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    How Important is Magnesium for Athletes?

    Magnesium is probably one of the first minerals that comes to mind when you think of fitness. But, hardly anyone knows how essential magnesium truly is and how it can improve your physical performance. We have the facts for you!Magnesium performs numerous functionsMagnesium is a vital mineral: it is present in nearly every cell of your body. Approximately 30% of the magnesium in your body is stored in the muscles. The mineral performs numerous functions: it is needed for aerobic (= with oxygen) and anaerobic (= without oxygen) energy production. Magnesium is also required to form endogenous protein (protein of body origin, rather than dietary origin) and plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. The mineral is also essential to the formation of bone and teeth. In addition, it is involved in the activation of hundreds of enzymes.How important is magnesium for athletes?Studies show that the more active you are, the more magnesium you need.(1) Scientists have linked a high level of magnesium in blood to improved muscle performance, such as greater leg strength. This means that you can improve your performance by ensuring an adequate supply of this important mineral. What happens in your body? According to studies, magnesium appears to lower lactate levels in your blood.(2) Lactate (lactic acid) is a metabolite that is primarily produced by intense physical exercise. If it builds up, it can limit muscle performance and you will fatigue faster. Plus, exercising without sufficient magnesium will lead to increased oxygen consumption and heart rate. The mineral also plays a major role in strengthening your immune system. It works similar to an antioxidant by strengthening your defenses and protecting you from diseases.Increased magnesium intake can be helpfulAccording to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), healthy adult females should get 310-320 mg per day and healthy adult males 400-420 mg per day.(3) A balanced diet is usually enough to satisfy this daily requirement. But, if you like to exercise or work a physically demanding job, your diet probably won’t cover your daily needs because you can lose a lot of magnesium through sweat. This loss has to be replaced, but the amount of magnesium required varies depending on the individual and should be discussed with a sports physician.You also need to consume more magnesium in the case of stress.(4)How can I tell if I’m getting enough magnesium?Pay attention to Magnesium Deficiency SymptomsLeg crampsDizzinessDigestive problemsFatigueAbnormal heart rhythmHeadachesConsult your doctor if you experience the magnesium deficiency symptoms listed above.Top 9 Magnesium Rich FoodsThe general rule is that getting nutrients through your food is the healthier option – as opposed to taking dietary supplements. The same holds true when it comes to magnesium for athletes. A balanced diet gives us (almost) all the nutrients we need. So which foods are highest in magnesium? Here are the 11 best sources of magnesium:Sunflower seeds (395 mg/100 g)Pumpkin seeds (402 mg/100 g)Sesame (347 mg/100 g)Flax seeds (350 mg/100 g)Cashews (270 mg/100 g)White kidney beans (140 mg/100 g)Chickpeas (115 mg/100 g)Oats (139 mg/100 g)Swiss chard (81 mg/100 g)Good to know:Mineral water also contains varying amounts of magnesium. You can find the nutrition facts on the label of the bottle.Magnesium Supplements – Good or Bad?If your doctor recommends magnesium supplements to treat a magnesium deficiency, it’s important to be careful about the dosage. You shouldn’t take more than 250 mg of supplemental magnesium per day.(5) Magnesium can act as a natural laxative; if you take too much, it may cause diarrhea.Takeaway:The more you workout, the more magnesium you need in your diet. Don’t underestimate the importance of magnesium for athletes and focus on meeting your daily requirements with a balanced healthy diet including magnesium rich foods. If you do experience magnesium deficiency symptoms, consult your doctor. Supplements could be a helpful solution. Keep in mind: if you are preparing for a race or competition, make sure to start integrating the supplements into your diet several weeks beforehand to give your body time to adjust. *** More

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    Sports and Your Libido: How Exercising (Together) Leads to Better Sex

    Are you looking for a way to boost your motivation to work out? How about this: couples who work out together not only have more, but better sex. Regular exercise also leads to a better sex life for single people. 
    Improve your self esteem and self awareness
    Exercise and sports are good for your body and your mind. If you feel like you’re in shape and are satisfied with your athletic performance, this satisfaction also affects other parts of your life. One study found that regular physical activities and a higher fitness level make people feel more attractive and energetic. Sports boost self esteem which makes people feel more desirable. This can have a positive effect on sexual performance.

    Boost your libido
    The benefits don’t stop at self esteem; exercise also increases our libido.
    Regular exercise intensifies sexual arousal and physical sensitivity. (1, 2) Sufficient blood flow to the genitals is an important part of sexual desire and the ability to reach an orgasm. Overall circulation improves with better cardiovascular fitness. Plus, when you run, your body releases some of the same hormones it does during sex. Endorphins, also known as “happy hormones,” help relieve pain, lower anxiety, and give you a euphoric feeling. And also not surprising, if you feel better about yourself in general, it improves your sex drive. Not only is the quality of the sex higher, but also the quantity – we become more sexually active. (3) 

    Good to know:
    In 2017 a study was published showing too much high-intensity endurance training can lead to a decline in libido for men. One possible reason behind this is overtraining.

    Strengthen your relationship and reignite passion
    Couples can enjoy all the benefits of exercise in their relationship and sex life. Working out together adds variety to your relationship and builds intimacy and trust. Working up a sweat together and celebrating success releases endorphins and brings you closer together. You get to know each other on a different level – both physically and emotionally. All in all, couples who share hobbies are happier long term, which has a positive influence on their sex lives. (4)

    Workouts for better sex
    From theory to practice – check out these workouts for every fitness level as well as fun partner workouts: 
    *** More

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    #StyleYourMask Beauty, Style and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

    I’ve got a really sweet giveaway for you guys! It’s the perfect 2020 haul – makeup, skincare, mask, mask chain, and a $50 Amazon gift card! Keep reading to find out more.

    There is so much misinformation about the coronavirus out there. Let’s hear it straight from the doctors on the front line. The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu by pulmonologist, Dr. Neil Schachter, MD, is being updated in January to include info on COVID-19. This book has a lot of great tips about protecting yourself and treating colds and flu. For example, maybe this seems obvious now in the COVID-19 era but he says to never borrow a pen during cold and flu season. Bring your own pen to sign receipts or to check in at your doctor’s office. I’m totally on board with that now! There’s also some great advice on home remedies and pharmaceuticals.
    The good doctor himself has decided to donate ALL of the proceeds from this book to patient advocacy organizations to help keep us safe! Dr. Schachter is sponsoring today’s giveaway to encourage more people to wear those masks!
    So let’s talk about masks. I’ll be the first to admit – I do NOT look cool in a mask! LOL! The only good thing is the masks cover up most of my acne. You guys are complaining about maskne, but I’ve been dealing with that stuff since puberty! Welcome to the club!
    I am definitely going to need to keep wearing masks for the rest of the year and probably most of 2021. I have preexisting conditions that put me at high-risk for COVID-19 (POTS which causes shortness of breath – and thyroid cancer). So if I have to go to a store, I am masking it up. BUT, I have found some ways to make masks more fashionable and a lot easier to wear.

    I have recently started wearing my blogger friend Lara’s mask chains. You may know her as @prettyconnected on Instagram. Her mask chains are all the rage right now and loved by celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker (the queen of fashion herself!).
    In these pics I’m wearing the short Mermaid Mini chain along with the leopard print Simple Satch mask that I was sent for this giveaway, but I just bought the long version of the mermaid chain too.

    They are SO CUTE you guys! And so useful – when you’re not wearing the mask, it’s ready and waiting around your neck, and when you are wearing it, the chain loops give you a little extra style! There are lots of styles to choose from – and they can be worn by men or women.

    When I’m wearing a mask, I try to play up my eyes a bit more, since that’s pretty much all you see. Those that follow me know I love Glo Skin Beauty. I’ve been using their cruelty free mineral makeup and skincare, and they have a lot of really great products.

    For this post, I’m wearing their Cool Smokey Eye Kit. It comes with a full-sized cool smokey shadow quad and a full-sized Cream Stay Shadow Stick in Orbit (matte charcoal). There’s also a warm version of this set. The products are mineral-based, clean and talc-free. The shadows are highly pigmented and very easy to blend.

    I also love their skincare – especially the exfoliating AHA products. For this giveaway, I’ll be including the Smokey Eye Kit ($40) AND the Retinol Plus C Smoothing Peel in a Box ($75)! If you can’t go to a spa or dermatologist right now, this is a great at-home, professional-level kit for glowing skin.
    But that’s not all folks! In addition to the Pretty Connected mask chain, Simple Satch mask, Glo smokey eye kit and Retinol + C skincare set, I’m also including a $50 Amazon gift card! We could all use some holiday cheer right now, am I right?
    To enter, wait for the Rafflecopter widget to load below. You must be 18 or older, US only. We are not responsible for prizes lost in the mail. Giveaway ends December 21st at 12 am PST. The winner will be contacted via email.
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    Cruelty Free Holiday Gift Guide 2020

    Some products in this cruelty-free holiday gift guide for 2020 were gifted and some were purchased by me!
    If you’re looking for cruelty-free beauty ideas for the holidays this year, I have got you covered! I put together my gift idea list with a focus on affordability and quality. Nothing is over $100 and most items are under $50. Whether you’re looking for skincare, makeup, bath & body, or hair products, I’ve got some ideas for you!
    Please note that some of these prices may change after Black Friday/Cyber Monday – click the links to see current pricing. I’ll also be adding to this gift guide as I receive more amazing cruelty-free holiday sets this season! They are still coming in but I wanted to get this guide out so you can start shopping. 🙂
    Cruelty Free Skincare Gift Sets
    BioClarity Bye Bye Blemish Bundle ($88.95 at BioClarity)

    The BioClarity Bye Bye Blemish bundle is an amazing deal for any skincare lover in your life, but especially those (like me) who deal with acne (or maskne if they are complaining about that unwanted side effect of wearing a mask)! For $88.95, you get a cleanser, body wash, serum, clay mask, acne treatment gel, and silicone cleansing brush (with 5 speeds for a deep clean). And of course, you get the green gel, BioClarity’s signature product made with Floralux, a blend made from chlorophyll, copper, and antioxidants, which helps to soothe skin, reduce the appearance of redness, and battle breakouts. This is a $148 value! All of BioClarity’s products are vegan, cruelty-free and nontoxic. Use my code BUNNY15 for 15% off!

    Bulldog Expert Skincare Set (21.87 at Amazon)
    This one is for the guys! The Bulldog Expert Skincare Set comes with shave gel, face wash, face scrub, and moisturizer. My husband loves this cruelty-free men’s skincare brand! Gregg doesn’t know it yet, but this set is going to be under the tree for him this year. Shhhh! There’s no reason women can’t use these products as well, so you can also stock up for the whole family and save! The products are vegan, cruelty-free, and free of artificial colors and fragrances.

    First Aid Beauty Skin Superstars ($49 at Ulta)
    If you’re buying a gift for someone who lives in a cold or dry climate, or deals with sensitive or dry skin, the First Aid Beauty Skin Superstars set is going to be very warmly welcomed! The kit comes with First Aid Beauty’s bestsellers: Pure Skin Face Cleanser, Facial Radiance Pads, Ultra Repair Cream (my favorite – it’s a great cruelty-free dupe for Kiehl’s hand cream but can also be used for the face), Hello FAB Coconut Skin Smoothie Priming Moisturizer, and Ultra Repair Instant Oatmeal Mask. If you’re wondering about First Aid Beauty’s cruelty-free status, check this article.
    Drunk Elephant Firmy The Day Kit ($88 at Sephora)

    Who doesn’t love Drunk Elephant? They are a very popular cruelty-free skincare brand – just check Instagram and you’ll see all the love they get! The Drunk Elephant Firmy The Day Kit is great for all skin types. It comes with a full-sized C-Firma Day Serum and deluxe travel sizes of the D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Drops, B Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, Protini Polypeptide Cream, Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30. You also get a hot pink compact mirror. The kit has a $127 value and the C-Firma alone is normally $80, so this is a great deal.
    Cruelty Free Makeup Gift Ideas
    NYX Diamonds & Ice, Please! 16 Pan Mega Shadow Palette (currently $12 at Ulta)

    NYX is probably my favorite drugstore makeup brand. High quality for a great price. Their new NYX Diamonds & Ice, Please! 16 Pan Mega Shadow Palette is sure to please any makeup fanatic on your list. The limited-edition holiday palette has 16 shades including mattes, shimmers, and glitters. These eyeshadows are highly pigmented and very blendable. The palette is cruelty-free and vegan. The regular price is $20 but it’s currently $12 at Ulta.
    NYX Shout Loud FX Lipstick ($9 at Ulta)

    Since we’re talking about the NYX Diamonds & Ice Please collection, you need to see these lipsticks! The Shout Loud FX Lipsticks ($9 at Ulta) are creamy and highly pigmented. The shimmer is actually an overspray, so they aren’t glittery, but they look beautiful and are fun to photograph! I’m always a sucker for cool-toned mauves, so I bought Royal Clapback directly from the NYX website (because that shade is currently not on the Ulta site) and I am in love!
    Milani Gilded Eyeshadow Palette ($14.99 at Target)

    I love this neutral palette so much, I bought it online, and then forgot and ALMOST bought it again when I saw it in-person at Target! The Milani Gilded Eyeshadow Palette is on the warmer side, but some of the shades are in the peachy-pink range, instead of only in the orange and brick range, which is what I’m seeing a lot lately. There are 15 shades including 10 mattes (I love when palettes include lots of mattes!), 4 soft metallics and 1 shimmer. This is a very wearable cruelty-free eyeshadow palette and the price is right.
    Too Faced Holiday Gift Sets ($36 – 49 at Too Faced, Ulta and Sephora)

    Too Faced always comes out with the cutest gift sets around holiday time! There are several to choose from – with eyeshadow palettes, blush/highlighter, and mascara. The Enchanted Wonderland set ($49) is especially cool because you can gift the whole set, or take them apart (there are three palettes) and gift each one individually!
    Physicians Formula Rose All Play palette ($21.49 at Target)

    This Physicians Formula mauve, rose and wine-colored eyeshadow palette comes with 12 shades that are packed with hydrating and antioxidant-rich ingredients like goji berry, rose extract, and kakadu plum. You can find Rose All Play at Target for $21.49. If you’re wondering about Physicians Formula’s cruelty free status, check here!
    Arches & Halos Ultimate Brow Hero Kit ($49.99 at Target)

    I had been hearing a lot of good things about this brand, so I was excited to try the Arches & Halos Ultimate Brow Hero Kit. This vegan, Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free kit has every brow product you could possibly want! It comes with an Angled Brow Shading Pencil, Micro Defining Brow Pencil, Duo Luxury Brow Powder, Water Resistant Microfiber Brow Mousse, Natural Hold Gel, Dual Ended Blending Brush, and Surgical Stainless Steel Eyebrow Tweezers. It comes in Light, Medium, and Dark.
    Jouer Paris Lights Holiday Collection

    Jouer has a lot of beautiful cruelty-free holiday gift options this year. These are quality makeup goodies and all under thirty bucks! Check out the Best of Nudes Mini Lip Set ($28 at Sephora), Paris Lights Powder Highlighter & Lip Oil Set ($25 at Beautylish), and Best of Metallics Part Deux Deluxe Lip Crème Set ($28 at Jouer). If you want to see how the metallic lippies look on, my friend and fellow cruelty-free blogger, Phyrra, has a great try-on review.
    The Balm Schwing Trio Liquid Eyeliner Set ($14.50 at The Balm)

    Everything from The Balm is cute and SO giftable! The limited-edition holiday Schwing Trio liquid eyeliner set has two new colors – Sapphire Blue and 14K Gold. They are both so pretty and perfect for holiday makeup looks – even if they are just for Zoom parties! The formula is long-wearing and flake-proof.
    Cruelty Free Bath and Body Gift Sets
    Lip Smacker Best Flavor Forever Lip Balm Vault ($10 at Target)

    The Lip Smacker Best Flavor Forever Lip Balm Vault is a fun, inexpensive holiday gift for kids or adults. Who doesn’t love fun flavored lip balms like Cozy Marshmallows or Gingerbread Girl? Lip Smacker is a cruelty free brand, meaning they do not test on animals, use ingredients tested on animals or sell in places where animal testing is required. The lip balms do contain lanolin, which is a great lip hydrator, but not vegan. If you want a great flavored vegan lip balm, I suggest Hurraw, Crazy Rumors or Eco Lips.
    Burt’s Bees Fall Lip Balm Set ($13.49 at Target)

    For the more upscale lip balm connoisseur, check out the Burt’s Bees Fall Lip Balm Set, a limited edition 4-pack with yummy holiday flavors: Chai, Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Maple and Pomegranate. Burt’s Bees is a cruelty free brand, meaning they do not test on animals, use ingredients tested on animals or sell in places where animal testing is required. The lip balms do contain beeswax, so the products are not vegan. If you want a great flavored vegan lip balm, I suggest Hurraw, Crazy Rumors or Eco Lips.
    Six Feet Away Hand Sanitizer Holder ($9.99)

    This one is so 2020! The Six Feet Away hand sanitizer keychains are handy vegan leather holsters for one of your best weapons against COVID 19 – hand sanitizer! The bottles are leak-proof and you can fill them with your own sanitizer. They come in 12 different colors with rose gold or gold accents to match your bag.
    eos Holiday Shea Better Hand Cream Gift Set ($7.99 at Target)

    I was excited to see that eos was recently added to the Leaping Bunny cruelty-free beauty list! I bought the eos Holiday Shea Better Hand Cream Gift Set from Target to try it out. The set comes with shea butter-based hand creams that are not at all greasy. They absorb really well into the skin. The set comes with Coconut, Pomegranate Raspberry and Vanilla Cashmere. They are highly-scented so may not be for those with sensitive noses or prone to migraines.
    Verabella Papaya Body Polish ($28.50 at Verabella)

    This is one of my favorite non-oily body scrubs. Verabella Papaya Body Polish is a super-luxe scrub from the celebrity-favorite spa in Beverly Hills. It leaves your skin feeling moisturized but never greasy. It makes a great hand scrub too (especially if you’re getting winter “lizard hands” like my husband!). The nontoxic sea salt body polish is made with papayas (naturally full of exfoliating enzymes) and other natural superfoods like green tea, pomegranate, shea butter, licorice, acai, mangosteen, and goji berry. Normally $38, they are having a sale so it’s currently $28.50!
    Raw Sugar Peace Love Glow Green Tea Cucumber and Aloe Vera Gift Set ($11.89 at Target)

    I love Raw Sugar! We buy their watermelon and lemon sugar hand soaps and body washes. I bought the Raw Sugar Peace Love Glow Green Tea Cucumber and Aloe Vera Gift Set at Target. The formulas are great, and these deluxe travel sizes are a good way to try out new scents. Unfortunately, the green tea + cucumber scent wasn’t my jam, but I will be regifting these to my family. Wink wink!
    Pinrose Playdate perfume gift set ($25 at Pinrose)

    It seems to me that most of the department store fragrances are NOT cruelty-free. So I’m excited when I find a brand like Pinrose. The Pinrose Playdate perfume gift set comes with 8 parfum sprays so your loved one will find something they love here! It comes with:
    Wild Child – Tiare Flower • Jasmine • Vanilla
    Mystical Misfit – Red Currant • Pink Rose • Patchouli
    Merry Maker – Nectarine • Violet • Tonka Bean
    Gilded Fox – Cocoa Spice • Buttered Rum • Amber
    Sun Saint – Lime • Sea Salt • Coconut Wood
    Pillowtalk Poet – Powder • Ambergris • Musk
    Lil’ Dipper – Lemon Peel • Peony • Sandalwood
    Secret Genius – Caramel • Madagascan Vanilla • Sandalwood
    Not sure which scent you’d like the best? You can also take the online scent quiz and get a petal starter set for $25. To save some more cash, use my code BEAUTYBUNNY for 20% off any starter set!
    Cruelty Free Nail Gift Sets
    Nailtopia Blue-tiful Daze Holiday Kit ($14.99 at Ulta)

    If you have someone in your life who is both eco-friendly and a sucker for blue nail polish, they will love this Nailtopia Blue-tiful Daze Holiday Kit. Nailtopia’s Blue-tiful Daze Holiday Kit includes a crème lacquer, a shimmer lacquer, and the first-ever biodegradable, bio-sourced glitter lacquer, which is derived from cotton. Nailtopia’s biodegradable glitter particles dissipate naturally back into nature to reduce waste, whereas most nail lacquer glitters contain tiny bits of plastic that never fully break down. These polishes are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free, vegan, and nontoxic! The bag and bottle caps are made from 100% recycled materials and the bottle caps are recyclable. Not into blue? Check out their Roses Are Red holiday set.
    Defy & Inspire Duo Nail Polish Set 2 Makes 3 ($8.29 at Target)

    Defy & Inspire is another Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free brand. The Defy & Inspire Duo Nail Polish 2 Makes 3 Set comes with two shades (Everything’s Grape and Pretty in Pink) that you can wear independently or combine to make a third shade! The polishes are 9-free. The set is only $8.29 at Target and would make a great stocking stuffer.
    Orly Nail Lacquer – Metropolis Holiday 2020 Collection ($49.99 or $9.99 each at Amazon)

    So many gorgeous shades in the Orly Nail Lacquer – Metropolis Holiday 2020 Collection! In the pic above I’m wearing Opulent Obsession, a dark creamy wine topped off with Untouchable Decadence (gold glitter). Orly is Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and vegan. The Metropolis set is $49.99 or you can get them for $9.99 each at Amazon. Currently, there is a $6.65 each Black Friday deal going on at Orly!
    Cruelty Free Hair Gift Ideas
    Maria Nila Holiday Gift Boxes ($56)

    Maria Nila has some really cute Zodiac-inspired holiday gift boxes. I don’t have one to show you, but I can say I’ve tried a lot of their products and they are really great. They are vegan and cruelty-free, and the packaging is so chic. They smell great, but if you’re sensitive to fragrance, they may not be for you.
    Number 4 Holiday Gift Sets ($25 – $49 at No. 4)

    Cruelty-free hair brand, Number 4, has several holiday gift sets this year. The Sleigh the Season gift set ($40) comes with Mini Mighty Hair Spray, Sugar Texturizing Spray and Smoothing Balm. All products are made with high-quality essential oils and botanical extracts. They are cruelty-free, vegan, and gluten-free.
    Drybar Mix & Mingle Holiday Gift Set ($159.20)

    For those on your list who have been REALLY good this year, the Drybar Mix & Mingle gift set is an exciting one to get under the tree! It comes with the Mixologist interchangeable Styling Iron, Lil Lemon Drop Detangler Brush, a full-sized Triple Sec 3-in-1 Finishing Spray, 2 Hold Me Hair Clips and 3 deluxe travel-sized products (Detox Dry Shampoo, Hot Toddy Heat Protectant Mist and Money Maker Flexible Hold Hairspray). The $287-value set is currently $199 at Sephora or you can get it for $159.20 on sale on the Drybar site!
    R+Co Holiday Hair Gift Sets ($48-76 at R+Co)

    R+Co has some seriously amazing cruelty-free and vegan hair products! There are a few gift sets with either minis or a mix of full-size and minis. The packaging is fun, the formulas smell great, and they perform well. Cooler weather means flatter hair for many of us, so check out the Wild Horses Thickening Minis Kit ($48) for thicker, fuller hair. The fragrance is what R+Co calls “Dark Waves”, described as a warm romantic scent made with cardamom, pineapple, tangerine, lavender, bamboo, and blonde woods. Note: pictured above are large sizes – not minis.
    R+Co Bleu ($52 and up)

    R+Co has a new prestige, couture hair line called R+Co Bleu. If you’re shopping for someone who has high-end taste and loves to try the newest, most exclusive brands, this is a great option. Like R+Co, Bleu is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. The focus is on editorial, “uptown” hair. They use sustainable post-consumer recycled and recyclable packaging. The scent is similar to R+Co’s signature scent, but with a slightly different vibe. They are calling it “light waves.”
    NEUMA Hair Gift Sets ($67 at NEUMA salons)

    I’m a huge fan of NEUMA because they are cruelty-free, vegan and they don’t use artificial fragrance. I actually don’t mind fragrance every now and then, but I like to have something without it to come back to, so I don’t overdo it. My fine, wavy hair really loves the reNeu line (in the green bottles). They are sold out of these sets, but you can use their salon finder to find a NEUMA salon near you. Some of the salons will even drop off or ship to your house. You can also find a limited selection at Ulta.
    Paul Mitchell Holiday Gift Sets ($22 and up at Amazon and Paul Mitchell)

    I love Paul Mitchell gift sets because they always include FULL-SIZE items at a great price! This year there are several gift box sets to choose from. Pictured above: You’re a Class Act (shampoo, conditioner, and sculpting spray), Hello Hot Stuff (thermal protection and strong hairspray), You’re the Coolest (platinum blonde shampoo and conditioner), You Lift Me Up (Extra Body Sculpting Foam and Finishing Spray), and You’re Good People (clean beauty shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in treatment).
    The Paul Mitchell Clean Beauty line has no sulfates, parabens, gluten, or silicones. It’s cruelty-free and vegan. The formulas include sustainably sourced argan oil and aloe vera, and the bio-based packaging is made from 90% sugar cane!
    I’ll be adding to this list as I find new cruelty-free gifts for 2020 that I think you guys will love! More

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    Are You a Runner? Try Out Our Test to Find Out!

    Have you noticed that you now have more running shoes than regular shoes? Do you dream of running and you can’t keep your legs still at night? Take this test to find out if you are a real runner.

    Share the quiz to show your results !

    Are You a Real Runner?
    %%personality%%

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    Is PETA’s Cruelty Free List Legit?

    There has been a lot of discussion in the cruelty-free community about whether or not PETA’s cruelty-free brand list can be trusted. I don’t always agree with tactics and stances PETA has taken on other issues but setting that aside, I wanted to learn more about their cruelty-free cosmetics brand list.
    After researching post-market testing in-depth with several sources, I have come to realize that China’s post-market testing is no longer a major risk. In fact, post-market testing on cosmetics can happen here in the US (and in the EU). Much more on that here. It seems a lot of the cruelty-free community’s mistrust of PETA has to do with post-market testing. So that barrier being taken out of the way made me take a second look at PETA’s cruelty-free brand list.
    You can read my thoughts at the end of this article. As always, I try to be unbiased, flexible in my thinking, and fact-based in making determinations.
    Notes from my interview with PETA Senior VP, Kathy Guillermo
    Kathy Guillermo is Senior Vice President of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. A 31-year veteran of PETA, Kathy leads the organization’s work to end the use of animals in experiments. Her many victories include shutting down the construction of a massive monkey-breeding facility in Puerto Rico and exposing the abuse of animals at a North Carolina product-testing laboratory, Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc., which led to the closure of the facility and the adoption of hundreds of dogs and cats into good homes. She is the author of the 1993 book, Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement.

    What are the requirements for a brand to be approved as cruelty-free (and to be added to PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies list)?
    They ask that the brands do not in any way conduct, commission, or allow tests at any point in development, and suppliers must do the same. Companies sign legally-binding statements attesting to this. Suppliers change and they come and go. Larger brands may have 10,000+ suppliers. PETA does not require documents from the suppliers themselves, but they require that the brands have language in place with every supplier that mandates the no animal testing policy. They require the brands to give them their language before they are approved. Most of them put this in their contracts with their suppliers. 
    Ingredients can sometimes be required to be tested (by ingredient suppliers) in the EU for other purposes – such as their inclusion in a chemical (non-cosmetic) product (this is not supposed to happen under EU regulations, but it has – see sources below). This could be an environmental purpose or a worker safety issue investigated under REACH loopholes. One example (that is luckily not happening often), is that when an ingredient reaches a certain tonnage, it has to be tested (under REACH).
    PETA would disqualify a brand if it was buying from a supplier that has tested due to these laws. PETA has challenged these laws and does not believe they are valid under the European animal testing ban.
    Sources for all of this info here. There is more info here (but please be warned – there are graphic images on the next two links): animal tests still happening in the EU and action you can take to help.
    Do brands pay to join the program? If so, how does that work? 
    There is no charge to be listed. There is a one-time $350 fee if brands want to license the logo. This helps to pay for PETA’s administrative and legal fees.
    How is the program different from Leaping Bunny’s program?
    According to Kathy, PETA was initially part of Leaping Bunny/CCIC when it was being established 25 years ago. Their designers actually designed the Leaping Bunny logo. The discussions broke down about what the requirements should be. Specifically, how long ago an ingredient could have been tested on animals in order to approve a brand. PETA believed 5 years was too long because it was making it impossible for some brands to get approved. [Editor’s note: currently Leaping Bunny requires a fixed cut-off date for testing but there is no limit on what that time is – it could be 1 day or 5 years.] They wanted to encourage brands to stop testing and join the program. Today, PETA makes sure not to allow brands to do all their testing and then try to get certified. They investigate and work with brands who have evolved, and have ended animal testing. Companies are always innovating and going into new markets so it’s the commitment to being cruelty-free going forward that is important to them. 
    Are companies required to recommit each year? Are they audited at all after they sign up? 
    Not every year. Every couple of years they check in to make sure policies are the same and have them sign a new agreement. It depends on the company – if they are in constant contact, they may not have to. All companies are required to sign a legally binding agreement. But, they have caught companies lying and have removed them. There are a lot of whistleblowers that help with this. PETA has exposed companies who have paid for tests in China without telling anyone. 
    How do you assure that brands are not conducting pre-market and post-market testing when entering China? 
    PETA started the first investigations into brands that were conducting animal tests in China. They work closely with IIVS (Institute for In Vitro Sciences). The scientists at IIVS help to train Chinese scientists on using non-animal testing methods. PETA has very few companies on the list who are currently in China (see below).  As we all know, there are certain parameters to allow for no animal tests – products have to be manufactured (or final product assembled)  in China and there can be no “special-use products”. When working with large companies like Unilever and P&G, they know that the brands are very well versed in the laws of China.
    PETA-Certified Cruelty Free Brands Selling in China:
    Eco & more
    Lisa Rabbit
    Dove (Unilever)
    Herbal Essences (P&G)  
    Wet n Wild 
    Physicians Formula
    First Aid Beauty
    Editor’s note: the Chinese have just released the new CSAR (Administrative Measures for Filing of Non-special Use Cosmetics) and my colleagues and I are still trying to determine what they will mean for PRE-market testing in China going forward. Some have said that pre-market testing is coming to an end, but that is not clear to me yet. We are currently trying to interpret new guidelines from the NMPA. Here is PETA’s statement on this.
    Another important note – Kathy says that brands would be given the opportunity to remove their products from China if post-market animal tests were required. I asked Harald Schlatter (Director Scientific Communications & Animal Welfare Advocacy at P&G) about this, and he said, “We have been told by Chinese authorities that no products of other P&G beauty brands have been tested on animals over the past couple of years. While there is no 100% guarantee, they told us that in case of a health-related consumer complaint, they would reach out to us to provide further safety perspective.  If they then believe more is necessary, they would consider follow up testing, but usually patch testing with human volunteers, not animal testing.“
    But the fact is, officials are not requiring post-market animal tests anyway (see my previous article on post-market testing in China). Kathy says post-market testing has been mainly to ensure products are not counterfeit. In that case they wouldn’t need to do animal tests – they would just analyze the product. There is the potential for complaints about safety, but products that have been on the US or EU markets for years would not be likely to have issues. And if they did, the brand would be able to decide what types of additional tests would be done, or would have the option to pull their products from the Chinese market.
    Do you have any assurances from officials in China that testing can be avoided? 
    IIVS has relationships with officials in China. But this is not really necessary (see above). In 2014 China allowed pre-market testing to be avoided under the parameters mentioned above. PETA has an Asian division. (a PETA affiliate called PETA Asia). PETA checks the Chinese database to make sure no pre-market tests were done before they approve new companies. They also look at when a product was first registered for sale in China and what types of products they offer (no “special use products” allowed).
    Do you note if the parent co is cruelty-free on your list? I see for example that Too Faced says Estee Lauder but it isn’t noted that Estee Lauder is not cruelty-free. 
    Kathy thanked me for the suggestion and is going to look at this and possibly make updates to the list.
    Do you note if the brand is vegan?
    Yes, they note if a brand has signed their paperwork guaranteeing all of their products are 100% vegan. Going forward, brands won’t be called “cruelty-free” unless they are vegan AND not tested on animals. Companies who do not test on animals, but are not entirely vegan will be called “not animal tested”.
    So, can PETA’s cruelty free list be trusted? My thoughts and bottom line.
    So after talking to Kathy, I personally feel better about trusting PETA’s cruelty-free cosmetics brand list. I do feel that it is more lenient than Leaping Bunny’s cruelty-free list, mainly because they are vetting the brands on behalf of the suppliers rather than the suppliers themselves. But they are requiring legally binding documentation from the brands. And the brands are required to then supply language to their contracts with their suppliers. They are not auditing every year, but they are checking in on brands and removing them if they find any issues.
    To compare and contrast, I had an interview with Kim Paschen from Leaping Bunny and will be publishing an article with information from that discussion soon.
    At the end of the day, ANY cruelty-free brand list (including my own) has to take brands and suppliers at their word. All we can do is call them out if we discover lies and discrepancies and I think that we are all on the same team in that sense. More

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    iHerb Beauty Haul – All This for Under $100!

    This post is sponsored by iHerb, a retailer I’ve been using for years. All opinions are mine – you know I keep it real!
    You guys know I love iHerb.com – I talk about them all the time. I have been buying a lot of my supplements and natural products there for years. I’ve also purchased beauty products from iHerb, but I didn’t realize until recently that they carry major beauty brands, the kind you’d find at the big chain beauty stores!
    I recently bought a Strivectin skin care product at a huge discount. In today’s cruelty free beauty haul, I’ll be sharing what I got with a $100 gift card from iHerb. There is something for every budget – they also carry cruelty free drugstore makeup brands like CoverGirl and ELF.
    Before we get to my reviews, just a reminder for my international friends that iHerb ships to over 150 countries! They also carry products from the U.S., Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, the UAE, etc. You can get your favorite K-beauty and J-beauty brands here too!
    Okay, so let’s get to the good stuff! I was given $100 to shop, and I got ten beauty items!
    Unite Boosta Volumizing Spray

    It’s been a while since I’ve tried Unite hair products, but I have really enjoyed them in the past, so I was excited when I spotted their Boosta Volumizing Spray at iHerb. I have long, wavy, fine hair, but I always feel like I need more volume at the roots. This product did exactly what I wanted it to! It gave me some volume without being heavy, crunchy or greasy. I tried it as an all-over spritz on damp hair too and found that it enhanced my curls and made them more defined (when used with my regular hair gel).
    Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch

    I’m never going to stop raving about Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch hydrocolloid patches. You use them after you extract (pop) a zit, and they soak up all the gunk while protecting the wound. Sounds gross, but truly a holy grail for anyone dealing with acne. They are not treated with anything that would dry out your skin. They are just magical!
    Bulldog Shave Gel

    Bulldog is a British brand that is certified animal-testing-free by Leaping Bunny. My husband and I share this rich cruelty free shave gel. It’s made with camelina, green tea and aloe to soothe the skin and prevent razor bumps. It’s also Vegetarian Society approved.
    Grandpa’s Apple Cider Vinegar Body Wash

    I took a chance on this one. I have been loving vinegar for the oily skin on my face, and I thought this might help with my bacne (back acne). So far, I’d say Grandpa’s Apple Cider Vinegar Body Wash is a winner. It doesn’t smell bad like my DIY apple cider vinegar recipes do – it smells more like apple juice than vinegar. It leaves my skin feeling super clean and moisturized – not dried out. I can actually use it all over – even on the drier areas (like my legs). It is sulfate-free, artificial fragrance-free, paraben-free and gluten-free.
    Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer

    Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Taupe is one of my holy grails, so I was happy to try the Brow Definer that I found on iHerb. It’s got a triangular tip so you can shade or draw individual hairs. And there’s a spoolie on the other end to groom hairs into place. In my opinion both products are great – it’s just a matter of the style you’re more comfortable with.
    Sierra Bees Organic Lip Balm

    Sierra Bees is an iHerb-exclusive brand, and I was thrilled to get a pack of four for $4! I got Mint Burst, but there are tons of flavors to choose from (I was torn between mint and creme brulee). The lip balms are smooth and non-greasy. They’re made with sustainably-sourced beeswax, olive oil, sunflower oil and Vitamin E. They are certified USDA organic and GMO-free.
    Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash

    I discovered Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash at iHerb a while back, and I’ve been buying it ever since. It’s alcohol-free so it doesn’t burn. It has a ton of Ayurvedic plant extracts (neem, peelu, and many more) that clean your mouth and nourish your gums. It has a licorice/herbal taste that may take some getting used to, but I love it. My mouth feels much cleaner and healthier with this brand, and I notice that my gums don’t bleed when I use it (even when I forget to floss some days – eek!).
    Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste

    Since we’re talking about oral health, coconut oil and tea tree are also great ingredients for a healthy mouth and gums. I found these in Hello Naturally Whitening Fluoride Toothpaste. It whitens naturally and contains no artificial sweeteners, dyes, SLS, preservatives, etc. Hello products are Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free and vegan. It has a nice minty feel but is not overpowering.
    Indigo Wild – Zum Bar Goat’s Milk Soap

    I tried Indigo Wild’s Zum Bar Goat’s Milk Soap recently and I loved it so much, I had to stock up at iHerb! I tried the Lavender-Mint scent, and it’s SO nice on a hot summer day! There are a lot of natural soaps that don’t lather, and I just need some lather in my life. Thankfully Zum Bar lathers very nicely without SLS! It’s a natural soap, made with 100% food grade olive, coconut, palm & castor oils, in a goat’s milk base, with pure essential oils and mineral pigments.
    Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion

    And last, but certainly not least, I picked up a refill of one of my favorite hand and body lotions. Avalon Organics Hand & Body Lotion in Refreshing Lemon is the perfect consistency – not too heavy or too light. And the scent is DIVINE – it’s like sugared lemons. It’s cruelty-free and vegan, and GMO-free.
    So all of that for under $100 is not bad at all! I am so impressed with how many amazing cruelty-free products iHerb carries – high-end and budget. You can find everything you need there – go check them out! More

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    The Best Cruelty Free and Vegan Beauty Products

    in Acne-prone, Body, Combination Skin, Dry Skin, Hair, Lifestyle, Makeup, Misc, Nails, Oily Skin, Skin, Vegan on 07/27/20

    My editorial content has been sponsored by RetailMeNot, however my review and opinions are my own.

    People always ask me what the BEST cruelty free and vegan product in (insert category here) is. That’s a very hard task because there are so many great products out there! And there are a lot of factors involved (skin type, hair type, scent preference, etc.).
    When RetailMeNot asked me to write an article on the best products out there, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pick! I decided to go with my favorites, while also taking into account which products are popular with friends, family and the online “hive mind.” I also took into account which products could be purchased at major retailers like Amazon, Sephora and Target.

    In addition to sharing my favorites in several categories like “best cruelty free lipstick”, “best cruelty free hair products”, “best splurge”, “best value”, and others, I also included several of my favorite Black-owned cruelty free brands (most are woman-owned as well).
    I would love for you to check out my article, and share it if you like it! You can view it here. Let me know what you think of my top cruelty free beauty picks, and if you like this type of article, I’ll try to do more of them here on My Beauty Bunny! More