Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cruelty Free Products for Sensitive Skin

Having been over a year since my last product review, I neglected to explain the reason for my lack of posting. While it's partly because I haven't been able to find the time, the main reason (and the one most important to this blog) is that I've gotten to a point where I have found excellent products in every category that have surpassed all the others I'd tested. So I find that I'm content purchasing the same ones again and again.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have Seborrheic dermatitis, which causes some dryness and flaking on my skin, but I was also finding that my skin is pretty sensitive in general, and I was experiencing some reactions after testing out some of the products. There were a number of products that I enjoyed quite a bit, but they weren't always agreeing with my skin. This was fairly surprising to me as I would have expected some of these "natural" products to be less aggravating than some of the other brands that are more loaded with unnatural chemicals. However, I didn't always find that to be the case. Despite that fact, I'm not willing to return to using products that are tested on animals.

So I thought that if I paid attention to the ingredients in each of these products that I'd found to aggravate my skin, I might be able to find a common ingredient. And sure enough, I did. But the single common ingredient in each of those products was extremely surprising to me - Aloe (actually, in the ingredient list, it says it's Aloe barbadensis). As you know, aloe is used to soothe the skin, not aggravate it. So, it didn't seem logical that this could be the culprit. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I feel like I did enough anecdotal testing to be able to isolate that as the only ingredient that all the products shared that aggravated my skin. Unfortunately, Aloe barbadensis is a very common ingredient in cruelty-free products, which made my testing that much more difficult.

This is obviously an issue with my own skin and one that I doubt affects many other people. But because of this, I was finding that my already limited options were dramatically shrinking. Fortunately, I'm pleased to say that I've managed to find a product that is both cruelty-free and does not contain Aloe barbadensis. And all of the issues that I was experiencing have gone away. I still do have Seborrheic dermatitis, but my symptoms have significantly diminished. My next post will discuss the product that I've found to work for me. Maybe it will help you too.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Crystal Body Deodorant - Product Review

Truth be told, I've been a bit embarrassed to review this. But if you've read my previous posts, my track record with cruelty-free deodorants has not been great. For whatever reason, there aren't many choices of deodorant that aren't tested on animals. So having run through the gamut of options, there was one left. One pink, somewhat phallic looking option left. Crystal Body Deodorant. It doesn't help that the label looks like the cover of a romance novel either. I remember when I first heard about crystal deodorant years ago, and thought that it was some ridiculous, new-agey product that aging hippies used to commune with their earth mothers, or something along those lines.

So, needless to say, I was skeptical. But I'm committed to my testing and I'm not going to let a few muffled snickers and the underlying thought that I am going to be rubbing a rock in my armpit prevent me from trying out a new 'deodorant'. After all, based on my previous tests, it couldn't be worse than what I'd tried thus far.

After my shower the next morning, it was time to give it a try. The instructions are to get the crystal (actually "mineral salts" according to the label) a little wet and rub it on your armpit like you would any other deodorant. The directions also say that you can rub it anywhere on your body (such as your feet) that produce unpleasant odors. After my first full day, I gave my pits a sniff. Nothing. And I don't mean 'nothing' in the "it didn't work" sense of the word. I meant 'nothing' as in "I don't smell anything." This can't be. So, I asked my wife to give me a smell. She'd be honest. It took her a while for me to actually convince her that this wasn't some kind of cruel prank that I was trying to play on her, but she relented. And she agreed. Nothing. Hmm. OK, the kids are next. Nobody is more honest than kids . They'll tell me the truth, and I need the truth. I need someone to tell me that yes, I actually do stink. But even they agreed. Nothing. No stink. No smell. Nothing.

I was surprised, and impressed. But I was determined to put it through its paces. So, I used it every day for weeks, and now months. And as much as I hate to admit it, Crystal deodorant works. It's not an anti-antiperspirant, so you're still going to sweat like normal (which is a good thing for your body), and you're not going to smell flowery, or musky, or whatever scent you choose. But plain and simple - you're not going to smell.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Every Man Jack Shave Gel have to admit, I was somewhat discouraged after my first two tests with cruelty-free shaving cream. Both were Alba products, which is a brand that I consistently enjoy. So, I was surprised by the disappointing experience I had with both of them. They were just so far from my expectations of what a shaving cream should be and what I'd gotten used to with Gillette and the other brands that test on animals. But I'm not willing to go back to using products that are tested on animals, so I was a little disheartened by the prospect of having to use a product that I just didn't enjoy. And when browsing the aisles at Whole Foods, there aren't many options when it comes to shaving cream. However, I did see that there were a couple new options from Every Man Jack - one in a tube, and one in a can just like what what I'm used to seeing from the major brands. It's called the Every Man Jack Signature Mint Shave Gel.

I was cautiously optimistic about this new shave cream, not sure if it would be similar to Alba's shaving foam, or if it was going to be disappointing in a different way. So, I popped the cap off and pushed down the plunger, releasing a thick gel into my hand. The texture and consistency is very similar Gillette's shaving gel. Then for the real test. Spreading it around in my hands immediately produced a thick foam which I spread around on my face and neck. The scent is a mild mint, not at all overpowering and very pleasant. As I brought the razor to my face and began to shave, it was completely comfortable. This was in stark opposition to the other two shaving creams that I'd tried prior to this, which were fairly uncomfortable, particularly when shaving the mustache area, which frequently left my skin red and aggravated. The Every Man Jack Shave Gel left my skin feeling soft and smooth without a hint of irritation.

The Every Man Jack Signature Mint Shave Gel is, dare I say, perfect. It's so good that I don't want to try any other shaving creams. This is the one. Shaving can't get better than this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tom's Deodorant

Oh, Tom's. Tom's, Tom's, Tom's. I don't hate you. I don't even dislike you. I really don't. I swear. So, it was with an open mind that I approached your deodorant. This one was labeled as a  men's deodorant with a "Mountain Spring" scent. So, I was looking forward to seeing what this would be like. If you've read my previous posts, you'll know that it's been a bit of a mixed bag for me when it comes to cruelty-free deodorant. I liked the smell of the Herban Cowboy deodorant, but it turns out that I developed a rash under my arm as a result of using it. The Burt's Bees deodorant was nice, worked well, didn't leave a rash, but was just a little bit sticky when applied. So, while not a wholly negative experience, I also haven't one that I've been completely impressed with either.

So, next in line was Tom's of Maine Mountain Spring Deodorant. On first sniff, all signs were positive. Nice, not overpowering, not fruity or flowery. Good stuff. So, the first time I applied it was immediately after stepping out of the shower and drying off. I put on the deodorant, and a foam developed. I guessed that maybe I hadn't washed all the soap out of my armpit and this was why I was experiencing this lather. So, I washed out my armpit again, dried it out (making sure that my armpit was completely dry) and re-applied the deodorant. This time, there was only a faint bit of lather. After using it several times, I realized that if my armpit was even a little bit wet, the deodorant would lather up when I applied it.

OK, so how does it work? In a word, horribly. Though it says on the label that it provides "24 hour odor protection" and reiterates that point with (in an even larger font and underlined) "long lasting", I'd smell my armpits a few hours later, and they stunk. I mean, they really stunk. And I'm not a stinky guy. I'll get some stink going, but nothing horrible or overly noticeable. But after using the Tom's, my odor was offensive even to myself. And when you can't stand your own stink, something is seriously wrong. And to add insult to injury, that rash that developed when I used the Herban Cowboy deodorant was even worse after using the Tom's deodorant.

Since I've been testing out different cruelty-free products (which has been almost a year and a half now), I have only had to discontinue using one product (the Burt's Bees toothpaste, because the seam popped open and was toothpaste was leaking out the side), until now. There was just no point in continuing to use this Tom's deodorant. Not only was it not effective, but it actually made me stink worse than if I wasn't using deodorant at all, and I developed a rash. As I said before, I don't dislike Tom's of Maine at all. I have a great deal of respect for the brand and their longtime commitment to no animal testing. So, it saddens me to have to give them another bad review. But my reviews wouldn't be honest if they weren't objective. And in my objective opinion, the Tom's of Maine Mountain Spring Deodorant is just plain awful. Sorry, Tom's.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Every Man Jack Face Wash

Face wash is not an easy thing to find. Well, let me rephrase that. Face wash - that isn't skin-clearing (meaning it contains 2% salicylic acid), isn't a face scrub, and isn't prohibitively expensive - is not an easy thing to find. Considering that I wanted to pay less than $15 for 3oz., I was left with very few choices. One of the few was a face wash from Every Man Jack. I'd been looking to try new brands, but that really wasn't an option in this case. So, I grabbed the tube of Every Man Jack hydrating face wash (fragrance free), making sure not to grab one of the skin-clearing tubes, since there was very little difference in their appearance.

I admit it, I like fragrance. Minty, flowery, fruity, something. I'm a sucker for it. I like to breathe in a nice refreshing scent. So, I wasn't thrilled about having a fragrance-free face wash, but it's not a deal-breaker either.

Performance-wise, the Every Man Jack face wash is outstanding. Nice foaming action, rinses off clean, and leaves my face feeling oil-free but hydrated and completely clean. So, outside of the fragrance thing, it's perfect. And when I think about it, not having fragrance is probably much better for my skin anyway. That doesn't mean I'm now going to be a fragrance-free guy from here on out, but I'm not opposed to it either. But this is truly a great product. No real downside at all. Given the scarcity of options in the face wash category, I'm sure I'll be buying this one again.

**Update - July, 2014 **

Sadly, it looks like this product may have been discontinued as I'm no longer finding it on Amazon or the Every Man Jack website. But it looks like they do still make the Signature Mint Face Wash. Though I haven't yet tried this one, I do like their Signature Mint scent and I'm a big fan of the unscented face wash, so I'm eager to give this one a try.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Burt's Bees Deodorant for Men

On the heels of my experience with the Herban Cowboy Deodorant, which was my first foray into cruelty-free deodorant, I was a little bit wary. I liked the Herban Cowboy, but it did aggravate the skin around my armpits. So, I was curious to see how my skin would react to a different brand of deodorant. Next up was Burt's Bees Deodorant for Men

My experience with Burt's Bees products has been a bit less-than-stellar, so I was hoping that this might be the one to turn the tide. It has a nice woodsy sort of smell, which was a good masculine scent. The texture is a bit sticky, almost. It didn't flake off or leave residue, but it certainly didn't feel like it was going on smooth. I don't know if it was the beeswax that produced this texture but it wasn't what I was expecting, and I can't say I'm really a fan. Once it's on, however, it doesn't feel sticky at all, so it's really only an issue during application.

As for the most important factor, which is its effectiveness as a long-lasting deodorant, I was very pleased with the results. My pits smelled nice all day, so job well done there. I did notice that, on, some reviewers complain that it didn't offer lasting odor protection, which was not my experience at all. My guess is that depending on a person's individual body chemistry, they may experience different results. Because it definitely did the trick for me.

As an added bonus, I had absolutely none of the skin irritation issues that I experienced with the Herban Cowboy deodorant, which was a huge relief. I don't yet have enough information to know why I was experiencing it with one and not the other, but I'd like to figure that out. All things considered, I'm glad to say that I am pleased with the Burt's Bees deodorant for men. Other than the stickiness issue, it performed very well.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Giovanni Magnetic Energizing Shampoo

The name alone makes me feel that after using this, I'll be able to join the X-Men. And while I can't say that I felt neither particularly magnetic nor energized after washing my hair with this, I was pretty pleased with it. It was hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was that impressed me about the Giovanni shampoo. So, after thinking about it, it wasn't that I was overly impressed by its cleaning ability or that it left my hair so incredibly thick and lustrous, or any of the typical criteria by which I'd ordinarily judge a shampoo. Instead, I was impressed by the Giovanni shampoo for the same reason that I'm impressed by Paul Mitchell shampoo. This is a brand that you expect to see in a hair salon, a brand that has a certain cachet to it.

In general, I'm not swayed by that sort of thing. But I get particularly excited when a name brand of sorts (like Paul Mitchell) makes a commitment to producing cruelty-free products. Not to diminish in any way what great brands like Alba, Shikai, JASON and others are doing, but they just don't yet have that 'salon' status. And why do I care about that sort of thing? I'll tell you why. I feel that if a cruelty-free brand can penetrate that salon market, they can start to reach people who may not otherwise care about buying cruelty-free products. And if they can be an elite brand without testing on animals, what then is the justification for the other elite brands that continue to test on animals? It just feels like it's opening a new door, and I like that. I like the potential.

As for the Magnetic Energizing Shampoo, sure it's nice. I have zero complaints about it. And on Amazon, at least, it's not all that expensive. So, I wish nothing but success for Giovanni. Promote cruelty-free products, and let's get a few more people on board!