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Non Toxic Nail Polish Review

Tried & True: Non Toxic Nail Polish Review

Product: Gabriel Nail Color in Texas Tea

Brand: Gabriel

Use: Nail Polish

Price: $5.99-$8.50 (.5 fl. oz.)

Where to Buy:, Health Food Stores

Perks: Cruelty free/Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP, Camphor, and Phthalate free

The Nitty Gritty: When it comes to cruelty free polish, this brand nails it. It’s durable, shiny, and comes in a variety of different colors.

-Easy to apply, not streaky
-Only needed one coat of color
-Glossy, even without a top coat
-Long lasting. We experienced a solid five days of no chipping.
-If you’re using a dark color, we recommend pairing it with Gabriel Base Coat to avoid staining your nails.

The Gist: Even if you’re not looking to remove excess chemicals from your beauty routine, this polish outlasts commercial brands. It’s affordable and there are plenty of colors,  so you’re sure to find your perfect shade. 
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Natural Sunscreen Review

Tried & True: Natural Sunscreen Review

We’re excited to kick start our new series, Tried & True. Because we’re committed to supporting ethically responsible products, we’re spotlighting some of our favorite cosmetics that don’t test on animals. First up, our top pick for natural, cruelty free sunscreen.

Product: Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40

Brand: Supergoop! 

Use: Sunscreen

Price: $28.00 (2.4 fl. oz.)

Where to Buy:, Amazon, Sephora 

Perks: Cruelty free/ paraben, synthetic fragrance, and oxybenzone free/ hypoallergenic/ non-irritating 

The Nitty Gritty:  This Supergoop! sunscreen has been our little ray of sunshine. We’ve tried our fair share of sunscreens, and we like this one best because it doesn’t leave our skin feeling chalky and white, or greasy and slimy. 

-It’s an unscented mineral sunscreen with a lightweight formula for your neck and face
-Can be worn on its own or under makeup
-Takes a few minutes to dry, so give it time to set, especially before applying makeup
-Leaves some shine on your skin, but if you use a setting powder it’s not a problem
-It’s not waterproof, so we reapply it every few hours for ultimate sun protection

The Gist: If you’re looking for a cruelty free sunscreen to wear alone or under your makeup, and you don’t mind a little shine, this sunblock is your sunny solution. 



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Sulfates 101: The Good, the Bad, the Allergy

By Justine McGrath, Guest Blogger

I found out I was allergic to sulfates while taking medication. Once I started taking it, my skin suddenly turned bright red, uncomfortably tight, and itchy all over. Studying myself in the mirror, I remember thinking that I looked like a monster that had been scorched by the sun. I immediately called my mom for words of comfort and wisdom, while wailing into the phone, “What’s happening to meeee?!”

“Sulfate allergies are quite common,” my doctor said as she jotted down notes on a metal clipboard.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, sulfates are in a ton of major beauty products, but it took ingesting them for me to notice my allergy.

Since my sulfate-sensitivity surfaced, I’ve made it a goal to become more educated about the little buggers and eliminate them from my beauty regimen entirely. But even if you’re not allergic to them like me, sulfates can still do damage to your skin and hair. I’ve compiled some FAQs about sulfates below with the hopes you’ll proceed on the path to better beauty health:

What are sulfates?

You probably guessed by now that sulfates are derived from sulfur. They masquerade in the form of compounds called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). You can find them listed on the ingredients label of many beauty products, usually displayed as the second or third ingredient (which is super helpful when you need to do a quick check). These compounds create foamy lathers and are essentially what make your beauty and household cleaning products bubbly.

Why are sulfates damaging?

Chances are, you use products with sulfates in them all the time, so how bad can they really be? Sure, you might not have drastic reactions like I do, but your skin and hair could still be getting damaged. As surfactants, sulfates work to remove dirt and oil from your skin and hair. But oftentimes, these ingredients strip your body of essential oils, break down skin cells over time, and cause follicular damage. Essentially, they dry you out and leave you with broken hair and dry skin.

What products contain sulfates?

I was shocked to find out how many products contain sulfates: shampoos, bar and liquid soaps, toothpaste, and even the moisture strip on your razor! Aside from beauty products, you’ll find sulfates around your house in the form of carpet cleaners, dish detergent, and even toilet soaps. Let’s face it, do you want to brush your teeth with things you put down your toilet? I sure hope not.

How can I avoid them?

Luckily, nowadays many items at your local drug or beauty store are labeled “sulfate-free.” A quick label check will also reveal what’s lurking in your products. Personally, I’ve become fond of brands like Desert Essence ®, Acure, and Burt’s Bees®, which typically use more mindful ingredients. Take it a step further and browse the beauty aisle at your local health food store because they usually have a myriad of sulfate-free options.

It’s true that sulfate-free alternatives can sometimes be more expensive, but the result is well worth it. Since switching over, I’ve noticed my hair has grown noticeably longer and softer, and I haven’t fallen victim to as many random breakouts on my face. My skin and hair feel healthier and less dry overall, and I feel better for being more informed about what I’m putting on my body. If you’re not 100 percent sold on switching over, challenge yourself to a three-month trial period and see if you notice any differences. I’m betting you’ll be a sulfate-free convert before you know it.

Justine McGrath is a copywriter by day and a stargazer by night. She was born and raised in San Diego, California and is passionate about travel, J.K. Rowling, and burritos. Check out more of her writing here.

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Q&A with the Owners of Lavish

I’ve been on a quest to phase out my chemical-laden beauty products, and replace them with natural, cruelty-free brands. Recently I visited a shop, called Lavish, located in Mission Hills, San Diego. Lavish is an aromatherapy health and body care company, which specializes in natural plant-based products. One of the owners, Carly, was nice enough to answer some of my burning questions about her products, their ingredients, and a great cause they donate to!

-I understand you created a brand that donates 10% of profits to help fight against malaria. What inspired you to get involved in this cause? How do the proceeds actually help fight malaria? 
Last year we launched a new brand called Botanical Me. It’s a collection of vibrant aromatherapy products made with exotic and healing plants from Africa. We source amazing ingredients like shea butter from Ghana, frankincense from Ethiopia, and lavender from South Africa to make the most effective, beautiful and healthy skincare products you’ll ever use.  

These products are very close to our hearts because we donate back 10% to our partner charity, Malaria No More. Sadly, one child in Africa dies every minute from malaria. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Our mission with the Botanical Me products is to give back to Africa in the form of life-saving medical treatments, mosquito nets, and malaria prevention programs. 

The idea came from a touching conversation between Jill (co-owner) and her husband, a Nigeria native and malaria survivor himself. During this conversation she realized that we could do something to help this very serious problem and save lives.

-Why is it important to switch to nontoxic, more natural products? In your opinion, what chemicals are the most important to avoid?
Jill and I both feel very strongly that what you put on your skin, and the products you use in your home greatly impact your health and well-being. Look, everybody uses products. Some people use A LOT of products, some use just a few. Regardless of the quantity, using clean, natural and healthy products is one of the simplest ways to reduce the amount of toxins that your body is exposed to on a daily basis. Give yourself a break! Don’t make your organs work harder or put more stress on your system by smothering, breathing, bathing, and “beautifying” yourself in chemicals!

We think it’s VERY important to avoid synthetic fragrances (perfumes) in products. We are aromatherapists and the foundation of our companies (Lavish and Botanical Me) is essential oil fragrances. Essential oils have health-giving properties; perfumes do not. Not only do synthetic fragrances lend absolutely no beneficial purpose to products, they are bad for your lungs, skin, and immune system. Save yourself a headache and use products that are scented with 100% essential oils. Also, ditch products that are full of dyes, multiple chemical preservatives, and petroleum. These synthetic “plastic” like ingredients won’t do your body any good.

-Do you think it’s important to use organic ingredients? If so, why?
Yes! Using organic is important and we do use organic and wild crafted ingredients as much as we can. If a plant was grown organically then it didn’t encounter any pesticides along the way, and this will make for a cleaner, more pure final product.

-Are your products animal cruelty free?
Yes! Our products are never tested on animals. We are definitely the human testers. Nothing goes onto the shelf until it is Jill and Carly approved!

-What are your favorite natural ingredients and their benefits?
We love using rich, creamy and exotic butters. Our lip balm for example (Madagascar Mint) is packed with organic shea butter. It is so moisturizing and so divine for your lips and skin. We also pack our creams with mango butter and organic virgin coconut. Amazing!

-Are natural products as effective as commercial products containing more chemicals?
Natural IS better. No ifs, ands, or butts about it. That’s sort of like asking… Are Cheetos better for you than organic, farm fresh asparagus? People aren’t made out of chemicals. I think our skin and our bodies respond to plant-based and earth ingredients. Even though chemical products might make your skin look good (key word, might) what are they doing to your cells and your organs that have to filter them out? We’ve had thousands of customers over the ten years we’ve been open tell us that our products are the best they’ve ever used. And that their skin has never looked so healthy.

-What product is your beauty routine staple?
Lip balm, lip balm, lip balm. We make the best on earth and I gotta have it. Also, good face creme. Our Vital Moisture from our Lavish line is one top notch creme. It’s full of pumpkin seed oil, honey, cocoa butter, rose oil, and collagen.

-What is Lavish’s best selling item?
We’ve sold a pillow and linen spray called Nighty Night for years now. People absolutely adore it and it literally flies off our shelf. Its a blend of 20 pure essential oils that are naturally relaxing, anti-depressant, and have a sedative effect on your system. It smells beautiful… like lavender, flowers, and herbs. Also, our Namaste Yoga Mat Spray in the Botanical Me line. It cleans your yoga mat and provides a relaxing aromatherapy experience. It sells like crazy at our store!

-What advice would you give to someone interested in switching to more natural products?
We love teaching people how to be healthier, because to us being healthier means being happier. When was the last time you were in an awesome mood because you were sick? We also think that today, people are craving a more natural lifestyle. What was once more uncommon is becoming more trendy and normal– but in a great way. We think people are finally starting to understand the value and importance of a healthy lifestyle, and we’re super happy to be a part of that. It’s a trend that NEEDS to stay!

Check out Lavish to learn more about natural beauty products, and to browse their lovely collections.