Handmade Naturals Sensitive Face Cream – what a find!

Someone recently said to me ‘I would never put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat’, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then. If our skin is our biggest organ then we should be far more mindful of the chemicals we allow it to absorb through cosmetic use. When you read the ingredients list of your make up and facial creams, how much do you actually recognise? People now understand the benefits of eating healthy, fresh food but this is only part of the battle.

Due to my feelings about animal testing and the use of animal derivatives in products, I have almost stopped visiting shops like Boots. So this led me to search more widely on the internet and also ask questions on relevant Facebook boards. When I asked about plant-based, beauty for sensitive skin types I was recommended Handmade Naturals. I will be forever grateful to the person who did. It is a truly natural skin care range, using many of the oils I have been reading about as alternative antioxidant treatments. They are a small UK business and all their items are made here too. They are also 100% vegan and cruelty free.

I always try new products with some trepidation as I get reactions so easily. I was able to try their Unscented Sensitive Face Cream in a small travel sized bottle so I could check whether it was a great as I hoped before buying a full bottle.

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The ingredients are: purified water, virgin organic shea butter (butyrospermun parkii), unrefined rosehip seed oil (rosa moschata), golden jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis), peach kernel oil (prunus persica), emulsifying wax, aspen bark extract, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E oil (tocopherol).  I would happily eat it all!

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I used my small bottle within a couple of weeks and my skin absolutely loved it. No flare ups, no dramas. Jojoba oil, shea butter and rosehip oil are all well documented as being of great benefit to the skin and are also not irritating (though it is very important that every person tests their own skin’s reaction to new things). It is absorbed quickly, leaves the skin felling silky smooth and calm.  The creams come in pump-action bottles which are fantastic as they protect the cream from contamination (avoid buying anything to put on your face that comes out of a tub!) and stop you from using too much. One pump covers my whole face.

I have just bought their Unscented Plum & Avocado Face Cleanser and Unscented Hand & Body Lotion with Almond, Plum Kernel and & Virgin Cocoa Butter as I am hoping the rest of the range will be equally talented. If it passes the face and hands test then I an a genuinely very happy (and not itchy) person!

 

 

 

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Lush’s Luscious Vegan Lipsticks

So my eternal search for a great vegan, lipstick seems to have reached its conclusion, or certainly found two options which leave most bases covered. The first is from Lush. When I mentioned my love of Lush lipstick to a friend the other day she  told me that she wouldn’t go in the shop ‘because it smelt like a granny’s knicker drawer’. I know what she means, it can be a bit overpowering but from a vegan perspective it is pretty great.

There is a wide range of colours, each with a name which represents the feeling a person may get when wearing it. I now have 4, from left to right: Strong, Confident, Passionate and Glamorous.

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The ingredients are as follows: Organic Jojoba Oil (Simmondsia chinensis) , Candelilla Wax (Euphorbia cerifera) , Talc , Rose Wax (Rosa damascena) , Titanium Dioxide , Tin Oxide – along with whichever mineral colour the lipstick requires. Jojoba oil is fabulous for the skin because it is substance that is very similar to human skin oil. It is also not irritating to the skin. The talc content can be problematic to some though so this is worth noting. I also know very little about the rose wax. Lush claim it is good for soothing irritated skin and I feel I should do a little more research into this.

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‘Strong’ is my favorite colour, a orangy red which compliments my pale but slightly peachy skin tone. I’ve discovered that the trick to longevity is to use a good base of mineral foundation underneath it. I use a thin swipe of lip oil (usually rosehip oil) over my lips, once absorbed I use a concealer brush and pat my Lily Lolo mineral foundation into my lips. This protects them and stops you from getting those awful little bleed lines around your lips.

I love the colour ‘Confident’ too, it’s my Lourde lipstick but it is the least inclined to stay put so takes a fair bit of upkeep through the evening. The two pinks are great fun and the paler, ‘Glamorous’ has good staying power. If I’m honest I have only worn these for a few hours at a time, mostly due to the terror of rashy clown-mouth, my usual reaction to lip colour (in the bad old days when I didn’t realise I was allergic to carmine). I would be interested in other people’s experience with this, especially over an entire day.

My other big lipstick discovery has been from M&S and I will post about that in the next few days..

 

Rosehip Seed Oil – a one stop antioxidant choice for itchy people

I began to get interested in facial oils when I realised how many seed and fruit oils were used in my (then) favorite brand, Paula’s Choice – who I hold responsible for the turning me into a personal skin detective. Her ‘Skin Recovery’ range was a revelation, none of it irritated my skin and I particularly loved her moisturizing serums which made my skin keel silky and smooth. After examining the ingredients, along with other items in her range I realised how much of it stemmed from plant and seed oils; grape, olive, raspberry, cranberry, evening primrose, the list goes on.

My skin reacts horribly to any fragranced essential oils and although many companies produce natural cosmetic products using these oils as their base they so often add this killer ingredient which makes it immediately unusable for me. So I decided that I would learn as much as I could about these simple oils and make my own.

I contacted bloggers, and people who sold the oils online to get the best feel for what could work for my skin. They all invariably started with Rosehip Seed Oil.

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The first thing it is important to know is that oils are not bad for your skin. It is a common held belief that applying oil, especially to acne prone skin will cause breakouts, clog pores and generally cause greasy havoc. The reality is that oils protect the skin’s lipid barrier and are great at preventing moisture from evaporating from the skin. Most natural oils are easily absorbed, not greasy, and noncomedogenic; that is, they have a low potential to clog pores, which makes oils perfect for all skin types, even mine.

Rosehip Seed oil is extra special because is a ‘dry oil’ meaning that it soaks into the skin easily and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It is high in fatty acids and rich in vitamins and antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, Vitamin A (retinol), and linoleic and linolenic acids which are all great for your skin’s health. It is particularly good in the fight against dry, weathered, and dehydrated skin which at this time of the year is my main problem.

I was nervous the first time I tried it neat from the bottle  and was fully prepared for the nightmare of face-rash breakout. To my surprise, my skin drank it in like water. Since then I have worn it under my night-time moisturizer and also used it as a super gentle make-up remover which it does brilliantly.

I bought my little bottle from Rejuvenoils, a small family business who sell through eBay. There were really informative while I tried to decide which oils to buy and the product is of a very high quality.

 

Urtekram – Danish Organic Hugs for your Hair and Skin

My local health food shop (Well Natural in Salisbury) is small but manages to cram a lot into its shelves, stocking everything from vitamin supplements to vegan chocolate and even a little coffee shop. The staff aren’t particularly knowledgeable, especially when it comes to being vegan (I’ll probably have a little rant about this in another post). But it has been a life saver over the past few newly vegan months.

I’ve been able to research brands they supply to see which would be suitable for a vegan with über sensitive skin like mine and was excited to see a new brand: Urtektram on the shelves in the shampoo section. The excitement came, not only because it was cruelty free and vegan but because it have ‘NO PERFUME’ in bright yellow on the front of the bottle – score!

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In the days prior to my enlightenment regarding my allergy triggers (fragrance/SLS/lanolin etc) I had to wash my hair wearing rubber gloves. This has been a source of great hilarity for my friends and family.  I still do in fact, many years of bad reactions has left me nervous of risking days of steroid ointment and white cotton gloves as my poor hands recovered. I’m very fond of my yellow marigolds! However, in order to test how gentle a seemingly ideal product is, I give it the no gloves test over a week. It has been a revelation. The only other shampoo that I have found as good as this has been Jason Naturals Fragrance Free. However, I think this beats it hands down. I have super-fine flyaway hair and it leaves it clean and residue free. It also foams which makes it easier to ensure you have cleaned it thoroughly. I used to wash my hair every other day but this easily adds one more wash-free day which in the long is better for you hair. You can see from the water on this bottle that I have just used it!

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In the last few months I have been researching the positive effects of certain natural plant and nut oils on sensitive skin and it is really interesting to see that the main ingredients of this shampoo are Sodium Coco Sulphate ( a mild, non irritating surfactant made from coconut oil) and aloe vera. There are lots of interesting articles around Sulphates on the internet, most around the negative effect of Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate which are irritants and often both toxic and carcinogenic. But it is not ‘Sulphates’ that are the problem as there are many that are useful and not harmful to you or the environment, the issue is the word that comes before it. If you see a sulphate that you don’t recognise – check it before you buy.

Urketram is a brand that has been around in Denmark since 1972, selling herbs at a time when awareness about the environment was “an idealistic matter of the heart to a few people”, they pioneered the use of organic and fair trade produce. In the 1990s they led the way in bringing organic products into the mainstream and their stockists are ever-increasing. Their name is a clever play on the traditional Danish word for a herb seller, “urtekræmmer” and the work for a hug: “kram”.  They have a new fan in me. My local shop only stocks their shampoo and conditioner so I will need to look online for other products in this range and see if they are great as this.

The start of my Vegan journey

It has been almost 2 years since my last post, and quite alot has changed. I have been on a journey which relates to my skin, physical and mental health (which are all intrinsically intertwined). We’ll start with make-up.

For those of you who have read my earlier posts and have an interest in very sensitive, allergy prone skin will know that after years of reasearch and endless flair-ups I realised that I was allergic to lanolin (a fat derived from the wool of sheep) and carmine (a red pigment taken from a type of beetle). I also react to beeswax. This would usually come in the form of contact dermatitis and eczema, in oozing patches on my face, lips and eyelids.

From these two discoveries I was able to begin to eliminate all sorts of products and understand the problems I had had with my skin from trying to keep it moisturized to wearing nice make-up. The make-up was the easiest to conquer. Pretty much every high-street and high-end brand uses carmine in their red pigmented items which incluedes everything from lipstick to blusher and ofted strong brown coloured eyeshadows.

So, there was only one option. I would start using only vegan make-up. It was that simple. All the things which caused my skin issues were dreived from animals. I also found that the mineral powder forms worked better, especially for foundation, as the powder sits on your skin rather than being absorbed into it.

There are wonderful brands out there, Inika, Concrete Minerals, LunatiCK, Neve Cosmetics, Sugarpill Cosmetics, OCC Vegan, to name but a few. The days of people seeing vegans as un-glamorous, sack-wearing wierdos seemed to be over. And this is just from the make-up perspective!

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And it didn’t stop there! Superdrug in the UK jumped on the bandwagon and started to produce vegan cosmetics, their own brands (B, Simply Pure) are vegan and cruelty free. GOSH, another brand available in Superdrug is mostly vegan (they will email you a list of items that contain any animal derivatives if you email them). And my most recent and exciting discovery – good old M&S! Their cosmetic line is 100% cruelty free and mostly vegan too. I may no visit Boots half as much as I used to but the possibilities for someone like me is ever growing and that is truely fantastic!

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(images from beautylish.com & lipglossiping.com)

Molecule 01 – A fragrance for those who can’t wear frangrance!

I had never heard of Molecule 01 before this week:

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I am totally allergic to fragrance/perfume, both essential oils and synthetic scents make my skin very upset (think nasty rash) so I have to wear it on my clothes or hair. This doesn’t bother me massively – but it would be nice to be able to spray something onto my skin.

Molecule 01 was recommended as it has no fragrance related ingredient – in fact the only ingredient is described as ‘Escentric Molecules Molecule 01: Iso E Super (65%)’. The company who make it claims it ‘smells different on everyone, but amazing on everyone’. They also say ‘The scent has a subtle, velvety, woody note which will meld with your natural pheromones, vanish, then re-surface after some time, making it totally individual and personalised to the wearer. You will rarely smell this fragrance on yourself, Molecule 01 perfume is more about the effect it has on others’.

Understandably I was keen to see if this was the answer to my perfume woes.

Well, the good news is that I had no adverse reaction to it on my skin at all, no irritation at all – score! The less good news is that it just doesn’t smell that great, a bit pine-fresh air freshener for my liking . On top of this, I really couldn’t smell much at all after the initial spray and I kept checking my wrists to see if the smell would ‘re-surface’. It didn’t. I asked both Victoria and my husband what they thought of the smell and they both looked a bit blank, indicating that I smelt of very little.

Maybe I’m not in turn with my pheromones (and maybe my husband isn’t either which would be a bit sad) or its rather a lot of hype about nothing.

But hey – no rash!

Lipstick allergy test – the results!

The first thing I should probably mention is that the allergy test did not quite go to plan. I am allergIc to the glue in fabric plasters but am usually fine with the waterproof hypoallergenic type. However, I don’t usually leave a plaster on for 48 hours. This was my right arm after the plasters were removed (two patches):

After patch right arm

As you will see both patches are pretty irritated. And my left arm below (three patches):

After patch left arm

As you’ll see, my arms didn’t appreciate the plasters, however, my right arm was much worse than my left, even after a few hours when much of the plaster related irritation subsided. My right arm had Eyes Lips Face (E.L.F) Mineral Lipstick nearer the elbow and Beauty Without Cruelty Rosewood lipsticks near the wrist.

The first thing I did to try to see what the problem could be was to check EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/) and see what it came up with. Lo and behold, this is what  had to say: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/product/472092/Beauty_Without_Cruelty_Natural_Infusion_Moisturizing_Lipstick,_Rosewood/. A long list of ingredient concerns, but in particular, Tocopheryl Acetate, a form of vitamin E combined with acetic acid to turn a beneficial ingredient into an irritating one ( more information here: http://www.annmariegianni.com/ingredient-watch-list-tocopheryl-acetate-the-potentially-irritating-form-of-vitamin-e). In fact the whole brand is noted as using a list of potentially irritating ingredients. I guess I’m learning that even the animal friendly brands can be pretty human unfriendly on occasion!

As for the e.l.f Eyes Lip Face Mineral Lipstick it seems the most likely irritating culprits are the Ceresin Wax which can cause allergic contact cheilitis (irritated lips) and the major nasty Retinyl Palmitate which has a hazardous score of 8 over at the cosmetics database – http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705545/RETINYL_PALMITATE_%28VITAMIN_A_PALMITATE%29/

I found it harder to work out how my skin felt about the three on my left arm: Boots Natural Collection Moisture Shine Lipstick, Neve Cosmetics Pastello Pencil and Inika’s mineral lipstick. So I’ve decided to wear each for a day and see how I get on.

First up – Boots natural Collection in ‘Rose Bud’. I’ll let you know what my lips think…

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