Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cruelty Free Makeup

 Hey Friends!

So I've finally gotten around to filming a video about animal testing and cuelty free makeup. Please watch it HERE! I have been doing research about cruelty free cosmetics for weeks now. Cruelty free makeup is probably the number one thing that people have asked me about since I started putting it out into the world that I am obsessed with makeup. I think my video gives a good overview of the topic in general, as well as covering a bit about my personal views. I wanted to create a blog post as well, just because it was hard to get all the information into one video.

First of all I thought you might want to see the logos that are sometimes found on cruelty free products. There are two main designations that a company can receive to be "certified" cruelty free (although as far as I can tell there aren't actually any regulations on that status). Cruelty free means that the finished product and its' individual ingredients have not been tested on animals. It does NOT mean vegan-a product can be cruelty free but still contain animal by products.

The first designation you might find is the Peta Cruelty free bunny:
[This is totally an aside, but I feel like I need to take a moment to say that I am not a big fan of PETA as an organization. It might be a rant for a different day, but I think they employ some really questionable tactics in doing research and spreading their message. I consulted their website only sparingly in my own research]

The second is the Leaping Bunny Logo
These two labels are pretty good indicators that the product is cruelty free, with two big buts(haha, I said big buts). First, not ALL cruelty free products choose to have either of these labels on their packaging. Second-and this is where it gets really controversial-both PETA and The Leaping Bunny designations can be given to products/brands that are cruelty free themselves, but are owned by parent companies that do test on animals. One well known example of this is Urban Decay. UB is listed on both websites as a cruelty free brand, but it is owned by L'Oreal, which definitely does test on animals.

The cruelty free "community" seems pretty divided on whether or not brands with animal testing parent companies should really be considered cruelty free. One view is that these brands should not be supported by cruelty free consumers, because the profits end up in the hands of a bigger company that does test on animals. The other view is that those smaller cruelty free companies should be supported to show the parent companies that there is a demand for cruelty free products, and maybe make them consider changing their overall policies on animal testing.

I have not fully decided where I sit on that issue. I do know that I HATE seeing people within the cruelty free community attacking one another for not being cruelty free enough, or for not having the same standards of what consitutes cruelty free. I talk about that a bit more in the video. Right now I lean toward thinking that it's ok to support those smaller branches of larger companies and still consider yourself a cruelty free consumer. Think about it this way: if the people who DO care about animal testing refuse to buy Urban Decay products, maybe L'Oreal will decide that they might as well start testing those products on animals, because the people who care aren't buying them anyway. My opinion may change as I do more research, but that's where I stand at the moment.

What I do know for sure is that I am definitely going to be making an effort to support companies that are cruelty free, and avoid companies that test on animals. I didn't go into this research thinking that I would care at all really. But the more I learned, the less I felt I could justify torturing and killing animals for pure vanity. What I learned really honestly upset me and I'm a pretty fucking jaded person. It feels weird to care about something. But look at me, caring enough to write a blog post AND make a video.

I completely respect that this kind of thing is a personal decision. I have NO desire to preach to anyone. I am not going to go into any graphic detail about what is involved in testing cosmetics on animals. All I want to do is provide information for anyone who IS interested, and maybe make people aware that cruelty free makeup is even a thing. I know I never really thought about it before other people suggested it. I am going to leave links at the bottom of this post for anyone who does want to learn more.

For anyone who is thinking about going cruelty free-or even just curious about what cruelty free makeup options there are, I thought I'd share a few of the brands I'm most pumped to find out are cruelty free, and most bummed to discover are not. There's tons of cruelty free options, and for me there's really no reason that I can't make this switch. Although there is one really, awful, heartbreaking discovery. You might want to sit down.....

Brands that are NOT cruelty free

  • MAC- NOOOoooooooooOOOOOOooooooooooOOOooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!! This is easily the one I am most upset about. It has even made me question my resolve on this topic. I love MAC.  But I am trying to think of this as an opportunity to discover new brands. Still. Very upsetting.
  • Stila(who make one of my favourite palettes/eyeshadow)
  • Rimmel(favourite powder)
  • Maybelline(favourite undereye concealer)
  • Revlon(favourite mascara) 
So for me, going cruelty free is going to mean giving up a lot of my favourites.

 Brands that are cruelty free but owned by a company that conducts animal testing

  • Urban Decay
  • Tarte
  • Nyx
  • The Body Shop

 Brands that are fully cruelty free with no parent company that tests on animals:

(Not all of these are on either PETA's or Leaping Bunny's lists. I did my research by consulting with the companies' websites and trying to support their cruelty free claims through at least one other source, and I believe these brands to be fully cruelty free. I am happy to be corrected if any of these brands are not cruelty free.)
  • Too Faced(amazing eyeshadows and lots of other great products)
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills (the QUEEN of eyebrows)
  • Bite Beauty(Canadian company what what)
  • Wet N Wild (best drug store eyeshadow, period)
  • Hourglass Cosmetics (Ambient Lighting powders, look em up)
  • Hard Candy (favourite drugstore blushes!)
  • Makeup Geek! (I just watched a Q & A video with MUG CEO Marlena and she confirms that the brand is cruelty free!!)
  • Arbonne(a coworker tipped me off on this one, I don't know much about this company but I definitely want to check out some of their products)
Like I said, these are just a few. But you get the idea-if you go cruelty free you may be giving up some of your favourite products(I know I am), but there's still so much to choose from.

And obviously, to kick off my new cruelty free makeup consumer status, I had to do at least a little bit of shopping right? Here's a few cruelty free products I picked up, strictly for research purposes.
Too Faced Smokey Eye Palette
Tarte Rainforest After Dark Palette-I actually ordered this before I discovered that Tarte was a subsidary of a company that tests on animals. Like I said, still not 100% sure how I feel about that, but here it is anyway.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo in Ash Blonde/Taupe-of the things I bought, this is the only product that actually bears either of the cruelty free logos. You really have to do your own research to find out what's cruelty free and what is not.
Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Granache-I forogt to take a photo of this before I acutally used it, terrible blogger form.

Here's a few links to the websites I found most helpful:
Humane Society International
Leaping Bunny
My Beauty Bunny
PETA (if you must)

 If you have any questions, suggestions, corrections, insults, whatever, hit me up!
As always, thank you for reading.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fitness Stuff: Weekly Recap & Next Week's Goals

 If you read my last entry, you know I'm working towards getting myself back into peak shape. This is my first weekly check in. I've been keeping a bit of a running log throughout the week-not every day, just things I thought might be of interest.

Here's how things went down this week:

I realized right away the my gym goal wasn't going to be challenging. Three weights sessions a week is probably about my average-if not actually below average. Anytime I'm trying to push myself, I get a good weights work out 4 or 5 times a week. So I'll definitely set the bar higher next week. The cardio is a bit more of a push. I do cardio almost every time I go to the gym, but it's usually 20 minutes running on the treadmill, sometimes steady state and sometimes sprints. I can do endurance cardio, but I get bored. I just prefer weights. Something got into me today though, and I did 45 minutes of cardio, split 15 minutes running, 20 minutes on a bike and 10 minutes on the elliptical, breaking only to move between machines. I forgot that a good, long cardio session can feel really good sometimes-I always feel super energized after. And since I did 30 minutes yesterday, I've knocked 2 off my goal of 3 30 minute cardio sessions-I think I'll be beating that goal. So yeah, I guess I did set the bar low. But that's good in a way. This is the first week of me tracking all this stuff. Reaching a goal will help motivate me to keep it up.

I also realized that I am terrible at writing down everything I eat. I did record all of yesterday, but today I just sort of kept a mental tally. Oops. I don't want to give up on that yet, so I'm going to try and write down today's and get back on it tomorrow. I do know that I have eaten out the past two nights, and I need to be careful with that. Even though I have stuck to protein/veggies and protein/salad, the meals still had way more oil and salt than I would have used at home. And I may have had a few bites of my boyfriend's less healthy choices. And I also may have had a glass of red wine(really, just one!) with each of those meal. All these little things add up. But then at the same time, both nights I went out and really enjoyed myself, and that's important too. Just something to be aware of if I'm looking to see results.

Got a really good workout in today so I thought I'd share it. I love long gym sessions when I have the luxury of time. Anytime I spend more than an hour working out, I find it very therapeutic-I leave everything on the gym floor.

Here's what I did today:
20 minutes on the elliptical
10 body weight squats to warm up
3 x 10 regular squats(barbell across shoulders/back)
50 jumping jacks
4 x 10 front squats (barbell balanced in front of shoulders)
100 jumping jacks
3x 20 (alternating legs) curtsy lunges
3 x 10 sumo squats (for a total of over 100 squats today!)
15 minutes on treadmill (meaning I've already exceeded my cardio goal for the week)
3x 10 (each leg) donkey kicks (love to finish a legs/glute workout with a small targeted move like this.

Today I did this upper body workout that I found on Pinterest (it's not just for crafty moms!)

If I do this workout again, I'd put the pushups at the beginning, and then follow those up with bench presses. And I would tell the burpees to go fuck themselves, no one likes them.
 I have a tendency to really focus on my shoulders when it comes to upper body, so this was a good switch up.

Reflections on last week's goals: By the end of the week I'd totally smashed my work out goal. I got to the gym 5 times, and exceeded my goals for both weights and cardio. So next week I'm going to aim for about the same. I did set my expectations low on that goal. But that's cool, because like I said it's very motivating to beat a goal. Onward and upward.
I also succeeded in eating breakfast every day. I failed, however, to write down everything I ate. I did it for maybe 2 days. It just feels too much like a punishment or like a restriction. I'm probably not even going to bother with that again. I know if what I'm eating is healthy or not. I think what's more important is planning ahead so that it's easy to make the healthiest choices. Which brings me to....

Next week's goals!!!!

Bring healthy snacks to work and DON'T EAT FRIES- I manage a restaurant that makes the best fries in the whole wide world (I'm hoping my boss is reading this! Seriously, the best fries). I never order fries when I go out, but when they're right in front of me all day I might accidentally eat a few. Oops, and a few more. Especially if I get kind of hungry and I don't have anything else I can easily snack on. So I need to bring some healthy snacks with me that I can reach for when I feel lik grazing on something. Overall I have a good, clean diet. But it's these little things that get in the way of  really be where I want to be physically.

Lift HEAVIER! I'm not a total wimp when it comes to lifting weights. I'm not using any little pink 3 lb Barbie weights that's for sure. But I don't think I really challenge myself either-I usually complete the amount of reps I'm aiming for without reaching failure. This week I'm going to push myself, choose weights that are 5-10lbs heavier than I would usually go for.
Workout Barbie! Were can I get this outfit? Actually, scratch that, this looks straight outta American Apparel

So that's that for now. I'll be back with another entry next week. I've never done something like this before, actually writing out my fitness goals and tracking how I'm doing. So even if these aren't the most interesting blogs, they're actually really useful for me. Thanks for reading, and hope y'all have a great week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

I am my own Fitness Coach

Five months ago my body looked like this:

 My boyfriend had gone away for the whole month of March. I decided to use the time to really focus on my fitness, and get to what I consider my ideal physical shape. Fitness is always a part of my life, but I like to push myself a few times a year to really lean out and muscle up. When I was feeling really good about where I was at(although honestly I'd like to see my abs pop a bit more) I got a friend to come and take pictures. It wasn't so much about vanity as it was a tool for the future, something that I could look at to motivate myself. And also vanity.

Today my body is about as far away from that ideal as I'm willing to let it go.

Shitty  photo, but I'm pretty sure you can see I'm looking a bit softer these days.
  I know, it's not terrible. I'm not saying that I think I'm fat, and I'm not making a comment on anyone else's body. Everyone has their own standards and comfort level when it comes to their physique. Personally I really enjoy the feeling of being lean and muscular. But I believe all shapes and sizes of bodies can be beautiful.

I'm not even bummed that my own body isn't where I ususally like it to be. The main reason I've gone a little soft is a good one. Rather than focusing on fitness, I've spent a lot of my summer enjoying time with friends and loved ones. My social life often falls fairly far down on my list of priorities. I've got work and school, and in my spare time I often forego socializing to be at the gym, or to write in my blog. I'm not anti-social, I just don't always make time for people-and sometimes that ends up bumming me out. So for the last little while, I've been hanging out with people every chance I get. I've eaten lots of pizza and drank many a beer(and a wine, and a vodka), and had a lot of good times. I've still gone to the gym, but I haven't made it my focus. And I don't feel bad about that.

But now that I feel mentally replenished, it's time to focus on what we all know really matters the most: myself. I've got a lot of events coming up in September and I really want to look and feel my best. I know  that if I really stick to my guns I will see positive changes in about 2 weeks. A month from now I could be pretty close to my ideal. But I gotta get cracking now.

I've coached myself through these fitness lulls before. Normally it would just be a mental decision, I wouldn't write anything down. But I've had a really weird summer, and I'm feeling like I need an extra push to get back to going HAM. So I thought I'd use my blog not just to share fitness tips with you guys, but also to keep myself on track over the next little while. I'm going to try to do at least one fitness post a week over the next month, setting goals and tracking my progress as I go.

I think I'll make it like an end of the week thing, where I just make a few notes on each day. But I wanted to start sharing this right away, so here's where I'm at at the start of the week:

Sunday Night

Sunday night I just came up with my goals for the week. I want to make new goals each week, to make sure I'm challenging myself and staying on track. I'm not talking lofty goals here. Just little things to keep me going in the right direction.

Here's what I came up with for this week:

Eat breakfast every day. I usually do eat breakfast, but for some reason lately I haven't been. I know from experience that eating a healthy meal first thing in the morning really sets the tone for the day. I need to get back into the habit.

Write down everything I eat. I've never been one to closely monitor what I'm eating. I mostly just try to sort of plan ahead and make healthy choices. But I could benefit from writing down everything I eat, even for a week or two. I think it could help me idenitfy any bad habits I've let slip into my diet.

Go to the gym at least 4 times and get at least 3 cardio and 3 strength/weights sessions in-this is not really outside of my usual routine, but I've been somewhat inconsistent this summer. Gotta make a point to get to the gym on the regular.


Breakfast: A brown rice cake with almond butter and sliced banana. I'm dealing with minimal groceries at the moment.
Lunch: Chicken Breast with fresh guacamole and kale salad.
The theme of the day is shitty iPhone photos
 Workout: Got a good one in this morning. I did 30 mins running on the treadmill (medium pace, steady state)
Then I did this glutes routine from this month's Oxygen Magazine.

Oxygen is one of my main resources for designing my own workouts. I seriously recommend it to anyone at any fitness level who needs some guidance at the gym. This workout included some variations on moves I do regularly-I do sumo squats all the time, but I'd never done them with a barbell before. It's good to always be switching it up like that. I only used a 40 lb barbell here-I like to play it safe the first time I do any workout. But 40 lbs didn't really challenge me in these moves, so if I do this workout again I'll definitely up the weight.

The glute workout didn't wear me out, so I also decided to work my shoulders today. I did 3 x 10 reps each of shoulder presses, uprights rows and dumbbell front raises.

Anyway, that's my progress report starting out this week. Like I said, I'm going to track my progress here. It could be either really boring or sort of helpful or both. I'm really pumped and ready to give it my all at the gym, and posting about it on my blog will help keep me motivated.

Also, fitness friends, your encouraging words would be appreciated! Or if you want to be like a mean drill sergeant, I would probably be ok with that too. SIR YES SIR!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A few (more) thoughts on Mental Health

Hey Friends-

I know that in the wake of Robin Williams' death, everyone has something to say about depression, suicide and mental health in general. But these are such incredibly important topics, and very close to my heart.  I think everyone who is able to add a voice to the conversation should do so.

I am thankful that I do not know what it feels like to be truly depressed, or to consider taking my own life. But I do know what it's like to feel like you don't have control over your own thoughts and feelings. I've struggled with anxiety for many years. It's not debilitating, but it certainly impedes my enjoyment of life at times. I've seen others struggle with much worse issues than myself, and I have known people who have committed suicide. I can't imagine the depth and duration of the depression that Mr Williams must have felt to make that choice, at that stage of life, having accomplished so much and having touched so many people.

A lot of the conversation I've seen on social media has been urging those who are struggling with mental health issues to reach out and talk to someone. And I absolutely agree that talking about how you're feeling is an important step in managing mental health issues. I know that opening up and discovering that I am not alone in dealing with anxiety has been a great relief to me. I think many people would benefit just from knowing whatever issue they are experiencing is shared with others, that they aren't a freak and that they aren't alone.

It's also really important to encourage people to speak up about the issues that they are deaing with because we need to make everyone aware that mental health issues affect huge numbers of people. We need to talk about these things so that the stigma of mental health issues is erased.

But I also think that it's not just as simple as that. I don't think that Robin Williams just needed to talk to someone. It's not as easy as a good conversation and a hug to put an end these deep rooted issues. Reaching out is an important step in dealing with mental health, but there's a lot more to it. I've talked openly about anxiety, and that has helped. But it doesn't cure me. My anxiety always comes back. I bet a lot of people experience that, especially someone whose depression is so great that it leads to thoughts of suicide. Those thoughts and feelings keep coming back.

 I can't claim to know why Robin Williams or anyone else would come to the devastating decision that death is their best option. Depression and mental illness are things that people cope with  for long periods of time, sometimes their entire lives. Of course, we should encourage them to reach out. But to imply that all they need to do is talk to someone and they'll be ok kind of trivializes their struggle. Depression is real, and it's scary and it runs deep in the psyches of those who it affects. I think that all of us need to go further than just telling people they should talk to someone. We all have a responsibility to look deeper at these issues.We need to really recognize how consuming and isolating a mental illness can be.We need to stop looking at depression as an individual's inability to stabilize their emotions, and start questioning why so many are affected by mental health issues.  We need to question where it comes from and ask what we could do to make things better and brighter.

I tend to think that a lot of our collective depression and anxiety comes from our crazy, stressed out, thousand jolts per minute society, where our self worth is based on how many likes our last photo got on Instagram, and in which everything, including our health and education, is a commodity. I don't care if that sounds like some hippie bullshit. Pour me a bowl of granola, I'm standing by this theory.  Constantly measuring yourself against other people, drowning in debt just to feel like you're keeping up, and generally feeling like nothing is ever enough can't be good for anybody. No fucking way.

The Dalai Lama, whose words I have found helpful in times of need.

 Obviously that's just one suggestion as to why people experience depression. But the pressure to always have and achieve and to be more, and the constant comparison to others could help explain why someone who had everything could feel that it still wasn't enough.

Whatever the cause, clinical depression and other mental health issues are not the result of someone having a crummy day and needing a pep talk. Depression doesn't just lay on the surface of a person's mind like a thin veil waiting to be pulled away, revealing the true happiness underneath. It goes much deeper than that, and affects every aspect of a person's life. It is something that is incredibly hard to overcome. For some it becomes impossible.

I'm not sure what the call to action is here. But I do know that action is necessary, and the responsibility to act can't be placed solely on the shoulders of the people who already bear the heaviest load. Maybe we need more funding, more access to programs for those suffering with mental health issues. Maybe instead of waiting for someone who is suicidal to make the decision to talk to someone or ask for help, the rest of us need to work harder at getting messages of hope and support to them.

Today I am making a donation to the Canadian Mental Health Association. I am not sharing this with you to make myself seem like a great person. Making a donation is literally the least I can do. I just want to express how personally important mental health issues are to me.  I hope that I can find ways to do more to help others overcome their issues, and to eradicate the stigma associated with mental health issues.

If you want to learn more please visit:The Canadian Mental Health Association Website

Thank you for reading.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Getting Older: It's happening.

I have never been someone to worry too much about getting older. All through my 20's I've heard people the same age as me complain that they feel like they're getting old, and I've always thought it was so stupid. If you feel old in your 20's, it's gonna be a long ride sweetie. I don't even think I realized that I wasn't a teenager until I was about 25. But I turned 29 in April, and lately I can't stop thinking about that next big milestone that's coming up over the horizon. 30. Thirty. Holy fuck I'm going to be 30. I can't believe this is happning to me.


 I keep telling myself don't think about it, it's not here yet, you're still 29. But 29 is like a joke year-you're not really part of the twenty-somethings anymore. When I tell people who are older than me my age they give me a knowing smile with raised eyebrows and say "Ah. Twenty-Nine". No one did that when I was 28! And people who are younger than I am just look scared. Twenty-nine should be called pre-thirty. So even though I'm kind of dreading it, I also feel like, ok, I get it. I'm gonna be thirty. Let's just get this over with.

I'm not even sure what I'm worried about. I've pretty much gotten over that whole "what the fuck am I doing with my life" thing that plagued me for at least a few years in my twenties. I think everybody feels like sometimes, and people get weirded out if they're not where they thought they would be at a certain age. But at some point I realized that I'm just living my life and trying my best and making some good decisions and some bad ones and hopefully learning something. Just like everybody else. I've got a great family, a boyfriend who is my best friend, and a few other people who have my back when I need them. I've got a diploma, a job I've been very proud of, and with this blog I've found a fufilling creative outlet. I've been on a few trips and had a lot of great times in general. I mean I'm not 100% killing it at life, but I'm not totally blowing it either. I feel like I'm approximately where I should be, and I don't feel like I missed out on anything in my 20s.

So what's my problem then? I think part of it is just the fear of the unknown. I don't know how to be A Woman In Her Thirties. I have a lot of questions.Most have to do with my wardrobe. Like, am I going to have to stop wearing short shorts? And I think that points to a major issue is here: Pure Vanity. I do not want to get old and ugly. I know, I'm probably a bad person for saything that but it's how I feel. I'm no beauty queen, but with enough makeup (usually about 2 pounds) I've been able to work with what I got. Is it all about to go to shit?  Am I going to have to start relying on my personality? Oh dear.

And there's a sense of loss with reaching the end of my twenties. All  jokes aside, I don't really feel old at all. I wouldn't even say that I don't feel young. But I do feel like I'm not part of "the youth" anymore. I hear Bruno Mars's song "Young, Wild Girls" and I don't feel like it's about me. When I was 26 I went to Vegas with a group of girls and had a pretty crazy time. Since then I always pictured going back and replicating the experince.  But now I'm starting to think that when I do go back(which I will) it won't be quite like that. I mean it would still be super fun, but I think that even just a few years later I wouldn't have the same feeling of wreckless abandon I had then. Especially the way my hangovers go these days-I'd go buck wild the first day and be done-zo for the rest of the trip.

But despite some fear, and a little bit of sadnss, I'm ultimately looking forward to turning 30. Ok, maybe I'm not looking forward to the actual day I hit the big 3-0. With 8 months to go, I've already enlisted a friend to come over on my birthday and hold me while I cry. But I am looking forward to my 30s. The past decade, as fun as it has been, was pretty turbulent. I feel like in the past year or two I've gotten my feet firmly on the ground. I have a better sense of what I want for myself. And most importantly, I've begun to feel pretty confident about taking action and doing the things I really want to do. My twenties have been all about having a great time, and I feel like I appreciated being young and a little bit wild. I won't look back on those times and wish I'd done anything differently. But I think my thirties are going to be where I find out what really matters to me, and I'm going to put my energy into that. I feel confident in myself in a way that has nothing to do with my hair or my makeup.

So I think it's going to be ok. I'm gonna rock my 30's. And when I start to feel like the beginning of that decade signifies the end of ever feeling attractive, I'll repeat one of my personal mantras over and over in my head:

"Look to the Aniston." (PS. This works in many situations, especially breakups. I mean, it can't be worse than THAT right? And she survived just fine.)

She gives me hope. Thirteen years after "The One Where They All Turn 30", she's still killing it. As long as I make millions of dollars and have access to all the best cosmetic procedures and can buy thousand dollar eye cream with diamonds in it or some shit like that, getting older is going to be juuuussst peachy.

Thanks for reading xo