Choosing the Best Cruelty-Free Skincare for YOU

Skincare is an important step in maintaining youthful and healthy skin. There are many factors that should be considered when choosing specific cruelty-free products, especially in the skincare realm. To begin, it’s a good idea to find cruelty-free brands that you trust. You can reference the “How to go cruelty-free” section of my post called Cruelty-Free Questions Answered for tips on verifying a company’s cruelty-free status.

Please note that I am not a skincare professional. I am simply an individual that enjoys learning about and using skincare products. There is a wide world of skincare products available to us, and I hope to provide you with some things to consider when choosing the best cruelty-free skincare products for your unique skin.

Skin type

The term “skin type” refers to your skin’s level of oil production. Each individual’s skin type should play a major role in which skincare products are used. ALL skin types require hydration, but some need more than others. There are four basic skin types:

  • Dry
    • Very little oil production
    • Needs more hydration from skincare products than any other skin type
    • Skin may feel tight or sensitive without proper hydration
  • Normal
    • Average oil production which results in skin that is neither overly dry or oily
    • Typically has fewer imperfections than other skin types
  • Combination
    • Some areas of the skin are dry while others are oily (typically the T-zone will be oily for this skin type)
    • Moisturization and exfoliation are important to keep the skin balanced
  • Oily
    • Excessive oil production
    • Needs hydration from lightweight moisturizing products to prevent the skin from over-producing oil

Skin concerns

There is a wide array of skin concerns that skincare can help to address. Evaluate your skin and decide what you would like to work on. Some of the most common skin concerns that can be addressed with skincare are as follows:

  • Dryness
  • Oilinesswoman evaluating her skin concerns
  • Breakouts/Acne
  • Large pores
  • Rough texture
  • Sensitivity
  • Redness
  • Discoloration
  • Uneven skin tone
  • Dullness
  • Fine lines
  • Puffy eye area
  • Dark circles under eyes

You will find that a lot of skincare ingredients are great at multitasking. Even if you have multiple skin concerns, you might be able to find the ingredients best suited for you within just a few products.

Look past marketing tricks

A very important thing to keep in mind when shopping for anything, is that companies are formed with the goal of making money. Cosmetics companies are notorious for using “marketing tricks” to convince consumers to purchase products they may or may not need. There are many lies skincare companies might tell you (either implicitly or explicitly) to make a sale:

  • Their product will give you perfect flawless skin
  • You need their product whether it treats your personal skin concerns or not
  • Expensive luxury products are more effective than affordable options
  • Celebrities use their products so they must be superior to competitors’ products
  • Products are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, natural, or organic (these terms are not regulated by the FDA for cosmetics)

I am just scratching the surface of the methods companies may use to mislead you. It is important to be wary if you feel pressured by a company’s marketing strategies. However, not all companies have bad intentions and many care very much about providing a good experience for customers. 

Long-term use is key

Do not expect to see results from any skincare product overnight. This will vary depending on the person and the specific product, but generally it takes at least six weeks of consistent use to see the effects of skincare that is meant to address specific concerns.

When considering purchasing a new skincare product, it is important to ask yourself if you will use it consistently. If the answer is “no,” you might be better off skipping that product.


My skin type and skin concerns

I plan to share my thoughts on many skincare products through product reviews here on IntegriBeauty. When reading my reviews, please keep in mind that everyone’s skin is unique. What works for me might not work for you, and vice versa.

For reference, I am 32 years old with a combination skin type. Like the majority of people with a combination skin type, I have an oily T-zone while the rest of my skin is normal. My skin is in good condition, but I do have some skin concerns like large pores (especially on my nose and either side of my nose), uneven skin tone, and fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes.


It is not always easy to figure out which skincare products will work best for you. I hope the information I have provided here has made you feel more confident about making informed buying decisions.

I look forward to sharing many skincare product reviews with you in the future! 

Lauren

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Building a Cruelty-Free Collection ft. Ulta Beauty

The process of going cruelty-free has to start somewhere. For some that haven’t been interested in beauty products in the past, it might mean starting a brand new collection of products. For most, however, it means finding cruelty-free alternatives to products they’ve already been using. This should be a gradual transition as products that are not cruelty-free are used up. Your money was already spent on those products, so you should definitely enjoy every last drop!

If you’ve never shopped for cruelty-free products specifically before, you might be concerned about being limited to fewer brands. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful cruelty-free brands available that provide every type of beauty product you could want or need.

First stop when shopping cruelty-free

Whether you’re new to the beauty world or simply making the switch to cruelty-free products, there is only one store I can recommend to get the ball rolling…Ulta Beauty!!! Ulta logoUlta has an impressive variety of cruelty-free brands, products at many price-points, a great rewards program, and more! There are over 1,200 locations in the United States, so it is likely that there is a store near you. You can use the Ulta store locator feature on Ulta.com or the Ulta Beauty app to find the stores closest to you.

Ulta Beauty is THE place for variety

One of my favorite things about Ulta is the variety. Ulta has its own extensive line of cruelty-free products, plus hundreds of other brands (many of which are cruelty-free). They are frequently adding new brands to their inventory and many of them are cruelty-free! Only so much can fit inside their stores, so if you have trouble finding anything in-store, make sure you check Ulta.com for an even larger selection of cruelty-free products.

The variety of the types of products Ulta carries is outstanding! In this one store, you can shop for skincare, makeup, body care, hair care, hair styling tools, nail products, and fragrances. It’s a really fun experience going through the aisles and finding new products to try, even things you might not have been looking for.

Unlike the drugstore which carries only affordable brands, or Sephora which only sells high-end, Ulta offers products from brands at both price-points and everywhere in between. I think that was a brilliant choice for Ulta’s stores because they are inclusive to consumers that are on a budget and also consumers that are looking to invest in luxury products.

What else does Ulta Beauty have to offer?

In addition to providing a comprehensive shopping experience for all things beauty, Ulta also touts a great rewards program, online beauty quizzes and buying guides, and even salon services!

Ulta’s rewards program is called Ultamate Rewards. I feel that this rewards program is superior to those of most other retailers. When you are signed up for Ultamate Rewards, you will earn points for every dollar you spend in-store or online. These points can be redeemed toward future purchases. As you accumulate more points, they increase in value. For example, 100 points earned will get you only $3.00 off, but 500 points will get you $17.50 off. I like to let my points accumulate for a long time because it’s so much more exciting getting $30.00 off than $3.00 off! More details on the Ultamate Rewards program can be found here.

The beauty quizzes on Ulta.com can assist in finding the perfect foundation, skincare appropriate for your unique skin type, and there is also one for hair care to help you find the right products to achieve the hair of your dreams. The buying guides for makeup, hair care, and fragrances provide even more information to help you make buying decisions. I wish I had known about these tools a couple of years ago so I would’ve had a better idea of which types of products are right for my needs.

Ulta offers the following in their salons: haircuts, hair color and hair texture services, hair extensions, hair styling, hair treatments, express facials, full service facials, lash applications and extensions, makeup lessons and applications, and brow waxing. Some of these services are temporarily unavailable due to the pandemic. Ulta has done a wonderful job of addressing safety concerns related to COVID-19 for anyone wishing to purchase salon services at this time. Please note that salon services are currently available by appointment only.


You may have already guessed this, but Ulta Beauty is my absolute favorite place to shop. I’ve found so many products there that I never would’ve discovered otherwise. I have tested my sweet husband’s patience many times when I’ve gone into Ulta looking for only one or two items, and have ended up spending a couple hours perusing the shelves. There is just so much to see! One tip I would like to share for shopping in-store at Ulta, is to utilize the Ulta Beauty app for reviews. You can scan the barcode on any product to see product description, directions, ingredients, and reviews. Reading product reviews has helped me many times; sometimes making me very excited to try a new product, and alternatively, other times making me want to say good riddance to a product and put it right back on the shelf.

There are many excellent retailers that carry a lot of cruelty-free products, but I sincerely think Ulta Beauty is the best place to start. You won’t regret paying your local Ulta store a visit to see what all the fuss is about. 🙂

Thank you for reading, and happy shopping!

Lauren

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Cruelty-Free Questions Answered

Hello All! Thank you for visiting IntegriBeauty. Cruelty-free beauty is my passion. The primary goals of my blog are to share information I’ve learned over the past couple of years and to provide reviews on 100% cruelty-free products. In this post I will be covering the following topics:

  • Animal testing in the cosmetics industry
  • Alternatives to animal testing
  • What it takes for a company to become Leaping Bunny certified as cruelty-free
  • My personal thoughts on the term “cruelty-free”
  • How you can go cruelty-free

What is animal testing in the cosmetic industry?

For many decades, cosmetics companies have been testing ingredients and finished products on animals to ensure that they are safe for human use. Today, animal testing is still a somewhat common practice and especially prevalent in companies that want to introduce new ingredients that have not been previously tested. The animals involved in animal testing spend their entire lives confined in small cages suffering through woman applying lipstickpainful experiments. They are usually killed once the experiments are completed. Humane Society International states “We estimate that approximately 100,000-200,000 animals suffer and die just for cosmetics every year around the world. These are rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice.”1

Some of the common experiments performed on animals in the cosmetics industry are as follows1:

  • skin and eye irritation tests where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits
  • repeated oral force-feeding studies lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health hazards, such as cancer or birth defects
  • “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death

It is difficult reading about the horrible things happening to these innocent animals. The practice of animal testing is extremely cruel and unethical. It is also unreliable in some cases, as animals obviously do not always react to substances in the same way that humans would. Additionally, results can vary amongst different species of animals.

Alternatives to animal testing in cosmetics

The good news is that there are alternatives to animal testing. There are now methods for testing products that do not require animal or human test subjects. Many non-animal safety tests can now be performed and they provide more relevant data than the outdated animal tests. For example, tests for skin irritation can be conducted using human reconstructed skin, which is created in a laboratory. It is a lengthy and expensive process for these new safety tests to be scientifically validated, and that is one reason why many companies have not yet moved away from animal testing. According to Humane Society International, once these tests are validated, all OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries are required to accept the results of the tests.

Which criteria allow a company to claim cruelty-free status from the Leaping Bunny program?

Any company can claim to be cruelty-free since that term is not defined by law. However, there are several criteria that must be met for a company to be labeled as “cruelty-free” by Leaping Bunny. Leaping Bunny is a widely-trusted program by the CCIC (Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics). Companies must comply with the following criteria to be approved for Leaping Bunny certification2:

  • No animal testing on formulations or ingredients
  • Company must not purchase any ingredient or formulation from suppliers that test on animals; there are specific requirements for documentation that must be obtained from suppliers to verify that they do not conduct or commission animal testing on any ingredients or products
  • Company cannot allow animal testing to be performed by or for submission to regulatory agencies in foreign countries
    • Note that this is the reason cosmetics sold in mainland China are not considered to be cruelty-free. In China, products can be pulled from the shelves to be tested on animals at any time.
  • Company must submit Application for Approval to the CCIC and retain a copy of the document at the company’s principal place of business

Companies must recommit to these criteria annually to retain cruelty-free status with Leaping Bunny. Additionally, the CCIC may require independent audits of the company’s Supplier Monitoring System.

How does IntegriBeauty define “cruelty-free”?

I have a slightly unusual view of which companies I consider to be cruelty-free. There are a lot of cruelty-free companies out there that are Leaping Bunny certified, and that is great! Something that many consumers don’t consider, however, is that many of those cruelty-free companies are owned by parent companies that are NOT cruelty-free. In my opinion, a company that has not taken the steps to become cruelty-free, should not benefit from the profits of a cruelty-free company. As a result, I have made the personal choice to only support cruelty-free companies that are either independently owned, or owned by a cruelty-free parent company. This does limit the number or companies that I will buy from, but there are still plenty out there that are 100% cruelty-free by my standards. It is my goal to share many of the products that I use and love here on IntegriBeauty. You can feel confident about the cruelty-free status of any of the products that are shared here.

Please note that I am simply expressing my personal opinion here and do not pressure anyone else to make the same choice when considering what to buy or what not to buy.

How to go cruelty-free

I recognize that it can be a difficult decision for a lot of people to go cruelty-free. You might be wondering if it would be worth it, or if you would make a difference in the industry by only buying from cruelty-free brands. The answer to both questions is YES. Most companies only care about making money, so as more consumers move away from brands that are not cruelty-free, we are sending a clear message that they need to work toward earning that cruelty-free certification. Our voices are heard by spending our money on products from brands that are cruelty-free. The number of cruelty-free brands grows every year. Someday, and hopefully soon, animal testing in the cosmetics industry will be a thing of the past.

Have you decided to go cruelty-free? If so, these are some things you can do to make sure you are buying from truly cruelty-free companies:

  • When shopping, look for the Leaping Bunny logo which indicates that a company is certified as being cruelty-free. If you see this logo on a product, it is definitely cruelty-free.3There are many other “bunny” symbols you will encounter, but the Leaping Bunny certification is the only one that can be trusted in the United States.
    • It is important to note that not all cruelty-free products will have this logo shown, even if they are certified by Leaping Bunny in some cases.
  • Utilize the lists of cruelty-free brands on Cruelty-Free Kitty and Logical Harmony. These websites even make it easy to see which brands have parent companies that are not cruelty-free.
  • If you are interested in a cosmetics company that you believe to be cruelty-free, but you don’t see that they are Leaping Bunny certified and the brand isn’t listed on either of the websites listed above, you can reach out to the company directly and ask these specific questions. If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, then that company is not cruelty-free.
    • Do you or any of your suppliers test ingredients or finished products on animals?
    • Do you sell your products in mainland China?

If there is a cosmetics company you love, but you find out that they are not cruelty-free, you can contact them to let them know why you will no longer buy their products and also to encourage them to get certified as cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny. The more emails like this they receive, and as their profits go down compared to profits of cruelty-free competitors, the more likely it is that they will join the growing number of cruelty-free cosmetics companies!

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this lengthy post. I hope it has answered a lot of your questions. For more information, Humane Society International and Leaping Bunny are excellent resources. If you have any comments or questions for me, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!

Lauren

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