Cruelty-Free Eye Makeup Remover: Philosophy Just Release Me

May 1, 2011

Hurray!  I finally found it after almost a year of searching…the perfect eye make-up remover!  It’s oil-free, cruelty-free, and super-effective yet extremely gentle thanks to the aloe, chamomile and cucumber.

What is it?  It’s Philosophy Just Release Me.

One of the things I love about Philosophy is their sense of humor. Here’s the story from the bottle of Just Release Me:

“from caked on to baked on, from lid lock to grid lock, from dressed up to stressed out, from high shoes to win-lose, from run fast to slow down, it’s time to release your eye makeup and set your sights free”

Cute, huh?  I like it already!

Philosophy Just Release MeJust Release Me reminds me a lot of my old long-time favorite eye makeup remover; Lancome Bi-Facil, which I dropped like a hot potato when I banned animal-tested products from my home last summer.

Both of these removers are oil-free, dual-phase and look the same in the bottle: thin blue liquid separated in two layers that need to be shaken before using to blend together.

Both removers quickly remove all traces of makeup – even loads of mascara – without pulling or rubbing delicate under-eye skin, and without losing any eyelashes.

I’ve used both of these products in the same manner, with great results.  I wet a cotton round with hot water and squeeze out most of the water, then add a dab of remover.  I hold the cotton round over my eye for a few seconds, and then gently wipe away all of the remaining makeup, turning the pad over if necessary to finish up.

What’s different between the two?  Just Release Me is $18 for 6 ounces ($3 per ounce), and Bi-Facil is $26 for 4.2 ounces ($6.19 per ounce).  That’s more than double the price!

And the biggie that I already mentioned is that Lancome animal tests and Philosophy does not.  That’s more than big…it’s huge.

Just Release Me is currently sold out on the Philosophy web site, but it’s in stock at, Sephora and at Ulta, which is where I got mine.

Philosophy does not animal test, but they are not a vegan company.  If you’re ok with that, then Just Release Me may be the eye makeup remover for you!


Cruelty-Free Shopping: 2nd Update

February 20, 2011

Animal Testing Cartoon

Back in July, LilSis and I made a commitment to ourselves and to the animals in testing labs that we would eliminate animal-tested products from our worlds.  We’ve had some easy instant successes and some challenges.

I talked about one of the biggest challenges in my first shopping update in September.  The problem?  Paper products!

I dare say most of us are UBER picky about the toilet tissue, paper towels and napkins that we buy.  I certainly am. I was completely loyal to Charmin toilet tissue, Puffs tissues, Viva paper towels and Bounty napkins…all animal tested.  Viva is a Kimberly-Clark brand, while Charmin, Puffs, and Bounty are part of the Procter & Gamble empire.

I first tried paper products from Seventh Generation; a brand that I really love because of their dedication to green cruelty-free products.  On a side note, their Free & Clear Natural 2X Concentrated Laundry Liquid is actually less expensive than Tide and is just as effective, in my opinion.  Plus it is non-toxic, biodegradable,  and is free of phosphates.

I also love their Automatic Dishwasher Gel.  I tried another natural dishwasher gel that did a horrible job.  Even after thoroughly rinsing dirty dishes, they still didn’t come clean with that product. Seventh Generation’s gel is just as effective as the animal-tested, chemical-filled products I used to use.

Now back to the paper problem.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t fall in love with Seventh Generation’s line of paper goods.  I wanted to!  I really, really wanted to.  They were just a bit too natural, if you know what I mean.  I tried a few other natural brands and Whole Foods’ store brand, and had the same experience with them.  For me, they were just a little too rough and scratchy, and didn’t have the strength I was looking for.

I can haz TPNever fear though!  I have a solution that I’m happy about, and it comes from an unexpected source.  Did you know that Safeway products are not animal-tested?  I didn’t until I found that bit of news on PETA’s Caring Consumers site.

To my happy surprise, Safeway paper products are pretty good, and I’m now purchasing them regularly instead of experimenting with other brands.

In Texas, Safeway products are the store brand for Tom Thumb stores.  In other states, you may find them at Von’s, Genuardi’s, Carrs, Casa Ley, Dominick’s, Pak’n’Save, Randall’s, Pavilions, and Safeway stores.

If you don’t have one of these stores in your area, you might try the store brands for Trader Joe’s and Food Lion, since they are not animal-tested either.  I don’t have access to those stores, so I can’t vouch for their paper goods, but if you do, please let me know how it goes.

The bottom line for me…if I can find a more-than-ok replacement for Charmin, then this endeavor is totally doable.  Safeway is obviously not a vegan company, and they don’t have the same focus and natural-dedication as Seventh Generation and some other companies like Method.  But they do make a lot of products that give us options, and allow us to enjoy quality products without supporting animal testers like Procter & Gamble.

I just noticed that Safeway makes a duster refill that fits the Swiffer duster handle!  Swiffer is another Procter & Gamble product, so I was dreading the day that my last box of duster refills was depleted.  Worry no more, me!  Safeway to the rescue!

Animal Testing photo credit: AlBakker’s Flickr photostream

I can haz TP photo credit: ixmati’s Flickr photostream

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4 Disappointing Mascara Reviews

November 11, 2010

L1007145.JPG  by Irving Penn at MoMA

Because of Loreal’s animal testing, my favorite Loreal Voluminous mascara has been banished from my bathroom.  I used it for years and years, and loved it.  But it’s gone now.  Permanently.  Adios, animal tester!

If I don’t like a product, I usually don’t review it on BigSisLilSis.  We all get enough negativity in our day without me being Negative Nellie and adding to it, right?

It turns out however that it’s UBER hard to find a good mascara that isn’t animal tested, so I’m making an exception to my rule.  I’ll share my thoughts about what I’ve tried lately, and you can take my comments with a grain of salt.

I’m sorry to say that of the last four mascaras I’ve tried, I don’t like any of them.  Not one ding dang one!  Boo!

Here’s what I’ve tried and tossed:

  • Smashbox Hyper Lash ($21) – I had really high expectations for Hyper Lash after hearing rave reviews on the radio from a local DJ, so I bit the bullet and spent more than I ever do on mascara.  First off, the brush on Hyper Lash is really different.  It has bristles on one side to apply the product and a comb on the other side to separate the lashes.  The first coat went on truly clump-free.  Hurray!   The only problem is that one coat was very thin and skimpy, so I needed two additional coats and that caused a lot of clumping.  I didn’t get any volume or lengthening, and I felt that my lashes just didn’t show up.  I got some fine flakes under my eyes by the end of the day, and my lashes looked dry.  Hyper Lash isn’t waterproof, but was hard to remove.  This mascara was pricey and it went back to the store.
  • Tarte Lights Camera Lashes ($19) – I like Tarte’s nice big normal brush, but the product was fairly thin so I didn’t get any volume, similar to the result I got with Hyper Lash.  I didn’t get much clumping, which was great, but this mascara provides an extremely natural look and I just need more from a mascara.  If your naked eyelashes look like Bambi’s, this mascara may be enough for you, but it’s not for me.  It removed fairly easily, but I did have some flaking during the day.  It isn’t a bad product, but for the price, I expected better results.
  • MAC Zoom Lash ($14) – I wanted a thicker formula than what Tarte and Smashbox offered, so I guess I should be careful about what I wish for.  I went into a MAC store and asked for their best mascara for volume without clumping, and Zoom Lash was their recommendation.  Zoom Lash is radically thick to the point of being gloppy, and the small short-bristled brush made it impossible for me to apply it without a huge goopy mess.  It also straightened out my just-curled lashes. Rats!   This may be my least favorite MAC product ever, I’m sad to say!  I should have taken it back; I hate it that much.  Why didn’t I?
  • Revlon 3D Extreme ($7.50) – 3D Extreme is super thick too, and has another weird brush.  What happened to plain old big brushes that reach every lash?   This one is flat with short bristles on each side with a rounded bulb kind of a thing at the end of the wand.  I don’t get it.  What am I supposed to do with this contraption?  What I did get was clumping galore, and straightened lashes like Zoom Lash gave me.  Fail!

I’m disappointed at what I’ve found so far, and I haven’t even restricted my search to vegan mascaras.  Sheesh!  The search for a good mascara will continue though.  I’m not encouraged, but I’m also not giving up and resorting to wearing false eyelashes every day!

Hey, volume-building, clump-free, perfectly-thick, cruelty-free mascara!  Come out, come out, wherever you are!

photo credit: Susan NYC


Clean Floors without Cruelty!

October 22, 2010

It seems like my weekend shopping trips are lots more challenging these days since I can’t just breeze through Target and mindlessly grab my usual products.  Making a commitment to purge animal-tested products from my life has been a real project, but I’m committed to it, as LilSis is also.

I’ve had a longtime love affair with my Swiffer WetJet since the day I laid eyes on it, but alas, Swiffer is a Procter & Gamble company.  Procter & Gamble does animal testing, so Swiffer is out of my house, which made me sad at first.  I envisioned returning to a drippy string mop or sponge mop with a big steaming sloshing bucket full of Pine Sol.  Gah!

Rubbermaid Reveal MopThankfully, there are other alternatives, and I found a nifty one. I bought a Rubbermaid Reveal Microfiber Spray Mop during my last trip to Target.  How much do I love it?  Let me count the ways:

  • As far as I can see, Rubbermaid doesn’t do any animal testing.  If I’m wrong, someone please correct me!
  • There are no expensive disposable pads to buy.  The Reveal Mop comes with a microfiber pad that is washable!  Brilliant!  You can buy replacement pads if you ever need to.
  • You can use any cleaning solution you wish!  Brilliant again!  Not only are you free of the pricey Swiffer solution, but you can use a completely environmentally-friendly, green solution!  Use plain water, or water with white vinegar, or buy a natural cleanser from Method, Mrs. Meyers, or Caldrea.  You choose.
  • Another cool thing?  You can buy extra refillable spray bottles so you can switch out your solutions for different surfaces: tile, wood, vinyl, or laminate.
  • No batteries required!

Even though I imagined the worst (stringy ol’ yarn mop), what I ended up with is better in many ways than my old Swiffer!

Before you even think about mopping though, you need freshly-swept floors right?  This is the perfect time to introduce you to my new electric broom; the Electrolux ErgoRapido Bagless Cordless Handheld/Stick Vacuum Cleaner.Electrolux Ergorapido

My last electric broom lasted for probably 10 years, but it finally got weary of sucking up all that cat litter and hair, and it just passed away.  After a ton of research, I decided on the ErgoRapido and I’m so thrilled with it:

  • It works well and has good suction.  It will occasionally take two passes to pick up some of the fine bits of clumping cat litter, but I think that material is a real challenge for any sweeper.
  • It’s lightweight, cordless and rechargeable.
  • There are no bags, and the canister is easy to empty.
  • It’s a stick vacuum cleaner AND a handheld vacuum all in one.
  • It looks really cool!

So with both of these tools in my cleaning closet, there’s no excuse for a dirty floor, right?  Now, all I have to do is teach my furkids to sweep and mop while I’m at work, and we’re all set!


Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara

September 13, 2010

Score! I think I’ve found a new mascara to replace the Maybelline Great Lash that I’ve been using for years (up until I recently learned that Maybelline tests their products on animals)!

I happened to be in Macy’s last week and decided to stop and take a peek at the Clinique counter to check out their mascara. After looking over six or seven different choices, I bought the Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara for $14.00 and just kept my fingers crossed that I would like it.

Clinique Lash Building Mascara

Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara

I can’t say that this mascara magnifies your lashes to twice their size, as Clinique claims, but so far, I like the Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara in Black even more than I liked the Great Lash.

It glides on easily because it’s thinner than some mascaras, which is one reason that I liked the Great Lash. This mascara didn’t clump, flake off, or smudge, even after a workout.

I also love the size and the shape of the tapered brush because it separates the lashes nicely and reaches each and every little lash.

(After several uses, you may find that you need to dab off a little product from the point of the brush, but it’s not near as bad as some thick mascaras.)

The best thing about this product, and the reason for me switching mascaras, is that Clinique is on the list of companies that DO NOT test their products on animals.

A couple of months ago, after BigSis revealed the story about the beagles being rescued from a testing lab, she and I both committed to not purchasing any more products from companies that animal test. Unfortunately that list is longer than you may realize. It’s really easy to go to to check out the list of companies that DO test on animals and those that DO NOT test on animals.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get my household purged of all products made by companies who animal test, but little by little, as I run out of something, I make sure that I replace it with a product made by a cruelty-free company. :-)


Cruelty-Free Shopping: 1st Update

September 2, 2010

Lil Bunny

Do I want to be responsible for hurting this littl bun bun? Oh, hell, no!

A little over a month ago, I made a commitment to purge my household – and my life – of products that are tested on animals.  I heard about the 120 beagles who were rescued on July 4th from a bankrupt testing lab in New York, and was absolutely heartbroken to think that they had never been outdoors, chased a ball or run with other dogs.  They had never been allowed to be dogs; they were just test subjects.

I’ve been vegetarian for 16 years, and 99% vegan for the last 8 months, so it seemed inconsistent that I avoid eating meat, dairy and eggs because I don’t want to be a party to an animal’s suffering, but I’m doing exactly that when I buy my favorite Loreal mascara.  Or Charmin toilet paper.  Or Garnier hair color.

So I decided to get with the program and clean out my house.  Care to know how it’s going?  I’m not gonna lie; it’s a bit tough here and there.  I have these random conflicted conversations with myself…

Maybe I’ll just buy the Charmin toilet paper one more time, then I’ll buy Seventh Generation.

No, you’re a hypocrite. You said you were committed.

I am, but it’s TOILET PAPER for cryin out loud!  I can’t buy crappy TOILET PAPER!  No one will know if I buy it just once more.

You’ll know.  You’ll make one exception, then it’ll be two, then fourteen.  Do it 100% or don’t do it all.

Yeah, but I can’t find a new mascara that I like.  I have to have a good mascara!  You can’t expect me to sacrifice everything!

If you buy that mascara, you’re responsible for poking the wand into a bunny’s eye!  Don’t do it!  Don’t do it!  There are plenty of other mascaras out there that you haven’t tried yet.  Don’t be a quitter.

Well, what about my Clorox Toilet Wand?  Do I have to go back to having a drippy germy toilet brush in my bathroom?

Stop being a baby!  Are you committed to living without contributing to animal suffering, or are you committed to whining?

And so it goes.

To be completely honest, it’s easier to replace some products than others.

  • Method and quite a few other companies make cleaning products that are cruelty-free.
  • The Seventh Generation laundry detergent that I bought is happily cheaper than Tide!
  • I’ve tried 3 mascaras already, and am not in love with any of them, but I have others to try and am confident there is a great mascara out there that is not animal-tested.
  • I found a shaving cream that smells heavenly, like coconuts, and feels like buttah!

On the other hand, I’m having some big challenges.

  • The biggest is with paper products.  I’m pretty picky about the brands of TP, paper towels and napkins I buy; not to mention those, you know – feminine products – and I haven’t found any good replacements for them yet.  There don’t seem to be many options at all to choose from.  Surely, there has to be a solution!  The search continues…
  • I’m also wondering what to do about my Swiffer Wet Jet that I dearly love.  Could there be a way to still make use of it since I already have it, without buying any more liquid or pad refills?  Those things were darn expensive anyway.

As I test more products and find excellent cruelty-free products, I’m going to assemble a list that will hopefully help someone else in my position.  I don’t want to blow smoke at you and tell you this process is a piece of cake, but it’s worthwhile and I’m committed.  Still whining a little now and then, because apparently I’m a much bigger brand-ho than I realized, and I like things the way I like them.  But I’m still committed!  😀

I’m really hoping that some of you will have some suggestions for me!  If you do, PLEASE send them my way and I’ll pay it forward!

Lil Bunny image from KevenLaws Flickr photostream.


Boycotting Animal Testing Could Hurt

July 25, 2010

Rescued Beagle

How could I intentially inflict suffering on this adorable little thing?

When I heard the story about the 120 beagles rescued from the bankrupt animal testing lab, I was convicted to renew my commitment to banishing animal-tested products from my house.  Since then, every few minutes I think of another product I can’t buy again.  Here’s my list so far:

  • Loreal Lash Out Mascara
  • Loreal Voluminous Mascara
  • Loreal Eye Cream
  • Loreal EverPure Shampoo
  • Lancome Bi-Facil Eye Make Up Remover
  • Olay Regenerist Anti-Aging Undereye Roller
  • Garnier Nutrisse Hair Color
  • Tide
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Clorox Toilet Cleaner
  • Aveeno Shave Cream
  • Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • Clean & Clear Blotting Papers
  • Neutrogena Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair Mask
  • Redken Align Hair Straightening Lotion
  • Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen
  • Scrubbing Bubbles
  • Glad AND Ziploc Bags
  • Puffs Tissues
  • Swiffer Products
  • Charmin Bath Tissue

Quite a monster list already, isn’t it?  I know that list will just get longer and longer, until it probably looks like it includes everything I use.  It really makes me feel bad that I’ve been supporting animal testing by buying all this cr*p from bunches of offending companies.

It’s going to hurt to abandon products that I’ve loved and used faithfully; sometimes for decades.  I have to experiment and find new products to replace all those…products that aren’t tested on animals!

But the point is, animal testing hurts bunnies, beagles, primates, mice and rats.  A lot.  More than we can even imagine. My momentary withdrawal pains are nothing in comparison.  Suck it up, BigSis. Instead of adopting a whiney attitude of “look what I’m giving up”, I’m going to approach this as an adventurous opportunity to find some products that are even better than what I was using before.  AND, no one will have to suffer because of my purchase.

Photo credit: Best Friends


Beagle Independence Day in New York!

July 18, 2010

Rex the Beagle Learns to Run

Rex the Beagle Learns to Run

Did you hear about the July 4th rescue of 120 beagles from a  New York testing lab that went bankrupt?  Check this video of their Independence Day!

PetsAlive in Middletown, New York rescued the beagles, and got a hand from Best Friends.  Can you imagine 120 dogs who had never been outside, walked on grass, played with a toy, chased a ball, ran, sniffed another dog, walked on a leash, and most importantly…had never been loved?  PetsAlive and Best Friends had to be sensitive to these emotional issues, and also take care of the physical needs at the same time: vet checkups, neuterings and spayings, microchipping, shots, etc.  Then they had to find homes – good homes – for all of these guys.

As of last Friday the 16th, only 15 beagle babies were still looking for their new home.  If you think you might have one of those homes, you can still go to PetsAlive and fill out an online application.

Once all 120 of these beagles are safely placed in loving homes, what else can we do?  We can make sure that we DON’T support animal testing.  If we commit to only purchasing products that are NOT animal tested, then the testing will stop.  If we’re endorsing animal testing by buying those products, then animals like these beagles will continue to suffer.

Who DOESN’T animal test?  It’s simple to find out.  Go to and search for specific companies, or click on “Companies That Don’t Test” and “Companies That Do Test” to see printable lists.

You might be surprised to see that some really large, well-respected companies still animal test: Dial, Johnson & Johnson, Loreal, Max Factor, Bic, Clorox, Clairol, Procter & Gamble, Pantene, etc.  It’s disappointing.

The good news is that there are lots of companies who do not animal test, and they aren’t a bunch of hippy-dippy companies with low-quality products: Almay, Arbonne, Aveda, Bare Escentuals, Bath & Body Works, Bobbi Brown, The Body Shop, Caldrea, Calvin Klein, Clarins, Clinique, Essie, Estee Lauder, Jolen, L’Occitane, Lush, MAC, Norelco, Ojon, OPI, Origins, Paul Mitchell, Pureology, Stila, Trader Joe’s, Urban Decay, Victoria’s Secret, Whole Foods 365 House Brand, and hundreds more.

I’m committing to research all of the things I buy, and then I’m boycotting any company still on the testing list.  How about you?  I don’t want the suffering of more beagles, primates and bunnies on my conscience.

For more information on the beagle rescue, check PetsAlive press page.

Rex’s photo courtesy of Best Friends