rabid and voracious fans of the brand (myself included). While they put some BS PR-spin on the website (they wanted to go into China and change the culture from the inside out), we all saw through it and realized this decision was based, as so many business decisions are, on profits.
Both PETA and the Leaping Bunny immediately revoked their cruelty free certifications, they were barraged with venomous Facebook posts, tweets, and emails, and bloggers tore them a collective “new one.” A petition (actually, I think multiple) was started to try to convince UD to reverse their decision and not break into the Chinese market. UD said they would have a web chat to discuss their decision and answer questions, but it never happened. They took down their explanation on their website. They dodged questions on their Facebook page. As of 14 June, they said they were still going to have the webchat, but after that post, it was radio silence.
Then, today (7 July), an email was sent out and a Facebook post went up with something I truly didn’t expect; they listened. UD decided to reverse their decision and not start selling in China.
They realized just how many customers they were going to lose and how important being cruelty-free is to their fans. I am truly amazed. I am thrilled. I am ecstatic. I am itching to go buy some new eyeshadow. I’m still pissed that they put us through this in the first place, but I am honestly amazed that they actually listened, re-evaluated, and changed their minds.  
At first, I didn’t particularly want to forget and forgive (and let’s hope no one forgets), but then I realized that this is a huge victory. This is exactly what we (those of us who do not support companies that test on animals) want; we do not spend money in order to get companies to change their policy. It worked. UD is a much smaller company than say, a L’Oreal (animal testers), a Cover Girl (animal testers), or a Dior (animal testers only because they sell in China), but they are highly regarded nonetheless. Their products are high quality and their fans are quite literally fanatics. I hope that this incident sends shockwaves (OK, at least ripples) through the cosmetic industry. Obviously, there are already so many companies that test on animals and people buy them anyway, through a combination of ignorance and apathy, but I hope some of the bigger companies will take note that although relatively small, there is a customer base who will staunchly support a company based on its opposition to animal testing.
So, the good news is that Urban Decay is back on my Cubby-approved list. I’m a huge fan of a lot of their products; my favorite is their 24/7 Eyeliner; it literally lasts for 24 hours. No joke. It does. Not. Move. Mildew is an awesome olivey-green and their new black, Perversion, is BLAAAAACK. Their eye shadows are beautiful and highly pigmented and their eye shadow primer is amazing (I like Sin the best; it’s a light, champagney color that disappears under other colors). I give them 4 out of 4 paws. I’ll try and get some more specific product reviews about them in soon, but in the meantime, if you haven’t tried their makeup – DO IT! It’s pretty awesome. And now you can purchase with a clean conscience!