Beauty without Cruelty
by Yael Grauer
Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater, chances are good that you’re not a huge fan of unnecessary animal testing for cosmetic purposes. I mean, who wants to use lotions, creams, soaps, or shampoos that were rubbed into an animal’s eyes or forcefed or even injected into them? Even products bearing the “no animal testing” label don’t guarantee that no animals were harmed. Some companies hire labs to do work for them, or test on some products but not others.
Animal cruelty aside, have you ever thought about what you’re feeding your skin? Propylene glycol, a petroleum derivative used in hydraulic brake fluid and anti-freeze, is often found in cosmetic products. Dimethicone is a silicone fluid and triethanolamine is actually made from ammonia and ethylene oxide. So your skin and body care or hair products might have ingredients used in anti-freeze, and may have been used to seriously harm animals. What’s a gal to do? Here are some ideas for cruelty-free products and skin and body care — or other solutions for healthy, glowing skin.
1. Dietary changes can have a huge effect on skin. Professor Loren Cordain, author of the Paleo Diet, even wrote an e-book, The Dietary Cure for Acne (http://www.dietaryacnecure.com/), in which he indicates that skin conditions are closely related to insulin levels. Cordain’s diet recommends ditching grains and dairy, but cutting back on sugar and simply soaking grains overnight to neutralize the phytic acid is a good start.
2. Not sure what’s in your skin care products? Try making your own! Recipes for bath salts, sugar scrubs, facial steams, soaks, and even natural shampoos are found all over the library and internet — or sign up for a workshop! Play around with ingredients you recognize — oils, sugar, vanilla, honey, yogurt, citrus, and sea salt — for a silky soft face and body.
3. Make sure you are getting enough good vitamins! Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and zinc are often helpful; Vit C and lycopene (in tomatoes) are excellent; and both vitamin E and selenium are required for proper glutathione peroxidase activity (antioxidant enzyme), as low levels are found in people who have problem skin.
4. We joke about getting our beauty sleep, but getting enough rest really can go a long way! Lack of sleep probably slows down collagen production in the skin and alters blood vessel tone regulation, leading to undereye circles and puffiness. Getting a good night of sleep can reduce the need for products.
5. Chlorine in sink and shower water can dry out skin and hair. Use a good filter, such as Multipure, in your sink and shower.
*Search for products that are cruelty-free! Both the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offer animal-friendly shopping guides … or look at our handy list below.
Try these soaps: Dr. Bronner’s offers various liquid and bar soaps that are fair trade, organic, and 100% pure-castille (vegetable oil based).
Created by Liberian refugees using an old family recipe, Shea Moisture offers amazing soaps and body butters that are not only all-natural, organic and cruelty free, but also support women’s cooperatives, indigenous farmers, and ensure sustainable harvests. The company also partners with organizations such as The Liberian Education Fund and Todee Mission to build schools and provide access to education for impoverished girls in Africa (many of whom supply ingredients used in the products).
Try these facial products: Sister Creations is an anti-oxidant and chemical free skin care line, as well as collaborative effort between two second generation herbalists, who are also sisters. Only edible ingredients are used — if you can’t eat it, they say, don’t put it on your skin. A percentage of sales supports the conservation and educational efforts of the Arizona ethnobotanical Research Association (AeRA).
Although Dr. Hauschka Skin Care isn’t entirely vegan, they strive to use only ecologically and socially responsible sources for ingredients, and obtain as many as possible from certified biodynamic and organic resources. They also avoid ingredients coming from organizations involved in animal testing. Dr. Hauschka Skin Care products use homeopathic and anthroposophic principles for maximum effectiveness, gently guiding the body back to a state of health.
Try these shampoos: Avalon Organics is committed to using safe ingredients that maintain the integrity of natural ecosystems and conserve the environment. Aubrey Organics uses natural ingredients, without petrochemicals or synthetic additives of any kind. Nature’s Gate also uses organic ingredients, avoiding damaging chemicals and helping develop and support the creation of sustainable and clean water supplies for communities throughout the world.
Going to a spa? Try to find one that uses cruelty-free product lines such as Eminence, Naturopathica, or Jurlique. Sundara Inn and Spa, a gorgeous destination spa nestled in 26 acres of pine forest on the outskirts of Wisconsin Dells, uses Eminence as well as their own all-natural, cruelty-free signature products.
Yael Grauer is a freelance writer and herbalist right here in Eau Claire. She teaches workshops on herbal medicine making both in person and online. Her website is www.dirttime.org.