Product Review: Mr. Masey’s Beard Oil

Beards and vegans seem to go hand in hand. So it won’t surprise you to learn I have one. Finding cruelty free beard oil can be challenging. On an aside if you’re starting out growing your beard make sure you invest in a good beard oil. Some people complain of having an itchy beard, which was something I suffered with, in the early days. I found that regular brushing and beard oil solved this. The oil softens the hair and moisturises the skin underneath. I also found that avoiding things with alcohol and ‘nasties’ greatly improved the condition of my beard too.

On a weekend break in Brighton I walked passed Mr. Masey’s stall. I was in need of a new beard oil as the one I was using left my beard greasy. Mr. Masey’s is a cruelty free gem selling vegan beard grooming products. I spoke with the man himself, who unsurprisingly, was sporting a smart beard. His sincere passion for his business and cruelty free world view resonated with me. So I decided to pick up some much needed beard oil.

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 Mr. Masey’s only use quality plant based ingredients which is apparent from regularly using it. The oils come in variety of fragrances, I opted for the ‘Love Potion,’ which had a traditional scent. It’s made with grapeseed oil, vitamin E oil and essential oils: rosewood, sandalwood, bergamot and corriander. 10ml costs £5.95 and 30ml is £9.95.

You only need a few drops to work into the full length of your beard. I found that the oil coated all of my beard without any mess. It left my beard smelling great too. Throughout the day I noticed that my beard would still feel conditioned and soft. This is particularly noteworthy as I have thick and coarse hair. If you’re in Brighton pop along to Kensington Gardens and pick up some oil / other grooming goods. Alternatively there is an online store. Infinity Foods in Brighton are a stockist too.

Let us know what you think of the beard oil if you pick some up. PG

Website: www.mr-masey.co.uk

Product Review: Washed Out Soap

I like finding new independent UK vegan  / vegan-friendly businesses. I’m also big into soap and buy a lot of it. When I stumbled upon Washed Out Soap I lost my tiny little mind.

I’ve tried all sorts of soap and ended up buying cold-pressed most of the time. Washed Out Soap is my go to now. All the soap we use is from this cool UK based company. Everything is plant-based and vegan friendly. I’ve messaged the owner a few times who seems legit too. Here’s an interview with him talking about Washed Out.

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They only use quality ingredients and nothing synthetic. This was apparent from the first time I used it as my skin wasn’t left feeling dry.  It leaves your skin fresh and polished. It’s an addictive feeling  which leaves you touching your soap soft skin throughout the day.

Washed Out sell a considered selection of soaps. From The Classic which has coconut oil in it, to my favourite, called The Barista. Unsurprisingly it has a brewed espresso base. This little gem exfoliates like a mofo. I can’t get enough of this. The bars are bombproof and last a long time.

One of the things I like about using bars of soap is the minimal packaging. Washed Out packaging is pleasantly simple too. I can’t rate this soap enough.

Website: http://washedoutsoapco.limitedrun.com

Instagram: washedoutsoapco

Small bars - £3
Large bars - £5

Product Review: Maida Body Polish Bar

We stumbled upon a few stalls whilst at Brick Lane on Sunday. A company selling cacao butter body polish bars caught our attention. The massive ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘vegan’ sign did it, to be honest.

From speaking with them I could tell they were passionate about their product. There weren’t loads of unpronounceable ingredients in the bar either, so I decided to pick  one up. They had three bars to choose from; a floral, spiced and straight up cacao. I went for the last one.

One side is smooth and the other is rough; I think this may be cacao seed, though I’m not sure.  I rubbed a little bit on my upper arm and I was able to rub this into my whole arm. It scrubs then coats your body in cacao butter goodness. It left my skin feeling soft and insanely smooth. I kept feeling my hands and arms after the shower. So happy I picked this bar up.

The bar is pretty big and a little goes a long way, so it’s great value for money. As it is so moisturising I won’t need to use it every day, maybe once or twice a week. Perfect for the cold winter months.

This was a great find and we’ll definitely be using this from now on. I reckon I’ll pick some up as Christmas presents too.

Maida are a new company. Their website is going live in six days. We met them at the Brick Lane market in the Truman Brewery on Sunday, in the London Artisan section. Really nice and friendly people running this business. Great cruelty-free find in London.

The bar cost £14.

Website: maidavida.co

Instagram: @maidavida

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Maida Body Polish Bar, £14

 

 

 

Product Review: Touch & Such Exceptional Facial Oil

I don’t know about you, but as much as *I* love winter, my face absolutely hates the change in seasons. I get sore dry skin around my smile lines, eyelids and jawline, and I’ve struggled to find a cream or oil that’s up to the job of soothing and protecting without giving me delightful seasonal breakouts in exchange, or a face way too slimy for make-up.

Enter, Touch & Such. We stumbled upon these frankly lovely people at the London Artisan fair in Brick Lane one Sunday, and they talked us through their product range. All their products are 100% vegan, cruelty free, and as organic as possible. We were both after a face oil, so we went with their Exceptional Facial Oil and…well…it’s love. It has a beautiful scent, and applying it feels like a tiny little facial each morning with a gentle warming sensation. It soaks into the skin really well, and my skin is visibly more even and feels much smoother, with my dry patches all but gone in a short space of time. The scent is really gentle and we both love it – it’s great in Lewis’ beard too, though a little birdy tells us a separate beard oil is in the works…

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Touch & Such Exceptional Facial Oil, 30ml, £27

They can be found at London Artisan again on 19th December and are launching an online shop in the coming weeks. They’re also down to attend the Animal Aid Christmas Fayre in London on 6th December. They regularly pop up at vegan events in and around London, and I highly recommend seeking them out and having a chat to find the product that will best suit your needs.

How our love of fast fashion is undermining the pursuit of an ethical lifestyle

Many of us follow fashion and like to seek out new items for our wardrobe as the new season breaks, or a new trend catches our eye. But our constant appetite for new trends and new clothing is driving a corporate machine that places a really low value on ethical and sustainable material sourcing and production, and ethical workplace practices in production and distribution.

Instead of two fashion seasons, we’re on a constant treadmill of new trends, fed by items that we can pick up on the high street for bargain prices. In order to keep this treadmill going, quality has dropped, quantity has grown, and production has been outsourced and scaled to offer the best return on investment. In reality, this means corners are cut and production costs are squeezed. The most prominent illustration of this is the Rana Plaza disaster, in which a Bangladesh garment factory collapsed, killing more than 1,000 workers. The factory produced garments for many of the most prominent brands on the high street today, including Primark, H&M, and Benetton. The justification for these brands turning a blind eye to the conditions and working practices is often that they are a ‘better’ alternative than the other jobs available in these regions. Whether or not that’s true, these brands have the capability (in size, in profit, in resources) to offer standards which are comparable to more accepted working standards in the rest of the world, to offer rates of pay and employee programs capable of supporting genuine empowerment and social change, and placing employee welfare at the top of their priority list. They don’t, because the market isn’t forcing them to. As long as they aren’t worse than the existing alternatives, they can keep their heads below the parapet. Workers in these countries report, in accounts given in The True Cost, that attempts to unionize and lobby for better conditions or pay are met not with silence, or indifference, but violence from the factory owners who employ them, and their own governments. Production contracts are so lucrative, and competition between countries so widespread, that many governments seek to provide the ‘best’ offering to corporations to ensure the contracts aren’t lost to other countries where labour is cheaper or easier.

The True Cost – currently available on Netflix, the True Cost looks at the fashion production industry with a critical eye and presents some stark accounts from garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia]

The ethical questions around workplace conditions can’t be underestimated, and the impact large clothing retailers could have on the welfare and lives of those they employ around the world is potentially huge, but currently drastically underexplored. Recent work done by Labour Behind the Label and reported by Ethical Consumer indicates that just 4 of the 40 largest international clothing brands could demonstrate steps being taken towards a living wage (Source Nov 2015).

One of the things that strikes me when reading around this issue is how broadly the term ‘ethical’ has been interpreted, allowing it to be bent to the will of corporate retailers. Take, for example, the news that H&M was recently named the ‘World’s Most Ethical Company’ for the fifth time. This year’s list, produced by EthiSphere, also recognises L’Oreal, Starbucks and GAP, amongst many others. Many consumers, myself included, have serious questions about the ethical practices of these companies when it comes to issues like employee welfare, sustainability, and animal testing, to name but a few. This is just one example among many, but it indicates that we aren’t always clear what we mean when we talk about ‘ethical’. That ambiguity allows companies and industries to interpret it in a commercially beneficial way and as an increasingly handy marketing tool. EthiSphere judge ethical companies as those which “go beyond making statements about doing business “ethically” and translate those words into action. Honorees not only promote ethical business standards and practices internally, they exceed legal compliance minimums and shape future industry standards by introducing best practices today.” (Source Nov 2015). These standards are set by industry, for industry, and it shows. The criteria listed by EthiSphere focus on corporate governance, and don’t seem to get too interested in actual operating practices like production, materials, or employee welfare, so how meaningful is this as a measure of ethical practices, really? (Source Nov 2015).

die_for_fashionImage by Solidarity Center via Flickr

For a really detailed look at H&M’s promises and practices, take a look at this post from the Clean Clothes Campaign: 10 ways H&M is spinning the facts on worker safety, or this analysis on Medium: Is H&M Really the World’s Most Ethical Company?. To give H&M their dues, they were the first brand to sign a commitment to safer working environments following the Rana Plaza disaster, but recent studies have shown this to be well behind schedule, suggesting that the initial PR management may have been more of a priority than effecting real change (Source Nov 2015). We’ve looked at H&M as an example here, but the deliberate muddying of the term ‘ethical’ is widespread across commodity industries, and plays to our consumer interest in ‘good actors’, whilst requiring the most minimal changes to working practices and industry standards.

It’s easy to imagine that poor pay and conditions for textile workers is an issue faced, or even caused, by developing countries. However, recent studies have indicated that this issue impacts workers in developed countries like the UK, too (Source Nov 2015).  With poor pay and working conditions seemingly rife in the UK market and the US industry too, just checking the country of origin isn’t enough to ensure your purchases are ethically produced in safe workplaces.  Finding smaller scale producers and makers local to you is one way to reduce the environmental impact of your purchases, whilst also going a long way to keep labour local and fair. We appreciate that such brands are often more expensive and typically harder to find in some parts of the world than others, so I’d also recommend checking the list at Ethical Consumer.  At the time of writing, BHS easily outstrips the other high street retailers with a score of 12/20 on the measures used by Ethical Consumer (I’ll leave you to decide the relevance of BHS’ recent sale by Arcadia Group, which scores 7/20). Ultimately, by creating the demand and prioritising quantity and price over quality and ethics, we’re perpetuating the supply. As consumers, we have the power to demand clarity on issues like ethics, and to vote with our money when it comes to choosing products and companies which fulfil the ethical standards we want to see become the norm.

This issue is huge, and the impact doesn’t stop with workers in the supply chain – there are huge issues for sustainability, the environment, and non-human animals, which we’ll cover in a separate post soon.

Further Reading

I cannot recommend this essay highly enough, it’ll change the way you think about this issue as you go about your day to day – it did for me

The Sweatshop Sublime, Bruce Robbins: http://www.columbia.edu/~bwr2001/papers/sweatshop.pdf

Ethical Consumer worked with industry bodies to put together a special report on the fashion industry, 1 year after Rana Plaza – there’s a lot of useful information in there if you want to know more and, of course, Ethical Consumer’s handy ranked lists. http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/ethicalreports/fashionindustry.aspx

Animal Testing – Cosmetic Companies Still Testing on Animals

The issue of  cosmetic animal testing is an emotive topic. It is legal to test cosmetics on animals in 80% of the world. Prettygood is resolutely  against it. This post isn’t a hyperbolic essay on the evils of the practice. There is a great deal of ‘green washing’ around the topic.  We hope this is beneficial to those who wish to avoid causing needless harm to animals, by only buying cruelty-free goods.

There is a great deal of ‘green washing’ around the topic. 

 In cosmetic tests  animals are subjected to eye / skin irritation. Companies will rub chemicals into the eyes or onto patches of skin. The animals may be orally force fed chemicals to test affects. This can be done until they die to establish the ‘lethal dose’. These tests clearly cause the animals to suffer.

stop animal testing                                                  Image by Tony Webster via Flickr

Cruelty-Free / Vegan

The term ‘cruelty-free’ is vague and needs to be understood in context. Companies can mean different things when they use it, especially those that are keen to appear ethical to appeal to people who want to avoid buying cruel products. Furthermore, Vegan and cruelty-free are often used interchangeably. Not all cruelty-free goods are vegan.  The former may contain animal ingredients but not be tested on animals. Since vegans do not consume animal products and do not use products that have been tested on animals, this post also covers cosmetic goods derived from animal products. The law on animal testing in the UK is set out by the EU ruling in 2013.

EU Law on Animal Testing

The EU banned testing on animals for cosmetics in 2013. This means that companies are prohibited from testing final products or individual ingredients, to be sold in the EU, irrespective where the testing took place in the world. Products and ingredients that had already been tested on animals can still be sold in the EU. In the long term this may have a dramatic impact upon the  number of animals tested on. Cosmetic companies have had to develop alternatives to be able to sell to the 500 million citizens of the EU. Sadly animals are still subjected to experimentation within the EU, and this is due to REACH.

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulates the risk posed by harmful chemicals. It requires chemicals to be tested on animals should there be a risk of workforce exposure during manufacturing. This means if there is the possibility of a cosmetic ingredient posing a health risk to workers, that ingredient is required by law to be tested on animals. Legally, companies can comply with the 2013 ban but use the REACH loophole and still claim to be cruelty free. Between 13 and 54 million animals could be tested on due to requirements to test 30,000 chemicals between 2009-2018.

animal testing DraizeTest-PETA.jpg           Image : PETA / Wikipedia

This presents a challenge to people who want to live cruelty free. The only way to be sure is to purchase products from companies who have clear polices on the issue. The leaping bunny and Vegan Society symbols are guarantees that products have not be tested on animals.  Countries around the world that have have taken similar steps as the EU are:

Numerous countries are in the process of banning the cruel practice, though to different degrees:

The position for cruelty-free folk in the UK / Europe generally is far from clear. Global brands add further confusion due to animal testing laws around the world, with China being of particular note because of the size of the Chinese market.

The Role of China

Though cosmetic products in the EU are not tested on animals anymore, it doesn’t mean companies trading in Europe are cruelty free. The issue is complicated by companies trading globally. Multinationals trading around the world are still financially profiting from animal testing. Between 100,000 – 300,000 animals are subjected to cosmetic tests in China every year. The Chinese consumer cosmetics market is the second largest in the world (US being the largest). It has annual retail sales of £20 billion (source: marketwatch.com). Until 2014 all cosmetic products sold in China had to be tested on animals. Although there has been a change in law it is minor.

Between 100,000 – 300,000 animals are subjected to cosmetic tests in China every year.

The position pre-2014 required a sample of products to be tested on animals before being released on the Chinese market. This applied to domestic and international products. The Chinese authorities would take random samples of post-market products and conduct animal tests to verify the pre-market results.

The amendment in law means that ‘non specific’ cosmetic goods (shampoo / soap) that are produced inside mainland China, for sale inside China, do not have to be tested on animals. The ingredients must also be on the Inventory of Existing Cosmetics Ingredients in China (IECIC). Products which don’t fulfil these criteria still have to be tested, and manufacturers are able to test on animals if they wish regardless. Post-market testing still takes place. Upwards of 10,000 animals could potentially be saved annually as a result of the changes in law.

Companies wishing to trade in China must still have their products tested on animals. However, cruelty-free companies can sell goods to customers in China as long as the product and website are based outside of China. The pre-market  & post-market testing do not apply to eCommerce.

Further information can be found on Humane Society International website and on this PDF they produced. Companies who trade in China can not be cruelty-free. But what about companies who do not trade in China, but are owned by companies that do trade in China?

Company Brands / Partnership

The complexity of the issue is compounded by company ownership.  Multinational cosmetic companies may conduct animal testing themselves or pay third parties to do this. For example L’Oreal claim they do not test or delegate the task to others. But, as usual there is a loophole. In essence they can use chemicals tested on animals if the chemicals were not tested for the cosmetics market. As mentioned above, they still carry out testing when, ‘regulatory authorities required it for safety or regulatory purposes’. L’Oreal have a number of brands, for example Garnier & Lancome. They bought The Body Shop in 2006.

L’Oreal is the worlds largest cosmetics company and as such the profitability of its component brands / partners strengthens it immensely.

If you want to be cruelty free can you shop at The Body Shop? The company recently came under fire for selling goods at Chinese airports. The Body Shop may not test on animals but L’Oreal does. L’Oreal is the worlds largest cosmetics company and as such the profitability of its component brands / partners strengthens it immensely. This illustrates how confusing the issue is for consumers. A seemingly animal-friendly company, with its slick green branding, exists only in name since it sold out.


 

To avoid buying cosmetics that are tested on animals, you’ll need to  research. I hope this post helps you ask the right questions and understand the factors involved. Companies’ polices and values change over time. Just because a company is on point at the moment doesn’t mean this will always be the case. Companies are aware of the laws and loopholes in the EU and in the rest of the world. They make a choice to trade in China, for example.

Equally, businesses are aware of the REACH requirements. They can avoid using potentially harmful chemicals. The smoke screen put up by some is the main sticking point. Be sure to ask if companies / suppliers have tested ingredients, not initially intended for the cosmetics industry, on animals. Tests are carried out so companies can market new formulas / updated products, to you the consumer. This is done to make money. And they do it by causing animals to suffer.

Below is a video on the topic: