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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.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway More

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    How to Find Affordable Cruelty Free Gifts

    On a Budget? Let’s Talk About eCosmetics!
    This post is sponsored by eCosmetics. All opinions are 100% mine – you know I keep it real with you guys!
    I know a lot of us tend to shop at the same places online. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing that. I tend to mindlessly frequent Amazon, Sephora, and Ulta when it comes to beauty products. But, if you’re on a budget, I want you to stop and take a look at eCosmetics.
    At eCosmetics, you can find the same drugstore and high-end cosmetics that you’d find at the major retailers, but up to 50% off. If you find a cheaper price on an item, they’ll even match it! There are some budget beauty retailers out there that sell knock-off, counterfeit and expired products. That is NOT what eCosmetics is all about! Everything they sell is new and authentic – the same products you’ll find in the big-name stores.
    You can even add code Velvet10 on top of the deals for an additional 10% off your order at eCosmetics!
    Cruelty Free Gift Guide for Budget Shoppers
    eCosmetics gave me a $100 budget to find some great cruelty free gifts to share with you guys. I think I did pretty well! $100 wouldn’t go as far in other stores. I picked items for all budgets, and focused on makeup and skincare, but they also have hair, nail, and fragrance products.
    Shipping was quick – I got my items in about a week. I ordered on Nov 13th and got part of the order on the 19th and the rest on the 23rd.
    Okay, so let’s get into it! Here are some cruelty free holiday gift ideas that the beauty fanatics in your life are sure to love!
    Sunday Riley Flash Fix Gift Set ($20)

    The Sunday Riley Flash Fix gift set comes with smaller sizes of their Good Genes lactic acid treatment and Ceramic Slip cleanser. The set normally retails for $25, but it is $20 at eCosmetics. Sunday Riley is a HOT brand right now, so I think most skincare aficionados would be excited to receive this. It’s also a great gift for someone who wants to graduate from a basic routine to a more intensive anti-aging and skin-smoothing routine but doesn’t know where to start. The lactic acid in Good Genes is one of the more gentle alpha hydroxy acids, and good for all skin types. And Ceramic Slip is a great all-purpose cleanser that removes makeup, dirt and oil. It hydrates without being greasy or over stripping the skin.
    NYX Swear By It Palette ($28)

    The NYX Swear By It palette is so much fun! There are FORTY shades here – mattes, metallics, and satins. Whether you’re buying a gift for someone who tends to stick to neutrals or likes to experiment with bright colors, this has it all. The majority of shades are on the warm side, with some blues, greens, and silver/grays to round it out. This palette is normally $35 but you can get it for $28 at eCosmetics. The formula is highly pigmented and very blendable. For a drugstore brand, NYX makes some pretty great products! They are definitely one of my faves.
    Stila The Highest Realm Liquid Eyeshadow Set ($20)

    The Stila The Highest Realm liquid eyeshadow set is for the glitter lovers in your life! It retails for $25 but it’s only $20 at eCosmetics. These brush-on shades are great as eyeshadow toppers, or you can build them up to full coverage with two or three applications (just let it dry in-between to avoid streaks). The set comes with three shades: a champagne beige with gold and silver sparkle, a plum multi-color sparkle, and a caramel/gold sparkle. You can apply with the applicator or a brush, but I find it easiest to dab on with my finger.
    e.l.f. Bite Size Eyeshadow Palettes ($2.40)

    When you’re on a budget, you can’t really go wrong with these e.l.f. Bite Size eyeshadow palettes. They are small, but they would make great stocking stuffers or coworker gifts. Want to give someone a cozy, happy Winter gift? You could wrap up a good book or DVD and tie one of these babies to the outside with a pretty bow. I got Cream & Sugar, which is a warm-toned neutral palette, and Acai You, which has light blue and purple tones that you don’t see every day! These go for $3.15 so they are already inexpensive, but at eCosmetics they’re $2.40.
    First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Mango ($27.20)

    First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is one of my newfound favorites! This cream is a really great cruelty free dupe for Kiehls Ultimate Strength Hand Salve (which is not cruelty free). I keep this First Aid Beauty cream by my bed so I can give my hands mega-moisture at night. You know how some creams are either super greasy, or they smell good but they don’t make your skin feel hydrated? This is the opposite! It feels super-rich, but absorbs easily and leaves my skin feeling baby soft. The mango scent is light and not overwhelming. Colloidal oatmeal helps protect and calm irritated skin. My skin type is acne-prone and oily, so I mainly use this for my body, but normal to dry skin types will love using this on the face as well. Normally $34, this tub of magic is only $27.20 at eCosmetics! For those of you curious about First Aid Beauty’s cruelty free status, click here for more info. More

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    2020 Cruelty Free Concealer Guide + Swatches!

    Best 2020 Cruelty Free Concealer Guide and Reviews
    Let me start by being real with you guys. My skin has been a mess since the pandemic started. Stress, poor food choices (hello bread – welcome back to my life!), and less exercise, combined with a hormone imbalance (PCOS), has led to some pretty gnarly cystic acne in the last 6 months. And, for me, once a zit is gone, it leaves a scar that doesn’t go away for months and months (sometimes years).
    I’m always big on skincare, so that hasn’t really changed, but lately I’ve been focusing on finding the perfect cruelty free concealer. Here are my particulars:
    I’ve found that it’s very hard to match my skin tone perfectly.
    I’ve learned that my neck, face and swatching arm are all very different colors!
    My increased acne has made my face redder, so instead of leaning yellow, I’m now starting to lean slightly pinker than normal.
    I need a concealer formula that doesn’t clog pores and make acne worse.
    In addition to a concealer, I need a green color corrector for the redness.
    I’m big on coverage but only if it blends well and looks natural, like skin.
    So, because I can’t currently swatch concealers in stores, I had to look online for cruelty free concealer swatches, pick some shades, and hope for the best. Thank goodness for Sephora’s return policy!
    I’m sharing my concealer swatches below in the hopes that it can help if you’re close to my shade. I have a light olive skin tone, but now with all the redness, it seems like it has changed slightly! I received a sample of Fit Glow Beauty Conceal+ in C2.5 (Light Medium) and was shocked to see that it blended pretty well even though it was a lot more peachy-pink than my normal yellow-based concealers. This made me question EVERYTHING I EVER KNEW, so I went online and bought shades I wouldn’t normally use.

    Best Concealer for Under the Eyes?
    To be honest, I have pretty much given up on using concealer under my eyes. I am 40 years old, and I think my eyes actually look fine without it. My lines aren’t that noticeable but I do have some loss of volume under my eyes that creates dark “troughs” that weren’t there 5 years ago. But when I use ANY concealer (and God forbid – powder), it emphasizes wrinkles and dryness that is normally invisible. I swear it adds lines and textures and ages me like 10 years. It’s just not worth it for a bit of brightening. I’ve watched a million YouTube videos (by YouTubers of all ages) and tried so many products, but I’ve just decided I’m going to use concealer for my acne scars and leave my undereye area bare for now!
    Should I Match My Face to My Neck?
    My advice – do what YOU think is best. Ignore the beauty gurus. So many YouTubers and bloggers insist that you should match your foundation and concealer to your neck and chest. I agree that may work if you have a darker chest, and you want to go a shade or two darker with your foundation. But for me, my neck is just lighter and pinker than my face and going lighter with my foundation/concealer never works for me. It would just make me look like a patchy Casper the Friendly Ghost. I also prefer to just cover acne with concealer and not do a full face of foundation on most days, so it HAS to match my skin tone exactly. If I put self tanner on my chest, I’ll usually just add a bit more bronzer when I do my makeup to even things out. Seriously – just do what makes sense for you.
    Cruelty Free Concealer Swatches
    So, without further ado, here are my swatches. I did a wet swatch and a dried swatch so you can see how much darker some of the shades get when they oxidize. I don’t know if I’ve found my holy-grail-exact-match concealer yet, but I’ve found some really great ones.

    Cruelty Free Concealer Reviews
    Below, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of each one. And please note that I’m telling you what I think the coverage level is – not necessarily what the company says it is!
    I plan to add to this list as I try new concealers, so stay tuned – I may find my holy grail out there!

    Beauty Blender Bounce Airbrush Liquid Whip Concealer
    Shade Pictured – 2.10 C Light Buff in large swatch photo; Shades 1.3W Light Sand and 1.4N Light Neutral in second photo
    Price – $26
    Coverage – Medium to Full
    Where to find it? Sephora
    Pros
    Huge shade range (even though the three I picked out didn’t match me – there are still many I haven’t tried yet)
    Price is reasonable for a prestige (non-drugstore) concealer
    Hyaluronic acid to hydrate, peptides to brighten and reduce puffiness (if you use it under your eyes)
    Vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free
    Cons
    Contains dimethicone – silicones have never been a problem for me and they don’t seem to trigger my acne, but some people avoid them

    Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Liquid Touch Brightening Concealer
    Shades Pictured – 140C, 160C and 170W
    Price – $19
    Coverage – Light to Medium
    Where to find it? Sephora
    So far, this is the winner for me. I also like the Tarte Shape Tape (better coverage but not an exact shade match) and the FitGlow Beauty concealer (covers large pores easily but not an exact shade match), but I have found that I’m reaching for the Rare Beauty concealer most often (closest shade match so far).
    I found that 170W (which leans yellow but isn’t CRAZY yellow) worked as one of the best shade matches so far for my face. And 140C is pinker and perfect for my neck (yeah believe it or not – I get breakouts there too sometimes). My only complaint is that I’d like a bit more coverage.
    Pros
    Huge shade range
    Great price
    Looks natural – like skin – no caking
    Has brightening properties but isn’t shimmery or oily
    Vegan and cruelty free
    Cons
    It has light to medium coverage and is buildable but I could never get it to completely cover my scars (to be fair – my scars are pretty tough to conceal)
    Contains dimethicone – silicones have never been a problem for me and they don’t seem to trigger my acne, but some people avoid them

    Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer
    Shades Pictured – 130 and 140
    Price – $26
    Coverage – Full
    Where to find it? Sephora
    I didn’t find a shade match but I do like the consistency of the formula. The fuller the coverage, the closer you have to match the shade to your skin tone. Sorry, I forgot to take a close-up photo of the applicator before I sent the shades back to Sephora but you can see my swatches at the top of the article.
    Pros
    Huge shade range – I didn’t find my match but I haven’t tried them all
    Price is reasonable for a prestige (non-drugstore) concealer
    Sweat-resistant and long-wear (may be a plus or a minus for you!)
    Cruelty free
    Cons
    Not labeled as vegan which will be an issue for some
    Contains dimethicone – silicones have never been a problem for me and they don’t seem to trigger my acne, but some people avoid them
    Contains talc – not an issue for me, but some are bothered by it

    Tarte Shape Tape
    Shade Pictured – Light Sand
    Price – $27
    Coverage – Very Full
    Where to find it? Ulta, Tarte.com
    This has been my holy grail for a very long time. I just wish there was a shade that was a bit more light olive and a little less yellow. The coverage is amazing – a little goes a long way!
    Pros
    Decent shade range (but not as extensive as some of the others)
    Blends easily and doesn’t settle into large pores
    Hydrating and has licorice root to brighten
    Great coverage
    Vegan and cruelty free
    Cons
    Some people don’t like the citrus scent (I don’t have a problem with it)
    The coverage is EXTREMELY full so a little goes a long way – might be too much for some people
    Contains silicones, which have never been a problem for me and they don’t seem to trigger my acne, but some people avoid them.

    Kosas Revealer Concealer
    Shade Pictured – 02
    Price – $28
    Coverage – Medium
    Where to find it? Sephora Kosas.com, Credo
    Pros
    Clean beauty brand
    Looks natural – like skin – no caking
    Has a lot of added skincare ingredients which helps to support the higher price point for me: arnica, panthenol, caffeine (for tightening), hyaluronic acid, peptides, pink algae (note: the jury is out for me on whether this ingredient aggravates acne…I don’t think so but it’s hard to be sure)
    Vegan and cruelty free
    Cons
    Weak shade range
    Higher price point

    Fit Glow Beauty
    Shade Pictured – C 2.5
    Price – $42
    Coverage – Full
    Where to Find It? FitGlowBeauty Detox Market Amazon
    This one really surprised me! The formula feels heavy and thick, but magically covered my acne scars and large pores. With a bit of blending, it far surpassed my expectations. I was also shocked to find the shade C 2.5 (which is peachier/pinker than I normally wear) matched fairly well.
    The shade was slightly too dark for me though and the lighter shade (C2) wasn’t quite a match either. I think I need a lighter, more yellow/olive option. If they added shades to this line, I’d be VERY excited about this one! The price point is very high, but a little does go a long way, and I’m personally willing to pay more for a great concealer (especially with anti-aging and brightening skincare ingredients) but I realize not everyone can afford a $42 concealer.
    Pros
    Organic ingredients, clean beauty (0 on EWG scale)
    Great for covering acne scars and large pores
    Tons of brightening and anti-aging skincare ingredients: phyto elastin, organic green tea, Vitamin K, licorice root, caffeine (to tighten), etc
    Vegan and cruelty free
    Silicone-free
    Talc-free
    Cons
    Highest price point
    Not available in the major beauty retail chains

    It Cosmetics Bye Bye Redness
    Shade Pictured – Transforming Porcelain Beige
    Price – $34
    Coverage – Full
    Where to Find It? Sephora Ulta QVC ItCosmetics.com
    This stuff is amazing and would be my holy grail if only they would come out with A LOT more shades. As you can see in the swatch photo, the Porcelain Beige is a perfect match for me – that is until it oxidizes and turns about 3 shades darker! The lighter option is too pink/peach for me. And if I had darker brown or black skin, I think I’d be completely out of luck. The formula really does reduce redness and the coverage is amazing. It is perfect for acne-prone or rosacea-prone people, but they just need to add more shades!
    Pros
    Has a built-in color corrector to fight redness
    Full coverage but blends easily – looks natural
    Has peptides for anti-aging, licorice for brightening, colloidal oatmeal to soothe, and many other high-end skincare ingredients
    Talc-free
    Cruelty free
    Cons
    VERY weak shade range
    Not vegan (has collagen and silk)
    High price point
    Has avocado oil (3 on the comedogenic scale) which could trigger breakouts – I haven’t noticed worsening of acne, but it’s possible
    Contains dimethicone – silicones have never been a problem for me and they don’t seem to trigger my acne, but some people avoid them. More

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    My Interview with Leaping Bunny

    All the questions you wanted to ask about the Leaping Bunny program!
    Leaping Bunny is known as the gold standard of cruelty free beauty lists. They certify cruelty free brands, and they’re the ones behind the jumping bunny logo you have probably seen on your favorite beauty and cleaning brands. You can see a full list of Leaping Bunny certified cruelty free brands here.

    Recently I interviewed a senior VP from PETA to learn more about their methods. I wanted to compare and contrast a bit and learn more about how Leaping Bunny differs from PETA, so I interviewed Kim Paschen, the Program Manager for Leaping Bunny to find out more about how they certify brands, and what their stance is on China and post-market testing.
    In my interview, I included the questions you guys wanted me to ask, as well as some questions of my own. Whether you’re a cruelty free consumer or a brand who is wondering how to get certified with Leaping Bunny, this should help.
    Kim Paschen works for the American Anti Vivisection Society. As part of the CCIC, they have been chair of the Leaping Bunny program since 2007, and they oversee its administration. Kim is the Program Manager for Leaping Bunny.
    I conducted a phone interview with Kim (who I have known for years!) and these are my notes from that call (not her words verbatim).

    Kim Paschen, Program Manager, Leaping Bunny
    Which organizations make up Leaping Bunny? 
    By 1996, cruelty-free shopping had become popular, but it was also confusing, sometimes misleading, and ultimately frustrating. Companies had begun designing their own bunny logos, using their own definition of ‘cruelty-free’ or ‘animal friendly’ without the participation of animal protection groups.
    In response, eight national animal protection groups banded together to form the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC). The CCIC promotes a cruelty-free standard and an internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo. They work with companies to help make shopping for animal-friendly products easier and more trustworthy.
    What does a brand have to do to become Leaping Bunny certified?
    When a brand contacts Leaping Bunny, they ask some preliminary questions. They create an account via their website and ask them to apply. The company fills out the Application for Approval which asks them in-depth questions about their operations.
    Brands need to have a “fixed cut-off date” after which time they agree to have no ingredients or finished products that have been tested on animals. Pretty much all ingredients have been tested at some point (even water), so the fixed cut-off date ensures there will be no testing in the future.
    You’d think because many ingredients have been tested, there would be no need for animal testing today. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of cosmetic testing on animals being done around the world today.
    The company that is applying for Leaping Bunny certification is the one to complete the application. They also must get signed declarations from each supplier after the company’s fixed cut-off date. Or, they can submit amended purchase orders which contains language requiring that the supplier will not test on animals.
    If a company has distributors that sell in countries outside of the US, the brand must also include language in their contracts that says they cannot sell to any countries that require animal testing.
    I have read their application but they asked me not to make it public. I can tell you it’s VERY thorough. You can learn more about the application process here. You can read about their Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals here.
    An important note – if a brand is using a third-party manufacturer, only the manufacturer has to submit a declaration (not the ingredient suppliers themselves), though the manufacturer is required to implement its own cruelty-free Supplier Monitoring System independently. Leaping Bunny would ask the manufacturer to sign a declaration saying they are only working with cruelty free ingredient suppliers. Most of the time manufacturers will not reveal who their ingredient suppliers are – they consider that proprietary information.
    Is the Leaping Bunny logo recognized in countries outside of the US? Are the standards for approval different outside of the US?
    The North American brand of Leaping Bunny covers US and Canada. Their partner is Cruelty Free International (CFI), based in the UK. CFI certifies all other countries. Leaping Bunny and CFI share the same cruelty free brand list, so if CFI certifies a brand, they can add them to their list and vice versa.
    Do brands pay to join the Leaping Bunny program or to license the logo? If so, how does that work? 
    Leaping Bunny certification in North America is free. Companies do not have to pay to be listed as cruelty free. The only cost associated is for brands to license the logo for packaging and/or website. 
    But, Leaping Bunny certification outside of North America (via Cruelty Free International) DOES have an annual listing/administrative charge.

    Does the EU’s animal testing (because of REACH laws) have any effect on the Leaping Bunny list?
    The particularities are slightly different in regard to CFI’s process in the UK and EU vs Leaping Bunny’s process in North America. Safety rules (such as the EU’s REACH laws) can mean that some EU ingredient suppliers are being forced to test on animals. Leaping Bunny doesn’t allow REACH tests for North America but CFI does have some exceptions. More and more chemicals used in cosmetics are being tested under REACH, and there is currently no way to avoid it.
    Their shared goal is to do as much research as possible and find alternatives to chemicals tested under REACH. So if an ingredient supplier (who makes raw materials) has never tested on animals, but REACH required one test, that could be an exception for CFI. This is not common and doesn’t happen often.
    Important food for thought: As I often say, the world of cruelty free beauty is never black and white. If an ingredient supplier in the EU is forced to test on animals, a cruelty free brand and their manufacturer might not even know about it! That brand might even be a US brand (the supply chain is becoming more and more global). Another caveat is that one ingredient supplier may be asked to test a chemical on animals, and other suppliers may use that safety data going forward. They didn’t conduct the test but they used the data…so are they innocent? You can read more about how murky the definition of cruelty free can get here.
    Is there a specific number of years required for a fixed cut-off date for animal testing by ingredient suppliers? What about for brands (i.e. if a non-cruelty free brand stopped testing TODAY, how long would you want them to wait before applying)? 
    There is no specific timeline, but a fixed cut off date for animal testing is required. There is no waiting period, so if a brand said their fixed cut off date was today, they could potentially be Leaping Bunny certified tomorrow. But Kim said that doesn’t happen often.
    How is the Leaping Bunny cruelty free brand list different from the PETA brand list?
    They require companies to recommit annually. They check with each brand and if info is not up to date then the brands can’t stay on the list. They also do in-person audits to 20 random companies each year using a third-party auditor (more on this below).
    Do you note if a brand is vegan? Is there any specific requirements to be listed as vegan?
    No, they do not mention if a brand is 100% vegan or not, and it is not required for Leaping Bunny certification.

    Do you note if the parent company is cruelty free or not?
    Yes, when you view the list of Leaping Bunny certified brands, you will see a symbol to note if a parent company is not cruelty free.
    Are companies required to recommit each year? 
    Once a year, brands have to go through the recommitment process. The Leaping Bunny team re-checks their status and looks for things like being acquired by another company, selling in China, changing or adding ingredient suppliers or manufacturers, etc. If anything changes, new declarations are required.
    How often do you audit brands? What does an audit entail?
    They do in-person audits to 20 random companies each year using a third-party auditor (who is an independent consultant). They make sure purchase orders and records correspond to manufacturers and suppliers that they have declarations for. The auditor meets with the brand to discuss China, parent companies, supply chains, etc – making sure what is in the system is correct and hasn’t changed.
    How do you assure that brands are not conducting pre-market and post-market testing when entering China?
    Currently, the North American arm of Leaping Bunny does not allow companies to sell in mainland China (except via cross border e-commerce – which is not regulated by the Chinese government – no registration or tests are required). It’s important to note that pre-market animal testing requirements for imported goods in China continues to be a big problem. But, we discussed and agreed that post-market testing on animals just isn’t happening. Kim also agreed that in the event of a complaint, a recall is more likely than animal testing.
    However, all that being said, CFI (the UK arm that approves Leaping Bunny applications for the UK and EU) started a Leaping Bunny pilot program for EU brands to sell in China. It includes a small handful of brands such as Bulldog Skincare, 7th Heaven, Brighter Beauty and Neal’s Yard Remedies. The companies in that program are able to bottle and/or manufacture their finished products in China and are selling non-special-use cosmetics (using the same standards as PETA).

    My final thoughts
    I think most people will agree that Leaping Bunny is truly the gold standard, and the best cruelty free list out there. They go the extra mile to make sure brands are cruelty free, and they re-check every year.
    But, there is no way for the Leaping Bunny list or ANY cruelty free list (including mine) to be 100% airtight. It’s just not possible. Ultimately, we all have to take what the brand representatives say at their word. Whoever is filling out the questionnaires could be ignorant or even lying. Just as an example, I’ve had so many brands tell me they are Leaping Bunny certified, and when I go to the site to check, they aren’t listed. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the beauty industry and it seems that everyone wants to believe their brand is cruelty free (even if it’s not).
    At some point though, you just have to rely on the brands being honest and truthful (and knowing what their ingredient suppliers are doing), and there have to be repercussions for the ones who are caught lying.
    Exceptions also have to be made for government laws because at this time, there is really no way around it. That is why I have changed my views on post-market testing in China. I have learned that they are not so different from Western laws (including REACH laws in the EU). You can read more about that here.
    We just need to keep being LOUD and telling brands that we want them to pledge to go cruelty free! I can tell you that a lot has changed since I started this cruelty free blog in 2009. There is a lot more interest in cruelty free cosmetics from consumers and that has made brands take notice. More

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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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    Best Budget Cruelty Free Brands at Target

    Raise your hand if you’re addicted to shopping at Target? Yes, girl, ME TOO! And do you need to shop the beauty aisles every time you go — even though you only went there for cleaners and paper towels? ME TOO! I love that I have so many cruelty-free options to explore whether I’m shopping online or in-store. I think Target has done a great job at expanding its cruelty-free options and wanted to make sure all our readers knew all the great budget-friendly choices we have available to us!

    Pixi Beauty – I have sung the praises of this brand for just about forever! Pixi Beauty really can do no wrong in my eyes and I’ve tried just about every single line of skincare they put out there. I’ve got an almost embarrassing amount of their makeup in my vanity organizers and I’m pretty obsessed with their rose-infused line. But lately, I’ve turned into a total sucker for their Jasmine oil and Retinol Eye Cream. I enjoy using the antioxidant-rich Jasmine Oil in the evening as a final step in my skincare and the Retinol cream is working hard (but gently) to keep my eyes looking young.

    Milani – Milani carries just about everything you need cosmetics wise while delivering a luxurious feel but at WAY affordable prices — a combination I’m all for! If you’ve tried any of their blushes you would know what I’m talking about.  The rose powder blushes will always have a special place in my heart but I’ve been wearing their Baked Blush in “Luminoso” lately and it feels like the perfect Summer-y peach for my complexion. Peach not your thing? Their high pigment baked blush comes in lots of other colors to choose from. P.S it’s also vegan!

    Burt’s Bees – You really can’t go wrong with a basic set of Burt’s Bees lip balm. I mean, they’re just like chips — can’t have just one! Stash those balms everywhere! Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balms always apply so smooth and I love the peppermint scent — especially helpful when your lips feel super chapped and burned. Prefer a lip balm with a little color? Their Tinted Lip Balms are super pretty and give some subtle color.

    Honest Beauty – I love Jessica Alba and her Honest Beauty line! She created Honest Beauty when she couldn’t find products that worked well for her and her reactive skin so she sought out to make a clean beauty line that was simple, easy, and beautiful to use. I’ve watched some of her makeup tutorials and I always love how she does her eyes. The finishing touch? Her Extreme Length Mascara and Lash Primer makes a noticeable difference in lashes with its gripping primer and smooth, rich black mascara. I’m all about definition and this one is a winner!

    Pacifica – if there is one brand that will always catch my eye with it’s beautiful packaging its 100% vegan and cruelty-free Pacifica. There are almost too many favorites from Pacifica, but their wipes always get two thumbs up from me! The Moisture Rehab Makeup Removing Wipes in rose & coconut scent smell so good and are a great first step to removing the day’s makeup away for a clean slate at night time without drying out or irritating the skin.

    E.L.F – E.L.F has been one of those brands I’ve been buying from for ages! It was one of those brands where you could buy a TON of product to try things out and has blossomed into a more refined brand today. I’d even venture to say that some of their products rival some of the prestige brands out there. They always have good makeup brushes and this new set from their Retro Paradise Collection makes me have heart eyes for it. Can’t go wrong with a couple of face and eye brushes to create a full look!

    Bliss – The Bliss brand is cruelty-free, and carefully formulated to be free of over 1,300 harmful substances following the strict European Union standards for skincare. If I need a spa night, I know I can always reach for a Bliss spa-quality face mask to wind down the evening with. One of my favorites (and repeat purchases) is their Mighty Marshmallow Bright & Radiant Face Mask which goes on smooth and leaves my skin glowing, and their supercooling Mint Chip Mania Cooling & Soothing Face Mask. Trust me when I say these are bomb!

    NYX – Did you know that NYX started out at a professional-only brand? Lucky us that it finally trickled down to the mass consumer because their products are amazing and affordable all in one! I might have owned a drawer full of Butter Glosses over the years, but their Filler Instinct Plump Lip Color is getting some serious applause right now. This glossy lipstick is vegan and available in 6 semi-sheer shades.

    CoverGirl – It was so exciting to see when CoverGirl announced they were Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free because their mascaras are a staple in so many beauty bags! Want volume? Their LashBlast Volume formula is a favorite! Hate clumps and want definition? Go with their LashBlast Clump Crusher that has a silicone wand to define and separate with its all-in-one primer and mascara formula.

    Coloured Raine – Black-owned, cruelty-free beauty brand, Coloured Raine sits on our radar for having some gorgeous, pigmented products that don’t break the bank. Their vegan Matte Lip Paint can be precisely placed on with its doe foot applicator and comes in ten budge-proof shades.

    Derma E – If you’re looking for good skincare, Derma E has something for all skin types. Not only are they cruelty-free, but they also are 100% vegan and eco-conscious. Their Hydrating line that incorporates hyaluronic acid into all of its products is amazing. I love using the mist but their sulfate-free Hydrating Cleanser is a MUST have for my combo and sometimes sensitive skin!

    Undone Beauty – If minimalist makeup is your thing, then you’ll want to get acquainted with Undone beauty. Simple, straight-forward and ultra-wearable, Undone Beauty made sure to make vegan and cruelty-free products that remain affordable but with a luxurious touch to them. Their Lip to Cheek 3-in-1 Cream Tint and Warm Up 4-in-1 Radiance Bronzer give you multiple ways to create customizable looks with these compact palettes. You’ll love how these will fit in your bag and work for an on-the-go lifestyle. 
    Do you have a favorite cruelty-free brand that you purchase at Target? Share in the comments section below!
    Looking for cruelty free beauty brands sold on Amazon? Click here! More

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    Are We Getting Closer to an Animal Testing Ban in the US?

    We are all watching and waiting for an animal testing ban in the United States. I feel that we are SO far behind with this, and the US needs to catch up to the almost 40 other countries (including the EU) who have enacted bans. These bans are not without their loopholes, but they have made a difference. We are making progress, year by year, and it’s time for the US to ban all animal testing for cosmetics.
    What is the Humane Cosmetics Act?
    The Humane Cosmetics Act prohibits new animal testing of cosmetics and their ingredients and prohibits the sale in the United States of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. (Read more from the Personal Care Products Council here.) It is not without its loopholes:
    • Prohibits animal testing and bans the use of evidence from animal testing to establish the safety of a cosmetic or cosmetic ingredient unless there is no non-animal alternative method or strategy recognized by any Federal agency or the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for the relevant safety endpoints and other very strict criteria are met.
    • Requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to promote scientific advancements in this area.
    • Bans cosmetics manufacturers from including “cruelty free” claims on their packaging if animal testing data was used to establish the safety of the product or any of its ingredients.
    • Creates a national uniform standard for animal welfare.
    So would our products be safe without animal tests?
    Absolutely. There are differences between the species, so many of the animal tests out there are not even applicable for humans. This is an older article, but it explains some of the alternative tests that can be used for cosmetics safety. PETA also has an in-depth article on animal testing alternatives here.
    The Humane Cosmetics Act was first introduced in 2014. In 2019 it reached the US Senate and House of Representatives. Sad that it’s moving so slowly, I know. But it is gathering more support from brands, who are pushing for change. If you want to do more, you can easily send a message to your legislators here:
    Please take action for animals:
    Send a letter to your representative asking them to co-sponsor the bill via the Humane Society of the United States
    Humane Society’s Update
    The following is from a press release put out by the Humane Society of the United States:
    This week, we reached an important milestone with 300 independent companies now officially endorsing the Humane Cosmetics Act, in addition to nearly 600 member companies of the Personal Care Products Council, which also supports the bill. The measure would end animal testing for cosmetic products and ingredients in the US and prohibit the import of cosmetics that have been tested on animals anywhere in the world. Most of the endorsements come from small businesses that are already proving that high-quality cosmetics can be formulated without testing on animals. But the list also includes industry heavyweights such as Unilever and P&G, and known brands such as H&M and LUSH.
    Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States and Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund wrote in their joint blog today:

    “Cosmetics companies can choose from thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use to create new and innovative products the cruelty-free way. For new ingredients, animal tests are increasingly being replaced with non-animal methods that are often quicker, cheaper and more reliable as predictors of toxicity in humans. But there is a more fundamental reason to replace conventional animal tests for cosmetics products like shampoo and mascara—the tremendous suffering they cause as rabbits, mice, rats and guinea pigs have substances variously forced down their throats, dripped into their eyes, or smeared onto their skin. They are often left to suffer for days on end without any pain relief.”

    Cosmetics companies are already obliged to comply with laws in California, Nevada and Illinois, which ban the sales of cosmetics newly tested on animals. Nearly 40 nations, including member states of the European Union, Australia, Guatemala, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Turkey, have also passed laws prohibiting or limiting cosmetics testing on animals, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Humane Society International and its partners worldwide.
    This bipartisan bill has already been introduced in the House and the Senate.
    Here is a list of companies who are endorsing the Humane Cosmetics Act: 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