Friday, May 21, 2010

product round-up: the good, the bad, and the ugly

A subtitle for this post could be: the Awesome, the Adequate-but-Mediocre, and the Straight-Up-Nasty.

I still have reservations about stating loud and clear for all the world, "I am vegan."  Although I eat a primarily plant/grain-based diet, there are still occasions, rare though they be, when I eat cheese or something made with eggs.  While I will choose a non-animal-product food/drink/thingy when they are readily available, I am not yet to the point where I eat egg- and dairy-free or not at all.

Nevertheless, I am taking my babysteps towards living a life of compassion and finding that it is not always as inconvenient as it may seem.  One of the subjects which has recently taken up residence in my mind is the great number of beauty products most people don't even realize contain [relatively gross] animal by-products.  We don't normally read the contents of our lotions, lipbalms, moisturizers, and various other salves other than to laugh at the multisyllabic and unpronounceable names of the ingredients, much less to probe into whether they are natural or synthetic, plant- or animal-based.

As I prepared for my trip to Arizona, I took it as an opportunity to try out some new beauty/body care products in carry-on-friendly sizes.  I started using a natural toothpaste a while back not out of any concern for any animal products that may or may not be involved in the production of popular brands but because I wasn't buying that the artificial colors and flavors were benefiting my dental health.

I picked up a trial sized bottle of Nature's Gate hand lotion a few months back and it got the gears turning in my mind about how vegan hand lotion compared to "normal" lotion.

With the help of blogs, search engines, and the magical, mystical internet, I found Avalon Organics.  Although living in an urban area certainly makes it easier to find products those in the outlying 'burbs and sub-rural towns might consider bizarre or exotic (at best), there still seems to be a separation between natural/vegan products one can find on the East Coast versus those available on the West Coast.  I remembered seeing Avalon Organics at Whole Foods, so I was excited to try.

I bought both hand lotion and body wash (another thing that wouldn't have occurred to me as non-vegan) in one of my favorite scents - Peppermint.  I am completely in love with them both.  The shower gel stimulates and cools my skin, which is helpful in waking me up in the shower and I imagine the cooling sensation will become more welcome as the temperature rises over the next couple of months.  I wasn't completely through my tube of Curel lotion when I made my purchase, so I was able to compare and had the most astounding discovery - the Avalon Organics lotion felt so clean, the next time I applied the Curel it felt gross and fatty.


 As I've aged (ahem), I find my skin in need of more moisturizing oomph.  I have hopped among a few moisturizers over the past few years (Neutrogena, Aveeno), but I always seem to come back to Ponds, despite its stupendously inconvenient pot design.  I can only scoop so much gook behind my nails before I start fantasizing about a squeeze bottle or at least a pump.

Either way, the pot of Ponds on my dresser was not small enough to make the trip out to Arizona.  Considering the state's name comes from "Arid Zone," I didn't think it was wise to go without any moisturizer at all, so I stopped in to the beauty aisles of Essene Market and found a travel-friendly squeeze bottle of Aubrey Organics moisturizer.

The Awesome?  It works.  I'm sorry - I just didn't know what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised when it actually succeeded in its purpose.  The Almost? It smells edible and not in that "ooh, I smell like a sugar cookie!" kind of way.  It smells kind of like if I got tired of Ponds not really having a scent and decided to use up some of that terrifying Muchi Curry powder.  I don't especially like smelling like Indian food, since my first impression of the spices were how closely they resemble Body Odor.

Another find from Essene's beauty alcove was EO Hand Cream.  To be completely honest, by the time I picked this up, they had already made the intercom announcement to take your purchases to checkout because the store was 5 minutes from closing, so I didn't put that much thought into the purchase, other than that it was under 3.5 oz.  I have mixed feelings about this one.

First, considering EO stands for Essential Oils, I really felt like it should smell better.  I'll grant you, lavender is not one of my favored scents, so I may have better enjoyed the unscented variety or possibly the chocolate mint scent.  Second, and this is something I've noticed with almost all natural hand salves - it leaves "lint."  I'm sure that isn't the right word, but I don't know how else to describe the little specks of....something...that end up all over my hands after the moisture has been absorbed by my parched skin.


I really wanted this to work.  After my success with Tom's toothpaste, I tried the brand's deodorant.  The consequences were nearly disastrous.  I think the saving grace was that I tried it on a day off from work, so I could apply another coat (of a different deodorant) when I started to stink.

I gave this poor puppy a real trial by fire by applying it right before Mister and I trolled 4th Avenue in Tucson.  It was an astonishing failure - I stunk after 30 minutes.  It was embarrassing.  What was worse was knowing it was the only deodorant I had with me.  I applied it 4-5 times each day just to prevent myself from knocking Mister out with the stench.  I tossed it in the trashcan the moment we got home.

  Hopefully, other veg-curious folks out there or even my beauty-inclined friends found this little round-up review helpful.  Stay tuned - there's some fun food stuff coming soon!


  1. Try Crystal deoderant ( It's amazing and since it's just a rock, I'm pretty sure it's vegan.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Carolyn! I saw the Crystal in Whole Foods but was feeling a little hesitant. I'll try that one next - I'm pretty hellbent on finding an acceptable, clear, vegan deodorant.