Posts from the ‘Cosmetics’ Category

UD Abandons Cruelty-Free, Challenges Consumers to Care

So, my apologies for being a little behind on this topic. When I first heard about the controversy being caused by Urban Decay’s decision to sell in China, it came via a Leaping Bunny press release. Now it seems clear, but I’m used to so much double-talk that some of the wording seemed questionable. So my initial response was, “Trying to determine for myself what this means and whether I care. These symbols have such a degree of fluidity to them. Not everything with a leaping bunny is even vegan.”

To sum up the press release plainly, the Chinese government requires companies selling products to allow testing of those products on animals. If it’s sold in China, it’s not cruelty-free. Even if the ingredients are vegan, the use of animal testing makes the product as a whole not vegan. Urban Decay will no longer have vegan products even if they continue to use the Marley Footprint, which was created to denote vegan products.

If you’ve read my posts and articles, you’ll know I’ve been married to Urban Decay for a while. Having worked in a major retail cosmetics store, it was my go to brand, my rock. Marriages aren’t always easy; we don’t always love what our partners do. I didn’t love it when the primer was found not to be vegan anymore; I wasn’t in love with every color in the vegan palette; wished they’d come out with another all Marley Footprint stamped palette or some other vegan kit (seriously, it’s like only getting a piece of ass on your anniversary while  your partner is out trolling for hookers every night). I was grateful though.

UD’s Facebook announcement that they will be selling in China was the final straw. Some people may not understand that it wasn’t the actual idea that they would be, oh I’m sorry, that “the Chinese government may conduct a test using [their] products,” testing on animals that has upset me the most. Trying to think of every possible angle, I considered ways it could be beneficial in the long run…all of which fail because in essence, we’re really only handing over our ethics for profit.

It was the statement, “Because of China’s policies, this has upset some of our loyal fans who are also animal rights activists,” that really burned me. Having worked in retail, I have first hand experience that not all people wanting cruelty-free products are “animal rights activists.” They’re simply compassionate people who don’t want useless tests conducted on living animals, which include rats, bunnies, and dogs (yes, they test on Snoopy!). Animal rights activism has such an extreme connotation that it concerned me for years to be associated with it: ‘Oh no, I’m not one of them.’ It conjures up images of people all in black, releasing animals and setting fire to labs. Um, I bake vegan cupcakes…but I’m an animal rights activist.

The wording challenges the everyday Jane to associate themselves with such extreme labeling and to question, since they are not on that end of the spectrum, whether this is something they should care about. It is. Urban Decay has been a successful company being cruelty-free; they’ve actually built their company on the faith of people, not just veg*ns, who oppose animal testing. As Erin Red says, ‘I don’t like those products enough to go back on my ethics.’

Last weekend, I got the chance to chat with Melisser Elliott of Cruelty Free Face, as well as see her makeup demonstration, at The Seed: A Vegan Experience. Melisser only uses products that are vegan and cruelty free. Bummed to say the least about Urban Decay’s, and other companies, decision to move into a market that requires animal-testing, she wasn’t fazed. She whipped out a makeup case proving we don’t need UD as much as they seem to think they don’t need us. She even applauded LUSH for taking a stand against animal-testing.

Melisser’s favorite brands include OCC, Manic Panic, Zuzu Luxe, and Barry M. Check out her site for more info and video tutorials. Also, grab her book The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life.

Putting a Sting in Your Beauty Routine

Pooh bear had a love affair with the golden stuff. A. A. Milne’s tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, brought to full color by Disney, was obsessed with honey…I’m sorry, Hunny. Winnie may have been, but I’ve never been hardcore on this sweetener. It was never the way I wanted to spend my calories. Ironically, I’d scarf down a cupcake, then say no to honey in my tea because it was too much. However, I will now go for agave nectar or (even better) maple syrup because I was told they have a lower glycemic index so do not spike blood sugar in the same way as honey. (As if that makes them better; they’re added and likely unnecessary calories.)

Obviously, these are dietary/metabolic considerations; not moral/ethical ones. Despite reading the material from PETA, I am not against honey. My position is largely of ambivalence. I don’t seek it out, rather I opt for the alternatives, but if it’s in a product that is vegan otherwise, I won’t automatically abstain. I do have vegan friends who also, and without reservation, say they don’t care and others who had never even thought about it.

Forget vegan standards for the moment, as with the use of carmine in lipsticks and blushes (among other items…like your red Starbucks drink), killing mass numbers of insects for cosmetic and food products is not within my definition of vegetarian. To get their by-products, their deaths are not accidental but mandatory and highly unnecessary. So when I stumbled upon Kate’s beautician reveals buzz on bee-sting secret that made Duchess a blushing bride from the UK’s Daily Mail, I wondered ‘Are the bees harmed in the same way as those used for carmine?’

The article predominately banged on about Deborah Mitchell‘s celebrity clientele, with little about the process of extracting bee venom for this use. Searching for bee stings or bee venom, the overwhelming results of both are on how to treat bee stings.

According to a Wikipedia page on Bee Stings:

“Although it is widely believed that a worker honey bee can sting only once, this is a partial misconception: although the stinger is in fact barbed so that it lodges in the victim’s skin, tearing loose from the bee’s abdomen and leading to its death in minutes, this only happens if the skin of the victim is sufficiently thick, such as a mammal’s. Honey bees are the only hymenoptera with a strongly barbed sting, though yellow jackets and some other wasps have small barbs.”

So it seems, under the correct circumstances, the bees do not die from releasing their venom. One bee venom mask producer, Abeeco, describes the process:

“To extract the Bee Venom a pane of glass is placed along side the hive and a small electrical current is run through it, which encourages the bees to sting the surface.  The bees are not harmed in the process.”

Aside from fighting wrinkles, reportedly bee venom has medicinal uses for treating “arthritis and other painful conditions.” To emphasize its lavishness, Abeeco continues by emphasizing that, “Bee Venom is a an expensive scarce commodity.

For those not concerned with using animals or insects for their by-products, especially if it does not result in their automatic demise, here in may lie the rub. As with using antibiotics in animal feed, is there an ethical concern with using a scarce commodity like bee venom, with its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anit-viral properties, for aesthetic cosmetic purposes rather than reserving it for alleviating painful medical ailments?

BUST Craftacular and Food Fair Bursts with Energy

Today was the Bust Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair from 11am-7pm. Held at 82 Mercer Street, Soho, NYC, the space was packed with vendors. At $3 to get in, a nominal fee to give over if you’re a craft-enthusiast, I handed over the money like I was getting in line for a roller coaster; thinking to myself, ‘Why the hell am I here?’ I’ll admit, the all vegan Cinnamon Snail Food Truck was on hand, but that was at the curb outside…way before getting to the cash box.

After picking up their last issue, I’ve become a fan of the magazine, though. Since the magazine had vegan items (a recipe and some ads) in it’s last issue, it really was that I wanted to see if the fair had anything unique to offer me.

Right after I forked over my $3 to one hand, another appeared offering me a complimentary copy of their current issue. Um, well, sure. That’s better than handing it over to Whole Foods. Score already.

I’ve made jewelry; I’ve sewn; stacks of paintings sit in a corner of my room; and I bake. Despite that, in my narrow yarn sock puppets and granny quilts association with the word, I wouldn’t have considered myself crafty.  A reassessment may be in order.

Right off the bat, I recognized Black Sheep Heap‘s veg-centric designs, including their “Beet the System” t-shirt from the Green Holiday Festival in December. Then I spotted Verite Catering’s yummy cupcakes, which I immediately bought up…and devoured…a Chocolate Cupcake with Strawberry Frosting.

A number of tables specialized in jewelry. Continuing down the aisle, I was immediately taken in by Noosed Kitty‘s whimsical and humorous designs…and I couldn’t pass up her print of a narwhal in a bakery with donuts on its tusk.

I’m really glad I made a second round or I would have missed The Sideshow Soap Co. Rachel is not vegan but she is business savvy. Why marginalize a potential consumer base? ‘If something can be made vegan, why not?’ My favorite is always lip balms; there are 5 flavors in the line at $4 each. She said they weren’t as easy to make vegan as the lotions, but she kept everything consistent.

Also in tow were NYC Vegetarian Food Festival veterans Lizzmonade. Want to see more, visit ALV on Facebook!

Vegan Cuts: Sprout Skincare

This one’s for men and women! If you have chapped lips (who doesn’t during the winter season?), you’ll love these lip balms from Sprout Skincare. I grabbed up two (Citrus and Cinnamon) at the 1st ever Green Holiday Festival held by USVegCorp in NYC this past December. With shipping, they’ll come to around $17 ($4.25 a tube) for the tin. You have just over a day to snatch up this deal closing EOD 02/20/2012.

Save For Valentine’s Day With Vegan Cuts

Vegan Cuts is an amazing site that coordinates and alerts vegans to special deals relevant to them. Currently they have up their Vegan Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas + Coupon Codes. The codes will be good through February 14th.

Even if you turn up your nose at this holiday, don’t turn your back on these deals. Co-opt the mainstream notion of the holiday and love yourself…and spread the love to friends and family.

For the ladies, get the code for 10% off PRITI NYC nail polish. OPI and ESSIE, can’t hold a candle to PRITI.

For your gents, who normally take a quick shower, lull them in for a little scrub a dub dub with Enfusia bubble bath in scents like “Let’s Get Naked.” Get the code for 30% off.

For Fido, who loves you so, get the 20% of code for Boston Baked Bonz.

For all and for the everyday, get the codes for Karmavore Vegan Shop and Vegan Essentials.

The Word: EOS

A while back, I saw ball shaped lip balms in a magazine. Some celebrity couldn’t live without it at the time. In a few drugstores, I began noticing the EOS lipbalms. One day, without thinking, I caved and bought one.

I was just learning about animal products in cosmetics but it wasn’t until after I broke the seal that I thought, ‘I wander what’s in this?’

Disappointed in myself, I tossed it on my dresser and resolved to email the company….

…Time marches on…

Every once in a while I used it, and really liked it actually, justifying that I had paid for it and I just wouldn’t buy another one until I did my research…and I stuck to that. As I was rolling a container of their new hand lotion around my palm in the grocery checkout, I stopped myself and put it back; resolving that I would email the company…

…Time marches on…

Now I’m not generally someone who says ‘I’m going to send that company a letter,’ and then never does. I send TONS of letters (well, emails; everything’s digital, right) but there are only so many hours in a day and some things take precedent.

As I rolled it over my lips the other day and thought, ‘I still haven’t emailed this company,’ that was it…




I’ve been seeing your lip balms and hand lotions in a few magazines and I’m curious as to whether they’re suitable for me as a strict vegetarian (not consuming or using animal-derived products) or vegans (not consuming or using animal-derived- nor animal by-products).

On your website, your shave cream, hand lotion, and body lotion are labeled “No Animal By-Products.” I’m curious if this label includes animal derived (including insects) ingredients, ie is your glycerin sourced from animals or vegetables?

Also, your lip balms do not have “No Animal By-Products.” In the ingredients list you provide, I see they do contain beeswax. Aside from that, do they contain any other animal-derived- or animal by-products?

Thank you for any assistance you can provide!



JAN 04, 2012  |  05:12PM EST
Dear Sarah,
Hello and thank you for writing us. As you correctly note, our lip balm contains beeswax, so it is not vegan, but contains no other animal products. Our shave cream and our hand and body lotions contain no animal products. Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Jonathan T.

The Word: What ‘Vegan’ Means To UD

Since some of my more recent emails have gone unanswered, I think I’ve probably been added to Urban Decay’s “N list”: nuisance/no response list. No matter, I still heart Urban Decay…and I don’t think that’s a secret. I’m working to bring you all my backlog of company responses. This one is from May 2010. After the response I received from Smashbox Cosmetics, I realized that some companies may define ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ differently than myself and others, and it made me wonder what the Marley Footprint really meant to Urban Decay. So I asked…


From: Sarah
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 10:00 AM
To: UD Web CSR
Hello again,
I’ve appreciated your responses to my previous two questions, and was hoping you could answer another for me. I was recently going through responses from other companies about whether their products are vegan/vegetarian. One made me stop and consider if the companies responding or claiming “Vegan” all have the same definition. Since Urban Decay has the Marley Footprint on products to denote that they are vegan, I would like to know what exactly does being “vegan” and not having “animal-derived ingredients” in certain products mean to Urban Decay?

Thank you,


Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 1:20 PM

Hello Sarah,
Thank you for your inquiry. Our Vegan Products are 100% Vegan. We do consider and recognize insects as animals. Therefore no insect ingredients are used in our Vegan Products. If you have any questions on a particular product please feel free to write back. Have a wonderful day.

Urban Decay
Customer Service

So there you go. To UD, ‘vegan’ means, well, vegan.


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