30 March, 2016

Introducing Mia Höytö skincare

Mia Höytö is a line of organic skincare products all the way from Finland that has finally made its way down here to skincare lovers in Australia. I'm therefore pretty excited to be introducing the brand to you as well as sharing mini reviews of some of the products!

To give you a little bit of info about the brand - as I like to do - Mia Höytö Cosmetics was the brainchild of the Mia Höytö, a young Finnish woman, "...whose enthusiasm for organic food grew into an interest in natural cosmetics care."

Mia is a beautician who had difficulties finding products to protect her own delicate skin against the harsh Northern climate so she went ahead and developed her own nurturing and organic skin care line, which was initially launched in 2012 and is Ecocert-Certified.

Mia Höytö has only just launched in Australia and is exclusively available at Natural Supply Co. The lovely ladies very kindly sent me a selection of these quite luxurious skincare products to try so let me tell you a little bit about them...

  • Kaunis Facial Cleansing Gel (30ml or 150ml full size) - The best thing about cleansers is the immediate feedback you get from them and the immediate gratification you get from a good cleanser. This is a great cleanser and my favourite product from the trio I tried here.  It's a clear gel that manages to be refreshing yet gentle at the same time while thoroughly cleansing my skin.  The gel works into a low foam which has this amazingly light and fresh scent - I don't know is it marine? green floral? - that really appeals to my nose.  Most importantly my skin feels clean and not the slightest bit dry or tight afterwards.  Fun fact:  Kaunis means beautiful in Finnish.
  • Lempeä Uni Intense Repair Skin Therapy Multivitamin Oil Serum (30ml full size)  - This serum is very light feeling and easily absorbed and I find a single pump dispenses enough product for one application.  Again it has an amazing delicately natural scent that disappears all too quickly for my liking but I thoroughly enjoy the added sensory stimulation as I rub it into my skin!  The serum is enriched with Vitamins A, B C and E to boost elasticity and brighten the skin, and while it's a little early for me to talk about longer term effects this does immediately make my skin feel a little plumped up and as soft as the proverbial baby's butt. I do love that so I will religiously continue to use it!
  • Unelma Intensive Moisturising Cream (15ml or 50ml full size) - This is a very rich textured cream formulated to rehydrate dry skin.  As my skin is a comfortable combination of normal to slightly oily at the moment I prefer to use it as a night cream and it's perfectly suitable for that too.  It's unscented and is undoubtedly rich as you'll see from the picture below yet it absorbs nicely over an application of serum and leaves no greasy feel on the skin. I just wake up with soft skin in the morning.

And here they are on the back of my hand so you can see the different textures:

Overall I have found these products agree very well with my combination, maturing skin and I appreciate how the range has a minimalist yet luxury look and feel about it too.  If you are looking for new luxury organic skincare to try I'd definitely recommend the Mia Höytö range, especially as some products are available in the handy travel sizes so you can sample before you make the commitment.


Kaunis Facial Cleansing Gel Ingredients:
Aqua (water), Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water (cornflower water), Decyl Glucoside (sugar based cleanser), Xanthan Gum, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract (aloevera leaf extract), glycerin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Parfum, Geraniol, Linalool, d-Limonene.

Lempeä Uni Intense Repair Skin Therapy Multivitamin Oil Serum Ingredients:
Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Ribes Nigrum Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Parfum, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Citronellol

Unelma Intensive Moisturising Cream Ingredients:
Aqua, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Glycerin, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis Oil, Persea Gratissima Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Cera Alba, Centaurea Cyanus Flower Water, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Ribes Nigrum Seed Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Avena Sativa Kernel Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Parfum, Citral, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, d-Limonene.


Australian readers can find the full range of Mia Höytö skincare at Natural Supply Co

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: U/K
Certified Organic: Yes

(Products were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

26 March, 2016

FABY: Sunglasses and Bikini

We're now well and truly into Autumn but a few weeks ago the weather still felt distinctly summery so I chose a manicure to go with those summer feels...

Sunglasses and Bikini is perfectly named and this blue cream lacquer from FABY reminds me of a cool, deep swimming pool.  Application was trouble-free and done in two coats.  Wear time was pretty good too with no chips appearing until day 4 and removal was nice and clean with no blue-green staining left behind on the nails or cuticles.  I must say that FABY nail lacquers have consistently impressed me and I find their quality comparable to other salon brands like OPI and Essie.

All pictures taken in indirect daylight:

Cruelty Free: Yes (PETA)
Vegan: No
Certified Organic: No

Until next time!

(This product was provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

21 March, 2016

Empties! February 2016

I'm later than usual so here we go...

Skin care

La Clinica Anti Ageing Stem Cell Complex 3 Day Cream (50ml/1.76 fl.oz)* CF - This made my skin feel firmer immediately after applying and I liked the non-greasy matte finish which provided an excellent non-slip base for makeup.

The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Eye & Lip Make-Up Remover (150ml/5.0 fl.oz) CF - This is now one of my favourite removers as it's as soothing and refreshing as water but it shifts the most stubborn waterproof eye makeup. 

Sukin Micellar Cleansing Water (250ml/8.46 fl.oz) CF/Vegan - I liked this but didn't love it as it felt a bit astringent rather than refreshing on my skin.

NIVEA Vanilla & Macadamia Lip Butter (19ml)* - This used to be one of my favourite thick, emollient (and yummy) lip balms for overnight use but sadly I won't be able to buy any more until it's CF.

Hand and body care

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat (13.3ml/0.45 fl.oz) - Another ex-favourite off my list.  This did a great job of quickly sealing in my manicures but I'm switching back to China Glaze for now.

L'Occitane Karite Rose Shea Butter Hand Cream (30ml/1 oz) - I feel a bit guilty because this was a magazine freebie from earlier this year.  I still have a few more backups lurking around as I used to stockpile this stuff because it's so good *cries*.

Avon Foot Works Cracked Heel Relief Cream (100ml) - I haven't bought this in over a year but I still have 2 tubes left.  I mainly use it in the warmer months to keep my heels silky soft and prevent cracking. No repurchases after that though.

Crabtree & Evelyn Lily Gift Set (Bath & Shower Gel, Body Lotion, Body Cream, Fragranced Soap) - This was a set I received as a Christmas gift over a year ago and it's taken me so long to get through my backlog and use it (along with the soap not shown for obvious reasons).  The quality was typically good as C & E products are but the scent was a standard floral so I didn't hate it or love it. 

Sukin BioNatural Skin Oil (60ml/2.03 fl. oz)* CF/Vegan - This is a really nice body oil and so easy and quick for an after-shower moisturiser to replenish and restore youthful silkiness to the skin.  I can see myself buying more because it lasts ages and is very affordable too.

Rexona Clinical Protection Summer Strength Antiperspirant Deodorant (45ml/48 g)* - It worked very well as an antiperspirant but not so well as a deodorant. The search continues...

Hair care

Schwarzkopf Extra Care BB 11 in 1 Hair Beautifier (100ml)* - I actually really liked this as a detangler and softener for my hair as it did the trick without weighing down my fine hair at all and protected it from any hairdryer-induced frizzies.  Not a bad drugstore hair care product but this was the last of my non-CF hair products.


I'm back counting my progressive tally in my 2016 Makeup Use Up:

5) L'Oreal Miss Manga Mega Volume Mascara (Black)* - Some people don't like the flexible tapered brush but it was my friend once I got the hang of it and the volumising formula was great too for creating big lashes with minimal coats. Unfortunately not CF.

6) Benefit Stay Don't Stray Primer (Light/Medium) - Don't be fooled by the sample sized tube because this primer took months to finish.  It was a great brightening base for eye makeup and anchored it in place but Benefit aren't CF so this won't be on my repurchase list. 

7) Face Of Australia Eye Pencil (Brown) - Face of Australia used to be CCF accredited but sadly are no longer and I can't be sure of their CF status.  The pencil?  It was reasonably creamy and smudgeproof but I have a lot of dark brown backups in my collection. 

Now I'm off to toss out all the trash!

(Products marked * were provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

11 March, 2016

Butter London: Disco Biscuit

I haven't looked at Butter London polishes for a long time but I'm reacquainting myself because of their Cruelty Free status.

Disco Biscuit (which was the nickname for a tablet of Ecstasy according to Butter London's own dictionary!) is a bright fuchsia jelly with a lovely mix of blue micro-glitter which only enhances the squishy jelly-ness of it. This is such a pretty polish without being overly cute and I adored the colour. I was happy to get great coverage in only 2 coats but I did have to add several layers of top coat to smooth over the surface.  Micro-glitters can be surprisingly thirsty and swallow up the top coat!  Unfortunately this manicure didn't wear very long on me and started chipping after a day or so, although I'll admit to putting it through some pretty heavy housework the day I applied it. I should have just put my feet up and admired it instead...
Indirect daylight

Full sun

Butter London is 3 free and contains no formaldehyde, no toluene and no DBP.

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: Yes
Certified Organic: No

Until next time!

(This product was purchased by me.) 

09 March, 2016

Review : A'kin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is a popular (and sometimes necessary) addition to many a skincare regime because of its benefits including:  increasing the skin's moisture, reducing scarring and redness from conditions such as rosacea and acne, reducing pigmentation and reducing the signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.  I could go on but see http://www.rosehipoil-benefits.com/ if you want to read more about this wonder ingredient and its many uses!

In any case I personally had not taken this as seriously as I could have until recently when I started to take my own skincare routine more seriously in general - I'm at the age where I can no longer rely solely on good genes and I'm looking for all the non-invasive help I can find to keep my skin feeling supple and looking as radiant as I naturally can.  I don't have problematic skin but I also don't have young skin any more if you know what I mean, therefore I was happy to receive a bottle of Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil from A'kin.

A'kin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil

Akin says:
A'kin's Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil has a high concentration of Vitamins A and E and Omegas 9, 3 and 6 essential fatty acids and a concentration of Omega essential fatty acids that is "no less than 80%."

"Not All Naturals Are Created Equal"
What makes this rosehip oil special is the way it is extracted from the rosehip seeds "using a supercritical [CO2] extraction method, which works without the stress of high temperatures, to guarantee the purest most potent oil is recovered".  In plain English this means the oils are extracted at low temperatures which preserves the purity of the fragile plant ingredients and produces a more effective product with a longer shelf life.  A'kin compares this to the advantages of cold pressing juices over regular juicing

A'kin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil is suitable for all skin types and claims all of the skincare benefits I listed in the introduction:

"Helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 
Helping to increase skin suppleness and elasticity 
Improving the appearance of dull skin 
Improving uneven skin tone 
Hydrating skin"

My impressions:
I have been using the oil nightly and the dropper easily dispenses the exact tiny amount (3 drops) of golden liquid oil which is all I need to hydrate my entire face.  It immediately feels rich yet not too greasy for my normal/combination skin, and I enjoy the very delicate natural rosehip scent which fades away quickly.  The oil massages in quickly and absorbs well, leaving my skin feeling smoother and - positively silky! - and ready to apply my night creme immediately afterwards.

I deliberately didn't read anything about rosehip oil while using this product so I didn't know what to expect and wasn't looking for any particular changes, but after around 4 weeks of use I have noticed my skin texture has improved and softened slightly, and the hyper-pigmentation and redness on my cheeks is also less noticeable - I'm wearing lower coverage makeup as a result which was an unexpected bonus! Not surprisingly then, A'kin Pure Radiance Rosehip Oil has now become an essential step in my nightly facial routine.

Using only 3 drops per application means this bottle will last quite a while which is fine as A'kin says the extraction process means an extended shelf (or bathroom cabinet) life.  


Price:  RRP $19.95
 A'kin skincare is available from David Jones, Priceline, selected pharmacies and health food stores around Australia and online here.

Rosa Canina Seed extract [CO2] (certified organic),Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: Yes
Certified Organic: Yes

Until next time!

(This product was provided for my consideration.  All comments and opinions are my own.)

03 March, 2016

Sportsgirl Nail It! polish: Speckled Lilac

After my last rather wordy piece I wanted to lighten it up a bit around here with a pretty little nail polish post!

Now that I'm focusing on Cruelty Free products I've been digging through my nail polish collection on a mission and finding some hidden gems like this one from Australian fashion chain Sportsgirl.  I often go looking through Sportsgirl's bargain baskets for discounted polishes and that's how I ended up buying Speckled Lilac.  This polish melds the prettiest lilac creme with a rainbow mix of glitter which remind me of candy sprinkles, known fondly as "100s & 1000s".  This polish was very easy to apply and looked perfect in two coats.  Sadly, the fact that I found this in the bargain basket means it's discontinued. On the upside, Sportsgirl continue to roll out wonderful affordable Cruelty Free polishes so that will give me an excuse to visit their counter again!

All pictures taken in indirect daylight

And just in case you haven't seen 100s & 1000s...

That's enough eye candy for now!

Cruelty Free: Yes 
Vegan: U/K
Certified Organic: No

Until next time.

(This product was purchased by me.) 

01 March, 2016

Natural doesn't always mean Cruelty Free...

I suppose I could have also titled this post "Learning from my mistakes" or the old "When you assume you make an ass out of u and me"...

Oh well, I said going Cruelty Free was a journey and because I still consider myself to be a newbie I shouldn't beat myself up too much over the fact I've had a couple of trip ups along the way! Doing my research is the primary thing that is going to keep me on that CF path and one thing I've discovered so far from my research is that:  Not all "natural" brands are created equal and therefore natural does not automatically mean Cruelty Free. 

I hope you don't consider this a name and shame post.  I'm just sharing one of the first lessons I've learnt and I'll limit myself to mentioning the non-CF yet natural brands that I still have in my collection and those I unwittingly bought after I switched to cruelty free because I assumed.  I've got to admit that what makes things a bit tricky is how brands can change their status at any time so to bring up yet another cliche, it's like being on shifting sands.


Let's get down to the serious part: I have 5 natural, yet not necessarily Cruelty Free brands in my collection (and no, I'm not going to add to the animals' plight by throwing products away).

The first two brands are longstanding favourites. L'Occitane and Crabtree & Evelyn are brands which I have purchased from for years, have featured on this blog many times and I still have a lot of love for the quality of their products dammit! I knew that L'Occitane wasn't CF but Crabtree & Evelyn was a sad surprise for me and I think their status has changed only recently. I found that out with a bit of digging after I made my last purchase from them having assumed they were CF.

Australian brand Jurlique was another surprise to me personally because a natural, Australian brand means it's going to be Cruelty Free right? Well not according to their website as you can read below. Again I'd acted on my uninformed assumptions and bought some products from them in the latter part of last year before I checked the facts.

The last two natural non-CF brands in my collection are Fresh (makers of those amazing lip balms), and the Korean brand Innisfree which was a recent discovery for me, and I was led to believe to be CF but I'm now not so sure about their status. I read in a Singaporean magazine last year they were Cruelty Free so I bought quite a few products in the excitement of discovering a new ethical brand, however on closer investigation I don't feel confident as you'll see from my research later in this post.

In case you're interested in what the brands have to say on the subject, I have supplied detailed information sourced as directly as possible on these brands' stances on animal testing below so you can read and judge for yourself whether you agree with their reasoning.  I can see that some brands are at pains to state they are working towards developing alternatives and I support this, however I personally am not prepared to spend any more money on their products until they are 100% Cruelty Free.


L'Occitane's position on animal testing as stated on their website (here):
"L’OCCITANE does not and has never tested its products, its active ingredients or its raw materials on animals at any point in the product development or manufacturing process. This principle applies similarly to our raw material suppliers.

L’OCCITANE is fundamentally committed to the abolition of animal testing of beauty products worldwide. In China, where our products are retailed, the local Chinese authorities request testing on some cosmetic products sold on the Chinese market, as they view it as the best way to safeguard their consumers’ safety. Our company does not conduct those tests; they are done by Chinese laboratories, approved by local authorities on a limited animal panel.

To move forward we decided to develop our relationship with the Chinese authorities to pledge the case for the end of animal testing for beauty products, through open dialogue. Since 2010 we have therefore engaged in a dialogue with the relevant authorities, as well as animal rights NGOs. Our goal has been to highlight alternatives techniques used in Europe where animal testing has been banned since 2004. This constructive dialogue has led to a series of advances in Chinese regulation including a decision to end this type of tests as of June 2014, on so-called ordinary cosmetics that are manufactured and packaged locally (shampoo, perfume etc.), as well as on imported hygiene products (soap, toothpaste etc.).This is a first step. L'OCCITANE will continue to work proactively for these alternatives to be implemented as soon as possible for all of our products.

We remain of the firm opinion that it is by working from inside China that we will be best placed to further influence Chinese regulation and put an end to animal testing. L'OCCITANE will continue to work proactively with the Chinese experts committee from National Institute for the Control of Pharmaceutical and Biological Products, for these alternatives tests to be implemented as soon as possible for all of our products." 

Crabtree & Evelyn:
The brand has not addressed the question of animal testing on their website however they have confirmed via correspondence to cruelty free blogger Cruelty-Free Kitty  early in 2015 they "...do not submit [their] products for animal testing by third parties anywhere in the world except where required by local law.” [Source]

Fresh's position on animal testing as stated on their website (here) :
"We do not test our products on animals nor do we permit others to do so except where it is required by law. We are deeply committed to the elimination of animal testing and we are playing a leading role in developing alternative methods through our support of the “Fund for Alternatives to Animal Testing” in the United States and the Opal Program in France. Additionally, we are one of only a few companies to have invested in creating our own internal department to test raw materials and ingredients to further ensure the quality of our products and the satisfaction of our customers, which is our foremost priority. We are hopeful that alternative testing methods will be adopted worldwide and we will see an end to animal testing."

Jurlique's animal testing policy as stated on their website (here):
"At Jurlique, we have always believed passionately in providing our consumers with highly effective, potent skin care products, developed with respect for our environment and without the use of animal testing.

We adhere to the strict requirements of the European Cosmetics Directive (76/768 ECC) and the European Commission Regulation (1223/2009), which prohibits the commissioning and testing on animals, of products and ingredients, for the purpose of developing new cosmetic products. Our skin care products are tested on consenting human volunteers by means of a “Cumulative Irritation Test” which determines the irritation and/or sensitisation potential of a product after repeated application to the skin of human subjects.

We do not test our cosmetic and therapeutic products on animals as part of our product development process, or outsource this activity to any third parties, nor have we ever included animal testing in our product development process in the past. We work closely with our ingredient vendors to ensure they are aware of our company values and policies. We continue to adhere to the strict requirements of global cosmetic regulations regarding animal testing, with utmost respect for our customers and environment.

Additional Information Relating to Local Market Laws

In China, local laws and regulations require that all cosmetic products imported into China undergo animal testing to demonstrate consumer safety as part of the product registration process.

Finished product samples are required to be submitted to a third party laboratory in China for testing in order to generate a safety profile for the product. This is a mandatory legal requirement applicable to all cosmetic products imported into China.

Considerable research has been undertaken into non-animal testing alternatives and China's State Food and Drug Administration, or SFDA, has recently implemented a new registration process for certain cosmetics produced in China which means that animal testing will no longer be mandatory for these products. We are encouraged by this progress, and are eager to see China amend its laws to extend this to allow alternatives to animal testing for imported cosmetic products. We will work closely with our Chinese agent to ensure that the alternative testing methods are utilized for our products as soon as they are approved."

The brand has not addressed the question of animal testing on their website so the most direct confirmation of their position came from this post on Reddit:
"I am new to reddit so feel free to remove this post or tell me if I am doing something or posting something wrong. I am a big animal lover and I have recently chosen to become cruelty free as well as vegetarian. I also love Korean cosmetics however it has become clear to me that many brands test or participate in third party testing. I have come across the korean cruelty free list and Innisfree is on the non-tested checklist however it some products do contain animal products and they also sell in China which is not cruelty free. However I messaged their global page about animal testing and this was their first response.
"This is innisfreeworld.
Thank you for visiting innisfreeworld Facebook page. We ban animal testing. No any animal-based ingredient is used for innisfree product. Hope this answer was helpful.
Enjoy shopping with innisfreeworld. Thank you!"

Seemed a little suspicious so I dug a little further and noticed that a Youtuber from Hong Kong stated that Innisfree is available in China so I asked them about that and this is their response.
"This is innisfreeworld.
For your inquiry, only some products produced and sold by innisfree China corporation may need some animal testing due to a legal obligation. Our Chinese corporate body is separated from us so they produce and sell products by themselves in Mainland China. Therefore, all innisfree products are normally produced in Korea and don't use any animal-based ingredients. Several alternative methods have been used instead of animal testing, such as artificial human skin, the HET-CAM, or using eyes of slaughtered ox.
Therefore, you may not hesitate to try our product. Hope this answer was helpful.
We will be happy to assist you. Thank you. "

Concerned over the slaughtered ox eye thing so not to sure about that. But what I am really curious about is if the brand has a separate organization located in China and not sold to China would that make the company located in Korea cruelty free? Still pretty knew to being cruelty free and have only been a vegetarian for about 3 months so tell me anything you think I should know! I hope to try brands like Beyond as I know they are against animal testing. Koreadepart has a non-animal testing section but I don't know how accurate that is. Thanks again!
Edit: Just found out that China no longer required animal testing on regular cosmetics that are produced and sold in China as of 2014. Still not sure if I can buy from this company because it does not necessarily mean they are cruelty free but here is a link to an FAQ http://www.hsi.org/assets/pdfs/bcf_china_cosmetics.pdf"


I'm not preaching, just explaining my position and it's up to you how you base your decisions.

Until next time.

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