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 Amazon.com, 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!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

JASON Toothpaste



If you've read either or both of my posts on cruelty-free toothpaste, you know that I've had a less-than-stellar experience in this category. I've had great success with cruelty-free body wash, shampoo, and face wash, and a bit of a mixed bag in other categories like deodorant and shaving cream. Thus far, however, cruelty-free toothpaste has pretty much been a disaster. Granted, I've only tried two so far, but the Tom's Toothpaste tasted like dirt, and Burt's Bees toothpaste essentially blew up in my hand and I had to throw it out after having only made it through about half of the tube. So, I was a bit discouraged, but far from the point of giving up.

While at Whole Foods, I stood in front of the small section of toothpaste and surveyed my options. Not many. Dozens of options from Tom's, but there's no way I'm trying that again anytime soon. Clearly Tom's has a firm grip on the all natural / cruelty-free toothpaste market. But I did see a handful of options from JASON, whose body wash I've tried in the past (it was just OK). So, I decided to give one of them a try, their Vanilla Mint toothpaste a try. Vanilla and mint are two flavors that I enjoy and it sounded like a winning combination. So, I grabbed the box and took a closer look, and noticed that it said "Fluoride-Free". Huh. I thought all toothpaste had fluoride. So, that seemed kind of weird to me. Having never heard of a fluoride-free toothpaste, I looked at some of the other toothpastes on the shelf, both from JASON as well as from the other brands and a lot of them were also fluoride-free. Still, I'm comfortable with fluoride and looked to see if there was a Vanilla Mint toothpaste with fluoride. But there wasn't. So, I figured I'd give this a try, and I'd look into this whole fluoride-free thing. After doing a few searches and checking out some websites, it seems like the primary issue is water fluoridation. There appears to be quite a bit of concern about fluoride being added to the water supply. If you'd like to find out more about it, there are plenty of sites out there like this one about the "Fluoride Debate." Interestingly, none of these sites seem to address the presence of fluoride in toothpaste as being an issue of concern. Really, it's all about fluoride in the water. In fact, it seems that most tend to feel that the presence of fluoride in toothpaste is still a positive thing. It has been proven to have beneficial effects on your teeth. So, as long as you're using it topically and not ingesting it, all is well. At least that's the impression I got. If I'm off-base here, and you know something about this whole fluoride issue, please enlighten me, as I'm now very curious about it.

Anyway, back to the JASON Vanilla Mint. I'm actually almost all the way through the tube, so I feel like I can give a pretty informed review. Right off the bat, I really enjoyed the taste of it. Neither the vanilla or the mint are overpowering. It is a very pleasant combination of the two flavors. The color paste is a little bit on the beige side, as I've now become accustomed to. And it's certainly more chalky than Crest or Colgate, or any of the 'non-natural' toothpaste. It foams up nicely, so you really don't need to use much. And my teeth look and feel clean after using it. I don't have that strong, fresh minty mouth feel that I typically get with most other toothpastes that are strictly a mint flavor. I think the presence of the vanilla mellows out the mintyness a little bit. My mouth still feels clean, mind you, just not minty fresh.

I really enjoy the JASON Vanilla Mint, and I'm thrilled that I was actually able to find a cruelty-free toothpaste that I like. However, I'm not convinced on the fluoride-free issue, particularly after doing a little bit of research on the subject. I think, for my next toothpaste, I'll stick with JASON, but go with an option that does contain fluoride (yes, they have toothpastes with fluoride, as do Tom's and the other brands).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Every Man Jack Shampoo

I really want to like Every Man Jack's products because I like the idea of cruelty-free 'health and beauty' products for men. So many of the products in that aisle are really geared toward women, perhaps even more so in natural food stores than in regular grocery stores. In grocery stores, you'll find products like AXE or Old Spice or a handful of others that specifically target the men's market. But in stores like Whole Foods that only carry cruelty-free products, it's rare to find something that has men in mind. Frequently, the products have a floral or fruity scent, which I actually kind of enjoy, but they're not exactly 'manly'.

Now I wouldn't really consider a mint scent to be specifically for men, but that is the scent of this 2-in-1 shampoo. Speaking of it being a 2-in-1 shampoo, I really don't remember the last time I used one of these, or even conditioner on its own. My hair is pretty fine and conditioner always seemed to make my hair feel kind of limp, even though it may have felt smoother. Washing my hair with the Every Man Jack shampoo, I instantly felt that smooth, almost slick feeling that you get when you use conditioner. But it does wash out nicely, so it doesn't feel greasy at all.

Part of the reason that I was curious to try this shampoo, aside from what I wrote above, is that it bills itself as a 'thickening shampoo for fine or thinning hair.' My hair is certainly fine, and maybe thinning a little, though I don't feel like thinning is a major issue for me at the moment. So, after washing and drying my hair, it definitely didn't have that limp feeling that I mentioned I would get after using a conditioner. I guess maybe it felt thicker, but I wouldn't testify to that. I do think it does a good job. My hair looks good and feels good. I'm almost finished with this bottle of shampoo and I'm very pleased with it. Though I don't think I'm a huge fan of the mint scent, in general. Not to say that the mint scent in this shampoo is bad. It's not at all. It's fairly light and somewhat natural smelling. But I think that, for me, it's not one that I put as a top choice. But if you like mint, there's no reason why you shouldn't like this.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Alba Shaving Foam

I was really excited about this one because I felt like the creamy texture of the Alba shave cream maybe was part of the reason why it didn't work as well as some of shaving cream/gels that I used prior to going the cruelty-free route. So, when I saw the bottle of Alba shaving foam on the shelf, I quickly snatched it up. Eager to use it, I decided to shave the next morning during my shower (usually I'll go a few days at least between shaves). So, I popped off the cap and pressed down on the plunger. What came out was not the typical, thick foam with which anyone who has used standard shaving cream is familiar. No, this foam is just like the kind of foam that you get from those hand soap dispensers. A very light, airy kind of foam. When applied, it actually feels less effective than the shave cream because it feels like it's just a diluted, fluffy version of the cream that I was hoping this would replace.

Unfortunately, it looks like I still haven't a shave cream or foam that even comes close to the effectiveness of the shaving cream that I used to grab off the supermarket shelves. I'm not completely discouraged yet. I'm sure there's something out there. This just isn't it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Burt's Bees Whitening Toothpaste

I was relieved, to say the least, when I finally reached the end of my tube of Tom's Toothpaste. After going through the entire tube, it did grow on me, but not enough to the point where I'd say I actually enjoyed it. So, I went in to Whole Foods to see what other options were available and there weren't that many brands. Tom's really dominates the shelves (and probably the cruelty-free toothpaste market). Other than Tom's, there were a handful of other brands from some I recognized (like Burt's Bees and JASON) and a few brands I don't know. I decided to stick with a brand I knew and chose Burt's Bees Whitening Toothpaste.

Opening it up, it had some visual similarities to Tom's, with it's off-white/beige hue, which still requires a little acclimation on my part. I need to get used to the notion that the shiny aqua gel with the little sparkles in it is not exactly 'natural'. So, I squeezed the toothpaste onto my brush and started my routine. Right away, it definitely had a better taste than Tom's. Not that it was similar to Crest or Colgate, but it was just less...I don't know...gritty. It just had a smoother taste, better. This was promising.

One difference between Tom's and Burt's that I haven't yet discussed, but ended up playing a key factor, is the material used to make the tube. Tom's is some kind of metal, while the Burt's tube is plastic. I know absolutely nothing about the manufacturing process that goes into the production of a tube of toothpaste, but I not have a new appreciation for it. The reason being that about a week into using my new tube of Burt's toothpaste, the seam along the side popped, just a little bit. From that point on, every time I squeezed the tube, toothpaste would come out the top as it was supposed to, and a little would come out the side. This created a bit of a mess, to say the least. But I persevered, and put the toothpaste in a ziploc bag, so only the top was sticking out. After another few days, however, the bag just became this giant mess of smeared toothpaste and eventually just became more trouble than it was worth. So, I ended up having to toss the tube out while it was still about half-full.

So, while I may have liked the toothpaste more than Tom's, the tube seam issue is a big one. My luck so far hasn't been too good with the cruelty-free toothpastes. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my next one will be better.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Body Shop body shower gel

The Body Shop occupies this odd space in my mind. I've tried their products on occasion, and usually it's the result of an "occasion" when I find myself at the mall looking for presents, and end up at The Body Shop. I've always been impressed with their products and, particularly, their no animal testing ethos. But I've never really considered their products as something that I'd use on a regular basis because I don't find myself at the mall all that often. But now that anything and everything is available online, their products are just as accessible as any other company's. So, I couldn't resist when I saw their Coconut Shower Gel. I've expressed my love for coconut in a previous post, so I was particularly excited about this one. And I have to say that it did not disappoint. In fact, it is amazing. It has an unbelievable, rich, coconut scent. It's not often I use the word "luxurious" but I can't think of a better way to describe it. It does a great job cleaning, the smell is amazing, it's absolutely fantastic. If I had to come up with a negative, it would be price. It's not exorbitant ($15 for a 25 oz. bottle), but when you factor in the $5 for shipping, it does become pretty expensive. So, I can't say that I've tried a body wash/shower gel that I like more, but I can't completely ignore the cost. So, it will probably have to sit at 2nd place on my list of favorite body washes (behind Alba's Midnight Tuberose body wash) once the value aspect is factored in, but from a pure enjoyment perspective, this would likely be #1.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kiss My Face!



I have an issue with products with declarative names like "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific" or "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" So, I think that explains my reluctance to buy the "Kiss My Face" shower gel. The name "Kiss My Face" just bothers me. Aside from that, however, I wasn't a big fan of the different scents they offer, scents like mandarin ginger lily, cardamom mint and, worst of all, "peaceful patchouli." I've expressed my distaste for patchouli in a previous post, but I truly can't understand why people would choose to smell like that. It is downright offensive. But I digress. I'm not talking about the patchouli body wash, although I was tempted not to buy anything from Kiss My Face simply because they have the gall to produce a body wash with that vile scent.
Instead, I thought their cold & flu shower gel might be interesting, particularly this time of year. Though I didn't have a cold, I figured the smell of eucalyptus and horehound (really, horehound?) might be nice if and when I do get a cold. OK, I wasn't so sure about horehound, whatever that may be. But eucalyptus certainly hits the spot when you're all clogged up. After using it, it does clear the sinuses, though it doesn't quite have the effect that the same scent has when you're utilizing it mixed with steam. But still nice when you need. However, I did tire of it fairly quickly since I didn't have a cold. So, I think I'm going to shelve it for a while until I need it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Avalon Organics Cleansing Milk

This is my second cleansing milk purchase (the first being the Alba cleansing milk that I wrote about in a previous post) and I'd questioned the actual cleansing capabilities of something that seems to have the qualities of a lotion rather than the typical bubbling facial cleansers or scrubs that I have become accustomed to. Surprisingly, though, the Alba cleansing milk seemed to do a fine job of cleaning my face, from what I could tell, and had a nice coconut smell, as well. So, I decided to stick with this odd cleansing milk stuff, trusting that it must actually work, though I was curious to try a different brand. So, I came across the Avalon Organics Vitamin C Hydrating Cleansing Milk and figured I'd give it a try.

Avalon Organics seems to have a whole line of orange scented Vitamin C cleansers, toners, etc. The smell is nice and very refreshing, with a light orange scent. The texture is very similar to that of the Alba cleansing milk, which is much like a lotion without leaving any oily residue. After my first use, I thought it seemed to do a fine job of cleaning my face, just as the Alba one had. However, now that I've been using it for over a week, it seems like my face is much more oily than normal by the end of the day, and just doesn't feel as clean as it did when I was using the Alba cleansing milk. So, unfortunately, I don't get the feeling that it's doing much cleansing at all.

The whole appeal of a cleansing milk, to me, is that since I tend to get dry, flaky skin, particularly in the winter, the cleansing milk cleans and moisturizes which the cleansing gels ans scrubs do not. But if it's not actually cleaning my face, it's really not doing me much good at all.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Herban Cowboy Deodorant

I hadn't really realized how long a stick of deodorant lasts until I decided to completely make the switch to products made by companies that don't test on animals. I've gone through several bottles of body wash, a number of shampoos, face wash, shaving cream, and toothpaste, all while working off the same stick of Old Spice deodorant. So, finally the time came when I could finally see the little plastic platform beneath the cake of deodorant, and I actually got excited that I was about to step into new territory. I did some poking around on Amazon and there were some very solid review for Herban Cowboy, so that's what I was going to go with next. I've been using it for about a week now and first impressions are that it's pretty impressive. The first use was a little rocky, however. Like some deodorants, it was flat at the top (rather than rounded), so when I first applied it, those hard corners broke off in my armpit rather than pressing down and forming a rounded edge. So I was concerned that I might be dealing with a flaky mess of a deodorant that would be perpetually leaving chunks of itself in my pits. But that concern was quickly allayed after subsequent uses. It went on smooth with no flaking at all. Now, the main concern about deodorant is, of course, its effectiveness in actually deodorizing. And in this area, I think Herban Cowboy's Dusk really shines. Though I kind of enjoy some of the more floral scents in my body washes, I really prefer to have a more masculine scent with my deodorant. I don't really have any solid logic behind that preference, but for whatever reason, that's what I like. I had only tried one cruelty-free deodorant in the past, which was Tom's (of Tom's Natural Toothpaste fame). I was in a pinch and needed a deodorant, and was in a Whole Foods, and Tom's was the only brand I saw. So, I grabbed one (I think it was a peach scent), and it did a fine job of keeping me stink-free, though the scent just didn't work for me. So, I was excited about Herban Cowboy's offerings of more traditional masculine scents. The Dusk scent reminds me of the first stick of deodorant I ever used, which was an Old Spice musk scent (I believe), which brought back fond memories. But the ultimate test is not how it smells when first applied, but how it smells at the end of the day. And after a solid pit check at day's end, I still got a nose-full of musk, so a solid success in that regard. It doesn't, however, go on quite as light as Old Spice does, as I tend to feel a slight bit of residue after applying it, though not enough to be annoying. All in all, I am very pleased with Herban Cowboy's deodorant and wouldn't hesitate buying it again. I wouldn't call it perfect, but I would certainly put it in the very good category.

**Update** I've now moved on to a new deodorant, but I did feel obligated to report that my skin around my armpits had been a bit aggravated while I was using Herban Cowboy. I had to chalked it up to the fact that I had started running again on a regular basis, and figured that my shirt, or the running motion was aggravating the area. However, after moving to my new deodorant, the aggravation completely went away. I'm not going to say that, without a doubt, the Herban Cowboy was responsible for this, but I'm inclined to believe that.
has now become...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Burt's Body Wash

I really hadn't paid much attention to Burt's Bees, or the number of skin care products they make. In fact, I can't honestly say that I was aware they produced more than lip balm, but now that I've taken a look at their website, the number of products they offer is astounding. They even have a dedicated line of men's care products which, as I mentioned in my previous post, is nice and somewhat uncommon to find among natural, cruelty-free skin care products. In need of new body wash after finishing off my bottle of Every Man Jack, I purchased a bottle of Burt's Natural Skin Care for Men Body Wash. I've been using it for three days now, and I'm still not sure what I think about it. As with the Every Man Jack body wash, the Burt's for men body wash has a distinctly different scent than the more floral scented ones that I'd become accustomed to. Though, unlike the somewhat musky aroma of Every Man Jack, the Burt's body wash smells like an interesting combination of citrus and pine
(though the product description suggests that it's likely fir needle oil rather than pine that I'm smelling). Honestly, I don't know if I like it or not. There's something very refreshing about it, but the combination of those two scents is dangerously close to a patchouli-like scent, which I absolutely hate. Patchouli, in my opinion, is one of the worst, most offensive aromas known to man. Now, I'm not saying that this smells just like patchouli, but I had to check the ingredients to make sure it wasn't hiding in there (it's not). So, I'm mixed on this. It's growing on me a little, but after using it for three days I can't yet say I'm a fan. Maybe once I've gone through the bottle, I'll have changed my tune and, if I do, I'll be sure to post an update.

I will say that it does do a great job cleaning my body, and I appreciate that my skin is never left feeling oily. It may be among the best of the body washes I've tried in that respect, which is certainly what it promises in its product description: "Get an intense clean with this naturally invigorating body wash that cleans away dirt and odor, leaving skin refreshed. Coconut, sunflower and citrus oils cleanse while cypress and fir oils energize for skin that looks, smells, and feels its natural best."

This is certainly why I'm mixed on the Burt's body wash for men. It delivers an outstanding clean with a smell that doesn't really work for me. But scents are really a subjective thing, and many other reviewers seem to like it. So, I would definitely suggest people to give it a good sniff first. And if you like what you smell, it's well worth buying.