My Paraben-Free, Mostly Natural, Somewhat Cruelty-Free Beauty Regime

I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a long time but hesitated because… well, it’s not the thing I typically talk about here. But after reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, the topic’s been on my mind more and more — and I finally thought, “Hey, it’s MY BLOG. I can write about whatever I want to write about!”

When it comes to beauty products, I’m a total hippy. It started several years ago (maybe a decade ago) when I decided I wanted to go paraben free. I wanted products that I felt ok putting on my body — but I also wanted them to work. And let me tell you, that can be surprisingly difficult to find.

So what do I look for in a beauty product?

  • Paraben free. This was my first step towards hippy-dom. Parabens are “estrogen mimickers,” and some studies link them to increased risk of cancer. (Nothing conclusive, I should note.)
  • All natural, as much as possible. I’m not going to make my own mascara, but I like ingredients that I can understand, and in general feel that the less ingredients, the better.
  • Cruelty free. I decided to add this criteria after reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves — so no, not all of the products I use are currently cruelty free. “Natural” and “cruelty free” often have overlap, but not always. I’m not going to throw out everything I have, but as I buy new products, I’m going to be looking for this.
  • Price conscious. I used to buy really expensive skincare products until I realized that, for the most part, the drugstore ones did the same thing. Now I try to buy the cheaper product, when that’s an option. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean THE most inexpensive item on the market — it means that I look at the price, how long the item will last me, and make a decision based on that.

And look — I’m not super strict about this. I try to do the best I can, because at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. I also don’t really care if YOU buy all these crazy hippy products or not — you do you. That’s a personal decision. But, as someone who’s had a hard time hunting some of these down, I’m eager to share what I’ve learned and found along the way.

So, without further ado… here are the hygiene, skincare and beauty products that (for the most part) fit my hippy criteria.

Hygiene Products


1. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. Let’s start with the hippy-est of them all, shall we? Seriously, half the reason to buy anything from Dr. Bronner’s is to read the insane ramblings on the packaging. But in spite of the company’s “might be crazy” founder, these products are awesome. Natural, effective, smell great, and yes, the company is cruelty-free.

2. Surface Trinity Strenghtening Shampoo. One of the benefits of having a mother-in-law who is a hair dresser is that she’ll randomly recommend new products she’s found. This shampoo was one of those — she recommends it to a TON of people, not just the nature-lovin’ folks — and it’s pretty great. It’s paraben free, sulfate free, vegan, gluten free (for folks who are SUPER sensitive to gluten). It is, unfortunately, not cheap (another perk of having a mother-in-law who’s a hair dresser), but if you want to splurge, I do recommend.

3. Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste. Is there even another natural toothpaste on the market? If there is, I haven’t found it. But why would I — Tom’s is great. Plus, they have a sensitive version for my lil’ sensitive toothies.

4. LAVANILA ‘The Healthy Ddeodorant. Most people are SUPER hesitant to try natural deodorant. Not all are created equal. The hunt for the perfect natural deodorant is my great white whale. Crystal is effective, but after repeated usage, makes my armpits itch. Primal Pit, despite its horrible name and bizarre ingredient list, was SUPER effective (like, the best I’ve ever tried)… until I developed a painful rash from the baking soda. These days I use LAVANILA — smells nice, keeps me odor-free, and doesn’t bother my apparently super-sensitive armpits — but I’m almost always on the hunt for a better brand. In fact, I just bought some Lavilin to test.

Skincare Products


1. Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Wash. One of my biggest criteria for face wash is that it actually wash things off. This seems weirdly rare. But Everyday Coconut takes off even my most stubborn makeup, doesn’t dry my already dry skin, and is pretty damn cheap ($8.99 for a big ol’ bottle). Plus, the company does approximately one zillion good things, and happens to be local for me.

2. DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+. This is a product I’m SUPER picky about — it has to sink in quickly and not feel greasy, it has to be moisturizing, it can’t make me break out, and it has to have SPF (for the cancers, but also because WRINKLES). I often experiment, but always end up coming back to this guy. DeVita goes on a little white at first (that’s the natural sunblock), but then it disappears and gets the job done. I’ve worn this in Hawaii and not gotten burnt. Plus, it’s routinely rated top-in-class by the Environmental Working Group. It’s not SUPER cheap (about $25 a pop), but it’s not the most expensive moisturizer on the market either.

3. Earth Science Apricot Night Cream. I bought this as a total fluke after TSA confiscated my night lotion (boooooo). I slapped it on before I went to bed, decided I didn’t particularly care for the texture or smell… and woke up the next morning and was AMAZED at how hydrated my skin looked. No dry patches on this face, baby! Bonus, turns out the company is cruelty-free. And you can find it at the drugstore. WOO HOO!

4. REN Micro Polish Cleanser. After my facialist recommended that I use a gentle exfoliator 2-3 times per week, I found this brand. REN used to have a jojoba-bead exfoliator that I LOVED… and then, because the world is cruel, they discontinued it. Their Micro Polish Cleanser is… ok. Honestly, I’ll probably look for another product after I’m done with this tube. But REN as a company is one I can get behind — good ingredients, cruelty free.

5. Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel. If I want a mid-afternoon refresher, or a boost of extra moisture before applying lotion, I grab a cotton ball and dab on some of this stuff. Simple ingredients, cheap, and it smells nice (or, as Byron would say, “Like a Grandma”).

Makeup Products


1. The Body Shop Makeup Brushes. Most of the brushes I use are from The Body Shop — they’re soft, last forever, and are made from synthetic bristles (rather than goat or pony hair, which makes my eyes swell up — wheeee!). There’s some disagreement over whether The Body Shop is cruelty free or not… but I guess as consumers, we gotta decide what’s “good enough.”

2. bareMinerals Original Foundation SPF 15. I’m always conflicted about bareMinerals. On the one hand, their products are decent, if not rave-worthy. On the other hand, while bareMinerals is cruelty-free, its parent company is not (a theme, it seems…). But that said — I’ve been using the Original Foundation for years. NOT as foundation, however — I user it as cover-up. Stick some on a brush, dab it on problem areas. Voila.

3. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15. Oh Tarte. How I love thee. How sad I was to discover you were recently purchased by a parent company that is not cruelty-free. Soon, I’ll have to decide if I’ll continue using you… but in the meantime, yeah, I love these products. Despite the “full coverage” in the name, this foundation goes on light if you don’t apply a ton of it. A little definitely goes a long way — which means that one tube lasts FOREVER. (Which is good, because at $38, this stuff ain’t cheap.) The tube I’m currently using I bought in… wait for it… December 2013. Still goin’ strong.

4. Tarte Clean Slate 360 Creaseless 12-Hour Smoothing Eye Primer. I’m not as nuts about this product, but it gets the job done. It’s an eyeshadow primer, which means you put it on before your eyeshadow. Why bother? Because my eyeshadow lasts all day, doesn’t crease, blends better, and I end up using less of the product.

5. M.A.C. Eye Kohl in ‘Teddy’. How ecstatic was I to learn that this, the best eye liner in the entire world, was paraben-free! How devastated was I to learn that M.A.C. tests its product on animals. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I run out of this one. Probably cry. If anyone has recommendations for a replacement, I’m all ears.

6. Mirabella Magic Marker Eyeliner. I’ve never worn liquid eyeliner, because I find the application of it, um, error-prone. But this stuff is GREAT. It’s like a felt-tip marker — just draw it on, and get some va-va-voom cat eye’s. I don’t wear it often, but sometimes you want the extra drama. This product isn’t the most natural of the bunch, but it IS paraben-free and cruelty-free.

7. Zuzu Luxe Mascara in ‘Onyx’. I am, as it turns out, insanely picky about my mascara. I want it to be natural looking, but not too natural looking. I don’t want to be able to FEEL it on my eyelashes (a weird sensation). I want it to wash off with soap and not require makeup remover. I’ve tested a lot of brands — bareMinerals, Buxom, Tarte — and Zuzu is the one I’ve currently landed on. It’s… ok. I like the way it looks once it’s on, but applying it is kind of a bitch. It gets gunky, and you have to work slowly to make sure you don’t end up with clumps. So I’ll probably move on after this tube. I’ve heard Dr. Hauschka is amazing, but it’s too rich for my blood. I’m tempted to try e.l.f., which is $3 at the drugstore. Can’t beat that with a stick.

8. bareMinerals ‘READY 4.0’ Eyeshadow Palette in ‘The Truth’. Again with the bareMinerals. Sometimes the easy option just works. These colors have a tiny bit of shimmer, blend decently, and are perfect for everyday wear.

9. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in ‘Tipsy’. I don’t know what kind of witch magic is in this blush, but it really does last all day. The matte color looks scary-bright in the compact, but once you put it on, it gives a nice, natural-looking glow. And, like all Tarte products I’ve encountered, a little goes a loooong way.

10. MAKE UP FOR EVER Mat Bronze. Do you know how freakishly hard it is to find a matte bronzer? I’m not a unicorn, I don’t want my cheekbones to shimmer. Now try finding a matte bronzer without parabens — next to impossible! I was so happy when I found this one. Unfortunately, I just learned the company tests on animals. DAMMIT, MAKE UP FOREVER. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.


So there you have it — my paraben-free, mostly natural, somewhat cruelty-free beauty regime. Obviously, it’s still evolving. If you’re interested in seeing if a makeup company tests on animals, I’ve found the list on Paula’s Choice to be useful.


6 thoughts on “My Paraben-Free, Mostly Natural, Somewhat Cruelty-Free Beauty Regime

  1. This is really great, Laura! I might have to try some of these products. (Although I’m not sure anyone will be able to pry my Clinique mascara from my hands.) I’m especially intrigued by the Earth Science Apricot Night Cream. Thanks for the informative post! :)

  2. I work in the drugstore beauty world, my only word of caution with paraben-free, look what they are replacing it with because a good chunk of the time it is even WORSE than paraben, but because marketing-wise paraben-free is sell-able, that’s the focus.

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