Everyday cruelty-free skincare

Two days ago The Body Shop announced that L’Oreal, their corporate owners for the last decade, have sold the company to cruelty-free cosmetics giant Natura Brazil. I grew up a passionate fan of The Body Shop and everything they stood for: namely their very vocal anti-animal testing policies, their promotion of conservation, and championing of natural beauty.  Which meant the L’Oreal takeover felt like a huge sellout. L’Oreal are one of the worst companies for testing on animals, selling in China where animal testing on imported products is mandatory (although this article suggests this may be about to change). However, The Body Shop never seemed to acknowledge their culpability as part of the L’Oreal corporation and continued to promote their products as 100% cruelty-free, even fronting a recent petition to introduce a global ban on testing. To me this #ForeverAgainstAnimalTesting campaign seemed the ultimate in hypocrisy, and I couldn’t be happier that the company can now once again genuinely represent ethical beauty and skincare. That White Musk eau de toilette is suddenly smelling a whole lot sweeter…

Anyway, this is also really good news for my own skincare regime, which currently includes some high-end cruelty-free products which I’m going to struggle to afford once my MSc course fees kick in come September. I thought I’d use this blog to describe my current arsenal of ethical skincare products and if anyone can suggest some affordable alternatives/additions, I’d love to hear your recommendations!

My routine is a mixture of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – while I do subscribe to the adage of cleanse, tone and moisturise and always take off my makeup before going to sleep, I regularly scrub plain old soap on my face in the shower. This is apparently Very Bad; but I’ve countered this slightly by switching to the amazing Dr Bronner, whose soap is all natural and glorious. There’s nothing like soap for making your skin feel properly clean; no matter how many facialists say otherwise, I can’t get on board with the idea that your face should feel slightly oily after you cleanse. I want my skin to feel squeaky: my ‘natural oil’ is not my friend, no matter what the experts say. Dr Bronner’s cruelty-free soap bar ticks this box and still feels like it’s doing me good.

When not using soap, I mainly use Boots Botanics cleansing foam wash (happily affordable and one of Boot’s few genuinely cruelty-free ranges). I’m obsessed with these products and there’s at least one at each stage of my routine. They’re all natural and really do prevent my skin from breaking out. I also have a pack of Botanics cleansing wipes in my gym bag for quick sweat-removal after a workout. The other cleansers I’ll mix in, maybe thrice a week, are Dermalogica’s Clear Start (especially good if you’re about to get a bit spotty) and Wundertox cleansing detox mask. Created by the geniuses behind Wunderbrow, you put this on foamy and it dries clear in two minutes; I’ve actually forgotten I’ve got it on and signed for deliveries with a weird plastic face(!) Worth it though: when you rinse it off, your skin is left seriously soft and smooth and – unlike a lot of face masks – it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin.
I also had a brief dalliance with Pete’s hardcore Bad Norwegian face wash, pictured below. It’s worth getting past the *ironic* ‘Not for Women’ marketing because this stuff is the business. The combination of cannabis seed oil and menthol makes it feel like a polar bear is exhaling in your face in the middle of an arctic storm: the best cure for a hangover ever.
Every other day I use a proper exfoliator with natural ‘microparticles’ (not plastic beads). The Botanics one is excellent but seems to have just been discontinued (!!!) So I guess I’ll be switching to my second favourite, Amie’s Deep Pore Exfoliating Polish. I got this little sample in my Vegankind beauty box (you get five fantastic ethical beauty products delivered to your door every three months) and I’m an immediate convert. It’s like the classier sister of that apricot scrub everyone had as a teenager, and the mango and orange blossom smells like heaven.
Then a step I only added in four months ago – toner. I was always skeptical about the necessity/benefits of using a toner until I discovered the wonder product that is Pixi Glow Tonic. Since I’ve been using this bad boy my skin is visibly brighter, smoother and blemish-free. Okay, so I’m not giving this one up! You can get it on ASOS which means it’s easy to justify as ‘making up the free postage’…
Finally, I use Boots Botanics Hydrating Day Cream every morning (SPF 15 – sun protection is a no-brainer in any daytime moisturiser) which is one of the few that never makes my oily skin break out in spots, and it’s £2.50! At night I’ll either use their anti-aging Night version. Which is also apparently now also discontinued, wtf? I was wondering why it was so hard to find! Although recently I’ve been trying some more hardcore face oil (having just turned 33, it’s getting necessary). My current favourite is Glam Candy’s Hydrate Your Face which I discovered through a sample in the ASOS Beauty Advent Calendar last Christmas. It feels very oily when you put it on and smells strongly of something herbal (bergamot?) but it also absorbs really quickly and you wake up with genuinely plumper, softer skin. If you’re not normally a fan of face oils (I’m really not), don’t write this one off.
Shampoo-wise, I’m obsessed with LUSH products, especially BIG which feels like you’re putting lumps of sticky seasalt in your hair (you are) but rinses out lovely and clean, leaving you with insanely voluminous fluffy locks. I want to try some of their moisturisers next -recommendations welcome.
I won’t bother talking much about makeup here (see this post for more on that) except to say that once my skin is clean and moisturised, I’ll use a primer before applying anything else. At the moment I’m loving Charlotte Tilbury’s Wonderglow which absolutely lives up to all the hype but is way too pricey to become a habit. I’m also dabbling with a little sample of Jane Iresdale’s Smooth Affair which is lovely but hardly an economic substitute. Prior to all that I was using Becca’s Backlight Priming Filter (also potentially great, but I bought it a shade too light so the ‘pale glow’ made me look like I was having cold sweats). Finally I have a sample of the Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer which seems promising – not exactly a cheap switch but slightly less financial damage than the Wonderglow and Backlight?
I’m thinking I need to switch eye cream in a bit more now I’m approaching my proper mid 30s, and I’d be happy to invest in the full-sized version of this Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream.  As for body lotion, I always apply tons of moisturiser on my legs and arms as I’m still a bit eczema prone after suffering badly as a kid. I love & Other Stories body souffles and have been working my way through all the flavours – current summer favourites are Fleur de Mimosa and Moroccan Tea. The Stories skincare range is not only heaven, they also encourage you to recycle your empty pots by giving you 10% off refills. Yaaaaaaaaas!
Finally, my new favourite essential; the humble toothbrush, literally in this case a Humble Brush. Seeing the apocalyptic amount of plastic lining the beaches in Malaysia recently shocked me into replacing as much of my plastic habit as possible. These bamboo brushes are fully biodegradable, bristles included and the packaging is all recyclable too. I’ve also started using charcoal toothpaste, just the cheap Superdrug one. It’s one of the few cruelty-free toothpastes on the high street and really does whiten your teeth brilliantly once you get past the weirdness of spitting black goop.
So that’s it – as I’ve been writing this I’ve found out that loads of my favourite affordable products are actually being discontinued(!) so am more in need of affordable ethical alternatives than ever…