Notes from a vegan makeover in progress
When I started writing Guac my main objective was to give an honest account of what it was like to go vegan. So here's a home truth I didn't expect to encounter in quite so many ways and forms: going vegan for beauty products has not been easy.
I planned to put together a few reviews of beauty products as I replaced the non-vegan products with vegan ones over time. But I'm finding it hasn't been as simple as that, as it's taking me a while to settle in to the new products and I want to keep track of how this can be challenging in its own way. I never quite realised how much you might use a certain type of powder because of how a foundation acts etc, so beginning an overhaul of my entire makeup bag has been difficult.
I feel a bit stupid not realising this now, but obviously once you get settled in the certain beauty products you use over the years, you know how they work best and their effect. I've been wearing the same foundation, powder, blusher, mascara and eye liner since I was 18. If you imagine eating the same food every day for that time, it would be almost impossible. The same thing for breakfast for six years? Forgettaboutit. But for me, and I think for a lot of people that aren't that in to beauty products, once you find a product that works well and in your price bracket, it's very much a not-broke-why-fix-it system. So six years later, when I decide they do all need to change, it's a totally different ball game as to going vegan for food.
Because of this - I've decided instead to keep a kind of diary about my findings, and update when I buy a new product or as I use that product. I hope by the end of this, when I've finally switched to entirely vegan products, I can put together some more concise reviews- but I think my findings as I go along might also be just as useful, especially for anyone else trying to turn their beauty and cleaning regime vegan. It would be great for someone to learn from my mistakes instead of having to go through all of this too!
First up, I swapped my mascara to Urban Decay Lush Lash Mascara, £15.00
This mascara has been a dream. It was SO hard to find a mascara that is vegan, but I absolutely adore this product and it's easily better than my original mascara. It doesn't flake off, it stays on all day and is THICK. I'm really fond of 1960s, almost Twiggy style eyelashes, so the natural look is not one I wanted to achieve, and this one was perfect for me. What's more, now that I think about it, my eyes no longer itch after a long day with a lot of mascara on, there is no irritation and or soreness from the mascara.
Second from Urban Decay, I switched to their Razor Sharp Ultra Definition Finishing Powder, £21.00
Powder is a tough one. I love full coverage and wear powder all day every day, so for me it's got to be something that I can put on after three gin and tonics on the back of the bus, as well as in my room after a good night's sleep. The packaging for this product therefore is NOT my best friend right now. Instead of being compacted powder, it's loose, and the top of the container screws right off. I know you're supposed to use it through the powder puff, but for the cost of the product, I'm not going to waste half of it going in to a sponge which gets greasy and might not give even distribution after some use. I've learnt my lesson and won't be buying loose powder again (anyone who wears as much black as I do knows how much of a nightmare this can be) but I think Urban Decay should learn a lesson too and make its great product a bit easier to use and keep. Because, all this said, the powder is great, it lasts and is worth the money once you get it on your face.
Biona Organic Raw Coconut Oil, £3.99
I gave up soy milk and soy products a week ago, as I have been getting really concerned about the rate of hair loss I'm currently experiencing. It's not in a specific place on my head, just about 50 hairs a day, more than the average max of 30 and not good as I already have bleached hair. Despite the peroxide, which I've been doing for two years, I have always had thick and strong hair, so I know it's not the bleach. So I've started with cutting out soy to see if this is the trick. I've found this hard. I haven't been tempted at all by soy products as they were more of a fix-all for dairy things I missed, but a soy-less diet for a vegan is pretty tricky, especially as I'm not yet fond of any other milks (hopefully this will change in time so I can get my museli back!)
BUT. Having looked more in to soy and its processes and scary things like estrogen-mimicking compounds, I'm beginning to think life off the soy bandwagon might be pretty peachy. I originally assumed it would be a good, regular source of protein, so had been drinking about half a carton of soy milk a day, as well as soy mince, tofu, soy sauce and soy margarine. If my hair does slow down its moulting over the next six weeks or so I will definitely cut it out for good.
On the back of going soy free and running out of Macadamia nut oil, I decided to treat my hair to a homemade masque. I have a very, VERY bad memory of inadvertently making scrambled egg in my hair when I was 15 (don't follow everything TeenVogue tells you to do, basically) so my best friends have pretty much banned me from any DIY hair masques. Until now, I thought, as I twisted open the jar of delicious smelling coconut oil from Whole Foods. I mixed two large tablespoons with a dash of olive oil and stirred it in to a thin paste, then combed it through my hair and left it for 20 minutes. Despite pretty much every online review saying you could fling on as much coconut oil as you fancied, this amount turned out to be WAY too much for my hair and I wasn't able to wash the oil out that day. I would say half the amount, so one large tablespoon and a little olive oil, for shoulder-length hair, would definitely do the trick.
After washing my hair once more the next morning, it did feel super smooth, more supple and glossier. I hope I'm not imagining it but I don't think I have moulted as much this week. One tip my friend Ruth told me was to splash out a bit and go for the more expensive oils- the ones that are raw, virgin or extra virgin as opposed to the 99p ones in Morrisons which have been processed and lose a lot of their goodness.
WLTM a decent vegan deodorant...
I'm in the process of trialling different deodorants. As I cycle to and from work and often straight to social events, I need a deodorant that does the job for at least 12 hours. I'm realising this could be really hard to find with vegan and specifically natural products. A visit to Whole Foods gave me a good choice, but I was sceptical as to how well Crystal Salt Rock can work at stopping me sweat (it turns out it doesn't, it just deodorises). Eventually I bought Green People Body Care Natural Deodorant for £8.99. This deodorant does not work for me. The sensation, after years of not even having to worry about if my deodorant was working or not, to being super paranoid as you can tell it isn't working, was not one I am going to repeat. I used it for two days and then had to stop. I want to smell nice. It's the Twenty First Century. I feel this is possible. So I'm currently trialling a deodorant from Lush, T'eo, but as it doesn't come in a container, I'm going to have to use some Tuppaware to carry it to and from work in my rucksack. If it works well, then I don't mind looking a little weird with a lunchbox of deodorant. If it doesn't work, someone needs to invent this product PLEASE. (NB: In the mean time my boyfriend has stockpiled deodorant so I am using those, so yes please hang out with me still).
And finally, the ongoing quest for a facial wipe replacement...
If you had asked me a year ago what my desert island beauty product would be, I would have told you Simple Face Wipes. I've used these every day since I was 15. I've been known to spend my last £3.50 on them before pay day, and I used them for everything- red wine stains- cleaning, whatever. I don't want to talk too much about how great they are because essentially they AREN'T because they are made by Unilever. Despite the name, packaging and branding, Simple wipes are not a simple moral choice, and finding a replacement hasn't been either. So far I have only been able to afford to try one other type of face wipe- Faith in Nature 3-in-1 Facial Wipes, which is sold in my local Whole Foods. Considering how expensive Simple Wipes are, these really don't feel too bad in price either, but I think I will switch to another brand as my skin has broken out in spots that won't go away. Consistently, over the years, I have never had bad skin because I used the Simple Wipes. When I ran out, I would get bad skin, so I know it was them. It has been a bit miserable having such bad skin suddenly, but I will just have to try out some new wipes. I'm not going back to Unilever. THAT is simple.