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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Online bargains!

Hey there!

So I guess I don't need to tell you about shopping online, hmm? Nope, probably not. You all look like a fairly sharp bunch.

However, shopping online for CF products, even with shipping involved, can be so much cheaper than the convenience of walking into a store and buying something off the shelves. If you can do without that instant gratification of taking something home with you that day, you can save a lot of money.

Let's take one of my favorite CF products in the world as an example - Jason Naturals Ester-C Hyper C Serum:

This stuff rocks. In the way of CF products, it's probably one of the ones I can't do without. I've used other Vitamin C serums, and they just don't compare. However, the issue is the price.

Some Vitamin C serums from department store brands can run into $100 or more. So while this bottle of Jason Naturals may seem a bargain for $35 at your local Whole Foods or healthfood store, you can still get it for way less online. I found this little beauty for $21 at Vitacost.com - it's an online drugstore, and you can find a ton of CF brands over there for much much less than you'd get it wherever you are. Unless you stole it - which then you have to figure in bail money for shoplifting charges, which is even more than the original $35 price tag, so you'd still pay more! (I never said I wasn't going to be a little silly from time to time in these blogs, did I? Nope, I made no such guarantee.) So in order to avoid jail time, head over to http://www.vitacost.com/, and see what they have. I got the Jason's Vitamin C serum for $21, and then tossed in some Tom's of Maine (http://www.tomsofmaine.com/) toothpaste and some Desert Essence (http://www.desertessence.com/) deodorant to eat up the shipping cost. Vitacost's shipping is pretty inexpensive anyway (and very fast), but on top of that, the toothpaste and deodorant were each about $1 or so cheaper than you'd find them in the stores, so it's like the shipping was free anyway with everything I saved.

Another brand I love, since I have very curly hair, is a fantastic brand of CF curly hair products called Deva:
They have several lines for various kinds of curls (less curly, more curly, color treated, etc.), but they're not cheap. Or are they? They are if you order them from Cosmetic Magic.com, (http://www.cosmeticmagic.com/)- a fantastic little outfit based in Fort Lee, N.J. Are you ready for how much you can save? I saved $5 per bottle on my order of their DevaCurl products! And not just Deva - they carry plenty of CF hair care brands over there, so I can't sing their praises enough. Plus, if you order over $40, you get free shipping. They also didn't charge tax on my order - I don't know if that was just because they're based out of NJ, or if it's a NJ to NY thing or what, but their prices are so low, it's worth it. How fast do they ship? So incredibly fast, I had barely hit "Send" before my order arrived. I'm surprised "Warp Speed" wasn't one of the shipping choices.
Other great finds can be had at Drugstore.com (http://drugstore.com), but as far as the real bargains go on some great CF brands, Cosmetic Magic and Vitacost are hard to beat.
Have a great day!

Lisa

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's talk about parent companies

How the heck are ya? Hope you had a good weekend!

So today, I'd like to blab about parent companies (bigger companies that own smaller companies), and how they relate to going CF. How important are they? To be honest, that all depends on you and how much that does or doesn't bother you. If you've been using a product that for a very long time has been CF, but then that division is purchased by a parent company who tests, what do you do?

In this case, I'd say it all depends on your individual comfort level. For me, it's bothersome. I don't like the notion that the product I'm using, although it may be a CF product, is now receiving it's funding from a parent company who tests. I immediately stopped using Neutrogena when Johnson & Johnson purchased them. I haven't used Kiehl's since they were purchased by L'Oreal - although they claim to remain CF.

I don't want to sit here and get all lecture-y on you. I just want to point out that there are a few brands out there claiming to be CF - and that division may indeed be CF - who are owned by a parent company who tests.

But how is that division going to handle it? If you're Burt's Bees, recently purchased by Clorox, they handled it quite well actually. Burt's Bees sent out a press release to concerned CF consumers stating that they always have been and always will be CF, and that they realize they're now owned by a parent company that engages in testing. However, they stated, they feel that this now gives Burt's Bees a great opportunity to pressure Clorox to ultimately cease their own animal testing. Which really, I thought that was a nice touch. That's a fantastic goal for any CF product purchased by a company that tests - "Okay, they own us, but maybe now we can show them a better way of doing things."

On the "Does Test/Does Not Test" lists, sometimes you'll see a little asterisk next to a company that's on a "Does Not Test" list. Check the little key at the bottom, and you'll likely see that it stands for "A CF line owned by a parent company that tests." That's how you know, and from there, it's up to you on how comfortable or uncomfortable that makes you.

That being said, here are a couple of other no-no's (or exceptions to the rule) that absolutely chap my butt:

1. Cosmetic companies based on fashion lines. Sure, Chanel and Christian Dior's cosmetics aren't tested on animals, but their fashion lines contain fur. And that's not even a separate company, such as my example of L'Oreal and Keihl's. That's the same exact company, just a different product, that's engaging in a cruel and barbaric practice.

2. The same company tossing one CF product at you, but still animal testing on all their others. Clairol does this with Herbal Essence and Natural Instincts. Clorox does this with their Greenworks products. It doesn't matter - they still test all their other products on animals, and tossing the consumer one little product here and there to mollify us is quite frankly insulting. Again, it's different than Clorox purchasing Burt's Bees - BB was already a non-tested, totally separate brand before Clorox came along. Greenworks is a Clorox brand, wholly owned and developed by Clorox - and it's the "developed" part that's the rub. Until companies like Clorox and Clairol (to just use a couple of examples) go CF as a whole, having a couple of their own company-developed CF products out there on the shelves doesn't make the constant testing of all of their other products okay.

Speaking of parent companies, I'd like to leave you with some happy news, so there's this: If you're using any of the following brands - Estée Lauder, Aramis, Clinique, Prescriptives, Origins, MAC, Bobbi Brown, Tommy Hilfiger, Jane, Aveda or Donna Karan - give yourselves a big round of applause. Anything and everything owned by Estee Lauder falls under the CF umbrella. Estee Lauder was one of the first companies to go CF, and they just keep on buying other companies left and right. More and more mainstream cosmetic companies are CF thanks to the Estee Lauder company.

As I said before, it depends on an individual's comfort level, so I won't say anymore on that. I'll try to update as I find out more companies to use as an example, and again, if you have questions about any specific brands or companies, feel free to email me.

Have a good Monday!

Lisa

Friday, April 24, 2009

Just Because She Works There Doesn't Make Her an Expert!

Happy Friday!

So I guess about three years ago, I was wandering around Sephora, which is a great resource for CF products, and they're now carrying a good chunk of all natural and organic brands too. For the money, I've actually done better and cheaper at the healthfood stores, but I'm never one to knock a place that has a buttload of CF/all natural/organic products.

Anyhoo. I was checking out some of the pretty stuff over at the Makeup Forever section (do they test, you ask? I have no idea. Three years of banging around the Internet, plus emailing both the company and Sephora, have yielded no answer, nor has their website, nor random Google searches. Till I can find an answer for you - I'd stay away). I asked a nearby sales associate if she knew MUFE's testing policy. She cheerfully burbled at me, "None of the brands carried at Sephora are tested on animals at all!" I said, "Oh yes, some of them are. You're carrying Shiseido, Lancome and NARS*, all three of which still test on animals." Aaaand, her face kinda fell a little, as she not-quite-as-chirpily replied, "Really?" I didn't mean to pee in her pool, honestly. She was really young, really excited, and I remember that feeling. The sheer excitement of that first job when you're 18, the job that doesn't involve making sure the toddler you were watching didn't stick his finger in a light socket while you were wrapping up your algebra homework. I've been there.

But my point is not to knock younger folks, because they're awesome. My point is: never take the word of a store salesperson as gospel if you're not sure to begin with. Odds are, that salesgirl really did think everything there wasn't tested on animals. Plus, since she didn't look a day over 18, you also have to keep in mind that she probably hasn't been alive long enough to remember a time when PETA's "Still Tests" list was longer than their "Does Not Test" list. I'd say 95% of the stuff at Sephora isn't animal tested, so she wasn't too far off the mark. But do your own homework as a back-up, because a well-meaning salesperson could be wrong.

Or they could be lying to get you to buy - I don't think that was the case at Sephora with that particular girl. I do think it was the case at Macy's around 12 years ago, when I wandered up to the Elizabeth Arden counter, knowing full well they still tested. I just wanted to see if they'd be honest with me (which was dumb of me, I know), so I asked the saleswoman. She smiled brightly at me, a little too brightly and replied, "No, we don't test." I thanked her nicely and walked away. There was just a difference, you know? You can tell the difference between a well-meaning but uninformed teenager and a 40 year old woman who already knows the answer you're looking for, why you're asking it, and is going to tell you what you want to hear. I was testing her, she was testing me, so there was no need for me to go online and look it up. I just wanted to see what would happen.

At any rate, the point for today's post is - make sure you're double-checking your facts, and not just going on the word of a sales associate who may have the wrong info.

Have a great weekend!

Lisa

*UPDATE: As of Jan. 13, 2010's blog, NARS has updated their website to state that they do NOT test on animals! Yaaay!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some basics, and how to do it on the cheap.

Hello, lovelies!

Today's tidbit of information will be how to go cruelty-free without going broke. I mentioned in yesterday's blog that an unwritten rule-of-thumb is that many cruelty-free brands are found at the department stores, whereas most of the drugstore brands are still tested. But that doesn't mean you have to go to the poorhouse to shop ethically (also, for future reference, let's abbreviate "cruelty-free" to "CF" to save my poor typing fingers).

Before I go into that, here are two great sites to give you tons of CF information - big chunk of who tests, who doesn't. They are:

http://www.caringconsumer.com/index.asp - Caring Consumer, linked through PETA. Yup, I know some anti-testing folks have issues with some of PETA's practices, and I don't blame you. But they've recently cleaned up their lists, updated and expanded on them. As far as information goes, they have a ton of it now.

http://www.leapingbunny.org/ - The Leaping Bunny. Again, lots of great information on who does and who doesn't.

Now, what to actually look for when you hit your local Rite Aid. Here are some inexpensive brands that you can find at any drugstore:

1. Revlon - really, the mac-daddy of all non-animal tested drugstore brands. Great quality, a ton of products, been around forever, and one of the first companies to go CF.
2. Queen Helene - great skincare and haircare. Not only dirt cheap, but all natural, and found at both drugstores and healthfood stores.
3. Almay - Revlon's kid sister (owned by the same company). Hypoallergenic, fragrance-free.
4. Physician's Formula.
5. NYC (New York Color).
6. Wet & Wild - non-animal tested, and about as cheap as you're gonna get.
7. Avon - great, great stuff, and cheap. Worth the wait for having to order it.
8. Bonne Bell.
9. Yes To Carrots.
10. Bath & Body Works.

So that's a fairly basic drugstore Top 10 (or online, as in the case of Avon, or specialty store as in the case of B&BW).

Now, who to stay away from? You may not like this list, because it's going to contain many drugstore staples and favorites, but here we go - the Top 10 Drugstore "baddies":

1. Covergirl - owned by Procter & Gamble, one of the worst and most dishonest companies who still engage in animal testing.
2. L'Oreal - This one is a tough call, because their website keeps changing. On some searches, it says they don't test. Search on a different day, and they don't address the question at all. Other searches on another day say that they're "committed to eliminating animal testing", which means they still test on some products. Do a random Google search, and you might find a link claiming they don't test. But when you click on it, and it will take you to an outdated source on their website, with that same information gone when you click on the main link for an updated version. Here's my rule of thumb - when in doubt, just don't buy it. There are plenty of other brands out there that absolutely don't test and are willing to say so without all the cloak and dagger stuff. Plus, L'Oreal is still on PETA's list, which has been updated.
3. Maybelline - owned by L'Oreal.
4. Coty.
5. Max Factor.
6. Unilever, owners of Dove and Suave. Their website also states that they're "Committed to the elimination of animal testing", but they don't say that they don't. My guess is also that they still test on some of their products, which earns them a big fat NO in my book.
7. Neutrogena - a shame, too, because I believe at one time they were listed as a non-animal testing company, back around 1989 or so. But since then, they've been acquired by Johnson & Johnson, who do test.
8. Olay - owned by Procter & Gamble.
9. Pantene - owned by Procter & Gamble.
10. Secret deodorant - owned by Procter & Gamble.

There is some good news, however. One thing is, as I mentioned, that many companies are getting on board with going CF. PETA's list of companies that still test is pages shorter than it was 10 years ago. There's some out there who are still in the dark ages, but others have really gotten onto the CF bandwagon.

The other good news is healthfood stores. Anytime you're purchasing beauty, hair and body care at a healthfood store or a Whole Foods, you're buying CF products, no argument. Those stores only carry CF brands, which also have the bonus of being either all natural or organic - and many of them fall onto the cheaper side of the fence. Some can be pricier, but most are either comparably priced with drugstore brands or a tiny bit more. They're certainly WAY cheaper than department store brands. Plus, as all natural and organic items go more mainstream, the prices drop. They're being carried in more and more drugstores, and the big stores like Whole Foods are coming down in price in their Whole Body sections, too. The one place to watch your wallet are the little Mom & Pop healthfood stores - many of them still have much higher prices in order to stay afloat in the sea of Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Vitamin Shoppes.

So that's all for today - hope this was informative for you, and see you tomorrow!

Lisa

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An interesting rule of thumb I've stumbled across....

Good morning!

Something I forgot to address yesterday, which I think is pretty important (hence the bolding): this blog is for the purposes of cosmetics, beauty, pet care, and household care only. I won't get into a discussion about animal testing within the medical industry.

It's a very slippery slope. As much as I wish there were more humane alternatives, I do understand why it's still done in some circles. There's no excuse for animal testing in the cosmetics industry anymore - many existing companies have made that clear. But the medical world is a whole different can of worms - one that I have no wish to open, one that I have no expertise in, so I won't pretend that I do. I lost a family member who I love very much to a terrible disease, so yeah, I get it, believe me. Anyway, 'nuff said about that.

I'm new to blogging, so right now I'm obsessed that I can't get the picture at the top of the page centered (that's my mission tonight after I get home from dinner). Once that's straightened out, it'll stop occupying my mind so I can actually get some information out to you. Otherwise, this blog's going to consist of stupid statements like, "A very good brand to try is - does that look straight to you?" "Let's discuss parent companies and the brands they... the font's not bright enough, is it?"

Back on track - I have no real expertise in all of this. As I stated in my greeting yesterday, going cruelty free is simply a passion and a bit of a hobby of mine. So today's blog will consist of a quick and interesting little rule of thumb I've discovered over the years, which is - if you're looking for non-animal tested brands of cosmetics, head to the department stores. What I've discovered is that most department store brands don't animal test, while most drugstore brands do animal test. Now, that's not a hard and fast rule - there are some non-animal tested drugstore brands, for example, Almay, Revlon, Queen Helene, Jane, and Physician's Formula. And there are some department store brands that unfortunately do still test, such as Elizabeth Arden and Lancome. But your odds lean heavily in the direction of this unwritten rule. I'm not sure why - it could have to do with the cost involved, although many of those drugstore brands rake in billions. They can't be that hard up to change their testing methods (*cough cough Procter & Gamble cough cough!*).

The good news is that as people become more educated on this horrible and inhumane practice, more and more companies are changing their testing methods to ones which are more humane.

At some point very soon, I'll type up a list of companies that do and don't test, and of course at any time, you can contact me to ask if there's a company you aren't sure about. I promise to do my very best to find out for you. Also, a friend suggested to me that I should feature a blog on which non-animal tested brands are a little more wallet-friendly. It's great to be humane, but you don't have to go broke to do it. That blog will go up in a couple of days, but in the meantime, the few drugstore brands I mentioned above are great ones to start with.

Have an excellent day!

Lisa

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A "Hello!" to start us off!

Hi there, everyone!

My name is Lisa, and my purpose of this blog is to provide some easy guidance about cruelty-free (and also organic/all natural) products, encompassing beauty, skin & body care, hair care, pet care and household upkeep. This has been both a passion and a sort of hobby of mine since about 1995, and I absolutely love sharing what I know and what I've discovered along the way with as many folks as I can.

It's a big, wide world out there - with a few changes, we can make it kinder and greener!

Smooches, pooches -

Lisa