photo credit: SeattleClouds.com
Did you know that it’s easy as (vegan!) pie to find great (vegan!) bathroom and beauty products with just a little bit of resolve?
n00bs: You’ve just come to terms with the horrors of animal agriculture, and the situation can look pretty bleak. Without an established support network a person can feel rather lost and confused… But there’s good news! It gets easier. One day you won’t know what the fuss was about.
Long-term vegans will sometimes roll their eyes at flailing n00bs who “just can’t find anything” because we forget that there’s a pretty steep learning curve in the early days. It takes a bit of brain re-training to get in a happy, animal-free frame-of-mind.
Every day there are more and more vegan products hitting the shelves, both in the big ol’ local chain stupormarkets as well as organic, hippy speciality shops and green produce/flea markets. I didn’t do too badly over 6 years ago(!) when I went vegan, and there were far fewer options back then, especially living at the “ass-end of the world” – Australia. Since then, local vegan companies and imports have been popping up all over the place!
But where to start?
Top 6 Things to Look For in Bathroom & Beauty Products
1. Mineral-based stuff is reliable, has very few ingredients, and contains natural sun block (zinc!). Mineral make-up and mineral sunscreens are often vegan and non-toxic. UV Natural is a good example – it’s the only sunscreen endorsed by Choose Cruelty-Free Australia! (Check out their accredited cruelty-free vegan product list.) The EWG has a list of the top safe sunscreens as of 2011: Alba Botanica, Aubrey Organics, Kiss My Face, and Nature’s Gate are widely available vegan sunscreens.
2. Certification! This is becoming more common, particularly in Europe. There are a few vegan certification bodies around the world, so the logos you come across will vary, and they keep lists of current vegan-friendly products on their websites. You might want to get to know The Vegan Society and Vegan.org.
3. Specialty Grocery Stores: Look out for sexy products in Asian (particularly Indian) grocery stores like soapnuts, henna, toothpaste, and hair oils: many of them are vegan and basic as all get out – a plant component or two listed on the label, and that’s it. These usually have a LONG history of use – 1000s of years – compared to modern concoctions that are a few decades old at best, thus are reliable, safe, and effective. Alternatively, get yo’ label reading on down at the local organic supermarket or health food shop and you’re bound to find something exciting, toxic-free, and vegan! Refer to your apps and reference books if you need to – covered in part 1 of this series.
4. The Internets Knows All! Google! Check out vegan shops online to discover what brands are vegan and buy direct from other vegans – there are ENDLESS stores online. Start with my US-based favourites: Vegan Essentials, Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe, Alternative Outfitters, and Food Fight Grocery. And in Australia: The Cruelty-Free Shop, The Vegan Store, Radical Grocery, and The Green Edge. Look up your local vegan societies for info like the Vegan Society Animal Free Shopper, the Vegetarian Society of Queensland’s product guide, or the lists on the PETA (ack) website. Facebook even has some groups dedicated to seeking out and posting about vegan products. There are lots of (alleged) humans on the internet willing to answer your questions – don’t be afraid to ask!
5. Do-It-Yourself recipes: Be brave, step outside the consumer box, simplify, and go DIY! It’s easier than you think. You can try oil-cleansing, “no ‘poo” for hair (which seems to be becoming rather fashionable!), salt or sugar scrubs, homemade deodorant, baking soda toothpaste… the list is endless! I’ll post some suggestions and a DIY recipe or two in part 3 of this bathroom/beauty series. There are also easy recipes in Sarah Kramer’s books for shampoo, conditioner, face masks, mouthwash, toothpaste… all sorts of great things!
6. Discover Vegan Etsy! A treasure trove of truly terrific things. Everything is vegan, and there are quite a few bathroom products in the mix. Lots of it is organic and handmade with love – you’ll be supporting small business and vegan individuals! I personally recommend ajoeynamedroo for moisturisers and scrubs – pure heaven. A fabulous friend of mine has gifted me a bunch of their stuff over the course of a few Christmases. Love!
Stuff-Ups and Tricks and Flat-out Lies…
You won’t get it right all the time, particularly when you’re a vegan n00b. Due to tighter food regulations and allergy fears, it’s easier to come by vegan food than vegan personal products. Sometimes you’ll mess up and buy something that’s not vegan or that contains other nasty ingredients. Just take it as another learning experience in life, and move on to better things – the only way is up!
The lack of regulation for cosmetics means big companies are more likely to cut corners and be dishonest with consumers. As people who are allergic to skin products – or gluten! – will tell you: if you want to take proper care of yourself, deal with people who can trust – and these people are invariably small businesses and ethical vegan-owned companies. If you want to be 100% safe 100% of the time, steer clear of big companies, and DIY or buy direct from other vegans and ethical, certified businesses.
But even food caterers can be damn untrustworthy, despite health and safety and allergen concerns, as this spectacular anti-vegan drama with Swingers documented by quarrygirl demonstrates. Companies who cut costs by investing in animal testing and abuse and nasty-ass chemicals aren’t going to advertise it – they want you to buy their shit, and it is shit! “Nanoparticle” and “natural” and all those other fancy words are meaningless. Personally I’d rather not have drivel soaking through my skin and affecting my brain!
Be smart: expect more and if your demands aren’t met, go elsewhere – as with any poor customer service. If enough people do, corporations might get the message, and if they don’t, small business will be booming! Huzzah.
What do you look for in natural and cruelty-free bathroom products? Tell me about it: leave a comment!
Coming up next week
Part 3 of this series: What I Use & Recommend is the final part of this series!
Did you miss Part 1 last week? Natural Cruelty-Free Bathroom & Beauty Products – Part 1: Top 6 Things to Avoid.
And it’s less than 10 days until my baby is due!