Best Of April 2017 (Cruelty-free And Vegan)

All the hits of the last month.

By: Amber x Dani

1. Ellis Brooklyn Rives Eau De Parfum

This is one of the best unisex fragrances we’ve ever smelled, and no, that is not an overstatement. Just like all of Bee’s scents (which are phthalates-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free and eco-friendly) this one is warm and addicting and luxurious. Like we’ve mention here before, we’re not a particularly lavender fans. But. We find that the lavender notes in this fragrance is one of the key scents that makes it lean neither too feminine or too masculine. It’s right down the middle, and we love it for that. If you haven’t found a perfume that you really truly enjoy yet, or want something different than what everyone else is wearing, we highly recommend trying a scent from Ellis Brooklyn, particularly this one. It’s so good, sometimes we spray it on my neck before bed just so we can relish in the scent as we fall asleep.

2. OSEA Cleansing Mudd

One of the most challenging things to do since going exclusively cruelty-free has been to replace all of our go-to skincare products from the drugstore. At least 99% of drugstore skincare and makeup brands are non-cruelty-free. But not only do they have incredibly affordable options, but a lot of them work. As in they actually work better than splurgy high-end brands. We’ve found that to find the most effective products either you go low like drugstore or extremely luxe like paying $200 for a face cream and $400 for a treatment product.

Until we discovered OSEA, an organic seaweed skincare range. Everything we’ve tried is top notch (we’ve got a full brand review coming up), but this month we emptied out this amazing stuff called Ocean Cleansing Mudd. (BTW, obsessed with the paradox that is cleansing your skin with mud.) Since we have oily skin that’s prone to breakouts, we always need something that’s going to work hard at keeping them at bay. For a long time we relied on benzoyl peroxide, but we’ve always used it begrudgingly because we also have super sensitive skin and it dries me out and irritates my skin really bad.

We did some reading and turns out that tea tree oil kind of the natural version of BP. You know, the stuff that’s on every amazing hair conditioner that tingles and makes your scalp feel squeaky clean? Turns out putting it on your face does wonders too. You know what else is bomb for acne-prone skin? Peppermint. Apparently it works wonders to keep skin clear. So, this cleansing mudd has definitely become our go-to nighttime cleanser because it really gets our pores as clean and purified as they’re ever going to be. Only thing is that it’s extremely pricey compared to my former drugstore go-to. But it does feel a lot more comforting knowing we’re not only using something by a company that didn’t test on animals, but also that this product is made without synthetic fragrances, genetically modified ingredients, petrochemicals, parabens, or sulfates. Everything is also vegan, gluten-free and biodegradable, plus the glass bottles are recycled. More on what’s *not* in OSEA’s range here.

There’s even an entire method to keeping your skin as clear as possible that involves OSEA’s Sea Minerals Mist, Essential Corrective Complex, and Blemish Balm that we want to try next.

3. Jillian Wright Skincare Double Surface Exfoliator

We’re in a phase now with our skin where we only exfoliate when we need to. We’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, though. There was a time when we were exfoliating every morning with an abrasive scrub. It may sound a bit scary, but the crazy thing is that it was working for our skin. Then there were times when we barely ever exfoliated, maybe one or two times a month, and when we did it was with an AHA or BHA; not a physical exfoliation. So now we’re doing a combination of both, abrasive and non-abrasive exfoliants, maybe one or twice a week. Our favorite scrub lately is this one from Jillian Wright Skincare – their Double Surface Exfoliator. The cool thing is that this scrub has natural physical exfoliants (derived from bamboo) and Lactic acid, which is a powerful AHA. It’s also gluten-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and of course, cruelty-free.

3. Glossier Super Pure

We adore anything and everything Glossier does. They’ve absolutely nailed everyday skincare and makeup while also remaining a cruelty-free brand that uses lots of natural, good-for-you ingredients.

Our skin had recently freaked out and we’d honestly been slacking on our serum routine, especially since we were trying to super simplify the amount of products we were putting on our skin in order for it to be able to reset and stop breaking out. But we got back on track and been diligently applying it twice a day ever since. Only now we’re all out and have to order a new one! BTW, Niacinamide is the technical term for vitamin B3, which reduces the appearance of blemishes, redness, enlarged pores, uneven tone, and oily skin. If you have blemish-prone skin, this is a skincare essential for a daily routine that promote balance.

P.S. You can get 20% off your first purchase if you shop with us 💋 Definitely recommend investing in the Super Pack, which includes all three of Glossier’s serums: Super Pure, Super Glow, Super Bounce. Love their serums because while most formulas are made to give you results over a long stretch of time, Glossier’s trio relievers results within your first few uses.

4. Patyka Paris Marine Crystals Revitalizing Body Scrub

We have to say, we were a bit skeptical about this body scrub at first. For one, it comes in a pretty small tube. Second, it’s a nonabrasive scrub, which means there is no sugar or salt to really get in there and buff off dead skin. But the thing is, which we’ve just learned, you don’t actually have harsh beads to soften and exfoliate the skin. Who knew? And you don’t have to use a lot of product, which is always s plus to me (who else gets sad when your favorite product runs out?). Two quarter-sized dollops is enough to get every inch of your body. We find that after using it as the final step in our showering routine our skin is so much less prone to be dry and if we wanted to, we could even skip lotion (of course we don’t because we’re currently still obsessed with body moisturizers, especially oils and our Terrific Body Milk). So lesson learned: don’t judge a book by its cover, or rather don’t judge a body scrub until you try it! It just might surprise you.

5. Tamira Jarrel Blog/YouTube Channel

After watching maybe two minutes of a Q&A she did on her channel a while ago, we were instantly obsessed with her vibe. We both immediately subscribed to her channel and followed her on Instagram, which is stunning by the way. We also checked out her blog and this girl is crazy talented and beautiful. Her photography is some of the best you’ll find anywhere. But why she’s so addictive is because she’s real. If there’s one blogger/YouTuber that we can relate to the most, she takes the cake, hands down. She doesn’t sugarcoat stuff. She just says how she feels with such insouciance and is unapologetic about who she is, which is not just admirable, but addicting.

YouTube has become very oversaturated now, especially in the beauty realm, but TJ’s channel is pleasantly refreshing. We can’t tell you how many products she’s championed that we’ve gone out and bought. She’s a lover of natural beauty, minimal makeup, and top-notch skincare just like us, so it’s easy to see why we basically think we should be best friends. Oh, and BTW, Tamira doesn’t just do makeup and skincare. She also does minimal, slightly androgynous fashion, which she’s working on adding more of to her blog/IG/YouTube. So exciting. We mean, we couldn’t get more like twinsies: she hates shopping and prefers buying everyone online, she is an all-neutrals-everything kind of girl, if she has to do a print, it has to be stripes, and even thought she hates wearing shorts (because she doesn’t like showing her legs) she’s looking for the perfect pair. Also, love that she doesn’t ascribe to the whole “dress for your body type” bullshit that fashion editors try and push on us so we buy a bunch of crap so their advertisers are satisfied. Fucking love her. Definitely check out her channel and follow her on IG if you aren’t already!

6. Kai Fragrance Skylight Candle

We remember walking into the beauty section of Barney’s on Fifth Avenue (hint: doesn’t happen often) and obsessing over Kai’s luxe selection of products. They were all in gorgeous clean, modern packaging (which happens to be recycled!) and everything smelled amazing. Did a little reading and found out that everything from Kai is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, phosphates, and gluten. Everything is also cruelty-free, of course, and made in the US. So impressive.

We’re self-proclaimed scented-candle junkies and there’s nothing we love more than the smell of fresh flowers. So why not combine them into one? When you light this baby, it literally smells like my grandmother’s backyard, which had a assume lilac tree. We know, so quaint. But oddly enough, this is candle is infused with sweet gardenia, like everything else in their bath and body line. Our absolute favorite scents are woody fiery types. But it’s spring, going to be summer soon and we’re so into florals right now.

Of course, Skylight is completely vegan since Kai exclusively uses soy, palm and coconut wax that burns slowly for up to 40 hours. It’s the perfect price for a luxury candle at just under $50. If you’ve got a lot of mothers in your life, perfect little gift!

7. The Little Market Peony Scented Candle in Rose and Peony

Yes, another candle. We enjoy all types of scents – citrusy, woody, fruity – but there’s something about florals that we connect with, especially when it comes to candles. We’ve been burning this peony scented candle from The Little Market, a nonprofit founded by women, for women, and we really love it. Not to mention, it has our names on it so it feels extra special and personal when we get to burn it. Peony and rose has always been some of our favorite fragrance notes.

8. The Four Agreements Audiobook 

A really good friend texted us months ago saying we should read the book because it would change our lives. That was an understatement, if anything. This is by far one of the best books we’ve ever read. And it’s why it’s our third time reading it in less than six months.

This is a practical guide to reaching personal freedom. How? By first learning all the ways in which we’re suffering, then breaking the many harmful agreements we’ve made in the past, and finally replacing those old agreements with new agreements that are designed to help you flourish freely. We hadn’t even gotten to any of the four agreements indicated in the title before we had chills all over our bodies. We had to hit pause and rewind so many times because all of the concepts about why we’ve made the agreements we’ve made hit us so deep. But if you get rid of all these harmful agreements, you need to replace them with good ones, right? Don Miguel Ruiz says the main four agreements you should replace all those poisonous agreements with are: 1.) Be impeccable with your word, 2.) Don’t take anything personally, 3.) Don’t make assumptions, and 4.) Always do your best.

Here are some really powerful quotes of you’re not convinced you need this book in your life:

“Ninety-five percent of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all these lies.”

“Wherever you go you will find people lying to you, and as your awareness grows, you will notice that you also lie to yourself. Do not expect people to tell you the truth because they also lie to themselves.”

“Humans punish themselves endlessly for not being what they believe they should be. They become very self-abusive, and they use other people to abuse themselves as well.”

“The fear of being rejected becomes the fear of not being good enough. Eventually we become someone that we are not. We become a copy of Mamma’s beliefs, Daddy’s beliefs, society’s beliefs, and religion’s beliefs.”

“Maybe we cannot escape from the destiny of the human, but we have a choice: to suffer our destiny or to enjoy our destiny.”

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Sharing time, guys! Leave a comment below with some of your favorites for the month. Anything we need to try? Read any good books and have a recommendation?

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**FTC: this post is not sponsored and no compensation was received, however some products were sent to us. Opinions are our own, of course.**

Leave a Thought
  • lawler

    I’ve been thinking about The Four Agreements a lot this past week. It seems it’s time for a re-read.

    I also love Tamira.

    • Omg, Tamira is such a babe. Love her!

      Which of the four agreements are you working on the most?

      • lawler

        I think I need to work on all of them to be quite honest! But anxiety is a concern for me, so remembering not to take anything personally will probably be the hardest to work on, for sure.

        The book is such a short read, I think I’ll buy it and just keep it nearby and read it at regular intervals. I think I first read it about 10 years ago and it really stuck with me.

        • Same! We both suffer from anxiety really bad at times…mind is never quiet…have had trouble sleeping for the past five or so years. This is actually the one I’m trying to work on the most too! Definitely need to work on not assuming things in my personal relationships (that’s actually the prime reason why we fight with each other 🙃) But not taking things personally is a tough one. I’m constantly reminding myself that people do things because of them and not me. So I shouldn’t get emotional…whether it’s anger or any other emotion…from what they choose to say or do.

          Yeah, it’s one of those that I come back to the most often. Love the audiobook because I listen to it when I’m showering or washing my hair just as a reminder at the beginning of the day.