Justainable Beauty Blog

Ethical Christmas party beauty tips

For many of us, Christmas is a time of magic, excitement, parties and all things twinkly, so get your glitz on and have fun with your beauty routine this season.

Christmas equals glitter. There’s nothing like a twinkly eye liner or nail polish to conjur up seasonal magic. Now I have to be honest with you, I’m afraid there is no such thing as glitter that isn’t bad for the environment in some way. Even the ones labelled ‘eco’ or ‘biodegradeable.’ However, some are slightly better than others. Biodegradeable glitter, although not the eco warrior it’s made out to be, tends to be made of plant cellulose as opposed to the traditional single use plastic, which of course should be swerved at all costs. Be warned however, that biodegradeable can mean that it can only degrade under certain conditions, it can possibly take years and even decades, and often only in an industrial facility. If you must have your glitter, you have a better chance of causing less twinkly harm if you choose a product like Eco Stardust’s Bio Glitter Beauty Balm. Dab a little balm on top of cheekbones, shoulders and décolleté for a subtle shimmer. If you’re after a more sparkly sparkle, use the balm to hold biodegradable loose glitter in place. Brands like EcoStardust, Wild Glitter and Eco Glitter Fun have amazing fun colours and shapes to choose from. 

For a more subtle take on Christmas twinkle, Nourish London’s vegan Illuminating Face Shimmer can be applied anywhere on the face, or added to your moisturiser or foundation. It’s Soil Association certified so the ingredients in this shimmer are as good as it gets. Team with lots of Au Naturale vegan mascara and some Bloomtown palm oil free vegan tinted lip balm for a paired down glowy Christmas look. If you want to add a bit of a festive nod, but still keep it simple, I love Milk Make Up Star Tattoo Stamp. Dot this black star on your cheeks, the outer corner of your eye or anywhere that takes your fancy.

A paired down party look, whilst everyone else is drenched in tinsel, is always very chic, but the festive season demands that you give red lipstick a go. If you’d prefer to dip your toe into red, rather than dive in head first, try Seeds Of Colour Natural Colour Balm in shade Berry Red. The effect is a wash of sheer red rather than an opaque block of colour. For those of you well versed in the glamour of red lipstick, try something a little different like adding a layer of clear iridescent gloss over the top like the Folly Fire shade Astral Trip. This will give a gorgeous shimmer, making lips look fuller and more lustrous for those Christmas parties.

If you’re like me, a few cocktails will be consumed at Christmas time, so it’s important to keep skin well prepped and hydrated. Pop on a layer of Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask, or Juice Beauty’s Antioxidant Mask while you’re wrapping presents, and add in an effective serum to your routine. I’m loving Merumaya’s vegan Iconic Youth Serum. I know everyone loves a sheet mask, but I tend to avoid them, as the pesky packaging is an environmental no no. If you do insist on using them, opt for more ethical packaging options like Natura masks, or Bio Membrane Restore Eye Masks from Haeckels. Made to order so there’s no waste, these eye masks are dried so there’s no need for wasteful individual packaging. Simply place the eye masks in water to rehydrate and because they are made from agar, they are compostable in your garden.

Last but not least, I know it sounds like a broken record, but the best beauty tip for the party season is to drink lots of water and try not to get too stressed. Keep hydrated and enjoy the champagne!

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How I became a cruelty free and vegan make up artist: My journey

My interest in natural and organic products has always been a passion. Eight years ago, whilst on a natural cosmetics course, I learnt that cosmetic animal testing still existed. I was in total shock. What deeply disturbed me, was that friends and other make up artists were unaware of it, so it was obvious that the consumer didn’t know about it either. It was like the beauty industries ugly secret, shoved under the carpet by clever brand marketing departments. Right then and there, I knew I had to do something. Make a stand for something. Show people that as a make up artist, if I could become cruelty free and produce magazine front covers and create red carpet looks for celebrity, then anyone could be cruelty free. It’s a matter of consumer awareness, transparency and choice. So I worked rigorously trying to create that awareness, writing countless articles, appearing on panel talks, writing a Huffington Post blog, and becoming an ambassador for animal welfare charity, Humane Society International. Out went 90% of products in my kit, and in came cruelty free brands I had tirelessly researched. Gone were the products from Dior, Bobbi Brown, Mac, Chanel, Armani, Lancome etc that I’d relied on for 12 years, only to be replaced by unknown brands. I worried that my clients would reject me without those big brands in my kit, but they were incredibly supportive. I’ve discovered amazing products and brands over the years, that maybe I never would have before. 

Yes it can be frustrating at times when big brands bring out new products  and textures that I would like to try, but I just remind myself of the images and videos that I’ve seen showing the extreme cruelty to animals. By selling in territories that demand animal testing, these brands are effectively condoning the cruelty. Once you’ve seen those images, there’s no going back. It’s an exciting time to be cruelty free, as there are now countless products and formulations available, and it’s only going to get better.

Every day I dedicate myself to pioneering cruelty free and vegan beauty. I love my industry, and though things are changing, I find it abhorrent that such pain is still inflicted for the sake of a new mascara or shampoo.

I’m proud to say the words ‘cruelty free’ and ‘vegan’ are now widely discussed, and I’d like to think that I’ve been instrumental in opening up that discussion. I love being part of such an important change in my industry.

Consumers are not legally protected, so never solely rely on the information on brand websites. There is no law preventing a brand from stating they are cruelty free or organic, when they are not. Check websites like LeapingBunny,  Logical Harmony, and The Vegan Society. They have done the research for you, so you safely know the brands listed are cruelty free. And remember, a cruelty free brand isn’t necessarily vegan, and a vegan brand isn’t necessarily cruelty free, so do your research.

I’m really excited by some of the indie brands and products coming on the market. Code Beautiful is a British vegan brand, synonymous with creating problem solving products. One of their latest offerings is Code LLE, Lid Lift Enhance, a moisturising and brightening eyelid concealer and primer. Gently pat onto the eyelids, to eliminate redness, and lift the eye. Endless compliments will ensue.

UpCircle is an exciting handmade UK skincare line that uses innovative ideas to remove products from landfill. For example, their scrubs are made from Arabica used coffee grounds sourced from London cafes, and the brand ticks all the ethical boxes. Palm oil free, vegan, ocean friendly, repurposed, recycled, sustainable, organic. Totally evil free! A must new brand to look out for.

Clean and vegan beauty brand Athr Beauty are tricky to get in the UK but if you can get your hands on them it’s worth it! Their new offerings are the  Supernova Crushed Pure Diamond Highlighter and Supernova Crushed Pure Pink Diamond Highlighter. If you like sparkles, then you’ll love these! Dust onto cheekbones and décolleté for glamlight, and add over your eye make up to really bring your make up to life. Once used, remove the recyclable aluminium pan, and recycle the card!

Tints Of Nature is a hair brand based in the New Forest. There are reported potential health dangers attached to some ingredients in conventional hair dye, but these guys produce products free from ammonia, parabens, resorcinol and sulfates. Made from recycled and post consumer recycled plastic and cardboard, 75% of ingredients are sourced in the UK and 15% in the EU. My new joy is their Dry Shampoo. Delivered via a nozzle, you can really work the product into the roots where you need it. There’s no chalky residue, and it gives hair extra volume too!

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CBD Skincare 101: all your questions answered

What is CBD? And how can it benefit your skin?

CBD is THE current buzzword in beauty. Is it worth all the hype? I think it is. As a certified medicinal cannabis expert, first of all let me explain the sciency part. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system. This system comprises of our natural endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters) which bind to receptors (CB1 and CB2) that are prevalent in our central and peripheries nervous system. This process constantly works at bringing our biochemical systems back to homeostasis (stable equilibrium). If we don’t produce enough natural cannabinoids, our health, including our skin health, can suffer. Phytocannabinoids are plant cannabinoids that also bind to our CB1 and CB2 receptors. The only known plant on earth that contains enough phytocannabinoids to do this, is cannabis. The most talked about   phytocannabinoid is CBD (cannabidiol). CBD can therefore help skin regain its natural balance and optimum health. It is anti ageing, antioxidant and anti inflammatory.

CBD is only one of of over 80 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. CBD is different to hemp seed oil, so always check the ingredients list if you are looking for a CBD product. I’ve seen many online sites listing CBD products, only to find cannabis seed oil (hemp oil) on the ingredients list, instead of cannabidiol (CBD).

What is the legal status of CBD? Current UK law states that you can legally use a product containing CBD. A full spectrum product, means it contains not only CBD, but all the other cannabinoids contained in the plant (including THC), terpenes (compounds that produce aroma) and flavonoids (compounds that produce taste). In the UK full spectrum CBD products can only legally contain under 0.2% THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psycho active compound in cannabis, but even at higher levels, THC applied topically does not pass through the blood brain barrier, so you will not feel ‘high’. The benefit of a full spectrum product, is that all the different compounds work together synergistically, producing an effect called the ‘entourage effect.’

The market has recently been flooded with CBD skincare products. Some better than others, so here’s a round up of my favourites.

Grace’s London CBD Lavender and Lemon Body Balm is a must for any areas of skin that needs help. It’s great for dry skin, burns, psoriasis, and acne scars. An effective anti inflammatory, antioxidant and sebum regulating balm, I enjoy using it as a night mask. Graces London also offer a CBD Roller Ball, an oil which I love using  as part of my facial cupping routine.

Votary Super Boost Night Drops CBD and Strawberry Seed Oil was developed for fragile, reactive skin. Apply 3 drops after cleansing, or add into your moisturiser, to protect and hydrate super sensitive skin.

The Healing Cauldron CBD Skin Cream is a full spectrum vegan cream. This luxury cream made with sunflower wax, can be used on the face or body to hydrate and treat stressed skin, eczema, rosacea and scarring.

Pura Vida CBD Vegan Balm is a wonderful product for joints and  muscles to relieve soreness and inflammation. Rub on areas that have been overworked, after exercise or to relieve stiff joints.

Two products I love from the Somnio vegan range are the Revive CBD Acne Serum, and Revive Anti Age Anti Wrinkle Moisturiser. The Acne Serum contains the rich anti inflammatory properties of CBD, with added antimicrobial ingredients of Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil to form an effective acne prone skin treatment. The Anti Wrinkle CBD Moisturiser also contains hyaluronic acid and rose hydrosol for deep hydration, to restore elasticity and natural collagen production.

Raised Spirit CBD Organic Massage Oil is a gorgeous oil, perfect to hydrate the skin before bed. Alongside CBD, jojoba and hemp oil, it also contains essential oils of patchouli and lavender, giving a wondrous aroma, and deep restful sleep.

Aurelia CBD Super Serum is one of the first brands to use CBD crystals, as opposed to CBD oil, which is more diluted. This is a CBD isolate product, as opposed to full spectrum and is highly antioxidant and anti inflammatory. Perfect for anyone with stressed out skin.

If you have any concerns about trying CBD skincare, then have no fear. Your skin won’t smell of cannabis and you won’t get ‘high.’ These products do not contain any significant amounts of the psychoactive THC cannabinoid, and the sophisticated formulas and added essential oils, mean they smell divine. If you are a CBD regular, then look out for CBDA products, which is the unheated, raw form of CBD. It’s in its early stages and research is in its infancy, but I for one am excited about its benefits. I encourage anyone to try medicinal cannabis skincare. It works in such harmony with our biochemistry, it’s like this miracle plant was made just for us.

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6 of the best eco beauty tools

We all love a gadget. A gizmo, an invention, a tool that can enhance our beauty routine, and make life just that little bit better. So what are the best eco tools on the market, that will stand the test of time and not end up in landfill, damaging our environment?

Rose Quartz Gua Sha

The Korean Konjac Sponge

Fresh Therapies Glass Nail File

Ecotools dry body brush

Reusable Cotton Pads

Wearth London Organic Sleep Masks

Gua Sha facial massage is an ancient Chinese stress relieving technique to brighten, rejuvenate and depuff the skin. We’ve all heard of facial rollers, they are splashed everywhere across Instagram (yes I am guilty too). However, Gua Sha is a slightly different technique and feeling. It’s essentially a flat piece of semi precious stone like the healing rose quartz Gua Sha from By Sarah London, that is shaped to contour the face. Add a few drops of By Sarah London vegan Organic Facial Oil to the skin and working from the centre of the face outward, draw the tool along the jawline, across the cheekbones and from the brow bone toward the hairline. Press the flat side along the orbital bone to stimulate the lymphatic drainage system and depuff the eyes. Pop it in the fridge and let the healing properties of rose quartz cool, soothe and promote self love.

The Korean Konjac Sponge is a natural plant fibre based exfoliating and cleansing tool that is 100% biodegradable. Infused with nourishing mineral extracts, the sponge deeply cleanses and refines the skin, removing all water based make up without the need for cleansers. It’s gentle enough to use on new borns and people with skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. When you use it for the first time, soak it in warm water for about 15 mins to fully expand it. Softly buff the skin with a circular motion, rinse and leave to dry. You can use the sponge with or without other cleansing products. The sponge lasts for about 2 or 3 months of daily use, after which you simply pop it in the composter. I also like to place them in plant pots,  as a whole or cut into pieces as they retain water, helping your plants keep healthy and hydrated. 

I’ve never had the strongest nails and find that if I don’t immediately file down any snags, they easily split. Fresh Therapies are a wonderful company dedicated to creating healthy nails naturally. I’ve been a long term fan of their acetone free Natural Nail Polish Remover, which doesn’t strip the nail of its natural oils, and unlike traditional polish remover, it smells divine. However, it’s their Glass Nail File which has an omnipresence in my make up bag and kit. Glass files are more hygienic and file your nails evenly, preventing them from chipping and splitting, and as long as they are not embellished, they can also be recycled. This file comes in an eco bamboo holder for protection and makes it quicker and easier to find in your bag.

Body brushing has long been known for its therapeutic benefits. The synthetic fibre and sustainable bamboo Ecotools Dry Body Brush is a great addition to your beauty routine. Before showering or bathing, brush your body using long strokes always upward and toward the heart. Body brushing boosts circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system, removes dead skin cells and ingrown hairs and creates a general glowing feeling of wellbeing. 

Have you got a stash of make up reusable pads and wipes at home yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Simply apply coconut oil to emulsify your make up, wet a pad in warm water to remove the oil and make up, apply a cold pad to refresh your face, and chuck in the wash. It couldn’t be simpler. Atlas and Ortos Reusable Face Wipes made from hemp and organic cotton fleece, and Cheeky Wipes Reusable Make Up Removal Pads are reasonably priced, and are designed to be used time and time again. 

The best beauty tool of all is sleep. Good sleep improves your skin health as lack of sleep causes the body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol increases the stress and inflammation in the body which in turn will show on your skin. Wearth London Organic Sleep Masks not only block out the light, but also look good, with a great choice of colours all produced with non toxic dyes. They come in organic cotton jersey which is super soft against the skin, or for sensitive skins, organic bamboo silk, a great vegan alternative to silk which is naturally hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial. Light blocking encourages deep sleep, so once you sleep mask you never look back.

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Should we ban the use of palm oil?

We’ve all seen the horrific Greenpeace footage, of terrified Borneo Orangutans fighting off the huge diggers destroying their habitat and families, and the disturbing images of dead orangutan bodies piled high, all in the name of palm oil. Over 80% of their habitat has been annihilated in the last 20 years, and if we do not act now, we are looking at seeing their extinction in our lifetime. In equal danger due to palm oil deforestation, are Sumatran elephants, tigers, rhinos, and Malaysian sun bears. Environmental damage due to palm oil plantations is so vast, that we are witnessing the demise of some of the richest biodiversity that we’ll ever see. The UN is calling it a conservation emergency.

What is palm oil, and what products should we be avoiding if we want to help?

Palm oil is used in the production of around 50% of food and household products; processed foods, bread, peanut butter, biscuits, ice cream, margarine, crisps, chocolate, non dairy substitutes, scented candles and beauty products. Why is it so popular? It’s the cheapest vegetable oil to produce, and beauty manufacturers love it as it thickens, emulsifies, holds colour, and does not melt at high temperatures. However, because it is a mass produced crop, the industry does not look at accountability for environmental and social costs, which are huge. It’s estimated that in Malaysia and Indonesia, an area the size of 300 football fields of virgin rainforest is destroyed every hour to make way for palm oil plantations. Many traditional communities have lost their land to plantations, and the human rights abuses such as child labour and the destruction of indigenous villages are well documented. The demand for palm oil is forecast to double by 2030 and triple by 2050. 

Many companies use sustainable palm oil, but what does that actually mean? Evidence suggests that the decline in orangutang populations are equal, whether or not a plantation has a sustainable certification or not. 

If you want to avoid palm oil, reading an ingredients list is often not enough, as brands will list alternative names for palm oil and it’s derivatives. Some of the ingredients to look out for are those that include in the name, Palm, Steam, Laur, and GLYC. A full list of ingredients to avoid can be found on www.orangutanfoundation.org.au and ethical online magazine, Selva Beat. 

It’s important to be aware of the misleading language some brands use on their  website when explaining their use of palm oil. Some of the classic statements to look out for include:

“The company supports the production of sustainable palm oil and is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)”

Being a member of the RSPO means they’ve made a commitment to EVENTUALLY  purchase or create sustainable palm oil, but it doesn’t mean they are ACTUALLY doing so.  RSPO members like Unilever, Cadbury’s, Nestle, Tesco, and L’Oreal make up 40% of the global palm oil trade. Greenpeace even argues that the “RSPO actually risks creating the illusion of sustainable palm oil, justifying the expansion of the palm oil industry.”  

“We don’t use Palm Oil, we only use derivatives

A palm oil derivative is still palm oil.

“We use minimal palm oil ingredients in our products”

Ask how many tonnes of palm oil they use per annum. This will reflect their true usage, otherwise they will give you the overall percentage of world wide use, which purposely sounds small.

So if we want to avoid, or reduce our use of palm oil, what should we buy?

Check out the comprehensive list of palm oil free companies on www.ethicalconsumer.org, who also list companies using certified organic palm oil together with a fully traceable supply chain. You’ll find some palm oil free surprises such as Iceland’s own brand food.

There are beauty brands who are palm oil free, strive to reduce it’s use as much as possible, or offer palm oil free options. 

Axiology lipsticks only use conflict free ingredients, so never palm oil. They put their money where their ethics are, so a percentage of profits go to the Orangutang Foundation International charity.

Bloomtown is a Cornish vegan brand, where you’ll find gorgeous perfumes, bath and body oils, body washes, scrubs and masks. They have a useful guide to palm oil on their website.

PHB Ethical Beauty is a brilliant one stop shop for all your beauty needs. They only use one palm derivative, Stearic Acid, and they are currently working with manufacturers to create a palm free version. 

Lily Lolo only use palm oil in their natural mascara. Green People use certified organic palm oil from Ecuador, where there are no orangutans, and the certification requires more ethical practices. Willowberry skincare guarantee their products are all palm free except their day cream, and Pai skincare have some palm oil free options.

We are running out of time, so buy as many palm free products as possible, and spread the word. I’ve seen appreciation of the cruelty free and vegan movements explode in the last few years, and I want to see this with palm oil awareness. Support organisations like Greenpeace, The Orangutan Project, OFI and Rainforest Action Network. Tell major brands you are refusing to purchase them due to their over use of palm oil, and encourage them to stop using it altogether. I’ve seen over the years with my campaigns for an end to animal testing in the beauty industry, that we can effect change. This is a call to arms, so let’s get to it!

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