NYL cruelty-free skincare: Smells awesome, works even better! »
I received some free products from NYL skincare to try a while ago but I haven’t had the chance to write about it until now. What that means is, I’ve been using the heck out of it for a few months now and I officially hella love the stuff!
First of all, it smells fresh and nice like a spa. You know, not like a specific flower or anything, rather that good, clean spa smell. Second of all, the products are so great and made my skin lovely. Third of all, everything is vegan, organic, and non-toxic. Those are three of you guys’ favorite things! And they use environmentally-friendly containers and packaging. So nice!
My very favorite thing is the Velvet Transformative Serum. It’s light but moisturizing. It absorbs into the skin quickly so it doesn’t make your face too oily. I love it! My other favorite thing is the Chamomile face wash. Again, it’s very light, but it really made my skin feel clean without making it feel too dry. And it has totally kept my blemishes (that’s pretty talk for pimples) at bay! So I’m very impressed with that. I’ve been using it every day. I will have to order more asap!
I liked the Rosewater face wash too. That one if for dry skin. I kind of have combination skin so both face washes suited me. But I’m more worried about the oily spots I guess so I will keep with the chamomile. Oddly, I also loved the hand soap. I mean it’s not super odd but I don’t usually get very jazzed about hand soap. But this stuff just smells so good!
Moral of the story: NYL is the jam! If you want to test out some of the stuff to see if you like it, they have a special on the starter kit on VeganCuts right now. That has the serum and either of the face washes, so you get my two favorite things. They also have individual sample sizes on their site. And the sample sizes have lasted me A WHILE. But I’m sure you will be back soon for the full sizes because this stuff rules!
It’s that time of the month again! No, not that time, it’s Vegan Cuts Beauty Box time! Here’s you peek into this past month’s box.
The Superchic Lacquer caused a feeding frenzy at work. It ended up getting passed around. Like a 40 at an 8th grade party. Everybody was really into the color. It was a light blue, I think this one.
And of course the Pacifica eyeliner was popular! Did you know they made eyeliner? I did not.
What else…oh! My new favorite thing was in the box! NYL nourishing facial serum! I recently tried a bunch of NYL stuff that I’ve been meaning to review—oops! It’s coming, I swear!—and this was actually my favorite product of theirs. So it was pretty dope to find it in the beauty box.
I was also into the LA Fresh nail polish remover because it’s a nice little travel polish remover and travel shiz is the best! You know me, always travelin.
That’s your peek into the Beauty Box this month!
I got this for free but if you want to try it, the box subscription is $19.99 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more).
Reneu Shoes: Vegan footwear that’s cool kid approved! »
In my day job for Backpacker Magazine, I get to try a lot of shoes as a gear tester. Most of them aren’t vegan (go ahead, roast me in the comments), and they definitely don’t ever earn me any style points.* That’s why when the folks at PlanetShoes.com offered to send us shoes from all-vegan line Reneu, I threw elbows to make sure these babies came to me—I’m a serious remedial case.
In addition to being vegan, Reneu is eco-minded and incorporates earth-friendly materials into their shoes. Exhibit A: The first shoes I tried, the Temba ballet flat ($74), have all-hemp uppers.
My actual feet, looking much prettier than they normally do.
First thing I noticed: You probably shouldn’t try to go hiking in these. But if you (hypothetically) find yourself wandering around trails on a friend’s pot farm or something, then the Temba hemp ballet flat will not only be a fitting fabric for the occasion, but will do you good and hold up to the unreasonable demands you are making of it. The memory-foam insole isn’t enough to protect you from actual rocks and sticks and stuff, but it can totally handle a full 9 hours at a standing desk, plus the walk to happy hour afterwards. And they’re small enough to fit in a purse or a pack if you need to bring out the big guns hiker shoes on your commute (2.5 miles of flooded paths! I had to go WADING yesterday! Yes I am that lady who commutes in
sneakers approach shoes then changes!).
And guys: In these shoes, the adorbs 22-year-old designer across the hall from me actually took the time to stop in and tell me she liked my outfit. That has not ever happened before.
I also tested out the Nia strappy faux-leather sandals ($79), but did not love them as much. It’s a tough fit when only the back strap is adjustable, and I found myself tripping on them even though they’re actually a half-size smaller than I’d normally wear. Luckily PlanetShoes.com has free returns, though, so if that fit issue happened to you, it’d be all good.
In summary: CUTE!!
*Actual quote from a friend: “You’re like a disco hiker or something. You have these normal outfits on, then you’re still wearing shoes like you’re about to run up a mountain.”
The May Vegan Cuts Beauty Box is BONKERS »
Vegan Cuts kept saying their May Beauty Box was going to be special, but dang, that shiz was BANANAS! It was mostly full-size stuff instead of samples AND totally things I’m so excited about! Because I really just like samples in general so I’m happy for whatever samples I ever get, but this has stuff that I’m ALWAYS looking for vegan versions of—like a eyelash strengthening mascara! YES PLEASE! I have bitty lashes but I thought eyelash serum things wouldn’t be vegan.
So I’m very excited about the Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques lash-strengthening mascara. I also firmly believe in finishing powder so I love the big ol’ jar of Gourmet Body Treats Raw Finishing Powder. And I’m super excited for the Sevi texturize spray because I like a good wave. There was also a giant tube of SkinAgain Youth lotion, which is great because my mom says I’m destined to have spotty British skin like her and my grandma and I’m like, KILL THAT NOISE, OLD LADY!
Yeah, in conclusion: BONKERS!
ALSO, did you see they came out with a vegan dog lovers box?! I WANT!!!
I got this for free but if you want to try it, the box subscription is $19.99 a month, shipping included (for US addresses. International is more).
Better Off Spread: totally metal gourmet nut butters with badass vegan flavors! »
If there’s two things I love (shut up, there’s at least two), it’s peanut butter and metal! So how could I not try Better Off Spread? Spoiler: I couldn’t not! As soon as I heard about the gourmet nut butter brand, I had to have some. Not all of their flavors are vegan but they sent me three vegan flavors to test drive: Every Rosemary Has Its Thorn (dark chocolate rosemary peanut butter!), And Justice For Almonds (dark chocolate coconut almond butter!), and The Ace Of Spice (spicy peppery peanut butter!).
I tried the chocolate coconut almond butter on some toaster waffles and it was the yum! I really like the grainy texture—that’s how I like my nut butters. Not all Skippy-style smooth. I like the little grains of nut. And I was worried about the coconut but it wasn’t that strong flavor-wise. I do think there were little bits of coconut, which blended nicely with the grainy texture and made it even a bit more crunchy (not like chunky peanut butter though).
As for the chocolate rosemary peanut butter, I was quite trepidacious. Rosemary and chocolate? Say whaaaa? But then I tried it and, low and behold, it was delicious! I managed to eat the entire mini jar in one sitting—straight, no chaser.
For my final act, I tried the spicy peppery peanut butter. I wasn’t sure how to eat it and I’m kind of a nancy about spice. The jar suggests noodles and such but I thought, hey! How about some spicy peanut butter tofu!
I pan-fried the tofu first. Then I microwaved the jar of peanut butter to liquify it a bit. I mixed it up and TA DA! Spicy peanut butter tofu. I know the picture looks like it’s battered and fried, but it’s not. I just couldn’t get the consistency very thin. It was pretty thick—kind of like eating spicy peanut butter on tofu. WHICH IS BASICALLY MY DREAM ANYWAY. So it was thick but very good. I think it would have been much-improved by some soy ginger sauce and that prob would have thinned the sauce a little. It also would have definitely been nice over a bed of sautéed spinach but not all of us plan ahead or leave our houses after dusk (vampires).
More fun things about Better Off Spread in their own words:
Our spreads are always made with the best ingredients we can find. We always use organic, non-GMO nuts and don’t add any oils, fats, preservatives or sugars to them, just natural ingredients combined to make freaking awesome flavors. All of our spreads are hand made in Brooklyn, many of them are vegan and gluten-free and straight up good for you.
Do you heart them? I heart them! That brings the count of things I love up to at least three. Take that, clinical depression!
But guys, I have half a jar left of the peppery peanut butter; what should I do with it?! Help!
Hot Cakes Totally Vegan salted caramel sauce is Totally delicious! »
I wanted to make something apple-based to try the sauce but I was also feeling super lazy. AS PER USUAL. Luckily, I opened my handy dandy Vegan Divas Cookbook and it has this INCREDIBLY easy applesauce cake recipe.
Big shout out to the cake recipe* as this cake was moist and delicious and seriously took like 5 minutes to mix up. But when topped with the Hot Cakes caramel sauce? GET OUT OF HERE! It’s a show-stopper! Guys, if you had people coming over, make them this cake and top with a little heated Hot Cakes sauce and you will be THE COOLEST host ever. Plus, I heated the caramel sauce in the microwave right in the jar (metal lid off, of course)! So easy.
As I said, the Hot Cakes Totally Vegan caramel sauce is salted, but it’s very slight. Just so it’s not too sweet. Hot Cakes makes their caramel sauces in small batches, “the oldschool way.” It’s gluten-free, soy-free, and “mostly organic,” which is all good news. And it has hemp milk in it!:
We use only the finest organic coconut milk and hemp milk—the combination creates a flavor our customers rave about. We then add just the right amount of salt to balance the sweetness and enhance the deep smoky notes. The texture of this sauce is like silk—so smooth and creamy you won’t believe it doesn’t have cream or butter in it.
It really is delicious! And doesn’t hemp milk have Omega 3s in it? BONUS! At $12 a jar, it’s pricey. But I think a jar will last a while. One spoonful went a long way on my cake. I want to try it on their vegan dark chocolate jar cakes!!!! I like chocolate and caramel and baking things in jars just seems like the funnest, right? The funnest.
*Sorry pals, you got to get the book to get the recipe! The Vegan Divas Cookbook is available on their website, among other places.
Product Review: Greenbody Basics deodorant! »
I already went over the trials and tribulations of finding an awesome vegan deodorant the last time I gushed about a brand I loved, so I’m going to keep this quick.
Greenbody Basics brand deodorant is phenom! I got a sample in my April Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, and I’m super into it. At first I was skeptical, because it came with a little pamphlet about how you get kind of smelly when you detox from using non-vegan and aluminum-full brands. When I finally gave it a whirl, though, everything was hunky dory. I also like tea tree and rosemary, so I’m glad I got to try the balanced scent. it was just right!
THIS IS REAL LIFE: Kale granola chocolate bark! »
Allow me to blow your mind: introducing KALE GRANOLA CHOCOLATE BARK! I’m so serious. I’ve written about my love for Coracao Confections in the past so you already know I’m into them. But then I saw this newish product and was like, say whaaaa?! You KNOW I’m on a kale kick! Obvi I had to try it, so they sent me some free kale chocolate bark to try and now I will tell you all about it.
I was thinking it’d be like chocolate covered kale chips, but it’s not. It’s like a true chocolate bark: a thin bar of bittersweet chocolate with Just Pure Foods Chocolate “Kalenola” mixed in. The Kalenola nutrition profile is impressive. I can’t tell how much actual kale is in the chocolate bark, though; you can see it looks like more of a sprinkle on top. But I’m saying, it’s got more kale than any other chocolate I eat! So I will take those vitamin-filled sprinkles.
And let’s not forget the raw cacao! It’s low glycemic (which I think is good or something, right?) and as Coracao says, it’s “full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and those ‘happy brain’ chemicals that we so love.”
At $7.50 for a 2 oz. pack, it’s not cheap. But it’s got quality ingredients that are most, if not all, organic. And there’s Himalayan crystal salt in it, which I think is cool. I wish Crystal Salt were my nickname.
This is definitely on the dessert side of the spectrum, not some sort of chocolate trail-mix type of thing. It could use a little more salt, I think, but when you get a good salty bite, it’s perfect. Who would have thought, kale and chocolate? But it works! I’m officially a fan!
Note: the kale chocolate bark is currently sold out but I’ll let you know when they have more. In the meantime, I recommend the rawmond butter bar!
UPDATE!: It’s back in stock! Get it while it’s hot!
Meow Meow Tweet! vegan skincare to make you look and smell delicious »
I especially loved:
The cocoa cream, which softens your skin and makes it smell like really expensive chocolate, and I do love to smell edible.
The rosemary eucalyptus lip balm, which goes with me everywhere because it is perfect protection against this stupid post-winter weather that is wreaking absolute havoc on my poor sensitive lips.
The walnut oat face exfoliant. It comes as a powder that you make into a paste by adding water, and at first I had a hard time getting the proportions right, but once I got it, I loved it. It thoroughly exfoliates without abrading your delicate face, and after this winter I have about a million layers of dry, dead skin to slough off. Soon, I will have a radiant summer(-adjacent) glow, I’m sure of it.
I like to put the relief balm on my temples when I have a headache, and if I were into massages, I imagine I’d like it rubbed into my sore muscles, too. It’s also been pretty nice on the burns I am, as a very careless cook, constantly causing myself.
The repair balm has got myrrh, which I didn’t realize I was super into until I opened this little canister and fell in love. I put this stuff on my cuticles, on (closed!) cuts, and sometimes on my lips when they are especially chapped (seriously, I was not made for this weather), and it smells fancy and feels really great.
You can buy these and all of Meow Meow Tweet’s line (they have a deodorant cream that I wasn’t too crazy about, but a friend of mine and her mom adore it) at these fine brick-and-mortars and online. They also make appearances at the Vegan Shop-Up in Bushwick, and have an adorable blog. Meow Meow Tweet is all natural vegan body care, made with love by vegans. I love their stuff and I bet you will, too.
The Gnarly Whale: Skincare and haircare to keep you sweet-smelling and vegan! »
The biggest thing you’ll notice with The Gnarly Whale is that everything smells amazing. From lemon to papaya, all the products have a strong, usually fruit-inspired scent. But there is so much more to Gnarly Whale than meets the nose!
The all-vegan line sent me many free products to try so I can give you the lowdown. I was VERY impressed with the haircare. The shampoo was the consistency of water so it was a little hard to actually get to my head (like some would leak through my hands) and I was worried it wouldn’t clean my hair—totally wrong! It cleaned my hair very well. And I NEVER wash my hair, so I really put it to the test! I was also really impressed by the hair detangler. I asked my friend Jess, vegan fashion genius, if she uses the detangler with conditioner or not, she says she uses conditioner and the spray. But I went ahead and tried it sans conditioner and it softened my coarse hair! And it smells SUPER.
The Beach Waves is also a great product. It’s not as beachy as other similar products I’ve tried but it also didn’t make my hair so stiff as those other products have. The only thing I didn’t like was the body spray. It was was not subtly scented like promised and it didn’t really moisturize like it suggested. But the lip balm gets an A+. And I love the oatmeal & honey soap! I double checked, no honey in it! It smells more like oatmeal and almond and you know I love anything almond scented. But my most favorite thing was the face and body scrub! It uses sugar to scrub off dead skin cells and then immediately adds moister with olive oil. Kind of genius. I was worried it would be too oily but it’s actually perfect. And I didn’t break out or anything. Just smooth, moisturized skin. And as with everything, what lovely scents it comes in!
The company also donates 10% of their profits to charity every month. Half of the monthly donation goes to Earth Justice, which seems super cool, but the other half goes to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I’m a bit torn on this, I thought it was a regular aquarium (i.e. awful!) but they say they just do rescue, rehab and release, only keeping animals at the aquarium if the animal would likely not survive on its own. But I can’t find much info on them other than self-reported. But lord knows there are all kinds of sea animals getting injured due to human bullish! Anyway, this portion of this post was updated after I read on CMA’s website more. I’m still not totally sure though.
Final pro-tip if you plan on purchasing, they have dope sales! So check that out for a bargain. And try the sugar scrub! It looks like you can pick whatever scent you want for the sugar scrub. I liked the coconut and I never even like coconut!