Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Cruelty-Free Body Wash for Men

I'm always excited to see new personal care products for men, and darn near ecstatic when I find one that isn't tested on animals. So, you can imagine my enthusiasm when I came across a new cruelty-free body wash for men, Every Man Jack. Not that I mind the other body washes I've tried, as they aren't necessarily for women only, though I wouldn't describe the scents as all that manly. And many of the scents, as I've described in previous posts, I really enjoy, however feminine they may be. So, I smell like a Midnight Tuberose. So what?! A guy can't small all flowery and sweet? But I digress.

There is something nice about being catered to, as a guy, when it comes to things like body washes. Other than this new one, the only other cruelty-free company that I can think of that had a men's personal care product line was the Body Shop. And it's not very convenient to find a Body Shop store whenever I need new shampoo, shaving cream or body wash. So, good for Every Man Jack to find what I hope is a large, untapped market. I say 'I hope' because I'd really like to think that there are lots of other men out there who prefer to buy products that aren't tested on animals. Plus, aside from that, most of these products also use natural ingredients, rather than these overly perfumed, chemically saturated products that you typically find in grocery stores. So, I've found that, in most cases, I like the natural, cruelty-free products far better than the products from companies that do test on animals, and that's without taking into account the ethical and environmental factors.

Every Man Jack has a few choices in their body wash line: Cedarwood, Citrus Scrub, and Signature Mint. I opted for the Cedarwood this time, because what's more manly than smelling like lumber? However, the smell is not at all lumber-like, but rather somewhat musky in a good way. Though I wouldn't necessarily equate the smell with cedar, it is not at all unpleasant. In fact, I like it a lot. And unlike the JASON body wash that I've tried, I'm well over halfway through the bottle and enjoy it just as much each day as I did on the first.

I read a review on Amazon that the reviewer felt like it wasn't getting him as clean as other body washes, that he still felt that he had oily residue left on his skin after using it. I don't feel that's the case at all. I feel completely clean and smelling good. In fact, if I had to register any complaint at all with the Every Man Jack body wash, it would be that the bottle itself just seems kind of cheap. And I can't really explain why. I'm not sure if it's the color, which is a grayish-brown, or the fake wood cap. But I remember seeing it in the store and almost dismissing it because it didn't look like it would be body wash. The first thing that came to mind when I saw it was those old Hartz dog shampoo bottles (they've since changed their packaging). But this is obviously a small and insignificant complaint for what is really a great product. It smells good, keeps me clean and, best of all, it's inexpensive at just $6.99 (on Amazon) for a 17oz. bottle.

If you're a man, or a woman shopping for the man in your life, I would highly recommend Every Man Jack's body wash.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cruelty-Free Dandruff Shampoo

My dermatologist tells me I have Seborrheic dermatitis, which is a condition that's essentially the same as dandruff, except that it causes flaking and redness on other parts of the body. For me, it's on my face, which I effectively treat with a combination of a couple different prescription creams. For the scalp, she (my dermatologist) explained that people can sometimes have success with over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, though she suggested I try this prescription foam (I believe she said it was a foam). So, I went to pick up the prescription, only to find out at the pharmacy that it would set me back $280! I politely declined, so I'm now on a quest to find not only a dandruff shampoo that works for me, but one that does not test on animals. And that is going to be no small challenge. I've found that, as you move into the more medicated side of things, it's far more difficult to find cruelty-free products. I've found and tried two different shampoos thus far:

Avalon Organics Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Shampoo - I've seen a few different brands with Tea Tree offerings that claim to have anti-dandruff properties. In the product description for this one, it says, "This shampoo balances the scalp's delicate chemistry and gently cleanses, as restorative beta glucan helps reduce dryness and irritation." The shampoo is nice, has a pleasant scent, but I haven't found that it makes any difference for my flaking and itchiness. It's fairly inexpensive, though, which is nice.

Regenepure DR Scalp Treatment anti Hair Loss and Dandruff Shampoo topical with Ketoconazole - I found this on Amazon and was very hopeful. It's expensive at $25, and it contains Ketoconazole, which is one of the lotions that I use on my face to treat my Seborrheic dermatitis, so I was feeling optimistic about this one. And, amazingly, it says that it contains no animal by-products and, on the bottle itself, says that it is only tested on humans. Nice. Although I referred to PETA's list of companies that do and don't test on animals and couldn't find Regenepure, or their parent company, Salonceuticals, on either list. But on the Regenepure site, they say they don't test on animals, so I'm inclined to trust that. The first application of the shampoo was interesting, as there was a definite tingling feeling happening, so I figured it must really be working. Unfortunately, I didn't notice any difference at all in the flaking or itchiness. I've been using it for over a week now, and haven't noticed anything in the way of resolving this issue. The other thing that it reports to do is to help hair look and feel thicker. Haven't really noticed much of that going on either. I think I'll try using it two or three times a week, and rotating in the Avalon Organics shampoo to see if that helps.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tom's toothpaste

I wrote in an earlier blog post that while I'd been spending all this time obsessing about buying body washes, shampoos, and other shower supplies that aren't tested on animals, I completely overlooked the fact that I'd been using Crest toothpaste for years which is made by Procter & Gamble, who happens to be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to animal testing. So, I figured I'd give Tom's a try even though I hadn't really enjoyed it all that much when I tried it many years ago. But that was many years ago, so maybe it would be better now, or perhaps my taste buds have matured so that I will now appreciate the subtle flavor nuances that an all-natural toothpaste has to offer.

Well, I was wrong. I still don't like it. Blame it on being used to the artificial flavors and sweeteners and whatever else you might find in a tube of Crest toothpaste, if you'd like. After all, Tom's really does taste all-natural. I can almost imagine the Tom's crew skipping through the meadows of Maine, sporting only loincloths, as they gather up little sprigs of mint, along with a healthy serving of dirt and sticks and other mulch-like ingredients, then grind it all into a paste using only a mortar and pestle. Finally, with the utmost care, they coo and hum in a meditative state as they fill each tube, and hold it proudly in the air as if they were offering it directly to the gods. And it is one of those carefully filled tubes of earth paste that I am now putting into my mouth. It's an honor, really.

I do feel good about the fact that I'm not supporting Procter & Gamble, but I'm instead choosing to give my money to a company like Tom's. But man alive, can't they do anything about the flavor? Does all-natural really have to taste this bad? I'm sorry, Tom's. I appreciate you. I really do. It's not you, it's me. I just have to acclimate, I guess.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ohh, coconut

Finally, I finished off the JASON body wash, which taught me a good lesson. When testing out a new product, I really shouldn't opt for the large, family size bottle because it's a better value. Because it really takes far too long to empty it. But empty it I did, and eagerly purchased a new body wash. It's really remarkable (and encouraging) to see how many companies are now making body wash and other personal care products that aren't tested on animals. So, I scanned the shelf of body wash choices and one immediately caught my eye. A body wash (shower gel, technically) by Shikai, a company whose products I'd seen on the shelves at Whole Foods, but never purchased. There were a number of different scents available, which made the selection process a little tougher, until I saw that they had a coconut scent. Mmmm, coconut. There's something about the coconut scent that just feels like vacation. Maybe it's reminiscent of those suntan lotions that have the same scent, so I'm immediately whisked away to a beach somewhere. And with temperatures outside hitting the freezing level, that little mini tropical vacation is a welcome departure.

So, I made sure that it was indicated on the label that Shikai does not test on animals and the little happy jumping bunny logo was present along with the statement they don't conduct animal testing, nor does the product contain animal ingredients . Price-wise, it's a fair amount more expensive than Alba or JASON, but not outrageous.

I could hardly wait to use it and experience that smell and, as I lathered it on, it was fantastic. The scent of coconut wafted up from my little sudsy shower puff, though certainly not overpowering. In fact, I wouldn't mind if the smell was a bit stronger. It moisturizes as it promised, leaving my skin feeling, well, moisturized. All in all, the Shikai is a very nice shower gel, and I'm eager to try their other scents. Though if I weren't in this testing mode, and I was purchasing products based on both quality and price, I can't say that I'd choose it over one of the Alba body washes, as I feel those are equally as good as the Shikai, if not better, and they're less expensive. But that's certainly not meant to be a criticism of Shikai. I get the impression that they're a much smaller company and likely have higher per unit production costs. So, I'm not going to recommend that someone purchase a product based on price alone, because that kind of mentality ends up being very disadvantageous to the smaller companies that are trying to make great products, ethically. With that said, check out Shikai's shower gels, whether it's the coconut or one of the other scents (I, personally, can't wait to try out their vanilla one, and their gardenia one).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's important to do your research

I was recently made aware of Melaleuca, a company that's been around for a while, but not one that I knew anything about. Apparently, from what I understand, they're a Mary Kay/Shaklee type of business where people can be individual reps to sell their products. And I guess Melaleuca's thing is that their products are environmentally friendly and - I was told - animal friendly. Frequently, these 'green' companies are as concerned about protecting animals as they are about protecting the environment. But for some reason, I was suspicious that Melaleuca may not be as animal friendly as one might assume. Off to the internets!

My first stop, as always, when I have doubts about a company's animal testing policies, is to go to PETA's list of companies that do, and don't, test on animals. Sadly, Melaleuca lives on the 'do test' list. But there wasn't any information about what kind of testing they do, so my curious nature led me to dig a little deeper. Upon further reading, Melaleuca was on the 'don't test' list starting in 1993. However, three years later they commissioned a 'lethal dose' test on rats on a competitor's product, and further tests on dogs for one of their nutritional products.

The article goes on to state that "In a March 2003 letter, Melaleuca freeely admits that it commissioned laboratory tests in which rats and dogs were used, stating, "The rats died a horrible death. … Prior to performing human studies to prove Provex CV's effectiveness, Melaleuca commissioned that the product be tested on dogs first. … In our quest to save life, we refuse to tell PETA that we will never again test our cardiovascular products on animals." I must say that I appreciate the honesty. They feel that they have a justification for testing on animals, fine.

But what is troubling to me is what I found before I came across that PETA article. Now, I understand that you have to take online discussions with a grain of salt, but there are a number of different people that said they contacted Melaleuca to ask them specifically about this issue, and were told that they don't test on animals and were only on that list because they used dog shampoo on dogs. A number of independent reps came to Melaleuca's defense in these discussions using that as their argument. Again, this must be taken with a grain of salt, as online discussion forums are hardly an authoritative source of information. Though it certainly is a reason to try to get in touch with the company directly to find out what the official statement is, which I intend to do. However, either way, I don't plan on using Melaleuca's products because they freely admit that they will test on animals when they deem it necessary.

I will note that in an official statement from the company, they said "Melaleuca has long taken the position that we will not test our personal care or household products on animals. We feel that is the proper position to take, and you will find us adhering to this policy without hesitation. We feel, however, that there are extremes to every argument. We do not adhere to the extremes. … Nor do we take the position that all scientific use of animals needs to be stopped." So, they say they don't test their personal care and household products on animals, which is good, but I'm not completely convinced of that. There are just too many conflicting stories from so many people that I'm just not sure the public is getting the whole story about Melaleuca's products and practices.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A different brand

It was time to check out a new body wash. So, in the interest of trying out the offerings from multiple companies that are committed to producing products that don't test on animals, I decided to take a break from Alba, particularly since I think I've tried every body wash they make. So, looking through the shelves, I noticed the multiple bottles of JASON body wash, which I'd seen many times, but never tried. There were about 3 or 4 different scents available, so I decided to give the Tea Tree body wash a go. I gave each a little preview sniff, and that one appealed to me the most...and I like the cute little koala bear on the label.

Having almost gone through the bottle now, I still like it, though not quite as much as the Alba. But the scent is a nice change of pace from Alba's floral and fruit scents. The tea tree smell is nice, and not overpowering. I must admit, though, I am tiring of it. Not because there's anything that I dislike about the JASON body wash, but I'm just not enjoying it as much as I was. And that wasn't the case with the Alba. I'm not exactly sure why, but I'm all about full disclosure.

I plan on trying JASON's other body washes, too, though I'm curious about the other companies that are committed to a no animal testing policy that may also be producing some great personal care products.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little strong

I decided to try a new body wash (from Alba, of course). I don't have a complete handle on all of their different lines - there's the body wash with the solid colored labels, the Alba 'Rainforest' line with the green label and the rainforest-y scene on it, and then this line with the yellow label and a more Hawaiian looking thing going on. The previous body washes I'd tried from Alba were all the solid colored label ones, which I've liked a lot. So, when I saw that this 'new' one (turns out, it's not a new scent, but a new 24oz. bottle. It used to be available in 7oz. tubes), I had to give it a shot. It's passion fruit, I guess. That's what it says it is on the bottle. I'll have to take their word for it; I'm not exactly an expert on identifying and verifying the exact aroma emitted by the fruit family. To be perfectly honest, the smell wasn't bad, it was just strong. If it was milder, I may not have minded so much, though I don't know that I'd be a fan. If I had to identify the scent using my limited frame of reference, I'd say it smelled like a Jolly Rancher. Not a bad smell, but not exactly a smell that I'd say is an exact reproduction of the fruit flavor that it is supposed to represent. But it does its job, certainly. My body is cleaner after using it. It has a nice bubbling action. And most importantly, they don't test on animals. But unfortunately, I don't think I'll be buying this one again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A great face wash

Admittedly, I don't know jack about personal hygiene products. I'm just an average guy who cleans myself on a pretty regular basis, who doesn't want a bathroom full of products that have been exhaustively tested on helpless caged animals. So, I've always equated bubbles with getting clean. Soap makes bubbles, body wash makes bubbles, toothpaste even kinda makes bubbles. So it's a bit of a mystery to me how some creamy, lotion-like substance that produces nary a bubble can actually successfully clean my face. But apparently it does. After all, my face looks clean, it feels clean, and it smells clean, so I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt. The face wash that I'm talking about is the Alba (of course - and I swear I'm not a company shill. I just happen to really like their products, so I'm inclined to stick with the brand) Coconut Milk Facial Wash. I actually tried this after trying the Sea Mineral Cleansing Gel, which was great but it felt like my face was a little dried out after using it. My skin on my face is very sensitive and prone to drying out, so I needed something that wasn't going to contribute to that. So, I talked to some helpful person at Whole Foods (because, again, I know nothing about this stuff) who recommended I go with a cleansing cream, rather than a gel (which makes those cleaning bubbles, of course) or a scrub.

The lotion, or whatever it is seems to do the trick. Smells like coconuts and, I guess, cleans my face without drying it out. But this one's definitely a keeper for me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not quite as good as the testers

Pro: It smells great. I actually like the smell of the Mango Vanilla more, but I decided to give the Coconut Lime a try, because I was curious what it was like, and I like singing that "Put the lime in the coconut, drink 'em both up..." song while I'm in the shower.

Con: It's not really giving me the smoothest shave. Most areas are fine, but I think I must have sandpaper for a mustache, because the Alba shave gel doesn't feel like it's doing a thing. I may as well be yanking the hairs out with tweezers. It's been a while since I've used the other shave gels from Gillette or the other companies that test on animals, but to be perfectly honest, I remember the shave being pretty damn smooth when I did use those products.

Sadly, that con is kind of a deal-breaker. I don't know if there are other companies that don't test on animals that make a shave cream, but I think I need to see what else is out there.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alba Botanica Sea Mineral Cleansing Gel

I'm just about finished with this, and I'm really impressed with it. As with all Alba products, there is no animal testing involved. But one of the main things that I've really appreciated about Alba, and a lot of these organic/natural cleansers is, well, how natural and clean they feel. Compared to a lot of the other body and facial washes that I've tried, which seem very chemical- and scent-heavy, Alba's seem to just go on, and wash off, much cleaner. This Sea Mineral Cleansing Gel is no exception. In fact, it's probably less scented than any of the other Alba products I've tried thus far. It foams up nicely which, I assume, means it's washing away all the impurities on my face. My skin does tend to dry out pretty easily, though, and facial cleansers usually contribute to that. This cleansing gel hasn't been as bad (in terms of drying out my skin) as some others I've tried, like Nivea and Neutrogena. But it still did seem to dry me out a little bit. No fault of the cleanser, really. More just a problem with my skin type. But for a foaming skin cleanser, I have to say it's probably the best I've tried thus far.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


As I'm standing in the bathroom, considering which cruelty-free product I should write about next, I saw it. A wave of guilt washed over me as I stared at it. OK, well maybe "wave" is a bit of an overstatement. It's not like I'm this huge evangelist of only supporting companies that hold a 'no animal testing' policy. It's something in which I strongly believe, and I certainly aspire to have a house completely free of products that test on animals. Though that aspiration isn't entirely realistic either. After all, I don't know that it would be possible to ever have prescription medicine produced by a company that doesn't test on animals. But it's certainly possible to eliminate household products, and bath and beauty supplies that have been tested on animals. So that, really, is my goal. And I thought I was doing pretty well, particularly when it came to bathroom products. That is until I saw the tube of Crest staring back at me. Crest is, of course, made by Procter and Gamble who famously made claims that they were eliminating animal testing, though that was more of a PR ploy than a commitment to action. Their initial testament to say no to animal testing impressed many animal advocacy groups until those groups discovered the truth behind the claim. Sadly, Procter and Gamble remains on the list of companies that test on animals and, given the enormity of the company, they are one of biggest offenders.

So, there I am with my tube of Crest, which was probably rubbed in the eyes of some adorable little bunny or something. Sadly, it's not like I just forgot about P&G's animal testing record. I just really hate the toothpaste that's made by companies that don't test on animals (sorry, Tom's). Granted, it was a number of years ago that I tried Tom's of Maine toothpaste, so maybe it's time to give it another shot.

I guess I'll give this one a try. Seems like the most popular one on Amazon. I really hope I like it. Even if I don't, I guess anything's better than a tube of blinded-bunny toothpaste.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alba Botanica Rainforest Copaiba Shampoo

I recently finished off a bottle of Alba Botanica Rainforest Copaiba Shampoo. As with all Alba products, the smell is good, light, fresh and clean. And given the fairly medical smell of a lot of scalp treatment shampoos, that seems to be a pretty significant accomplishment. As for the results, I'd say they're no better or worse than other brands. By that, I mean that I noticed a slight difference (less itch, fewer flakes, etc.), but I wouldn't call it a cure. I'm not implying that I've got 'Ally Sheedy in the Breakfast Club' levels of dandruff or anything. So, I'm not requiring miracles. I've just never found dandruff shampoo in general to be very effective.

All in all, I liked it and may use it again. Though considering all of the other great choices that Alba offers, I'll likely choose something else.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alba Body Wash

Alba has quickly become my favorite company for skin care products. I use their products whenever I can, simply because they work well, they smell great and, most importantly, they don't test on animals. Here are a few of the Alba products that I've used.

Alba Botanica Bath and Shower Gel, Midnight Tuberose, 32-Ounce Bottle

I'm a huge fan of this. I like all the scents, but the Midnight Tuberose is amazing.  Leaves you feeling clean and refreshed, and smelling like a bed of roses. Well, tuberoses, I guess. I don't even know what tuberoses are, but they must smell freakin' fantastic. I've tried the other scents, as well (Island Citrus, French Lavender, Honey Mango, and Sparkling Mint), but the Tuberose is where it's at.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Choosing Cruelty-Free Products

I've never really liked the idea of animal testing, particularly when it came to beauty products. It just seemed so unnecessary and, well, cruel to me to torture animals for the sake of making a nice sudsy, perfumy shampoo. So, I made occasional efforts at seeking out products that didn't test on animals and was happy to find that Paul Mitchell shampoo didn't test on animals. But I didn't like having to go into hair salons or beauty supply stores (this was pre-Amazon) to seek out my shampoo, and the local grocery stores never carried it, of course. So, for a long while, I just purchased various types of shampoos and body washes at the grocery store for the sake of convenience.

Finally, I was at Whole Foods one day, and took a look at their bath and beauty aisles (or however they're labeled there) and found a whole host of products that weren't tested on animals. Whole Foods being Whole Foods, of course, some were pretty expensive and not very practical for that reason. However, some weren't that expensive, so I thought I'd give it a shot and test some out. Now, I'd tried some products (who shall remain nameless) in the past that were great from an environmental and cruelty-free standpoint, but I just couldn't stand the smell/taste/effectiveness of the product. So, I bought a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of body wash while I was there, and was eager to go home and try out my new bath products.

So, the next morning, I hopped in the shower, got my hair all wet, squirted the new shampoo in my hand and started to lather up. Only problem is the shampoo just smelled funky. I could never really pinpoint the smell. It was almost like rubber. Very weird. So, I was discouraged. Next up was the body wash. Got my little shower puff ready to roll and put a few squirts of the new body wash on there and worked it around. And this one was freakin' awesome! It smelled great, I was clean, and no little bunnies had to suffer at my expense. I was thrilled.

I've tested a number of products since then, and have had hits and misses. This is going to chronicle the ones I've really liked. I hope it helps you too.