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So you've decided to make the switch to cruelty-free. Congratulations!

When I went cruelty-free I went from feeling motivated and proud of my decision to wondering what on earth I should do first, so this post will talk about how you can gradually transition to having a completely cruelty-free collection of products at your disposal. Of course, if you'd rather do everything in one go, then that's cool, too  some people just want an immediate fresh start.

(Need a little more information on reasons to go cruelty-free? Click here.)

Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy

How do I know which brands are cruelty-free?

This can be a tricky one. Some brands are very clear about their approach, others... not so much. I normally head to the About Us or FAQ page of the website to see if they state anything about their stance towards animal testing.

Generally, brands with a cruelty-free ethos will be proud of it and mention it at the first opportunity. If you're in a shop and you see a product with the Leaping Bunny logo (which looks like this) then that brand is cruelty-free, and will have had to pass strict requirements in order to display the logo on their packaging. Not every cruelty-free product will be Leaping Bunny-certified but it's reassuring to see the logo all the same.

In order for a brand to be considered cruelty-free, they:

1. Must not test finished products on animals.

2. Must not test product ingredients on animals. (Every ingredient will have been tested on animals in the past, but the brand must now use humane alternatives.)

3. Must not hire a third party to carry out animal testing on finished products or ingredients.

4. Must not sell their products in China. (Products can be made in China; the regulations are different in that instance.)

If a brand says they are against animal testing, except when required by law, then it means they sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory, and they cannot be considered cruelty-free.

If you're still not sure, you can email the brand directly and ask for clarification. This is something I'm planning to do more of so I can keep my cruelty-free brands list as up-to-date as possible.

Short on time? Logical Harmony and Cruelty-Free Kitty have brand lists you can use for reference.

Botanicals Hand Balm

Where do I start?

Look at your existing collection of products. You might feel motivated enough to tackle everything at once or you might decide to look at a category at a time, e.g. you could start with your make-up and then move on to skincare, hair etc, or you might look at a brand at a time.

When I sorted through my products I did one of four things:

1. Kept cruelty-free products

2. Kept non-cruelty-free products so I could use them up

3. Gave away any non-cruelty-free products that I didn't really use but were still full/in-date

4. Threw away any products (both cruelty-free and non-cruelty-free) that had expired

Alex from AlexGraceJones suggests getting little stickers to mark the remaining non-cruelty-free products in your collection so you can chuck them out once they're empty and research replacements. I only wish I'd thought of this myself!

Zoya Nail Polishes

Making the Switch Slowly

Once you've had a bit of clear-out you'll be able to use everything you own as normal and see where the gaps are. Some products are easy to replace  shower gel, for instance  while others might prove to be a little more tricky. (I'm still searching for a cruelty-free alternative to a matte red lipstick I used to wear constantly.) We all have different skin types, skin tones, hair types, tastes etc so what's simple and what's not will vary from person to person.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give is this: take things at your own pace and don't be hard on yourself if you buy from a non-cruelty-free brand by mistake. The next installment of Going Cruelty-Free is all about buying cf beauty on the high street so hopefully that will give you a good idea of where to start shopping!

What else would you like to know about going cruelty-free? How did you make the switch? Let me know in the comments! 

Going Cruelty-Free Step By Step

So you've decided to make the switch to cruelty-free. Congratulations!

When I went cruelty-free I went from feeling motivated and proud of my decision to wondering what on earth I should do first, so this post will talk about how you can gradually transition to having a completely cruelty-free collection of products at your disposal. Of course, if you'd rather do everything in one go, then that's cool, too  some people just want an immediate fresh start.

(Need a little more information on reasons to go cruelty-free? Click here.)

Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy

How do I know which brands are cruelty-free?

This can be a tricky one. Some brands are very clear about their approach, others... not so much. I normally head to the About Us or FAQ page of the website to see if they state anything about their stance towards animal testing.

Generally, brands with a cruelty-free ethos will be proud of it and mention it at the first opportunity. If you're in a shop and you see a product with the Leaping Bunny logo (which looks like this) then that brand is cruelty-free, and will have had to pass strict requirements in order to display the logo on their packaging. Not every cruelty-free product will be Leaping Bunny-certified but it's reassuring to see the logo all the same.

In order for a brand to be considered cruelty-free, they:

1. Must not test finished products on animals.

2. Must not test product ingredients on animals. (Every ingredient will have been tested on animals in the past, but the brand must now use humane alternatives.)

3. Must not hire a third party to carry out animal testing on finished products or ingredients.

4. Must not sell their products in China. (Products can be made in China; the regulations are different in that instance.)

If a brand says they are against animal testing, except when required by law, then it means they sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory, and they cannot be considered cruelty-free.

If you're still not sure, you can email the brand directly and ask for clarification. This is something I'm planning to do more of so I can keep my cruelty-free brands list as up-to-date as possible.

Short on time? Logical Harmony and Cruelty-Free Kitty have brand lists you can use for reference.

Botanicals Hand Balm

Where do I start?

Look at your existing collection of products. You might feel motivated enough to tackle everything at once or you might decide to look at a category at a time, e.g. you could start with your make-up and then move on to skincare, hair etc, or you might look at a brand at a time.

When I sorted through my products I did one of four things:

1. Kept cruelty-free products

2. Kept non-cruelty-free products so I could use them up

3. Gave away any non-cruelty-free products that I didn't really use but were still full/in-date

4. Threw away any products (both cruelty-free and non-cruelty-free) that had expired

Alex from AlexGraceJones suggests getting little stickers to mark the remaining non-cruelty-free products in your collection so you can chuck them out once they're empty and research replacements. I only wish I'd thought of this myself!

Zoya Nail Polishes

Making the Switch Slowly

Once you've had a bit of clear-out you'll be able to use everything you own as normal and see where the gaps are. Some products are easy to replace  shower gel, for instance  while others might prove to be a little more tricky. (I'm still searching for a cruelty-free alternative to a matte red lipstick I used to wear constantly.) We all have different skin types, skin tones, hair types, tastes etc so what's simple and what's not will vary from person to person.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give is this: take things at your own pace and don't be hard on yourself if you buy from a non-cruelty-free brand by mistake. The next installment of Going Cruelty-Free is all about buying cf beauty on the high street so hopefully that will give you a good idea of where to start shopping!

What else would you like to know about going cruelty-free? How did you make the switch? Let me know in the comments! 
Today is A Level results day, which makes it five years since I got mine.

I was eighteen years old and I'd just started to tick off teenage milestones like going out out for the first time, passing my driving test, and kissing an actual boy (I was a late bloomer in that respect). I also had no clue what to do next.

My original plan of undertaking further dance training of some kind came screeching to a halt when I realised my heart wasn't in it anymore. But at that point I only had two A Levels and didn't even know if I wanted to go to university, so I was clueless in that respect, too. And I had no idea what kind of job I would apply for if I was to go straight into the world of work.

I spent that night in our local snooker lounge, affectionately known as Pool Club, burbling about my lack of life plan and getting emotional about everyone leaving for university. (I also got chatted up by a cute blond guy who was staying put, so the night wasn't a total waste, but that's beside the point.)

In short, I was stuck, or at least I felt like I was stuck. For the last five years I've muddled through and while I'm not where I thought I would be, I'm not there because what I want has changed. Copywriting and marketing hadn't even crossed my mind at that point.

I'm not going to tell anyone what they should do with their life  two of the main messages from this post, I hope, are that everyone goes about things differently and it's okay if your route isn't the norm  but I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learnt since that day in 2012.

Eighteen
Me at eighteen. Yes, I know I look about twelve.


Lesson One: The world won't end if you don't get the grades you want/need/expect.

I was a good student so the possibility of failing anything hadn't even entered my head. When it happened (I failed Art) I was gutted and had no idea what my next steps were.

At my mum's suggestion I headed back to the school to ask them for advice, which is how I ended up doing a two-year course in half the time to get the extra grade I would need for uni if I ever decided to go. There were options and that Art A Level hasn't defined my future.

I wasn't as artistic as I'd first thought, but I was happy to fling myself head-first into studying Psychology and you can safely bet your life that I bought a new pencil case and highlighters for the occasion. I was lucky the school were so supportive  what would I have done without Mrs Morse, Mrs Lawson, and Miss Large? Babes <3

Lesson Two: You don't have to go down the traditional path.

There's nothing wrong with doing the whole sixth form → university → grad scheme thing. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with not doing that.

Although I did eventually go to university to study Creative Writing, my way of getting there wasn't particularly conventional, what with doing three years of sixth form and a Psychology crash course.

Once I was there, I noticed that the happiest, most motivated people I met were the ones who studied a subject they genuinely enjoyed, not the ones who were there because 'that's what you do' or because their parents wanted them to go.

Lesson Three: Some friendships last. Some don't.

Friendships change so much once you leave school. You don't see each other every day like you used to  you may not even be living in the same country  and sometimes people grow apart.

But sometimes people end up becoming even closer and it's pretty damn wonderful. You see each other less and less but when you do get together it just feels normal and right. In my experience, the friendships that last are the ones where people keep in touch and make time for each other, with effort from both sides. I'm finding the same thing for uni friendships, too.

Lesson Four: Sometimes it's better to let go.

Undoubtedly the most difficult lesson I've had to learn. Toxic frenemies? They aren't worth your time. The ex who makes your self-esteem plummet? Not good for you.

The people I want in my life are those who listen without judgement, lovingly take the piss, and make me feel like I can (and should) do anything I put my mind to, be it applying for the cool job that scares me or demolishing a whole pizza in one sitting.

Lesson Five: Things won't always work out the way you expect them to.

And that's okay! We're all winging it. Do what's right for you and remember that it's normal to not be sure what that is. The best experiences I've had have happened when I've kept an open mind, tried new things, and listened to my gut instincts. My life now is completely different to how I imagined it would be, but I'm happy.

If you're getting your results today then I wish you the very best of luck! And if you've long moved on from sixth form and are starting to wonder why everyone in the pub suddenly looks so young (*raises hand*), what have you learnt since your schooldays? Let me know in the comments!

The Last Five Years: Post-A-Level Life Lessons

Today is A Level results day, which makes it five years since I got mine.

I was eighteen years old and I'd just started to tick off teenage milestones like going out out for the first time, passing my driving test, and kissing an actual boy (I was a late bloomer in that respect). I also had no clue what to do next.

My original plan of undertaking further dance training of some kind came screeching to a halt when I realised my heart wasn't in it anymore. But at that point I only had two A Levels and didn't even know if I wanted to go to university, so I was clueless in that respect, too. And I had no idea what kind of job I would apply for if I was to go straight into the world of work.

I spent that night in our local snooker lounge, affectionately known as Pool Club, burbling about my lack of life plan and getting emotional about everyone leaving for university. (I also got chatted up by a cute blond guy who was staying put, so the night wasn't a total waste, but that's beside the point.)

In short, I was stuck, or at least I felt like I was stuck. For the last five years I've muddled through and while I'm not where I thought I would be, I'm not there because what I want has changed. Copywriting and marketing hadn't even crossed my mind at that point.

I'm not going to tell anyone what they should do with their life  two of the main messages from this post, I hope, are that everyone goes about things differently and it's okay if your route isn't the norm  but I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learnt since that day in 2012.

Eighteen
Me at eighteen. Yes, I know I look about twelve.


Lesson One: The world won't end if you don't get the grades you want/need/expect.

I was a good student so the possibility of failing anything hadn't even entered my head. When it happened (I failed Art) I was gutted and had no idea what my next steps were.

At my mum's suggestion I headed back to the school to ask them for advice, which is how I ended up doing a two-year course in half the time to get the extra grade I would need for uni if I ever decided to go. There were options and that Art A Level hasn't defined my future.

I wasn't as artistic as I'd first thought, but I was happy to fling myself head-first into studying Psychology and you can safely bet your life that I bought a new pencil case and highlighters for the occasion. I was lucky the school were so supportive  what would I have done without Mrs Morse, Mrs Lawson, and Miss Large? Babes <3

Lesson Two: You don't have to go down the traditional path.

There's nothing wrong with doing the whole sixth form → university → grad scheme thing. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with not doing that.

Although I did eventually go to university to study Creative Writing, my way of getting there wasn't particularly conventional, what with doing three years of sixth form and a Psychology crash course.

Once I was there, I noticed that the happiest, most motivated people I met were the ones who studied a subject they genuinely enjoyed, not the ones who were there because 'that's what you do' or because their parents wanted them to go.

Lesson Three: Some friendships last. Some don't.

Friendships change so much once you leave school. You don't see each other every day like you used to  you may not even be living in the same country  and sometimes people grow apart.

But sometimes people end up becoming even closer and it's pretty damn wonderful. You see each other less and less but when you do get together it just feels normal and right. In my experience, the friendships that last are the ones where people keep in touch and make time for each other, with effort from both sides. I'm finding the same thing for uni friendships, too.

Lesson Four: Sometimes it's better to let go.

Undoubtedly the most difficult lesson I've had to learn. Toxic frenemies? They aren't worth your time. The ex who makes your self-esteem plummet? Not good for you.

The people I want in my life are those who listen without judgement, lovingly take the piss, and make me feel like I can (and should) do anything I put my mind to, be it applying for the cool job that scares me or demolishing a whole pizza in one sitting.

Lesson Five: Things won't always work out the way you expect them to.

And that's okay! We're all winging it. Do what's right for you and remember that it's normal to not be sure what that is. The best experiences I've had have happened when I've kept an open mind, tried new things, and listened to my gut instincts. My life now is completely different to how I imagined it would be, but I'm happy.

If you're getting your results today then I wish you the very best of luck! And if you've long moved on from sixth form and are starting to wonder why everyone in the pub suddenly looks so young (*raises hand*), what have you learnt since your schooldays? Let me know in the comments!
I'm on a mission to use up as many products as possible.

I'd like to seriously cut down on the amount of products I own, but I also don't want anything to go to waste and I don't want to forget about something and then realise it's expired. I've been rotating the contents of my make-up bag so everything gets used (this also means I can weed out anything that I genuinely don't get on with) but nonetheless, favourites have emerged  some new, some not-so-new.

I may be happy going out without make-up these days but I do still enjoy using it  this post has ended up being a little longer than I expected! What can I say, I like to have options.


Base

These days it's unusual for me to apply foundation all over my skin because, quite frankly, I just can't be bothered. I use RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up in 000* underneath my eyes to brighten the skin and mask any dark circles. It's a dewy concealer/foundation hybrid, best used sparingly, and I find it works well when you want healthy, natural-looking skin.

On bad skin days I dot Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in Light* (v) over redness and blemishes. I thought it would be too dark for me but it blends right out and stays put, plus the packaging is like nothing you've ever seen before in your life. I'll be writing a more in-depth post about Pacifica at some point, so keep an eye out!

I blend both of these products with the B. Blending Sponge* (v), which is a little less squishy that other sponges I've tried before, even when wet. I think I prefer this, especially for concealing  blemishes  it feels that bit more robust than your standard blending sponge (plus it's latex-free).


Eyes and Brows

If I only use one make-up product, it'll be NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade in Brunette. I bought it the day before my graduation, so this teeny pot is well over a year old now and I'm not even halfway through. You only need to apply a little bit on an angled brush, using short strokes to mimic the way the hairs lie and fill in any gaps. £5.50 well spent.

If I'm feeling sleepy and it's showing on my face (oh, who am I kidding, I always look tired) then Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean (v) often comes to my rescue. It's a cream eyeshadow in champagne gold and it's also the prettiest make-up product in the entire world. It's expensive but I'd buy it again  it's the kind of product that looks beautiful on everyone. It can sit in creases if you get carried away, so I use my finger to pat it on lightly and then it lasts all night.

When I've got the time to attempt eyeliner I start with NATOrigin Organic Pencil Eye Liner in Brown*, tracing the colour along the outer third of my lower and upper lashline for some subtle definition. These days I truly have thrown caution to the wind if I decide to break out the eyeliner wings and at the moment I prefer a gel liner in dark brown. I've been using one by NARS but obviously they're a no-go now, so I'll be replacing it with a cruelty-free option once it runs out.

GOSH very kindly sent me some products from their AW17 collection and the one I've been reaching for most is My Favourite Mascara in Black*. GOSH are always my first option when I want to buy a high street mascara  I've repurchased Growth Mascara and Rebel Eyes (v) multiple times  and this one is a welcome addition to my make-up bag. It's easy to layer and holds quite the curl.


Lips & Cheeks

The Body Shop Baked To Last Bronzer in Warm Glow* (v) is the first bronzing product I've ever wanted to wear on a regular basis, which should tell you something about how good it is! The shade Warm Glow makes you look healthy and sunkissed, the shimmer isn't too aggressive, and the colour doesn't look out of place on pale skin. (There's also a darker shade available.)

I tend to wear one of two looks at the moment  a combination of peachy, coral-y shades that scream summer, or lightly flushed cheeks and vampy lips.

Sleek Blush in Life's a Peach gives skin a healthy glow and is just the right shade (i.e. it's not too orange). When I want to brighten things up even further I grab the chunky crayon-like No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter. Swipe, blend, done  the lazy girl's option.

I either dab Fairypants Lip Paint in Dorothy (v) on my lips to create a sheer wash of pale, natural pink, or I use a lip brush to apply Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna (v), a cool matte coral that strikes the balance between being moisturising and long-lasting.


Alternatively, I'll dot Pixi MultiBalm Cheek & Lip Colour in Wild Rose* onto my cheeks and lips straight from the stick. This shade is completely different to anything else I own  rosy with a lilac undertone  and while the colour payoff is noticeable, it's still quite subtle. Wearing the same shade on lips and cheeks instantly makes you look like you've got your shit together, too, and all with minimal effort.

Sometimes I apply a little of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown (v) over the top. I haven't really been using it as a lip liner, I've just been shading my lips in ever so slightly to get a sheer dark red colour. The Pixi balm tones it down somewhat, so it's a red/brown lip without the commitment. This combination has survived me eating food like vegetable lasagne and five-bean chilli burritos with only a little fading in the centre and no smudges, so I'm rather fond of it!

What are your go-to products at the moment? Have you rediscovered any old favourites? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for consideration of review. This post contains affiliate links.

In My Make-Up Bag: Old Faithfuls + New Favourites

I'm on a mission to use up as many products as possible.

I'd like to seriously cut down on the amount of products I own, but I also don't want anything to go to waste and I don't want to forget about something and then realise it's expired. I've been rotating the contents of my make-up bag so everything gets used (this also means I can weed out anything that I genuinely don't get on with) but nonetheless, favourites have emerged  some new, some not-so-new.

I may be happy going out without make-up these days but I do still enjoy using it  this post has ended up being a little longer than I expected! What can I say, I like to have options.


Base

These days it's unusual for me to apply foundation all over my skin because, quite frankly, I just can't be bothered. I use RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up in 000* underneath my eyes to brighten the skin and mask any dark circles. It's a dewy concealer/foundation hybrid, best used sparingly, and I find it works well when you want healthy, natural-looking skin.

On bad skin days I dot Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in Light* (v) over redness and blemishes. I thought it would be too dark for me but it blends right out and stays put, plus the packaging is like nothing you've ever seen before in your life. I'll be writing a more in-depth post about Pacifica at some point, so keep an eye out!

I blend both of these products with the B. Blending Sponge* (v), which is a little less squishy that other sponges I've tried before, even when wet. I think I prefer this, especially for concealing  blemishes  it feels that bit more robust than your standard blending sponge (plus it's latex-free).


Eyes and Brows

If I only use one make-up product, it'll be NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade in Brunette. I bought it the day before my graduation, so this teeny pot is well over a year old now and I'm not even halfway through. You only need to apply a little bit on an angled brush, using short strokes to mimic the way the hairs lie and fill in any gaps. £5.50 well spent.

If I'm feeling sleepy and it's showing on my face (oh, who am I kidding, I always look tired) then Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean (v) often comes to my rescue. It's a cream eyeshadow in champagne gold and it's also the prettiest make-up product in the entire world. It's expensive but I'd buy it again  it's the kind of product that looks beautiful on everyone. It can sit in creases if you get carried away, so I use my finger to pat it on lightly and then it lasts all night.

When I've got the time to attempt eyeliner I start with NATOrigin Organic Pencil Eye Liner in Brown*, tracing the colour along the outer third of my lower and upper lashline for some subtle definition. These days I truly have thrown caution to the wind if I decide to break out the eyeliner wings and at the moment I prefer a gel liner in dark brown. I've been using one by NARS but obviously they're a no-go now, so I'll be replacing it with a cruelty-free option once it runs out.

GOSH very kindly sent me some products from their AW17 collection and the one I've been reaching for most is My Favourite Mascara in Black*. GOSH are always my first option when I want to buy a high street mascara  I've repurchased Growth Mascara and Rebel Eyes (v) multiple times  and this one is a welcome addition to my make-up bag. It's easy to layer and holds quite the curl.


Lips & Cheeks

The Body Shop Baked To Last Bronzer in Warm Glow* (v) is the first bronzing product I've ever wanted to wear on a regular basis, which should tell you something about how good it is! The shade Warm Glow makes you look healthy and sunkissed, the shimmer isn't too aggressive, and the colour doesn't look out of place on pale skin. (There's also a darker shade available.)

I tend to wear one of two looks at the moment  a combination of peachy, coral-y shades that scream summer, or lightly flushed cheeks and vampy lips.

Sleek Blush in Life's a Peach gives skin a healthy glow and is just the right shade (i.e. it's not too orange). When I want to brighten things up even further I grab the chunky crayon-like No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter. Swipe, blend, done  the lazy girl's option.

I either dab Fairypants Lip Paint in Dorothy (v) on my lips to create a sheer wash of pale, natural pink, or I use a lip brush to apply Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna (v), a cool matte coral that strikes the balance between being moisturising and long-lasting.


Alternatively, I'll dot Pixi MultiBalm Cheek & Lip Colour in Wild Rose* onto my cheeks and lips straight from the stick. This shade is completely different to anything else I own  rosy with a lilac undertone  and while the colour payoff is noticeable, it's still quite subtle. Wearing the same shade on lips and cheeks instantly makes you look like you've got your shit together, too, and all with minimal effort.

Sometimes I apply a little of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown (v) over the top. I haven't really been using it as a lip liner, I've just been shading my lips in ever so slightly to get a sheer dark red colour. The Pixi balm tones it down somewhat, so it's a red/brown lip without the commitment. This combination has survived me eating food like vegetable lasagne and five-bean chilli burritos with only a little fading in the centre and no smudges, so I'm rather fond of it!

What are your go-to products at the moment? Have you rediscovered any old favourites? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for consideration of review. This post contains affiliate links.

Shop My Favourites


Beth, 23, South East England. I'm a writer with a love of books, lipstick, and the Oxford comma. I love beauty and I also love animals, so I only buy, use, and feature products from cruelty-free brands. (Seriously though, I am the person who stops to fuss over every dog she sees.) You can also expect posts about vegan/vegetarian food, and plenty of musings about life as a 20-something. Want to get in touch? Email me at beth.toasty@gmail.com

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