These 8 (Mostly Vegan) Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products Will Make You Forget About Aquaphor

Getting a tattoo is a super exciting time.

I remember when I first started getting tattoos. The artists simply gave me little packs of A&D ointment and told me to follow up with Aquaphor. No mention was made of natural tattoo aftercare.

By the time I started getting tattoos, I already knew that products such as these contained toxic ingredients. However, for the record, Aquaphor and its maker Eucerin do not test on animals, which is surprising but apparently true.

What I did find when searching for alternative products is that there’s definitely a market for natural tattoo aftercare products that cater to both vegan and non-vegan audiences. You have options besides using nasty, petroleum-based, animal-tested products to heal your beautiful new ink!

First—What’s Wrong with Aquaphor?

Let’s talk for a second about why you might want to avoid ingredients in brands that some tattoo artists recommend and instead go for natural tattoo aftercare products.

The main active ingredient in Aquaphor is Petrolatum. In case you didn’t know, Petrolatum is just another word for petroleum jelly, so don’t be fooled. Why should you be concerned?

Petrolatum contains possible carcinogens which can lead to cancer development, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Needless to say, this likely isn’t the best product to put on your open wound, especially when there are other natural tattoo aftercare products available.

In addition, some tattoo artists argue that using petroleum-based products can inhibit healing of the tattoo and even testify that they believe tattoos heal faster when using natural tattoo aftercare products.

8 Natural Tattoo Aftercare Products

Let’s forget about those other crappy products and talk about some authentic, natural balms that you can use so your new tattoo heals beautifully!

All the natural tattoo aftercare products listed here do not test on animals and do not contain synthetic ingredients or fragrance, which can be very toxic to our wellbeing.

1. Ohana Organics Tattoo Butter (Vegan)

So I’ve personally used this natural tattoo aftercare product for my last two tattoos and have really enjoyed (you can see my last two pieces on Instagram here and here).

This tattoo butter is vegan and uses very simple ingredients including shea butter and olive oil.

If you’ve never used shea butter before, it does have a greasy feel to it and so that’s my only problem with this product. I definitely have to be careful with what I touch when I have this on.

Ohana Organics offers half an ounce of their tattoo butter in an adorable tin for $4.99 with larger sizes available. Shop here.

2. Wild Rose Herbs Ink Spray (Vegan)

I’m actually really excited to try Wild Rose Herbs’ natural tattoo aftercare products. I just bought some of their stuff for my sister-in-law for Christmas and they seem to be high-quality products.

What I love about this ink spray is that it uses peppermint to help with the sometimes severe itching that happens while a tattoo is healing. It also has some other really cool ingredients including witch hazel and German chamomile.

This spray is also vegan!

Wild Rose Herbs sells 1 ounce of their ink spray for $9.95. Shop here.

3. Wild Rose Herbs Tattoo Balm (Both Vegan and Non-Vegan Formulas)

So Wild Rose Herbs carries both vegan and non-vegan formulas for their natural tattoo aftercare balm with the difference being the inclusion of beeswax in the non-vegan formula.

These tattoo balms also use peppermint to help with itch and lavender which tends to be gentle and soothing for healing skin.

Wild Rose Herbs sells both their vegan and non-vegan tattoo balm formulas starting at $10.49 for .85 ounces with larger sizes available. Shop here for vegan and here for the beeswax formula.

4. Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm (Not Vegan)

Ok so I have again not tried Brooklyn Grooming’s natural tattoo aftercare balm; however, it contains pure organic ingredients and is not tested on animals.

With ingredients such as hemp seed oil, shea butter, and vitamin E, it’s hard to go wrong with this tattoo balm. Remember that this formula isn’t vegan friendly due to the fact that it contains beeswax.

Brooklyn Grooming sells their tattoo balm in 2-ounce sizes for $22. Shop here.

5. EiR NYC Tattoo Balm (Vegan)

If you’re looking for a vegan version of Brooklyn Grooming’s tattoo balm, check out EiR NYC’s tattoo balm. I haven’t tried this one but I love the simple, organic ingredients in this natural tattoo aftercare product, including dried rose petals and rosemary!

This balm also includes coconut oil and shea butter and is sold in half-an-ounce containers for $10. Shop here.

6. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer (Vegan)

So I actually have tried this tattoo moisturizer from After Inked. It’s vegan, which is great, but I’m not too crazy about the formula.

The ingredients aren’t super pure (it contains preservatives), but one big pro to this natural tattoo aftercare product is that it’s not greasy, so it acts as more of a lotion than a balm.

It’s weird though because this is precisely what I didn’t like about it; it didn’t really feel like it was “protecting” my tattoo. However, if you’re looking for a non-greasy tattoo aftercare lotion, this could be your pick!

After Inked sells their tattoo moisturizer in 3-ounce sizes for $20. Shop here.

7. Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve (Not Vegan)

I have not tried this natural tattoo aftercare product but it’s another great pick. It contains a lot of fun herbs including calendula (I LOVE calendula for healing skin and also dry skin among its other benefits), comfrey, thyme, and St. John’s Wort.

Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve contains beeswax so it’s not vegan. You can find sizes starting at 1 ounce for $11.88 here.

8. Susie Q Skin Ink Salve (Not Vegan)

This one made the list even though one of their ingredients is “natural fig fragrance”. I would absolutely question the company about this ingredient before buying to find out if it is actually natural and not synthetic. (The site does say their products don’t contain any synthetic fragrances but I would double check just to be sure.)

I’m putting this natural tattoo aftercare product on here because their other ingredients are pure and they contain other products that could be good as well including tattoo wash. They also have this cool page on their website speaking out against animal testing.

Ingredients in Susie Q Skin’s Ink Salve include hemp seed oil, lemongrass, rose, arnica, and turmeric. You can find 1-ounce sizes and up starting at $19.95 here.

What Are You Waiting for?

When it comes to natural tattoo aftercare products, you absolutely have the power to choose products that aren’t toxic to your body and don’t suffocate your skin.

Your tattoo was something you dreamed of, it’s now a part of you forever, and you want it to heal perfectly. Isn’t your new ink worth investing in some aftercare balms that are good for you as well as the planet?

What do you use to heal your tattoos? I’d love to hear if you know of any more natural products (or home ingredients) that you feel make the cut for superior tattoo aftercare!

Also–if you’ve got fresh ink–check out my post about the five stages of grief and your new tattoo!

5 “Natural” Brands You Had No Idea Were Owned by Evil Parent Companies

I got pissed the other day because I realized that my dish soap was actually owned by a parent company that tested on animals.

So. Pissed.

Why, Seventh Generation?! Whyhyyyhyy?? (Seventh Generation was acquired by Unilever in 2016. Yeah, I was a little late on the news.)

I consulted my vegan friend about it and she shared that it’s a double-edged sword: avoiding the brand puts less money in the parent company’s pocket, but purchasing the brand you like can show the parent company what their customers really like, so they would be more likely to invest in furthering that product line.

For me, though, I just have a hard time supporting evil parent companies. So I stopped buying Seventh Generation products (I also bought their toilet paper in addition to their dish soap).

Did you know about these other five brands that were owned by evil parent companies?

1. TOMS of Maine

When I first started using fluoride-free toothpaste one of the first brands I tried was TOMS. In fact, when I got my lip pierced and my tongue re-pierced, I even used TOMS mouthwash.

I was sad to find out that TOMS has been owned by Colgate since 2006, which was years before I even picked up that first tube of toothpaste. So sad. I now really like My Magic Mud toothpaste or Earthpaste!

2. Urban Decay

I don’t use makeup, but I don’t need to be makeup lover to know that Urban Decay, the popular makeup brand, got bought by our friend L’Oréal in 2012.

L’Oréal tests on animals, so remember that when you think you’re buying Urban Decay, you’re really just giving your money to this huge corporation that tortures and kills bunnies.

3. Mrs. Meyers (Caldrea Products)

My husband and I were on our elopement and honeymoon in North Carolina when I found some Mrs. Meyers soap on sale in Asheville. I was excited!

I had been a fan of Mrs. Meyers but typically haven’t purchased these products on a regular basis in the past because they can be a little expensive.

I found out that S.C Johnson had acquired Mrs. Meyers line of products, which is also called Caldrea Products, in 2008, which was, like TOMS, years before I even knew about Mrs. Meyers.

4. Burt’s Bees

I used to love Burt’s Bees’ cherry lip balm. It came in a tin and I used to buy it when I was 16. I LOVED IT! IT WAS MY FAVORITE!

I found out not too long after that Burt’s Bees was acquired by Clorox in 2007 and have since stopped buying Burt’s Bees’ products.

5. The Body Shop

I was never a huge fan of The Body Shop, but a girl I partnered with in my college Chemistry class worked there. She constantly talked about her boyfriend’s baby mama and being on acid with her boyfriend.

The last time I saw her, she was about eight months pregnant and handing out samples outside The Body Shop at the local mall. I ran away.

The Body Shop itself doesn’t test on animals, but it’s owned by L’Oréal and has been since 2006, which was about three years before acid girl and I were in Chemistry class together.

This Isn’t It

There are so many other brands out there, especially make-up brands, which are owned by huge parent companies that participate in animal testing.

In fact, I was shocked to find out that OPI nail polish and Victoria’s Secret—two brands I had supported for years—sell their products in China which means that they’re required to test their products on animals there by law.

I know. It sucks.

But the cool part is that you can make a difference.

Choose not to purchase from companies that are owned by evil parent companies. Do your research—your money is often your voice, and it makes an impact. So choose not to give your dollars to some fucking creep torturing bunnies for a living.

I promise you’ll feel better when you make more informed decisions!

Ethical Investing—Save Like a Millennial Boss

A couple years ago, I was given ownership of an investment account my wise and wonderful grandfather had set up for me. There wasn’t a ghastly sum of money in there, but it was enough for a down payment on a home, the beginning of retirement savings, or whatever I wanted it to be.

I was stumped on what to do. Should I buy a home? I mean, the money’s just sitting there, right? Should I continue to invest in it? As someone with so little clue about investing, I had no idea what to do.

So what does a Millennial like myself do? I find the first financial advisor in my area that Google picks and contact him.

He was a really cool guy. We met in his office and talked about investing and he complimented me on my mermaid skeleton necklace.

All was going well until I realized that the mutual funds my grandfather invested in were tied to companies like tobacco, pharmaceutical, and animal testing companies that I didn’t agree with.

I was pretty surprised. Was this how the market worked? How could I ethically invest this sum of money while still making money? What was I going to do?

This is how I found out how to ethically invest.

Buying Individual Shares of Companies: Risky Yet Personable

After having a traumatic experience with trying to buy a home in North Carolina, I decided to just reinvest the funds.

My first financial advisor had apparently never encountered a client like me who was so against being a part of these companies. He spoke about his aversion to the tobacco companies—but he still invested in mutual funds associated with them.  What?

I wasn’t that kind of person. I insisted that there had to be another way. He told me that I could just buy individual stocks in companies, but, seeing as no one could predict how well those companies would do, this was a risky move.

It sounded complicated and like it would take a lot of effort and I would have to constantly adjust my funds in order to ensure that I would profit. It didn’t sound appealing, but it did seem like the only way to invest my money in something I believe in and companies I agreed with.

My financial advisor did not advise this course of action and was disappointed when I told him I was going to pursue it. We parted ways.

Finding the Right Mutual Funds: Your Best Bet

I never did set up my portfolio the way I intended to after seeing my local financial advisor. It just seemed like a lot of work and well… I still wasn’t sure how to do it.

I did transfer the money out of the financial institution that it was in (and away from those mutual funds I disliked so) and into another account, where it sat for several months—uninvested—while I decided what to do with it.

Then, I came across a different financial advisor, one who lives a couple states away, who was about socially responsible investing (SRI). SRI is about investing in funds and companies that cultivate sustainable, ethical practices for our people and our planet. I was interested, so I got in touch.

This guy was super nice, knowledgeable, and helpful about SRI, despite the fact that he couldn’t work with me. He explained that his clients have a minimum amount to invest. My funds didn’t even come close to that amount.

However, he still gave me resources for finding the right mutual funds for me. He explained that if I was going to be investing over a long period of time, mutual funds made the most sense and required the least amount of maintenance.

The resources he gave me were excellent and included an SRI website that has been invaluable to me (you can find that site here) as well as the names of two ethical investing companies that I might be interested in getting in touch with.

The site mentioned above—The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investing—has detailed charts about all types of SRI mutual funds and their performance, but more importantly (at least to me), is the tab on the chart where you can click “Screening and Advocacy”. This will tell you about what types of practices these mutual funds limit or avoid.

These categories include:

  • Climate and Clean Technology
  • Pollution and Toxics
  • Environment
  • Community Development
  • Diversity
  • Human Right
  • Labor Relations
  • Executive Pay
  • Alcohol
  • Animal Welfare
  • Defense/Weapons
  • Gambling
  • Tobacco
  • And more!

What’s great about this is that you can evaluate these mutual funds based on what’s important to you. For me, animal welfare is among the most important ones. It was important to me that I invested in mutual funds that didn’t work with companies that tested on animals.

So with that resource combined with the two companies he suggested to me—Pax World and Domini—I was able to find mutual funds that restricted animal testing.

I chose to go with Domini because unfortunately, Pax didn’t have any funds that actively sought to avoid animal testing. I even contacted them to ask about it. Domini was a natural fit for me. It was super easy to set everything up and invest my funds. I’m happy to have my retirement and saving funds invested with them.

When Investing Is a Good Idea: Your Future Boss Funds

It’s a known fact that many Millennials don’t have any savings. In fact, 31% of us have $0 in savings. How shocking is that? (Not being sarcastic. It is shocking.)

It’s shocking when you consider that disaster could be right around the corner at any time. You lose your job. You don’t have health insurance. You get in an accident. You can’t work. You’re at risk to lose your housing.

Things can happen so fast.

So here’s the deal: investing may or may not be the right choice for you depending on what you plan on using your money for. Have $1,000 that you want to invest for retirement? Absolutely, invest that shit! Have $2,000 that you plan on using to buy a house in a couple years? Probably easier to leave that money in your traditional savings account with the bank.

You can max out your retirement fund at $5,500 every year. I would highly suggest you do that if you’re financially able to. If you’re not able to reach that amount, don’t stress about it—even investing a little bit helps, whether it’s $100 or $2,000. Your future self will thank you.

How much should you actually be saving? 20% is the general rule. 20% of your income should go into savings. These savings could be for anything—emergencies, retirement, etc.

Saving feels like complete nonsense if you’re a living-in-the-moment type of gal. I get it. Why would you ever invest $1,000 into your retirement account when you could go on a vacation to Mexico with friends?

Hm. Let’s think about that one: starve when I’m 75, or party now. Which would you choose?

Just save some money. It doesn’t have to be the 20%. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be close to the 20%. Just save something, and save it now. If you want to ethically invest like a Millennial boss, you can do so. Choose what’s important to you and build your financial portfolio around that. You’ll feel good and—you won’t starve when you’re 75. Toodles!

What to Consider When Getting a Tattoo

What to consider when getting a tattoo is a personal question and not one to be taken lightly.

As someone with six tattoos, I speak from experience. While I may not be a full-body girl, I know a thing or two about advising someone whether or not they should get a tattoo and what to consider when getting a tattoo.

So what to consider when getting a tattoo? There are several things to take into account here:

Black and White or Color?

What to consider when getting a tattoo starts with considering whether or not you’d like it to be in black and white or color.

Consider that color will fade over time (as will the black, but not as much) and you’ll need to try and coordinate it with everything you wear for the rest of your life. Unless you get it somewhere people won’t see.

I don’t have any color tattoos (yet); they’re all in black. It’s easy to coordinate and simple when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

Design Trends

This is a big one to be wary about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo. What’s trendy today will not be trendy forever—and your tattoo is forever!

So just because you’re obsessed with roman numerals or that Florence + the Machine song doesn’t mean you can get tattoos of them.

What you love now will change in the future. Remember when stars were super popular? A tattoo should be timeless—not trendy!

Location on Your Body

This is one of the bigger questions about what to consider when getting a tattoo. Remember that you can’t move it once it’s there.

You can add to it or have it removed—but it’s pretty much stuck there.

Consider your job. Will your boss love your new forearm tattoo? Maybe you have a really casual place of work, and that’s awesome. But if you don’t, consider getting one on your back, torso, upper leg, or inner arm. Something you can easily hide should the occasion call for it.

Also, remember that certain locations hurt more than others—your back will be a killer! Places like arm and leg aren’t bad. Ankle kills. Ribcage kills. Keep that in mind when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

Your Design or the Artist’s?

If you want something crazy for a tattoo, you’ll need to decide whether or not you’d like to design it yourself or work with the tattoo artist to design it.

I’ve designed all my tattoos myself so that I can control exactly what goes on my body. However, tattoo artists are called artists for a reason. If your design is getting complicated, talk with them about it when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

They’re usually pretty cool people and will tell you what they think looks good and what doesn’t. Finding a tattoo artist that you really mesh with is awesome!

Which Shop?

So yeah, you need to go to a good place. This is probably the most important thing with getting your tattoo so you don’t get HIV. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Call shops. Visit them. Talk to the artists. A shop should be clean, friendly, and get good reviews. Even better if you know someone who’s been there and gotten some great ink done. Can’t beat an in-person review!

Which Ink?

All inks are not created equal, so think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

SOME TATTOO INKS ARE NOT VEGAN AS WELL AS TEST ON ANIMALS. Yes, it’s true.

Call the shop and ask which inks their artists use. Again, do your research. Personally, I don’t really want crushed up animal bones being inked into my skin. Nor do I want tattoo inks that have been tested on puppies.

Timeline

Spontaneous tattoos can be a lot of fun. However, I do encourage you to THINK about what you want, where you want it, etc. for several months at least before actually getting the tattoo.

Choose your design, the location, etc., then just think about it. Remember, this thing won’t go away. You’ll have to see it every single day and so will your significant other. Make sure it’s something that again, is timeless, not trendy, and that you love.

IT Hurts

Getting a tattoo hurts. A LOT. If you don’t handle pain well, this probably isn’t for you.

I’ve gotten tattoos unwillingly crying because they’ve hurt so much. So think about this when thinking about what to consider when getting a tattoo.

It’s not like a piercing where they shove the needle through your ear (or lip or face or whatever else) and it’s over. This needle KEEPS jabbing you. Sometimes for hours, depending on how big your tattoo is.

Size

This is also really important! If you’re unsure about what size you can get, your tattoo artist can help you choose the size that’s best for the location on your body, your size, your design, etc.

While there are some crook tattoo artists out there, remember that most artists are cool people and they’re not trying to get your money—they just want you to be happy with what they deliver. Nothing sucks like an unhappy customer.

The main thing to think about here is to not get it too big—I feel like you’d rather have a too-small tattoo than a too-big one. This is an important thing to think about when it comes to what to consider when getting a tattoo!

That’s about it for what to consider when getting a tattoo. Just remember that this thing is for life, so you should spend time thinking about it, and don’t get something trendy. Choose the best location and size for you, and it’s super important to get a clean and reputable shop/artist to do the work.

Get inked!

Homemade Sunscreen without Zinc Oxide

I made my own homemade sunscreen after finding out that the one I bought at the store had weird ingredients in it.

I didn’t exactly want these to be absorbed into my skin (yes, even despite it being cruelty-free). This recipe was adapted from several different recipes and was my first time making my own sunscreen.

Welcome to my homemade sunscreen recipe without zinc oxide! With just seven ingredients and seven easy steps you can be on your way to enjoying the sun without getting burned!

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe without Zinc Oxide

Ingredients

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1/4 cup shea butter

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/8 cup avocado oil

2 tbsp. beeswax granules

1 tsp. carrot seed oil

1 tsp. red raspberry seed oil

Any essential oils you want to scent it (trust me, you’re going to want to scent it) I used lavender but you can use whatever you want.

Update Note: Readers have commented that citrus essential oils are photosensitive, so you may want to avoid these!

So How Do You Make It?

Step One

In a saucepan, put the shea butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, and beeswax in over medium heat. You’re on your way to having great homemade sunscreen!

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Step Two

Let all of these ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally. The beeswax will be the last thing to melt.

Step Three

After everything is melted, pull the pan off the heat and let it sit until it cools down to room temperature. It’ll look something like this once it’s cooled:

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Step Four

Put the whole thing in the fridge for 15-45 minutes. You want it to set up a bit but not be too firm!

Step Five

Remove pan from the fridge and add the carrot seed oil, red raspberry seed oil, and your essential oils if you want to scent it (I used about 20 drops of lavender in mine). Then stir! You can use a regular spoon for this, it doesn’t matter. When you first start to whip it, it’ll look a little lumpy:

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Step Six

Keep whipping for about two minutes or until smooth. The mixture should look something like this when you are finished:

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Step Seven

Find an appropriate sized jar or container for your homemade sunscreen (whatever you’d prefer to keep your sunscreen in) and scoop the mixture in. Walaah! You are done. I used an old honey jar for mine:

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Note that this doesn’t make that much homemade sunscreen. This jar is pretty small. You may want to double the recipe if you are planning on sharing this or using it a lot. For me, I didn’t want to make a ton because I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out. Now, I’d happily make another batch!

These are the amounts of the SPF in all the ingredients used:

Coconut oil: SPF 5

Shea butter: SPF 5

Red raspberry seed oil: SPF 25-50

Carrot seed oil: SPF 35-40

Avocado oil: SPF 7

Also just FYI, I had to order the beeswax, red raspberry seed oil, and carrot seed oil online. I couldn’t find these at my local stores.

I was able to find the shea butter at the supermarket and of course, I already had the essential oils, avocado oil, and coconut oil on hand. All of these ingredients are a little pricey but the good news is that there will be enough for you to make batches and batches of homemade sunscreen to come.

When I finished it, despite the essential oils, all I could smell was the carrot seed oil. It was an overpowering, strange smell. But, I applied the sunscreen to my arms and face today and Ian smelled my face and said all he could smell was lavender. Hm? Well, okay. If you say so. The man approves. It smells nice.

So why shouldn’t you just go to the store and buy cruelty-free sunscreen? Well sure, you can do this. For me, I find joy in making things for myself because then I know exactly what’s in it as well as how it’s been made.

Plus, while some sunscreens have nice ingredients that are safe, the majority of them do not, in case you were wondering. The other thing is that if you buy a nice sunscreen, it’s probably going to be expensive, especially if you keep buying it over time.

Protecting your skin is important, but it shouldn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s more economical to buy ingredients that you can use over and over again to make your own homemade sunscreen.

A Note on Zinc Oxide

Almost all of the recipes I found online included zinc oxide as one of the ingredients for homemade sunscreen. All of these recipes cautioned the user about not breathing in the particles of zinc oxide.

I was confused by this. If I don’t want to breathe it in on accident, why would I want it touching my skin? It looks sketchy to me, and I didn’t want to use it in my homemade sunscreen. I would encourage you not to either.

I’ve recently found that some conventional sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide which can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Scary?

Update to this post: I’ve been using this sunscreen for about a year now and not once been burned. It’s fabulous! I have also found that it loses its potency not long after that time, so I wouldn’t keep it for more than one year.

Happy homemade sunscreen making! 🙂

4 Amazing Things for Healthy Skin Care

Healthy skin care is so essential to your beauty routine! I’ve found some wonderful natural things (plants, not products) that are just downright bad at making your skin supple, shiny, and healthy. And by bad I mean awesome. Young people lingo, right?

Here are some amazing things for healthy skin care!

1. Shea Butter

Shea butter

I just recently started using shea butter for healthy skin care. I picked up shea butter at the store because I needed it to use in my homemade sunscreen recipe. I did use shea butter in my sunscreen recipe, but I’ve also been loading heaps of it onto my skin.

I bought the organic unrefined version, which smells a little like barbecue sauce to me. Yeah, it’s also gray… Really odd… (obviously you can tell this picture is not the one I bought, ha).

I love it because I don’t mind smelling like a walking pork chop when my skin looks amazing. And you get used to the smell for healthy skin care. It just has a smoky smell to it.

So far, this is my favorite thing to use. I love it too because it stays put where aloe absorbs into your skin so quickly and the coconut oil will just rub off on your clothes or sheets before it absorbs properly. I would recommend a naturally-scented version for your healthy skin care to avoid toxic synthetic fragrances.

2. Coconut Oil

coconut oil

I will always love coconut oil, and no one will ever tell me that I can’t love it.

I do love it for skin use but also for cooking and putting in my tea. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer for my face and body. I ditched regular lotion about a year ago after finding that most brands had paraben and other weird things in them.

Choose organic, especially to put on your skin, otherwise, your skin will be absorbing the pesticides. Yuck, right? Healthy skin care involves coconut oil!

3. Vitamin C

vit c

I don’t care where you get it from, you have to have this for healthy skin care.

I take a supplement every day in addition to eating foods rich in vitamin C just because it’s hard to get the amount you need from just food alone. A long time ago, our bodies made vitamin C, but somewhere along the way, they stopped. So now we need it from external sources.

Load up on the oranges, lemons, limes, peppers (seriously, peppers have more vitamin C than oranges!) and get yourself a proper supplement for healthy skin care.

Fun fact about vitamin C: most supplements are synthetic. Ascorbic acid is the thing that your body has to turn vitamin C into in order for it to be absorbed properly. The good news? Your body apparently can’t tell the difference. This doesn’t mean that you can skip out on a quality supplement, though.

P.S—Watch out for cheap supplements, they may contain GMOs!

4. Aloe Vera

aloe vera

I was buying big leaves of this stuff at my supermarket, breaking off pieces, and rubbing that clear gooey stuff on my skin for healthy skin care. It was wonderful.

It absorbed quickly and yet left my skin feeling supple and smooth. This is also great for scar tissue. Perfect for when you need something that dries really quickly and will yet keep you feeling refreshed and fabulous.

Downside: sometimes digging your fingers into that cold, clear gooey stuff just got old.

Another huge part of healthy skin care is protecting your skin. All of these things will help protect your skin but sunscreen is also important. My next post will be about homemade sunscreen. For reasons you will soon find out (or may already know about if you know about animal testing), you may want to steer clear of that stuff at the store.

Things That Just Make Me Really Mad Around the Holidays

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I enjoyed mine with the exception of the occasional moment of suppressed rage, aka holiday anger management.

While I encourage everyone to speak out about things they see that are not right or things that bother them or traumatic events they have gone through that they no longer wish to be quiet about (or were never quiet about in the first place), I do acknowledge that there are moments when you must suppress your rage for the hope of something better.

Why must we do this? Why are there moments when we keep our mouths shut? I believe that there is a time for everything. Just as there are moments to scream, so are there moments to be still. Although I do really love this quote from Russian writer Nadezhda Mandelstam:

“I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity.”

Sometimes silence isn’t a crime but a choice.

But here’s the part where I scream.

And here’s what makes me really mad around the holidays.

I Made Food and You Complained While You Ate It

Yesterday, Ian and I made gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free organic pumpkin spice doughnuts.

We used organic dates and hot water to make a puree which substituted the sugar. People really enjoyed our doughnuts, but upon eating them at dessert, one table member remarked that since they contained no sugar and weren’t fried, then they weren’t really doughnuts because they didn’t contain the staple ingredient of sugar nor did they go through a frying process.

Um… yeah. Is that not my doughnut that you are shoving into your mouth right now?

So I kept my mouth shut. Or rather stuffed with doughnut. Because I thought those things damn well looked like doughnuts and tasted like doughnuts. And frick if those things didn’t contain added sugar or weren’t fried.

These are other doughnuts we made that are GF/DF, but you get the idea.

Must we do these things to our food?

While I won’t apologize for attempting to bring something organic yet yummy to the table that everyone could eat, I also won’t be responsible for disputing relations between myself and my boyfriend’s family.

Cue in holiday anger management, because this was a moment of suppressed rage. Because I loved those doughnuts and was proud of them, and I hate being quiet, but I also love a good drama-free holiday.

There’s Literally Nothing I Can Eat

I’ve been gluten-free for years. I’ve been dairy-free for years. I’ve had a family for years.

My extended family does not understand my food allergies at all. They do not make one single dish that I can eat, therefore dictating that I bring my own food.

I have zero problems with bringing my own food, except for the fact that people usually make fun of whatever it is that I bring.

It’s like they forgot that I was in a wheelchair before I stopped eating gluten.

I don’t complain. It just makes me mad. Please don’t make fun of my food. I enjoy it. My boyfriend enjoys it. Stop judging my decision to eat healthier and not be in a wheelchair.

Families Can Just Be Super Annoying

This is my brother and I swear I love him, but sometimes he just makes me really mad.

Hint: he’s usually the one making fun of the food (this is us at Easter a few years ago).

Why is it that families can be the most offending of people? It doesn’t matter if it’s my family or my boyfriend’s family, it just doesn’t make sense. I’m like, shouldn’t you be a stranger or something?

Unfortunately no, these people and I are somehow all related.

Here are just of the few things that happened during the holiday that made me mad:

  • my grandmother tells me I need to grow my hair out yet again.
  • for “Secret Santa” I got my cousin’s name, the same one who blew past me on the road in his diesel truck while I was running and I choked on the fumes.
  • the fact that everyone is eating about five of the top allergens in the world all on one plate in one meal at one sitting.
  • the fact that most of those people don’t even know what the top allergens are.
  • when someone told me that my work at a homeless shelter is probably depressing (oh, yeah, because YOU have totally worked at a homeless shelter before).
  • when someone assumes that I am vegan.
  • when someone gives thanks for the turkey who “gave it up”. And then I say out loud, “unwillingly”.

That last one wasn’t suppressing rage or handling holiday anger management well. Or, only mildly. But you get the idea. Family!

Is It Time to Scream Yet?

You need to decide for yourself when to deal with holiday anger management. These moments will not be the same for everybody.

The same could happen if you are in a relationship. I am by no means advocating being quiet about things that bother you in a relationship, or in any other sector of your life for that matter, which is why these are called “moments” of suppressed rage rather than “lifetimes.”

But around the holidays, it could be argued that holiday anger management will become more relevant in your life.

So prepare yourself to do some peacekeeping after you label all the food on the table with little signs such as: “was tortured on the reg” next to the ham, “came from infected udders” next to the mashed potatoes with butter, and “contains up to 90% pesticides” next to the green beans.

Oh, and don’t forget to label the gifts that were tested on animals. Your relatives will want to know that for sure.

4 Legitimate Reasons to Stop Being Speciesist Right Now

The word speciesist comes from speciesism, which is the assumption that you as a human are superior to animals.

This assumption has led people to do awful things, including animal testing, factory farming, and keeping wild animals in captivity.

Being speciesist separates you from the innate connection you share with the world. You and every animal, plant, and other life forms have something in common—you share life together on this planet.

Here are four legitimate reasons to stop being speciesist.

1. Animals Have Feelings

If you’ve ever had a pet, you know that animals have feelings.

They feel pain and sorrow. They feel excitement and joy. Many thrive with companions, others love to be solitary. You don’t need to be a scientist to recognize and understand that these majestic creatures feel.

Animals feel scared. They feel threatened. They feel happy and loved. Although you can’t always communicate to an animal how you’re feeling with words, you can by your actions.

2. We Are Not Superior

Ok seriously, how are you superior to some of the most beautiful and intelligent creatures on this planet? This turtle has been around for 150 million years and can hold its breath for five hours.

Your ancestors existed for what, 6 million years and you can eat a Big Mac? Big woop.

How can we be superior to other life forms when we all share the same life and planet? When you become conscious of the life that you are, you realize that you are superior to nothing and to no one. You are one with all life. We are not superior.

3. Become Conscious of Your Impact

When you stop being speciesist, you begin to understand more about your impact on the world.

If you are not superior, you must be the same. If you are the same, then how can you show such disregard for a life that you share with other species?

Recognize that others are impacted by your presence. The planet is impacted by your presence. Forget about being better or more or superior, be one. Realize how huge your impact is and what a difference you can make simply by shifting your worldview and making a conscious choice not to support animal torture.

4. Create a Better World

You don’t need to be in a position of power to make an impact.

For example, the food you buy. Where is it coming from? Is it from places that treated their animals with love and care? Is it from a place that began dismembering the animal before it was even dead?

The purchases you make have a huge impact on the planet. The realization that you are no better than other life forms changes the way you perceive and interact with the world. We can make a better world when we stop being speciesist.

Are You Speciesist?

Since we have a right to be humans, animals have a right to be animals too. Even bugs. Are you speciesist? Let’s find out:

  • Do you discriminate against other life forms that you perceive to be lower than you?
  • Do you smash beetles or spiders when you see them for no reason?
  • Do you never stop to pick up worms when they absently crawl onto pavement and sidewalks after a healthy rain?
  • Do you buy products that were tested on animals?
  • Do you think it’s totally fine to torture and kill animals for the sake of pharmaceutical products?
  • Do you believe that animals were made for people?
  • Do you believe it’s ok for animals to be used for entertainment purposes?

If you answered yes to four or more of these questions, you are probably speciesist. Being speciesist is being prejudiced against other life forms.

Why should we treat animals differently? Why should we discriminate against different kinds of animals?  People also have a right to their opinions, but consider how you impact others and the planet.

Give animals a little leniency. Be aware of your behavior as well as the animal’s behavior. I get that some people have had bad experiences with animals that they testify to. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge and we should love and accept all animals and creatures without smashing them upon first sight or assuming they’re aggressive without giving them a chance.

Wouldn’t you do the same with people?

Your Introduction to the Menstrual Cup

Welcome to your introduction to the menstrual cup. It’s about to get real.

Did you know that feminine care product brands such as Playtex, Kotex, and Tampax test on animals?

I know what you’re thinking—how the hell do they test tampons on animals???

Actually, they test the amount of bleach on animals. What, you didn’t think those white tampons and pads were actually natural, did you? That they came from trees all nice and white? No, sorry. Those mothers were bleached. And you are shoving them up your vag.

I know, right?

Tampons also contain a known carcinogen byproduct, increase your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and your risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, a serious illness which a model recently lost a leg to.

Get rid of those chemicals! There are natural brands of tampons and pads that you can buy if you really want to, including organic cotton ones.

But I don’t use tampons and pads anymore, not since I found out about the menstrual cup.

What Exactly Is the Menstrual Cup?

Some of you may already know what a menstrual cup is. I had no idea what it was until I started looking up alternatives to conventional pads and tampons.

The deal is, it’s a small cup that you insert into your vagina that catches your flow rather than absorbing it. Some say this helps to ease cramps. The cup, when inserted properly, should not leak at all.

Fascinating, right? My first menstrual cup was The Keeper, which is made of natural rubber latex.

It Fits Better Than Tampons

Menstrual cups come in different sizes. You may think this looks large, but it’s actually quite small and not difficult to insert after a couple tries (you fold before insertion).

Sizes vary by age, whether or not you have given birth, and personal preference. This menstrual cup is the smaller size for women who have not given birth vaginally. Unfortunately, this cup didn’t work for me. I could not get it to stop leaking and the stem was really long. Some women trim the stems depending on how long they need them to be.

The position of the menstrual cup will be slightly different in every woman’s body. When I was first looking at menstrual cups, I thought, “I’m going to be the most natural hippie ever and not shove silicone into my body, so I’m getting the natural rubber.”

I used this menstrual cup for almost six months and just never got the hang of it. They say that it takes women an average of three periods to master the menstrual cup. For some women, it only takes one. For some, it could take longer (ahem, me).

The menstrual cup requires you to become familiar with your female anatomy. This was great for me because I had no clue what was really up down there. It’s great to be knowledgeable about your body so that you can better care for it.

You Can Pick the Material You Want

After finding out that the natural rubber latex just wasn’t working, I got my second menstrual cup, which was the LadyCup.

The LadyCup is made of medical grade silicone. These cups are much more comfortable to insert and get in and out of your body in my experience. They come in cute colors and the stems are shorter and have grips on the stem, which helps a lot when removing.

As you can see, they have air holes to create the seal. There needs to be a seal created in order for the menstrual cup to work.

For the LadyCup, I got the bigger size because it’s based on age. The menstrual cup needs to be inserted in a specific way and there are a ton of tips and folds that you can do to get it to work properly.

Whether you choose to go totally natural or get a silicone cup, it’s for sure healthier than tampons. I actually went through two more menstrual cups (a smaller LadyCup and finally the Lunette) before finding my perfect fit.

It Takes Time to Get Used To

I’ve been on my adventure with the menstrual cup for several months now and it’s been a fascinating, albeit frustrating, one.

It takes time to get the hang of this but when it works, it’s like magic. Here are just a few benefits of using the menstrual cup:

  • You insert it and you’re good to go for 12 hours
  • You can run, swim, pee, poo, do whatever you need to do with it in
  • When it’s in properly, you don’t feel a thing.
  • It’s more eco-friendly
  • No more trips to the store for tampons!

Didn’t tampons and pads take time to get used to? The menstrual cup will too. You will love it once it works and you’ll definitely love not exposing your vagina to carcinogenic substances.

How to Clean Your Cup

When your cup is full or if it’s leaking, it’s time to take it out and reinsert it.

But let me stop you before you do this.

First, you need to wash your hands. I like using a castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s. If you don’t wash your hands, you’re putting yourself at risk for a UTI (yes, I got a UTI from not washing my menstrual cup my first summer using it).

After emptying the cup, you need to wash the cup. I don’t care if you just put that thing in, wash it again. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off any soap residue. Then, just reinsert. It’s that easy.

It’s really important that your hands are clean before you have any contact with your menstrual cup, so don’t neglect this step!

Not Liking the Cup?

Ok, I get it. Putting a tiny cup in your vagina is just not for everyone. Here are some alternatives to the menstrual cup:

Get reusable cloth pads. You can wash and reuse these. I ordered cloth pads as a backup on days when I don’t feel like messing with the cup or when my flow is lighter. Flannel is actually a great material to use as it’s absorbent or you can go for organic cotton or bamboo.

Try natural tampons and pads. These would include unbleached fibers. They’re easier to deal with if you’re not invested in the menstrual cup, but wasteful for long-term use, as the average woman has her period for something like 40 years and will use nearly 12,000 tampons.

Check out sea sponge tampons. These are pretty cool. I myself haven’t tried them, but Bree (this really cool girl on YouTube who is something like a menstrual cup guru) has and did a video on them, click on the link to check it out.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon!

If you’re having problems getting your cup not to leak, I would encourage you to check out my guide for getting your menstrual cup to stop leaking. Bree also did a video on that which is super neat and helpful if you want the short (or a more visual) version.

Don’t give up on your menstrual cup! You can do this. Contact the company that made your cup—after going through four menstrual cups, Lunette finally helped me find my perfect fit. You might have to do some experimenting to find what works for you.

Trust me, all this effort will totally be worth it in the end!

The Verdict

I really love menstrual cups even though they can be frustrating when getting used to them. They give me a way to avoid animal testing, be more in touch with my body, and be friendly to the earth.

So ladies… happy menstrual cup shopping. There are so many different brands to consider! I do hope you’ll give this a try, as it’s safer for your body, there is no known risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome, and it’s so much more convenient for you and the planet.

Cost wise, the cups run anywhere from $20-$40 and last for 10 years. Can you buy boxes and boxes of tampons and pads for $40 in ten years? DOUBT IT.

Embrace your womanhood and check out the menstrual cup; you can pick your favorite color, have it shipped to your door, and get familiar with your body all in the privacy of your own home. What have you got to lose?

5 Reasons to Avoid Animal Testing That Will Help Create a Better Planet

If you’re looking for reasons to avoid animal testing, you’ve come to the right place.

Animal testing kills 100 million animals each year. Before you begin to say that these animals would overpopulate the planet if left alive, let me assure you that many of these animals are specifically bred for animal testing purposes.

Not only is animal testing inaccurate and unreliable, it’s completely unethical. Animals like those in the pictures you see here are tortured so you can have mascara that won’t make you go blind or perfume that won’t cause skin rashes.

It’s not just the cosmetics industry—cleaning products, pharmaceutical drugs, even food is tested on animals. There are so many reasons to avoid animal testing. Here are five of them.

1. It Saves Countless Animals

These are just a few of the animals that are used in animal testing:

  • Rabbits
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Birds
  • Monkeys
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hamsters
  • Mice

When you stop buying products that support animal testing, you are saving these animals from a life of pain and torture. Imagine your dog or cat being injected with a carcinogenic drug just so researchers can see what happens.

Look at what happens to innocent animals who are subjected to toxic substances so we can enjoy things like makeup, cleaning products, and drugs.

animal testing

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel like I’m responsible for that. The truth is, you’re responsible every time you pick up a tube of Crest toothpaste, spray your house with Febreeze, or put Neosporin in your grocery cart.

Anything that you buy at a supermarket has been tested on animals unless noted on the packaging. Here’s how it works: companies are not really about marketing the fact that they’ve tortured puppies and kittens and monkeys to bring you this “wonderful” product that they’ve made. So, if the product has been tested on animals, it won’t say anything about animal testing on the packaging.

You can stop being a supporter of the millions of animals that are suffering right now because you didn’t know what else to buy besides Tide.

2. Help Create a More Sustainable Planet

If the company or product does not test on animals, they’ll brag about this fact on the packaging.

Know why?

Because not testing on animals costs a lot more than testing on animals, so the product will be more expensive. Ever wonder why some of your favorite products are so cheap compared to the “natural” brands? It’s because your products have been created at the expense of animals suffering.

Your purchases have an impact on the planet. When you choose to avoid animal testing, you’re not only saving animals but helping to create a more positive planet.

Of all the reasons to avoid animal testing, helping to create a healthier planet is undoubtedly one of the most significant. You can invest in healthier products instead of toxic chemicals that are polluting the earth. You’ll eliminate unnecessary breeding of animals for torture.

You are an essential part of stopping the cycle of animal testing. The more products you buy from companies that test, the more of a supporter you are.

Stop being a supporter. Look at the reasons to avoid animal testing. You can create a better world by making more informed decisions.

3. Be Healthier

If the ingredients in the products we use were natural to begin with, animal testing would not be necessary.

Think about it. If something needs to be tested on animals before you come into contact with it, don’t you feel a little weird about that? The world would be a simpler place if we just used natural products to begin with.

Instead of using lotion filled with toxic artificial fragrance and hormone-disrupting parabens, why not use coconut oil or shea butter? Instead of taking a pharmaceutical drug for blood pressure, why not just eat garlic? Instead of using toxic perfume, why not just use essential oils?

One of the best reasons to avoid animal testing is that you can be healthier by making better choices.

4. Feel Better

Buying (or making your own) products that have not been tested on animals can be challenging.

However,  making your own products can actually be really fun and cultivates self-sustainability. It requires some researching and lots of label reading but compared to how you feel when you find out that you’ve been supporting this industry for years, it feels as light as a feather.

Feel better about what you support and what you put on your body as well as in it. When you’re not taking drugs, chances are you’ll feel better. When you’re not inhaling toxic chemicals, you’ll probably breathe easier.

When you’re looking for reasons to avoid animal testing, consider that you’ll feel better once you stop supporting this industry and choose better, healthier products.

5. Invest in Better Research

There are other methods we can use to ensure our products are safe.

If it’s fine for a mouse it must be fine for a human. Right?

This is not a logical train of thought. Yes, mice and humans are both mammals. However, we share different DNA. How could a creature other than a human dictate whether something is safe for humans?

When you stop supporting animal testing, you help invest in better research. This includes more ethical means of testing if dictated to be necessary, such as in vitro testing. Shouldn’t we use human cells if we’re doing human research?

For those who would argue against the reasons to avoid animal testing by saying that dog eye drops or medications require a dog, think again. Most medical ailments can be treated naturally. For those that can’t, we could utilize alternative testing methods rather than making the animal suffer.

What You can Do

Think you’re not torturing animals?

If you live in the United States and pay taxes, you’re actually contributing about $16 billion towards unethical animal experiments through government-funded research.

Also, if you use any of these products, you’re supporting the animal testing industry with cold hard cash:

  • Windex (anything from SC Johnson tests on animals)
  • Loreal
  • Febreze
  • Dawn
  • Vaseline
  • Lysol
  • Arm & Hammer
  • Snuggle
  • Tide
  • Rimmel
  • Maybelline
  • CoverGirl
  • Noxzema
  • OxyClean
  • Nair
  • Orange Glo
  • Trojan condoms
  • Clorox
  • Glad
  • Pine Sol
  • Soft Scrub
  • Speed Stick
  • Colgate
  • Palmolive
  • Softsoap
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Band-Aid
  • Bengay
  • KY
  • Neosporin
  • Neutrogena
  • Garnier
  • Purell
  • Kleenex
  • Cottonelle
  • Huggies
  • Kotex
  • Pull-Ups
  • Playtex
  • Lancome
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Gain
  • Head & Shoulders
  • Gillette
  • Listerine
  • Crest
  • Mr. Clean
  • Old Spice
  • Puffs
  • Secret

This is not a comprehensive list. This list goes on and on. For a more comprehensive list, check here. For a list of companies that don’t test on animals, click here.

When you’re looking for products that have not been tested on animals, you need to look for a label that says, “Not Tested on Animals.”

Some products say they are “Cruelty-Free”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they have not been tested on animals. It could mean that they still test but consider their animal testing techniques to be “humane”. You should always question and ask the company if you need to!

Also, some companies are “parent” companies, meaning bigger, more unethical brand names such as Unilever own brands that would otherwise appear to be ok such as Seventh Generation.

It’s a jungle out there, am I right?

But you can do this.

Let’s consider the reasons to avoid animal testing next time we make a purchase. It’s so important for our health, our planet, and our animals. Thank you for considering the reasons to avoid animal testing!