Maybelline Cosmetics vegan range

I was quite shocked and honestly quite excited to see that Maybelline Cosmetics now do a number of vegan friendly make up products. This includes lipsticks, foundations, eye shadows and mascaras, as well as a number of other products. From the look I had at my local display at Superdrug, it seems you could get your entire make up kit (including contour and highlight) all from Maybelline’s vegan range.

However I had always avoided Maybelline because not only did they never offer vegan make up, they were never certified cruelty free. I was therefore a little confused how the vegan range could be labelled vegan without there being any cruelty free certificate to go with this. How can a product be truly vegan if it is not cruelty free?

So I did some digging. I am sure this may be common knowledge to many of you but I did not know that Maybelline was owned by L’Oréal Cosmetics. So it makes sense why they are not cruelty free certified because L’Oréal operate in China.

For those who may not know, animal testing for cosmetics is still mandatory in China, although this did change slightly from 1st May 2022. Before this time, all cosmetics that were being sold in China had to have mandatory animal testing trials before the product could be sold on the Chinese market. From May 2021 however this mandatory testing was removed for cosmetic products, including make up, skin care and hair care. However special use products such as hair dye, hair removal, sunscreen and deodorant all still need to have the mandatory testing.

Now on their website Maybelline and L’Oréal state that they do not pay for animal testing anywhere. But if they sell any kind of hair dye in China then they can’t be cruelty free as they would have to test those products on animals before being able to sell them. Of course on their website I cannot find any information regarding what they do and do not sell in China, so it is hard to be certain of what their current business model is when it comes to animal testing and selling in China. From a practical standpoint, I know that China is a huge economic market and a brand as big as L’Oréal is very unlikely to want to miss out on those big sales. Also, they sold in China before the animal testing was deemed non-mandatory so why would this really change anything? Really it has simply made selling in China far easier for them.

But then I have gotten even more confused. Because L’Oréal owns a lot of vegan friendly brands, most notably Urban Decay which is one of the most popular make up brands for vegans to use. On their website, Urban Decay say that they will ‘never, ever test on animals’ and are fully vegan and cruelty free. They even have a PETA certification for being cruelty free. But if they are owned by L’Oréal how can that be? They also now sell in China (granted after the removal of mandatory testing) but would that not go against the entire vegan and cruelty free message by selling products in a country that still allows for cosmetic testing on animals?

But then I am always drawn back to the reality that there are actually only 7 parent companies that own a combined total of 182 brands. These seven include L’Oréal, Estée Lauder Companies, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Shisheido, Johnson & Johnson and City. Included in the other brands that L’Oréal own include the Body Shop, Garnier and NYX make up, all of which offer vegan friendly and cruelty free products.

A really helpful infograph from the Insider blog.

So all of this made me think…should I really be buying Maybelline’s new vegan range of products? I am slightly conflicted. If this was food – such as the McPlant or the Burger King vegan nuggets – I would buy them to show my support for vegan products and also to hopefully encourage the brand to make more vegan options available. So should that same logic apply here?

I guess I do always come back to the fact that there can be no conscious consumerism under a capitalist society, and so no matter how much I try to always shop ethically there is some degree of exploitation happening simply because of the capitalist society we live in. Also judging by the infograph above it seems I would be unlikely to buy ANY sort of mainstream beauty product that could truly be considered cruelty free. Meaning I would have to support the lesser known brands or the more niche brands specifically made to be vegan and cruelty free, but sometimes these brands are either not easily accessible (perhaps only available online or at certain stores that aren’t in a reasonable vicinity) or are considerably more expensive.

I suppose the other issue would be that L’Oréal is simply trying to tap into a new market that it didn’t have access to before. I think it would be very naive of me to think that this is L’Oréal and Maybelline ‘reassessing their ethics’ or ‘trying to do good for the planet’ because at the end of the day they a huge brand and they didn’t get there by being ethical (another debate to be had but can you ever truly have ethical businesses?). Veganism is also surging in popularity and if money can be made from something, you know that big businesses will want to do so, so it would make sense that L’Oréal would want to make products that appeal to an even wider market of consumers.

So what do we do? Like I said when it comes to food, I am willing to try every vegan offering in the hope it will encourage more options later on. So maybe I should apply the same logic to any of these brands that offer vegan options – in some cases I already have done before I knew their parent company associations, such as Garnier.

What do you guys all think? What is your opinion on cruelty free or vegan brands having parent companies that are not vegan or cruelty free? Would you try a new make up product from a previously non-vegan brand?

T xxx

Barry M Velvet matt nail polish: Silent cove blue

There is just something about having my nails painted that makes me feel like a Real Woman. I just feel a bit more put together and polished…no pun intended. Since going vegan though my nails grow so quickly that I find getting my nails done professionally is a waste, because within two weeks my nails will have grown and I’ll have the odd naked bit of nail at the bottom that always looks unsightly. But doing my own nails is always a nice treat, and in the interest of self care I have been trying out new nail colours to play with every few months or so.

Now I am a fan of Barry M products so thought I would be good with one of their nail ranges. I was very intrigued by the ‘matt’ finish: Surely nail polish is called nail polish because it looks like polish on your nails? So it makes your nails shiny? So I was intrigued to see how matt the colour would actually come out and how it would actually look on real nails. I have only ever seen matt colours used on acrylic nails, so I felt like a little experiment.

Right off the bat, this nail polish stinks of chemicals. It is easily the strongest smelling nail polish I have ever used so trust me when I say no t to get too close to the bottle or your nails while you’re painting them. I think I gave myself a contact high from looking too closely at the bottle! I also found the smell lingered for a while, even after you put the lid back on the bottle, so that was a bit tough especially with the weather as hot as it is in the UK right now. Thankfully though that smell doesn’t linger on your hands once the paint is dry, nor do your nails stink for the entire time you have them painted.

Now the brush is more oval shaped than other nail polish brushes I have used before and while it was easier to use (in the sense that I could do two strokes and my nail was painted) it was slightly hard to judge how close to the sides I was getting, hence for my rather shoddy painting – especially on my right hand! I feel a smaller brush is better for the precision it can give you, but I also appreciate the wider brush for super quick application.

So the paint actually goes onto your nail wet and shiny like every other nail polish out there. But as it dries it gets that matt finish. I also have to say that it does dry very quickly – maybe 10 seconds after I applied the paint it was already a solid matt colour. Now once fully dry (roughly 10-15 minutes after second coat has been applied) it does have a really nice, dark finish to it. There is the very slight reflection off of it but I don’t think that can be helped – it definitely doesn’t shine like other nail polishes but it does have a very soft hint of shine. I am not sure if that makes it ‘not real matt’ but personally I don’t mind.

As with all Barry M products the nail polish was very affordable. Seeing as most nail polish bottles will last me at least a year (if not multiple years) £3 a bottle is a very good bargain. But also for £3 I guess you do get what you pay for, in that it will not be a 100% perfect product: the smell is a big downside to this product when using it and the colour may not be super matt. But for £3, I can’t really expect a miracle product.

Overall: 6/10. An interesting variation and I admire the attempt at something different. However I think it can still be improved.

T xxx

e.l.f putty blush

In an attempt to branch out I have (very bravely of course) decided to try some actual pigmented blush. For a while now I have mainly just been using a tiny amount of contouring, but with the summer well and truly heating up here in England I wanted something to add some colour to my face without being heavy. As always, I am a big fan of e.l.f cosmetics and have not been let down by any of their products so far. Plus, they are so affordable that if I truly hate a product I don’t feel like I have really wasted my money.

I decided to try the putty blush, as I have found before that powder blush doesn’t last long and ‘putty’ just sounds like it would be fun to use. So far…it is indeed fun to use. I went with the colour Turks and Caicos. Now the picture makes the putty look more orange, but on my pale complexion it actually blends out into a subtle pink colour. I think it looks very natural and blends pretty well. Now I am SUPER pale – a true English rose if you will – and I found that the Turks and Caicos colour gave the most natural looking colour to me. I did however very much like the Caribbean colour option as it gave quite a dark red against my skin. Possibly not the colour I would wear every day, but I imagine it would work well for a dramatic look.

It is very pigmented. I simply swipe my finger across the top and swipe it along my cheek bone, and that is more than enough to give a very soft colour to my cheeks once I have used a brush to blend it out slightly. Occasionally I will use a tiny little extra dab right in the middle of my cheeks to add a little pop of colour, but it is still a tiny amount. I have used other powdered blushes before that seem to take about 3 or 4 layers before you see even a hint of colour, so this putty is amazing. You really don’t need a lot to make a big difference to your appearance.

Price wise this was £6 and I bought this from Boots. I feel that is a very reasonable price for the product, as I think this putty will last me ages given the tiny amount I need to get the colour I want. Bearing in mind I will wear this at least 5-6 times a week, I am still imagining that this little pot will last me for 6 months, if not longer. So £6 is really quite the bargain.

Overall: 8/10. Very rich colour so less is absolutely more with this.

T xxx

Umberto Giannini curl whip mousse

I think I am finally getting the hang of the Curly Girl method of looking after my curls, and while I am now here near perfect my curls are definitely so much more manageable than they were before. The only issue I have with it is finding a styling product that holds my curls in place but doesn’t leave my hair crunchy or oily for he next few days. I have tried the Umberto Giannini curl jelly before and while it was really good on the day, I found that the next few days afterwards my hair had this slightly sticky feel to it.

I decided to go back to the Umberto Giannini products as overall the curl jelly has worked best so far. But this time I went with the mousse. I have not used mousse in years but I didn’t think it would be too hard. Plus I used to find that mousse would go further than gel or hairspray and therefore would last longer.

I have only used this a couple of times but I am very impressed so far. I have found that a palm size blob of mousse (slightly larger than the golf ball sized amount it recommends) is perfect to keep my curls intact as it dries/I diffuse it and leaves my hair with a very satisfying cast over it. The best part though is that when I come to scrunch my hair out of the cast, it does leave my hair with soft bouncy curls and absolutely no residue on it. It doesn’t look like I have put on any product at all which is just fantastic.

It also smells very neutral, and once you have scrunched out the crunch it has a very soft flowery smell to it, or so I have found. Nothing at all overpowering or too harsh as to make you worry about your hair being damaged, but just a very subtle hint. As I say it doesn’t leave any sort of residue on my hair, so styling it over the next few days was very easy and felt like I was working with freshly washed hair. Also, when you first use it the mousse does have a very satisfying ‘bubble popping’ sort of sounds when you squish it into your hair. You can also see where you have put it when you first apply it so you can have a very even coverage, but it disappears as soon as you squish it fully into your hair.

The bottle cost £5 (although I did get this during a sale so I think full price it is about £7) which is quite cheap compared to some of the other options out there, especially for a completely vegan and cruelty free brand. I very much appreciate that there is no vegan tax added onto this brand and so it is quite competitive with the other options out there. I have only used it a couple of times but I do find that the mousse goes further than the gel – with any of the gels I would need at least two handfuls of the product to do my whole head properly whereas one palm sized lump of mousse does the exact same thing.

Overall: 9/10. Works perfectly is easily available on the high street.

T xxx

Barry M gelly nail polish – Goji Berry

As much as I love getting my nails done, since becoming vegan my nails grow so quickly that it’s only about a week before my nail polish will need to removed or redone due to the amount of growing nail visible. I am therefore always on the hunt for some decent nail polishes that I can use myself at home for times when I want to have my nails done but don’t necessarily want to spend my money on a full manicure just for it to need redoing in a week.

Now I do not wear nail polish all the time. In fact I am almost always without anything on my nails: As I say they grow so quickly it would take up so much of my already limited time to constantly be touching them up. But on my slower days and weeks, I do count painting my nails as a form of self-care. When I first went vegan there were also zero nail polish options out there that were cruelty free, let alone vegan friendly, and so I sort of resigned myself to using the same 2 colours of nail polish I had for about 10 years. But I have really noticed this year that the vegan nail polish options have skyrocketed, and there are actually a LOT of colours to chose from.

BarryM was always a non-vegan favourite of mine, and now that I am vegan they are probably one of my main go-to brands for make up and beauty products. BarryM really cornered the market (especially on the high street) as they are definitely the most colourful of the make up brands out there. Their eye shadows, lipsticks and nail polish selection is a whole spectrum of colour choices and all of them are easily wearable too. For a while their nail polish was mostly non-vegan, aside from maybe a basic french manicure set, but this past year they really seemed to have focused a lot on their nail polish colours and making sure their products are all vegan friendly and cruelty free.

I tend to stick with quite muted colours – nothing too bold or too bright – purely so that it is all work appropriate, so I decided to try the Goji Berry colour. In the bottle it looks like a dark red, but on my nails it was almost a burgundy colour. Which works perfectly for me because that is usually my go-to colour for most things as it is colourful without being too bold or ‘in your face’. Now the product does say to use a base coat first, but I didn’t check the directions before buying it so was already at home by the time I actually checked this. Therefore I did not use any sort of base coat.

I am actually very impressed by how well this lasted. I do a LOT of typing for work and have to deal with a lot of paper as a result, so my hands are pretty beaten throughout the day. I did my nails on the Sunday afternoon, and the polish didn’t actually start to chip until around Friday midday and even then it was only around the very tips of my nails where I am clearly hitting my keyboard keys a little bit aggressively. This was even with me working out, cooking, showering and having quite a busy week. I normally only expect my nail polish to last about 3-4 days so I was very impressed – especially as that was without even a base-coat or top coat on the polish. I imagine with both added on the polish would have survived quite a long time.

cheeky shot of the engagement ring too…

Each polish was £2.99, although you could also get the higher gloss/matt options for £3.99. Either way, since this nail polish will easily last me a year (if not longer) that is an absolute bargain in my books. While it is definitely not the highest quality of nail polish out there, it is a very strong contender for a reliable, robust and easily affordable product for day to day use.

The downside was that it is a lot thicker than other nail polishes I have used. I do not know if that is because of the vegan formula, but it definitely felt thicker on the brush and I also felt I needed a generous amount in order to coat my nails evenly. Another downside (although unavoidable) is that it is a very strong smelling polish – you would not want to paint your nails in any sort of crowded space or enclosed area as it will give a contact high to everyone in the room if you’re not careful. But that being said I don’t think any nail polish has ever smelt good – they all have a very chemical smell to them and I think that is purely because of the product itself and is readily unavoidable.

Overall: 8/10. A very reliable option that you couldn’t really go wrong with. Good quality for a very good price.

T xxx

Superdrug sugar and oil body scrub

One of my goals for this year is to take my skincare a bit more seriously. I am inching ever closer to thirty and while I do feel like my skin is pretty good, I know I don’t give it the attention it really deserves. I have been doing a lot of research and over the years I have worked out that my skin is quite sensitive, but living in England also means that my skin is pretty dry.

I have used the Vitamin E range from Superdrug before and got on pretty well with it. The night cream I use every night and it really does help hydrate my skin without being really heavy or oily. It also doesn’t make my skin break out or leave my face bright red because of heavy fragrances or chemicals in it. So I decided to try some more of their range, starting with the body scrub.

In the past, most body scrubs I used would just leave my skin bright red. Plus I think they all contained the microplastic balls in them (which is what made up the ‘scrub’ part of the product) so they are obviously no good now. I have seen people can make their own body scrub using sugar or ground coffee to act as the scrub element, so I tried to look for these more natural products moving forward.

I have found this body scrub to be brilliant. The sugar works as an exfoliant without it being very rough and harsh on my skin, and as it is sugar it does dissolve as you scrub. The oil also makes the whole scrub feel very soft and gentle, and when I get out of the shower after rinsing off, my skin feels so moisturised and soft. It means I also do not need to then also apply my body moisturiser as I am already done.

I use this maybe once or twice a week – definitely not every day – and find that it is more than enough to give my skin that little extra moisture boost while not being too harsh with the exfoliating. It has been exceptionally good during this winter season: It has been so cold these past three months – more so than usual I would say – and this scrub has really helped stop my skin from getting too dry. There is also something so comforting and relaxing about coming in from -3 degree (Celsius I add) weather, to a hot shower and soft scrub to literally wash the day off of you and leave you feeling so much nicer.

The tub was £6 and as you can see from the picture it is a huge tub (300ml according to the label on the tub anyway) and I bought it beginning of December and it is only now half empty in February. A small handful of product goes a long way so you can be slightly more sparing with the product than you think you can. As I say, it will most likely last me until about April based on my current usage, and for £6 that is a bargain. Granted it doesn’t do anything special – it smells nice, but isn’t heavily fragranced – as it really just does what it says on the tin. It is quite basic but it does that really well. You could easily find a more luxurious product, but as an affordable option this stuff does all that it needs to.

Overall: 8/10. Nothing special but does exactly what it needs to and still feels lovely.

T xxx

e.l.f sheer matte liquid lipstick

e.l.f (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) is a drugstore make up brand that is 100% vegan and cruelty free. I discovered this brand a year or so ago and it is probably now my main go-to brand: Their foundations do exactly what you need, and they have some really lovely shades of lipstick and eye-shadow that are fun and wearable. Now I am no where NEAR a ‘make up guru’ – I can do the absolute bare basics and even then it is not perfect – but I have slowly been trying to learn. I know that make-up can be a form of self-expression and creativity, and I defy anyone to not feel like a total bad-ass in red lipstick!

Now I bought this lipstick actually about a year ago and I have literally worn it everyday since I got it. I got the colour ‘praline petal’ which is a very soft rose gold tinted colour, and I absolutely love it. I feel it suits my (very) pale skin tones well without being too bold or ‘in your face’, since I do wear it every day for work. I also prefer a matte lipstick as sometimes I find the glossy lipsticks are too much for me and make me look far more ‘done up’ than I actually am. I also find they do not last as long because they stick to literally everything – and with my hair as wild as it is I need as little hassle as possible on my walk to work.

I am also very impressed at the staying power of this lipstick. I put it on just before I leave the house and when I come home in the evening it is STILL there. And that is even with me drinking about 4 cups a tea, 2 bottles of water and eating my whole lunch. I do not need to top up the lipstick at all. I would even go so far as to say that it is more like a lip tint than a lipstick as I have never seen this sort of staying power in a lipstick before.

the curls were a little wild on this day too…

The size is your standard size of a lipgloss, but as it has lasted me well over a year you clearly don’t need much to make the colour work. Also for £6 it is easily the best purchase I have ever made. I usually buy e.l.f products from Superdrug stores, however their brand website has a bigger range of products and also tend to do a lot of deals across their different make up lines. Personally I am always very impressed by e.l.f make up and they are easily my favourite make up brand out there. If you have been tempted to try their stuff before, I would highly recommend it.

Overall: 20/10. Best purchase I have ever made. I also think the tube will last me another 10 years at this rate!

T xxx

Lush Snow Fairy

This one is bitter sweet…because I did not think it would last me as long as it did and as such it is no longer available at Lush. This soap was part of their Christmas range and is therefore only available during the Christmas period. So this one is on me…

I LOVE this soap. It smells like candy – so much so that I have genuinely wondered if it tastes how it smells. Obviously I have never actually tried to bite into it (because it is soap, so please do not go around trying to eat soap of any kind!) but this soap just screams Christmas and holidays to me. It has scents of pear drops, bubblegum and fruity notes that end up leaving you smelling like Love Heart candies. And what more could you want from a product?!

It also lasted me ages I bought it around the beginning of December as a nice little Christmas treat, and it only ran out about a week ago. And that is with every day use too. It lathered up into lovely fluffy bubbles and left my skin feeling very soft.

As with all things Lush, they are expensive when it comes to soap. Yes you could easily get a decent soap for far less money, but there is just something so decadent and extravagant about Lush soaps that – for me anyway – the price is quite justified. I believe this bar was £5, and seeing as how it lasted nearly 2 months, that to me is really good value for money. The bars are usually 100g (give or take a few grams) so you do get quite a lot of product when you think about other bars of soap. Personally, I support Lush because not only do their products smell good enough to eat, but their ethos as a company is very refreshing: A vast majority of their products are vegan friendly (with all other products being vegetarian friendly) and cruelty free, as well as Lush being one of the big players in campaigning against animal testing.

You can find out more about the Lush ethos here where they discuss the cruelty free, non-animal tested, vegan friendly manufacturing processes of their products and how they are working towards new campaigns against animal testing across the globe. For me, I would rather pay a slightly higher price of the products when I know the company are campaigning for a cause very close to my heart and for an important cause.

Overall: 9/10. This soap is absolutely delightful and is easily my favourite. The one downside it has is that it is seasonal, so unless you stock up massively over Christmas to last you the rest of the year, it is a long wait until it (hopefully!) returns again.

T xxx

Trevor Sorbie curl cream

I am still trying to persevere with my Curly Girl method so am still trying to find the right products for my hair. The Trevor Sorbie range is completely new to me: I have never used them before for anything, and I haven’t seen that much about them on social media before. But they are one of the few products that was labelled vegan and cruelty free so I decided to try something out of the comfort zone and see how it went.

This does not lie when it says that it is ‘firm hold’. It is almost like glue. Which I was very surprised at. It feels like a really light cream in your hands, so being naive I coated my hair a bit too thickly the first time I tried it and my hair was almost concrete once the cream dried. I have since been a lot more sparing with the creme and so far it is working quite well.

Well it works well on wash day. I find that by day two, after sleeping on my hair, my curls are a lot wilder and the cream just keeps their wildness in a more tame way. As I say I am still learning what works best for my hair so this may just be something that I need to practice to really get the full worth from it.

That being said I am quite impressed with it. It is firm hold so on wash day my curls are actually defined, and while my hair is still quite big, it isn’t from frizz. I have also noticed that the reset days seem to work well with this product – I can wet my hair, brush it, scrunch it as normal and there will still be enough product in my hair to keep most of my curls defined and reduce a fair amount of the frizz that I normally have. Now this may just be me still using too much of the product, but so far it is working quite well for me even if it is a change to my usual hair routine.

Price wise, it was £7 (I bought it from Superdrug) for 150ml which sounds expensive, but the way I deal with my hair I would probably go through this whole tube in about 4-5 months. Maybe even longer if I start to use less of the product. Like I have said this does seem like a very sharp learning curve for me as it is a very different product to what I have used before and it is also a lot more heavy duty.

I feel I may have to do an update on this once I have finished the tube of product…I shall keep you updated!

Overall: 5/10. So far it is ok, but I think time will tell as to the longevity of this product.

T xxx

Lush’s Twilight bath bomb

A week ago I found myself in self-isolation. My NHS COVID app told me that I needed to self isolate for 5 days, on Sunday night. Therefore for 5 days I had to stay in my house and not go anywhere. At all. I couldn’t even go outside. Which meant that my lovely partner had to go and grab me a load of bits to keep me entertained for 5 days so that I didn’t spend those 5 days constantly annoying him while he tried to work from home.

I am not someone who really takes baths, but they are definitely a great way to spend a load of time. Light some candles, run a boiling hot bath, stick on a nice relaxing playlist (alternatively, I have just discovered LoFi mixes on YouTube – super relaxing and really nice background noise) and grab a good book. Maybe even a cup of tea. My partner surprised me with the Twilight bath bomb so I decided there was no better time to wallow than now.

This was definitely a relaxing bath bomb. It had a really strong lavender fragrance to it (so be warned) so once mixed with the hot water it was ideal relaxing tub time. It was also really relaxing watching the bath bomb melt: It started pink, then moved to blue, and then ended with purple. By the end, my bath tub looked like a glittery galaxy. It was also weirdly hypnotic to lay there and run my hands through the water and watching the glitter and colours swirl around me. I am normally really bad at sitting still – I get restless very easily and have to always feel like I am achieving something – but this bath bomb actually did make me slow down a bit and just enjoy soaking in a tub for a while.

I am a big fan of Lush as I find all of their products tend to be really good quality and really good value for money. I believe this bath bomb is £3.95, which is the standard I think for most of their bath bomb products. I also have long, soaking baths so rarely that I feel £3.95 is actually a total steal for the pampering it provides me. The majority of their products are also all vegan friendly, so there are loads of options to try. Lush also do a lot of campaigning to stop animal testing, so if I can help that cause by soaking in my bathtub for an hour or so, then I am all for it!

It also made my skin feel hydrated and smooth when I came out, meaning I didn’t have to use the lotions and oils I normally do when I come out of the shower. It felt nice to be able to pamper myself a bit, and to give my body a long relaxing soak in some boiling hot water for once. Needless to say I slept like a log that night too!

The only warning I would give is that it does contain glitter so be prepared to be sparkly when you come out. Your bathtub will also be super sparkly once all the water has drained. It did however wash away really easily with just a little hose down with the shower head so no permanent harm was done. I quite like being all sparkly – makes me feel like a fairy – but I know for some people that may be quite annoying.

Overall: 9/10. Super relaxing and very decadent feeling. Probably a new favourite.

T xxx