Lady Reviews | Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser, B & Tea Toner and More

Beauty, Review, Skincare

As I’ve mentioned in my Cruelty Free Cosmetics post, Aesop is one of my favourite skincare brands of all time. Established in 1987, they have since aimed to formulate skin, hair and body care products of the finest quality, using only ingredients of proven safety and efficacy. Each of their stores are uniquely designed by collaborating with a plethora of designers, always reflecting local particularities.

Their Amazing Face Cleanser has become my go to daily cleanser.The brand describes the product as a low-foaming gel cleanser for combination to oily skin, which will thoroughly cleanse and balance the skin, while absorbing excess sebum. It is also recommended for use in warmer months and for those residing in humid or polluted environments.

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 I’ve been using it for the better part of a semester and though I adore the look of the packaging (I just think utilitarian design is so lovely, don’t you?), I must admit it’s screw cap isn’t the most practical. It doesn’t hinder my experience with the product in any way, but I dislike that this type of dispenser can be a bit wasteful.

The cleanser delivers all that is promised, providing a gentle, yet effective cleansing of grime and oil (though it will not remove makeup alone). It soothes, smoothes and softens my skin, leaving behind a luminous complexion. It has a very fresh and citrusy scent, and a light texture which will not irritate sensitive skin. The product does not claim to contain pore-diminishing properties, so the fact that it hasn’t substantially diminished my enlarged pores isn’t really a drawback.

As for the B & Tea Balancing Toner, it is described by the brand as a gentle everyday toner, suited for all skin types. It is named after the inclusion of Provitamin B5 (a form of Panthenol, which helps in hydrating and smoothing the skin) and green tea extract, both of which work as antioxidants to balance skin and refine pores. The product seems to last forever – I’ve been using it (though not very assiduously) for the past six or seven months and my 200ml bottle is still halfway through.

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It feels very watery and refreshing on the skin, and helps remove whatever grime didn’t get washed off by the cleanser. As it is alcohol-free, it feels very gentle and is suited for more sensitive skin. Both the cleanser and the toner will not leave the skin feeling tight after application, being ideal for everyday use.

Though the only two products I actually purchased were the cleanser and toner, Aesop is very generous with their samples and provided me with samples of other three products: the Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish Masque, the Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum and the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste.

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Both the Cleanser and Toner are available in 100ml (3.4 fl oz) and 200ml (6.8 fl oz) containers

The Chamomile Masque is an astringent masque which can be applied either on single blemishes or on troubled skin. It is a deeply cleansing clay-based formulation which extracts impurities, absorbs excess oil, purifies and calms the skin. The brand recommends that the masque be applied twice a week, though a single application a week seems sufficient for me. It has a very fine and smooth texture and sits comfortably on the skin. I find my skin much soothed, refined and refreshed after application, especially coupled with lighter moisturizers such as Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel (another favourite of mine. Its review can be found here) or the serum reviewed below.

The Lightweight Facial Hydrating Serum is a daily facial moisturizer ideal for combination, oily or sensitive skin. Like the Amazing face Cleanser, it is recommended for those who live in warmer climates and humid or polluted environments. It goes on aqueous, as most serums do, but stays tacky for an instant before drying down completely matte. The Sales Associate who recommended the product to me said this was due to the gel-like texture of Aloe Vera. It provides the skin with a lightweight and fresh hydration whilst helping contain excessive oiliness.

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And as for the final product tested, the Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste is also an excellent product. Fine Quartz particles and Lactic Acid offer both a physical and chemical exfoliation, which despite being very effective and deep cleansing, does not aggravate the skin. It is a mild product which provides a polished, purified and softened look and feel to the skin. It also contains Lavender and Rosemary oils, which help boost circulation and contain anti-acne, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, thus helping rejuvenate, detoxify and tone the skin. The only drawback I can think of is that I really dislike its earthy scent.

I have yet to try an Aesop product that doesn’t deliver on what is promised. If you are unsure whether the products will suit you and your skin type, do visit one of their beautifully designed stores and ask a consultant for samples! Their products are a bit on the pricier scale, but I found them to be worthy investments, and I hope you will as well.

Lady Reviews | Etude House Face Blur

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Face Blur by Etude House is a primer which promises to even out and brighten the complexion, and cover up pores and blemishes. It is said to provide multi-filtering effects for refined, smooth and flawless skin. It should be applied as the last step of your skincare routine, and can be used by itself or under makeup. It is also a sunscreen, with SPF 33 and PA++, providing moderate protection against both UVA and UVB rays (I’ve written a post explaining such labels on sunscreen, which you can find here).

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The product comes in a 1.2oz (35g) bottle with a pump which dispenses just enough product for the whole face. It is lightweight and moisturizing, with a powdery scent. The product’s texture and colour remind me of calamine lotion – a light pink, medium texture cream which spreads easily on the skin. I like to apply it with my fingers, right after moisturizer, then wait for it to be absorbed before putting on makeup, if I’m using any. Though it goes on a bit tacky, it becomes very comfortable and hydrating when absorbed, leaving the skin dewy and slightly whitened.

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My skin does look smoother and more even (both in tone and in texture) after application, though it doesn’t do much to hide my pores. It also gives the skin a healthy glow, however it is used, which is what I most enjoy about this primer. Though I did enjoy this product, I found that the lasting power of my makeup wasn’t terribly improved – though it did keep my skin from getting shiny for a couple of hours longer than usual.

An overall great product which I would recommend for anyone who loves a luminous, radiant look and doesn’t suffer from large pores; and also to anyone who would like a brighter and more even complexion without having to wear makeup. Considering that it is also a sunscreen, I’d say this product is more than worth a try.

Lady Reviews | Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel

Beauty, Review, Skincare

The Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel by Clinique is an oil free face moisturizer which promises to hydrate and balance combination to oily skin. It’s been my favourite moisturizer for close to a year – like expected of a gel moisturizer, it is lightweight, refreshing, and free of that tacky, greasy sensation one can get from a thicker moisturizing lotion.

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My skin is normal, though my T-zone can get a bit oily occasionally, and it’s also very sensitive. It’s not uncommon for me to try products which end up irritating my skin and making me break out, so finding a soothing, balancing, fragrance-free product with mattifying properties such as this one was such a dream. It is absorbed very quickly by the skin and won’t interfere with any products you put on top of it (sunscreen, primer and makeup), which makes it an ideal morning moisturizer. Though Clinique recommends that it be used twice a day, I like using other skin care treatment products at night instead of it.

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A little bit of it goes a really long way – normally, a single pump is enough for my face. On warmer days, I find that the product isn’t that effective in oil control, but in milder and cooler temperatures, the gel helps to keep my skin from developing shine for a least a couple of hours longer than usual.

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6.7oz (20ml) and 1.7oz (50ml) containers

It comes in two sizes (though I did buy a third size, of 6.7oz-200ml, in a Singaporean Duty Free shop, I’ve never seen it anywhere else): a 1.7 oz (50ml) tube, and a 4.2oz (125ml) container with a pump.

Overall, this is great moisturizer for people with oily and/or acne prone skin. It makes skin soft and smooth, and is comfortable and mattifying. It’s one of my favourite skin care items, and a product I really recommend for anyone who dislikes the texture of traditionally thicker lotions.

Lady Reviews | Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen

Beauty, Review, Skincare

Shiseido, one of my favourite skin care brands, is parent company to sunscreen specialized Anessa. I’ve only been able to find this brand physically in Japan, though their products are sold through various websites which ship worldwide.

Years ago, I hated the greasy feeling and white cast associated with sunscreen so much that I’d skip it completely. Fortunately, there currently so many satisfactory products which offer high protection and comfort, that there are no excuses for leaving home unprotected. The Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen is one of such products.

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The sunscreen is a lightweight, fragrance-free product which goes great under makeup. It is very runny and milky, and though it does go on a bit oily and wet, it is absorbed almost immediately by the skin, drying down matte and free of white casts. It also seemed to aid in oil control and prolonging makeup wear.

It is water and sweat resistant, and stays put for a long time after application, needing to be removed with an oil-based makeup remover. Sometimes I’ll apply it by early morning and find it almost intact before going to bed. Though it does make my skin soft and smooth for the most part, it can make the skin under the nose pads of my glasses go really red and dry if I don’t reapply moisturizer.

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It comes in a sturdy, golden 2oz (60ml) tube, which should be shaken well before use. As for protection, it’s UVA protection grade is the highest currently available (PA+++) with a 50+ SPF, meaning it has very high protection from both UVA and UVB rays. If you’re interested in better understanding these labels, I’ve written about sunscreens here.

I would recommend this sunscreen to anyone living in hot and humid places, or anyone who goes frequently to the beach – since it has high protection and is very comfortable and moisturizing, it can be worn anywhere, anytime. I definitely think it’s worth a try!

Lady Talks | All About Sunscreen

Beauty, Skincare

Sunscreens are products which help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet radiation from damaging the skin. Sunlight consists of two types of ultraviolet radiation: UVA and UVB, with varying sunscreen protection.

Ultraviolet Radiation

Ultraviolet radiation is part of the sun’s light spectrum and is invisible to the naked eye. Generally speaking, UVA (the longer wave UV ray) causes skin aging and lasting skin damage, and UVB (the shorter wave UV ray) causes sunburns and skin damage. Both can increase skin cancer risk, though the risk associated with UVB rays is larger.

Understanding the Labels

SPF

The Sun Protection Factor, shortened to SPF, is a measure of a sunscreen’s protection of UVB rays. Products with a SPF between 30 and 50 are recommended (SPF 15 blocks out 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 and 50 block out, respectively, 96.7% and 98% of UVB rays). The numbers work like this: if you can typically stay out in the sun for 10 minutes before getting a sunburn, applying a SPF 30 product (properly) should allow you to stay in the sun 30 times longer without getting burned. It’s obviously not an exact science, since the amount of UV rays that reach us depend on a variety of factors.
The + sign sometimes used means “more than” – so a label of 30+ means a product should test higher than 30.

PA

PA is the protection grade of UVA rays and contains three levels of protection: PA+, PA++ and PA+++. The lowest protects sensitive skin against low to medium UVA radiation, the medium provides moderate UVA protection and the highest protects against very strong or direct UVA radiation.

Broad-Spectrum or Multi Spectrum

This label means the product offers protection for both UVA and UVB rays.

Application

Though the protection level is important, the application is even more so, since a sunscreen must be applied liberally to achieve its labeled protection. Most people do not use enough sunscreen to fully protect their skins, which may result in protection far lower than labeled.

Another thing to take notice is that water-resistant does not mean waterproof: even though a product may be resistant to water, that does not mean it will stay budgeproof and offer the same protection it did before a swim. Reapplying the product after swimming or towelling, or after two hours, is important to guarantee protection.

Lady Tips | Coconut Oil Beauty Benefits

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

Coconut oil has made its way into the pantries of many people looking to have healthier lifestyles and diets, and though it’s a great cooking oil, it is used in my beauty routine way more often than in my kitchen. Here are some ways you can reap the benefits of this versatile oil.

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Hair

Deep Conditioning

Coconut oil is able to penetrate the hair shaft very efficiently, moisturizing and nourishing it from the inside out. Homemade hair masks are my favourite way to use coconut oil – I usually apply them once a week, or whenever I feel that my hair needs a moisture boost. Here’s how:
Coat the hair lightly in coconut oil – you really don’t need to use much: half a tablespoon should be enough for long hair. Applying it on the scalp is also recommended, especially for people looking to treat dandruff.
Leave it on for at least an hour or two – though you can leave it on for only ten minutes, it’s best to do this when you’ve got more time on your hands. The longer it stays on, the better.
Wash it off with shampoo, then condition as usual – you might have to shampoo twice to get all the oil out. The mask does not substitute conditioner, as the latter seals the hair cuticles and moisturizes more superficially.
The most practical method I’ve found is to apply the oil before bed, then wash it as soon as I get up.

Flyaway Hair & Frizz Tamer

With dry or damp hair, apply a small amount of oil to the ends to detangle and style hair. This helps combat frizz and split ends, whilst making hair soft, smooth and shiny.

Pre Wash

Using an oil before washing your hair can help keep it from getting too dried out, as it adds strength and flexibility to it. Lightly coat the shafts with oil about ten minutes before washing.

Though coconut oil works great for some people, others report adverse effects such as hair loss or brittleness. In general, it seems that coarse and dry hair types do not work well with it – fine to medium hair will generally be able to achieve the strength, volume and shine expected.

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Body

Moisturizer

Apply all over the body after showering.

Body Scrub

Add half a cup of coconut oil to a half cup of sugar (white or brown, though I’d not recommend coarser sugars such as demerara) and combine. Optionally, add a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil (oils and benefits listed here) or half a cup of ground coffee, which is packed with antioxidants and is said to help fight cellulite.

Foot Bath

A great way to treat dry or smelly feet. Melt two teaspoons of coconut oil in warm water and soak your feet for a few minutes, then pat dry.

Massage Oil

An excellent choice for a massage oil, it’s not excessively greasy whilst retaining its glide.

Natural Deodorant

Mix ⅓ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of arrowroot powder (or baby powder) and ¼ cup of baking soda for the basic recipe. Amp it up with a teaspoon of grape seed oil to increase shelf life from 2 to 8 months, and/or 5-10 drops of essential oil for added benefits and scent.
Though this recipe works well for most, it should be noted that some women with more sensitive skin develop adverse effects from the baking soda, such as redness and irritation.

Shaving Cream

This oil’s antimicrobial, emollient and soothing qualities make it ideal for this task – apply it to the legs right before shaving.

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Face

Facial Scrub

Mix one tablespoon coconut oil with one tablespoon fine sea salt and, as an optional step, a couple of drops of essential oil for added benefits (my favourites are Lavender and Tea Tree).

Lip Balm

Apply directly over the lips for a quick and natural moisture boost.

Makeup Remover

Massage a small amount of oil onto your face to remove makeup, then clean it up with a clean cloth or cotton round.

For all the purposes and benefits listed, a cold-pressed, extra virgin, non-hydrogenated coconut oil is recommended for its better quality.

Lady Tips | Vegan Cosmetics

Beauty, Hair, Makeup, Skincare

What are vegan cosmetics?

According to vegan ideology, a vegan product should be free of animal products and animal testing, but since there is neither widespread knowledge of it, nor regulation, the term can be misused or misunderstood.

Vegan Action’s Certification, much like Vegan Society’s, is a trademark which is issued to some (but not yet all) products which are free of both animal products and testing. This helps in not having to examine ingredient lists for certified products, but keep in mind that not every vegan trademark will be certified cruelty free.
I have labelled cruelty free brands below and written a post about them, which you can find here.

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Skincare

skyn ICELAND (vegan, cruelty free)

Iceland is rich in natural resources, such as mineral rich waters, antioxidant berries and soothing algaes – many of them are used in skyn ICELAND’s products to soothe, stabilize and nourish skin. One of their main concerns is how stress affects our skins, and how to counteract these negative effects.

Nature’s Gate (vegan, cruelty free)

Skin, hair, oral and sun care – Nature’s Gate has it all. They have the largest selection of natural toothpaste flavours I have ever seen, including Anise and Cinnamon. The company is focused on Holistic Beauty and achieving beauty from the inside out, with a clean and healthy lifestyle.

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Makeup

Cover FX (vegan, cruelty free)

Specialized in foundation, Cover FX products are free of what they call “inflamatory 5” – parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil and talc. Their wide range of over 40 shades is meant to provide a precise match for all ethnicities and undertones, and all products are formulated to be safe for very sensitive skin.

Kat Von D (vegan in transition, cruelty free)

Kat Von D makeup is famous for its even pigmentation and for being budge-proof – it is a high-end, all-rounder and cruelty free brand which carries many vegan products. Kat has stated that she and her brand are working to reformulate the entire line to be vegan.

100% Pure (mostly vegan, cruelty free)

No synthetic chemicals, preservatives, artificial coloring or fragrances are added to 100% Pure products – they are coloured with fruit and vegetable pigments, and preserved by vitamins and antioxidants. Some products contain beeswax or honey, but all of their vegan products are labelled clearly on their website. The brand carries skin, body and hair care; but their makeup really caught my eye – especially the Gemmed Luminizers (in shades Rose Gold and Moonstone Glow), coloured with fruit pigments and light reflecting gemstones.

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Makeup Accessories

Beauty Blender (vegan, cruelty free)

The Beauty Blender’s popularity is entirely justified. It promises and delivers perfect application of base products, though some beauty gurus use it to apply powder as well.

EcoTools (vegan, cruelty free)

EcoTools has a wide range of eco-friendly brushes (hair and makeup) made with renewable bamboo and recycled materials. They also carry facial sponges, both for makeup and skincare; maintaining affordability and quality throughout.

Real Techniques (vegan, cruelty free)

Brushes and sponges by Real Techniques are not only vegan and affordable, they’re also very high quality – a recommended first splurge for people who are just getting into makeup.

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Nails

KL Polish (vegan, cruelty free)

KL Polish is the beauty YouTuber KathleenLights’s nail polish brand. I can’t get over how gorgeous and chic the shades are, and on top of that, they’re all vegan and 5-free (free of potentially allergenic chemical ingredients commonly used in nail polish).

Hair

Arctic Fox (vegan, cruelty free)

Get bright and colorful tresses without any animal products, drying alcohols, and harsh or allergenic chemicals. Some people have even used Arctic Fox dyes on their pets, though the company recommends consulting with your vet before doing so. They also donate 15% of profit to animal welfare organizations.

Avalon Organics (vegan, cruelty free)

The company’s concern with using pure, organic plant-based ingredients walks hand in hand with their sustainability – their products are biodegradable, free of harsh chemicals, and synthetic fragrances or colours.

Morrocco Method (vegan, cruelty free)

With shampoos, conditioners, hair brushes, henna hair dye and even pet care available, Morrocco Method is not only a great option for people looking for vegan hair care, but their products are also soy-free, chemical-free, gluten-free and raw.

I’m not vegan myself, but I think it’s never a bad idea to choose a product you know was crafted free of animal suffering. Putting this list together surprised my pleasantly, as I found the niche expanding, and hope for it to continue to do so.

Lady Tips | Cruelty Free Cosmetics

Beauty, Makeup, Skincare

In order for a product to be considered cruelty free, no animal testing should occur during production – that includes even using ingredients that have been tested by a third-party.

In some places of the world, animal testing is required by law, either requiring that the final product (such as in China); or that certain ingredients (such as in the US) are to be tested to comply with legislation. These products are not considered cruelty free.

Cruelty free products are not necessarily vegan – they can be exempt of animal testing and still contain animal products; such as carmine, beeswax, honey, gelatin, lanolin, etc.

I have labelled vegan brands below and written a post about them, which you can find here.

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Skincare

Aesop (cruelty free, vegan)

This has to be one of my favourite skincare brands of all time. The quirky and utilitarian packaging adds to the sense of understated elegance of their products, which I have come to really enjoy. I’ve been using their Amazing Face Cleanser along with the B & Tea Balancing Toner – both are refreshing, balancing and gentle. I tend to neglect exfoliation, so I don’t use their Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste as often as I should – it gets the job done, softening and deep cleansing my skin, whilst remaining gentle. The Facial Hydrating Serum is also a marvellous face moisturizer, with a very lightweight and mattifying effect.

Alaska Glacial Mud Co. (cruelty free, not vegan)

I love clay masks for their detoxifying, pore-minimizing and firming properties. Alaska Glacial Mud Co.’s masks are produced with hand-harvested glacial mud, with biodegradable, natural and certified organic ingredients. Their products are also free of synthetic fragrances, color fillers, and other chemicals (such as parabens and phthalates). All of their products are cruelty free and allergy tested, but some of them do contain animal products, and therefore are not vegan.

The Body Shop (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

The Body Shop is concerned with ethical trading: enriching, not exploring, products, ecosystems and local communities; as well as restoring rainforests and protect endangered animals. As for their products, the tea tree oil line is lovely, especially the mattifying toner. Their vegan products are listed here.

KORRES (cruelty free, not vegan)

A greek skincare and cosmetics brand which focuses on natural, organic ingredients. The brand’s packaging successfully captures the clean, gentle and natural vibe I get when using their products, especially the Wild Rose line.

LUSH (cruelty free, not vegan)

Lush is a 100% vegetarian (though they have plenty of vegan products, the brand itself is not 100% vegan) brand focused on fighting animal testing and hand making their products with as little preservatives as possible. Their Tea Tree Water is one of my favourite facial mists: soothing, refreshing and mattifying; and its gorgeous scent lifts my spirits as much as the product revitalizes my skin.

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Makeup

Anastasia Beverly Hills (cruelty free, not vegan)

Especially famous for their brow products, the makeup brand best known as Anastasia is not vegan, though it does have some vegan products, listed here.

Charlotte Tilbury (cruelty free, not vegan)

Charlotte Tilbury, a highly respected makeup artist, is as dazzling as her luxurious makeup products. It came as a very welcome surprise to learn that not only is her brand cruelty free, many of her products are also vegan.

Bite Beauty (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

As a brand specialized in lipstick made with all natural food-grade ingredients only, Bite Beauty’s name makes perfect sense. Some of their products contain Carmine, which is not vegan.

NARS (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

I don’t need to do a lot of thinking to name a few makeup staples by NARS: the Radiant Creamy Concealer, their ever famous Blush in Orgasm, and their Audacious Lipstick, especially its bolder shades – which makes it so surprising that one of its most popular shades is Anita, a beautiful and light pinky nude.

Tarte (cruelty free, not vegan)

I have to confess to never having worn any Tarte makeup, but I believe the Tartelette and Shape Tape Concealer’s popularity speak for their own. Though they’re not 100% vegan, their vegan friendly product range is abundant.

Urban Decay (cruelty free, not vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

Urban Decay is probably most famous for their Naked palettes – but truth be told, whenever I think of Urban Decay and eye makeup, I think of the gorgeous Solstice. Both their All Nighter Setting Spray and Eyeshadow Primer Potion are also amazingly well received products. Their vegan range can be found here.

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Makeup Accessories

Real Techniques (cruelty free, vegan)

Samantha Chapman and Nicola Haste are the sisters behind Real Techniques and Pixiwoo (a YouTube channel I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys makeup tutorials). Their brushes and sponges are not only vegan and affordable, they’re also very high quality.

Beauty Blender (cruelty free, vegan)

The Beauty Blender is incredibly popular and well known – and for good reason. It promises and delivers perfect application of primer, foundation and concealer; giving a natural, dewy finish to base products (some beauty gurus even use it to apply powder!).

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Fragrance

Diptyque (cruelty free, not vegan)

I really enjoy lighting candles, especially scented ones – and though Diptyque candles are the ultimate in luxury and decadence, that’s not all they have to offer. With both personal and home fragrances, and face and body care available; their products never fail to entrance with their elegance (plus, the packaging is just so lush).

Le Labo (cruelty free, vegan, parent company not cruelty free)

Their fragrances are cruelty free, 100% vegan, and free of parabens and preservatives. I really love the utilitarian packaging, it just makes me feel like I’m tinkering with something really special – and when it comes to Le Labo’s fragrances, you can be sure that you are.

Fortunately, the full cruelty free cosmetics and skincare brands list is much more extensive, covering even hair dye and nail polish – that list, which is updated frequently, can be found here.

Whether you’re an animal lover, or just concerned with doing what’s best for them and the environment; whether you’re a makeup artist or just looking for good everyday makeup – finding high-quality cruelty free cosmetics has become a wonderfully easy task.

I hope this list was helpful. Happy shopping!