Tuesday, 29 September 2015

September Cruelty-Free & Vegan Favourites

September Cruelty-Free & Vegan Favourites. Take a look at the beauty products I've been loving this month!

Writing these favourites posts as quickly become something I look forward to at the end of each month. I can't believe I didn't start them sooner! I was super busy this September so I'll leave the catch up for another post to let you know what I've been up to. 

In cruelty-free beauty news, my favourite make-up brand e.l.f. have returned to the U.K.! I am so excited as I just love their products. They're an excellent brand to try out if you're just getting into cruelty-free. Plus apart from their Essential brush range, all their products are vegan too. 


From my past posts, I put together a make-up look using all e.l.f. products, here's my e.l.f. haul from their closing down sale and I also reviewed three e.l.f. lip colours. I really like their nail varnish too, but it's not on the new website yet along with a few more of my favourite products which I hope will be added soon!

The Favourites

e.l.f Mineral Eyeshadow Primer

If you don't already have an eyeshadow primer, get this one. It has such a lovely smooth formula, with a doe foot applicator. It keeps even my mineral and sparkly eyeshadows in place all day, and I just wouldn't be without it.

e.l.f Essential Flawless Eyeshadow in Golden Goddess

I love the colours in this mini palette, particularly the gold and copper for the base and crease. They look so perfect with a berry lip. The palette is dinky enough for travelling and even has a tiny mirror if you're in a pinch.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Boss Lady


Another natural beauty product that will be seeing a lot of use from me this coming season. I love how moisturising this lipstick is. It doesn't last long, but for days when I want a bit of colour without drying out my lips it's the perfect autumnal red.


Lush R&B Hair Moisturiser


This stuff smells so good! I use it every time after I wash my hair (and maybe sniff the pot at the same time too). It's fantastic for dry ends and also helps to tame my frizz. You only need a teeny tiny amount so although I got this for Christmas it's still almost full. The price definitely works out!

Bunny Friendly Beauty Tag


Usually I really dislike blogger tags, but Vicky made this brilliant one for cruelty-free bloggers to share their stories about how they made the switch. You can read mine here, as well as Sarah'sMorag's, Yasmina's and Lauren's so far. Let me know if you've done the tag too!



More from the month of September...

Posts to check out

Emily's excellent post exposing 5 Brands You Thought Were Cruelty-Free, But Aren't.

Molly's DIY Strawberry Vegan Body Scrub would make a delicious looking present or treat for yourself.

Christina's guide to eating vegan in Barcelona will certainly come in handy for European travels.

Katie's recipe for Homemade Vegan Nutella looks absolutely scrumptious.

Elisa's globe spanning list of 16 Amazing Vegan Clothing Stores Online.

Camila showed us her favourite cruelty-free fall/autumn lipsticks.


Some recent Instagrams


  


Products I'm lusting after

This month I'm dedicating this section to e.l.f., because I am so excited for their return!



Studio Lip Stain in Red CarpetStudio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder in FijiEssential Instant Lift Brow Pencil in Deep Brown (all vegan)



What have you been loving this month?

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Lush Prize Judging 2015

The Lush Prize Judging 2015

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the judging for the Lush Prize 2015. The Lush Prize is an annual award to give recognition to those raising awareness for animal testing, lobbying against it and working to find alternatives. I was incredibly excited to attend the judging and meet other people who are so passionate about bringing animal testing to an end.

One of those people was Lush Ethical Director Hilary Jones, the woman behind the many Lush animal rights campaigns. Her recent work includes the Lush campaign to keep the fox hunting ban, an excellent example of how standing up for animal rights really does work. Also in attendance was Rob Harrison, founder of Ethical Consumer, the non-profit conscious living magazine now in its 25th year. The two have been working together on the Lush Prize since it first began in 2012.

The judges, all experts on the subject of animal testing, are from many different fields of work and travelled from many different countries to decide on the winners. I was there on the day as a reserve judge and taking notes, as well as enjoying some lovely vegan food!


Tibits Vegetarian Vegan Restaurant London

Tibits

The night before the judging we went out for dinner at vegetarian/vegan restaurant Tibits in Mayfair. It's certainly a fun dining experience. All the meals are laid out on a buffet, you choose whatever you like and the staff weigh your plate at the end to work out the cost. There may have been a mini competition between the judges to see who had the heaviest plate! (I lost.)

The choice of food was excellent. I am always so overwhelmed when I go to a completely vegetarian or vegan place to eat, because I can eat everything! It's so nice not to have to worry about possible animal ingredients, or what they've been cooked in. So I completely forgot about eating vegan and put a spoonful of everything on my plate (all vegetarian of course).

I don't have a clue what I ate but it tasted brilliant. This was the first time I'd tried seitan, which is very good, after reading about it recently in Vegan Life magazine. For dessert I picked all three vegan options: pannacotta (not great), sticky toffee pudding (delicious) and lemon cream (amazing). I can certainly recommend Tibits if you're in London and want the choice of lots of vegetarian and vegan options, or just want to try somewhere a little different.


Hyde Park London

The judging took place the next day at the Lancaster Hotel. I had an incredible view from my room overlooking Hyde Park and I had such a lovely stay. The Lancaster also provided an excellent vegan lunch for us all, with a gorgeous peach and pear crumble for afters. Can you tell I really like my desserts?

The Judging

Obviously I can't talk too much in detail about the judging itself, as the winners will be announced in November. Until then I'm sworn to secrecy, but I will give you a little overview.

The judges included University professors, directors from Humane Society International, Peta and PCRM, as well as a Lush member of staff and Lush customer and animal rights activist. They all held a wealth of knowledge about animal testing and were all very invested in the cause. They were such an inspiring group of people to meet, and already I find myself motivated to do more for helping animals and spreading the word about cruelty-free.

There are five categories to the Lush Prize: Lobbying, Public Awareness, Science, Training and Young Researcher. It's an international award so there were nominations from all over the world, with 2015 seeing double the amount of submissions. It was fascinating to learn about people raising awareness and teaching in other countries where animal testing is much less taboo. And it's incredibly commendable that so many scientists and researchers are choosing not to test on animals, when in so many fields it is the easier option to do so.

One or two judges lead the discussion for each category and there was much analysis for each one, with a lot of thought and consideration to choosing the winners. The prize altogether is £250,000 split between the different categories, so it's a huge amount of money to award! Decisions for the winners were mainly finalised by voting, and this year there were certainly a few stand out nominees.

The Lush Prize is the largest award of its kind, and I hope for the scientists and researchers nominated, an incentive to avoid animal testing. Whether the nominees have conducted animal testing, used animal parts or published work using such in the last few years is a question that is asked of all submissions for the Science, Training and Young Researcher categories and the answer certainly plays a part in the decision making.



One topic mentioned was alternatives to the LD50 test, which is a really archaic and illogical method of animal testing, along with the draize test. A scientific breakthrough or a ban to eliminate these tests would be a huge step forwards. As horrific as it is to think about, as consumers the best thing we can do is to carry on protesting animal testing, through petitions, raising awareness and voting with our money. Boycotting brands who continue to test on animals is so important, and it really does make a difference!

The science is here to replace animal testing, at least in cosmetics, but current regulations and the 'old-fashioned' way of proving results for toxicity safety stand in the way. The Lush Prize aims to break through those barriers and see a future free of animal testing.

The winners will be announced in November at the Lush Prize awards ceremony, which I'm beyond excited to be attending and blogging about. It's an event where experts from many countries around the world meet to discuss the work of ending animal testing. This cause is exactly the reason I started my blog and I am thrilled to be a part of the award this year. Thank you Lush for having me!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Vegan Chocolate & Beetroot Birthday Cake Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake

My mum was incredibly sweet and baked me a vegan chocolate cake for my birthday! It was absolutely delicious and was all gone within a day. My mum is an excellent baker (and a big fan of my blog) so she's letting me share the recipe with you. Here you go!

Vegan Chocolate & Beetroot Sponge Cake

Ingredients
  • 400g plain flour
  • 200g castor sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 400ml soya milk
  • 2 medium fresh beetroot, peeled and grated or cooked and mashed

Icing
  • 4oz Pure sunflower spread
  • 2oz icing sugar

Directions

1. Sieve all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl, leaving out the beetroot.

2. Add all the wet ingredients, leaving out the beetroot.

3. Mix well until smooth.

4. Add the beetroot and mix well until colour is even.

5. Line and grease two round cake tins and pour in mixture evenly.

6. Bake in oven for 30-40 mins on 180c, 350f or gas 4 until springy to touch in middle.

7. Turn out cakes onto cooling rack immediately and ice when cooled.

8. For the icing, place ingredients into bowl and mix until blended. Spread in between the two cakes, sandwich together and spread on top of cooled cakes.

9. Decorate!


This recipe also works just fine without beetroot, but the beetroot will give it more moisture.
Pure sunflower spread has always worked tremendously well in vegan baking for us both so far so I can certainly recommend it for the icing. And the dark chocolate buttons on top are from Ombar. Also it may be time to stop having the same number of candles as my age - see if you can work it out ;)

If you try the recipe let me know! Do you do any vegan baking? I certainly want to try some more!

Saturday, 19 September 2015

A Birthday Trip & Some Lovely Cruelty-Free Presents

Lovely Witches Cruelty-Free Blogger

I thought I'd try a bit of a different post today and show you what I got up to on my birthday! In my Reader Q&A, I had lots of requests for more lifestyle posts, so if you enjoy this one let me know and I'll post more in the future ;)

I love spending time outdoors and luckily the sun was shining, so my boyfriend and I took a trip to Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. It's a gorgeous place, and absolutely filled with wildlife! We met the friendliest squirrel who was clearly hoping we had some food for him. He was both red and grey, very unusual and so cute. There were also lots of ducks, swans and other birds wanting to make friends with us and hoping for some food. We'll have to take a lot of bread next time!

There's a medieval village at the park too, which we're saving for another day. It's one of the many places in South Wales where they filmed Merlin, which I'm a big fan of. Perhaps if I can get hold of a car and a willing companion I might go on a mini tour of Merlin locations. The park also seems like a great place for cycling, as there are a lot of woodland paths around the lake to explore.

Cosmeston Lakes

Red and grey squirrel

Young seagull at Cosmeston Lakes

I was also absolutely spoilt with lovely presents. One of which was my very first DSLR camera! It's a Nikon D3000. I'm really excited to learn how to use it properly and to get taking the many, many blog photos I have planned.

Cruelty-Free Beauty Products

Barry M Nail Art Pen, Barry M Summer Almond, Lush Jason & The Argan Oil Shampoo Bar, Lush Mask of Magnaminty, Lush Dark Angels, Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub

There had obviously been some detective work going on, as all of these were on my Birthday Beauty Wishlist or I had mentioned wanting to try. Mask of Magnaminty is an absolute favourite of mine and I'd just run out, so this huge pot should last me ages!

Vegan Birthday Presents

Colouring in is one of my new favourite hobbies and my boyfriend got me these really cool grown-up activity books from Pizza Eaters. (I also have the Buffy The Vampire Slayer one.) The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions I'm sure will come in handy for my new vegan cooking ventures - let me know if you'd be interested in a review. The blue set of trays are from Waitrose, and I'd been after them for months. Tell me I'm not the only one who gets really excited about new blog photo props! 


e.l.f. Make-up

I have the most brilliant friends, who took me out for tea and vegan cake at my favourite Waterloo Tea and also spoilt me with presents. This adorable bunny make-up bag is from the RSPCA so gets double points for being animal friendly. One of my friends just got back from a trip to Canada and very thoughtfully brought me back some bits from e.l.f., my favourite make-up brand. (Good news, they've just returned to the U.K.!) And another of my very good friends handmade this delightful owl cushion for me.


Handmade Owl Cushion

To end a really lovely day, my Mum made me a vegan birthday cake! It was chocolate sponge and absolutely delicious. I'll be sharing the recipe on here soon so check back for that.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Boss Lady

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Boss Lady Review | Cruelty-free and Vegan

One thing I love about autumn's arrival is switching up my make-up as the seasons change. For me, berry tones always bring to mind crisp orange leaves and snuggling up in a warm blanket. So when Botanical Brands got in touch to see if I'd like to try a Lippy Girl lipstick, I chose this gorgeous red called Boss Lady. There are some subtle orange tones to it too, so I'm very happy with my new autumn lip look.

I'd read good things before about Lippy Girl's lipsticks, but I was still surprised as to how much I like this one. Their Vegocentric range is all vegan and natural, made with organic oils and waxes. This makes the formula super soft and creamy, much more so than any other lipstick I've tried! I'm really keen to try more natural lipsticks now, as this one is so smooth to apply it's more like putting on a lip balm than a traditional lipstick.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Boss Lady | Cruelty-free and Vegan

As the formula is made from natural mineral pigments, the wear time is around two hours before it fades. But because the formula is so conditioning I don't mind reapplying it - I go over my lips twice to get it to this shade. I can definitely see me wearing this colour a lot as the weather gets colder and my lips need some moisturising, plus it'll match perfectly with my favourite tartan scarf. I'm really in love with Lippy Girl!

Have you tried a natural lipstick before? Will you be changing your make-up for autumn?

Saturday, 5 September 2015

China & Animal Testing | Can A Cruelty-Free Company Sell In China?

Animal Testing & China | Can a cruelty-free company sell in China without testing on animals?

Recently I've been contacted by a few companies who sell in China, but still claim to be cruelty-free. The China issue can be a confusing one so I'd like to do my best to explain it here.

Skirting around the issue

When I email companies about their cruelty-free status, I always ask if they sell their products in mainland China. Frustratingly, I often receive a reply like this:
"As of June 30, 2014, animal testing for ordinary cosmetics produced and sold inside China was no longer legally mandated."
Note that this does not answer the question of whether the company sells in China, but also tries to make it seem as though animal testing in China is no longer required by law. This article from Humane Society International explains the change in the Chinese law in June 2014. Since this change, some products may not be required by law to be tested on animals but this is no guarantee that they won't be. The company can still choose to test on animals in China, because it's perfectly legal to do so.

Post-market animal testing

Chinese authorities are also likely to conduct post-market animal testing. This is where they take finished products off the shelves and test them on animals. As Humane Society International explain, this practise has probably increased since the change in the law. In regards to the likelihood of post-market testing, HSI also state:
"HSI believes that until this is no longer the case, no cosmetics company can sell its products in China and credibly purport to be cruelty-free."
The Body Shop recently tried to work around this rule by selling their products in Chinese airports, but when customers found out that these could be subject to post-market animal testing the products were quickly removed from the Chinese market. Any product sold in China can be subject to post-market animal testing, without a company's consent or knowledge.

When animal testing isn't required

So when are cosmetics not subject to animal testing in China?

- Products that are made and sold in Hong Kong. Although part of China, Hong Kong has separate animal testing laws, so cruelty-free companies can sell there. This why I specifically ask companies if they sell products in mainland China.

- Products manufactured in China for foreign export only. If it's not being sold to the Chinese public, their government says it's ok. So there are cruelty-free companies who make their products in China, but don't sell them there.

- E-commerce. Products sold and posted directly to customers from e-commerce websites are not required to be tested on animals. So cruelty-free companies can sell to Chinese customers directly through their websites.

So can a cruelty-free company sell in China?

No. When a company chooses to sell their products in China, they are consenting to test those products on animals, to use a third party to test on animals, or have the Chinese government test on animals for them. Currently, there is no way for a cruelty-free company to sell in China. Do not let any company try and convince you otherwise!

Lush, for example, refuse to sell products in mainland China until the law is changed in order to eliminate any chance of their products being tested on animals. Hilary Jones, Lush ethics director, states:
"LUSH and other cruelty-free companies are still unable to trade in China currently, as this legislation does not allow for fully non-animal tested cosmetics to come to market."
The change in the law in June 2014 is an important first step, but it will be a long way until China is free from animal testing.

Further reading

To learn more about this topic, I also recommend reading Logical Harmony's post about Animal Testing and China and Elephant In The Room's excellent infographic for Understanding China's Animal Testing Laws. My Beauty Bunny has a list of brands selling in China, so you know which ones to avoid. 

This China & Cosmetics Animal Testing FAQ from Humane Society International gives a really comprehensive breakdown of the specifics. Also check out Cruelty Free International who along with Humane Society International are campaigning to end animal testing both in China and worldwide.

How do you feel about brands that sell in China? Is it ok if a company doesn't conduct animal testing themselves?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Bunny Friendly Beauty Tag

Bunny Friendly Beauty Tag | Cruelty-Free Beauty

The lovely Vicky has created this brand new cruelty-free Q&A, the Bunny Friendly Beauty Tag. She's a brilliant blogger who's also very much into affordable cruelty-free beauty, so make sure you go check out her answers too. I've spent many an enjoyable evening in the #cfbloggers Twitter chat discussing cruelty-free beauty, how I went cruelty-free and reading other people's stories too so I love the idea of this tag! And after having interviewed a few cruelty-free bloggers for my latest series it was fun to turn the tables and answer some questions myself. Here are the questions Vicky asked and my answers.

1) How long have you been on your cruelty free journey?

I think about 6 years now, from when I moved out and started buying my own cleaning products. The closest shop to me was a Co-op, and on their own brand packaging they had the Leaping Bunny logo and that their products weren't tested on animals. That made me question if some things were tested on animals and my research began.

2) What made you decide to go cruelty free?

It was finding out that animal testing still exists. Before looking it up online, I had assumed that animal testing was a thing of the past and never gave it any thought, even though I was a vegetarian from a young age. I was horrified to learn how animal testing is still the go to method for companies to determine the safety of cosmetics, cleaning products and medication despite it being a completely outdated, unreliable and unnecessary practise.

3) What has been the hardest product to find a cruelty free dupe for?

Definitely dry shampoo. It's a complete must have for me. For years I used Batiste, but its questionable as to whether they are cruelty-free (I'm planning to write a post about them soon). Now I use Lush's No Drought which I love, and because its a powder rather than an aerosol its better for the environment.

4) What's the best cruelty free dupe you've found?

I wasn't particularly attached to any specific products before - going cruelty-free has made me a lot more brand loyal! So apart from dry shampoo, I didn't feel the need to find an exact replacement of anything. I love the products I use now because I do a lot more research before buying them, instead of just picking something up and hoping for the best.


5) What product or brand do you wish was cruelty free?

All of them! That's the goal and I really do hope to see that happen in my lifetime. But right now I would say MAC as they're so incredibly popular with young girls and women. (If you're interested, I've read that Illamasqua are a great cruelty-free alternative.)

6) What's your holy grail cruelty free brand?

I'll copy Vicky here and say Superdrug! Its really exciting for me to go in there and get whatever I want, because all their own brand is cruelty-free, vegetarian and super affordable (with loads of vegan products too). It would have taken me a lot longer to go cruelty-free without them. 

However their parent company is not cruelty-free, so my second favourite is e.l.f. Nearly my whole make-up collection is e.l.f.! All their make-up is vegan (only some brushes aren't) but unfortunately they're not selling in the UK right now - I'm really hoping they come back soon! So thirdly I'll choose Lush as their products are divine and they are always raising awareness for fighting animal testing as well as campaigning for animal rights.

7) Name one cruelty free brand might not have heard of?

One is really hard to choose! I've tried out a few independent cruelty-free brands lately which I've really loved. But I think I'll say PHB Ethical Beauty as all their products are natural, handmade and vegan and 15% of their profits go to charity.

8) Are you a vegan? If so, for how long and have you had any struggles? If not, why not?

I'm planning on writing a post about this too. My first attempt at going vegan was 12 years ago so it's been a long time coming. It's not that I find it particularly hard to resist cheese or anything like that, but changing my eating and cooking habits I find difficult. So for now I'm vegetarian and very gradually cutting down on dairy without beating myself up about it. I'll get there one day!

9) What's your favourite local vegan friendly venue?

Another blog post I'm planning! Cardiff has some great vegan friendly places if you know where to go. I have to say my favourite is Waterloo Tea because they always have delicious vegan cake.

10) You have 30 seconds to convert someone to a cruelty free lifestyle - what would you say to them?

The reason why companies still test on animals is that it's cheaper and easier than using the newer alternative methods. The only thing that will dissuade these corporations from animal testing is to hit them where it hurts - their profits. Buying cruelty-free is easier than ever before and by boycotting the brands who torture animals for profit, you can help to end animal testing for good. Don't ignore animal testing because you can make a difference!


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Thanks Vicky for creating this awesome tag and choosing me, I'm tagging Kelly and Morag as I'd love to read their cruelty-free stories.
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