Activities · Self

Lessons from my healthy transition: Part 1

So my hunt for vegan and cruelty-products continues…

I just started and I am interested to document and reflect on my journey. I’d like to observe myself mostly; how I feel about my decision and its consequences. So far here are some of my initial observations:

You may not end up wanting to use the vegan and cruelty-free make up products that are available to you. First of all, there aren’t enough brands that fit those categories here in the Philippines. Brands that test on animals comprise the majority (if not all) of the make up section in all shopping malls. This means you’re stuck with a couple or maybe just one brand. Now, when you finally find the brand and test out the products on yourself, the reality of the matter is you could end up not liking it because you end up disappointed with its quality or maybe it’s not what you’d like to use.

In my case, I wanted to buy Wet N Wild make up because they have a list of vegan products. I’ve read mostly positive reviews about their megalast lipsticks. But when I tried them on myself, I felt let down. I was so disappointed. First, I didn’t like any of their pigments and Second, I didn’t like their feel on my lips. Maybe the testers were just expired (yuck)? Because they just tended to smudge on my lips like a total failure.

Of course, I would choose a vegan and cruelty-free brand but if it doesn’t do its job for me then I don’t see any point in buying it.

It’s difficult to find a brand that is both vegan, non-toxic and cruelty-free. Some are just cruelty-free but non-vegan and toxic. Some are cruelty-free and non-toxic but non-vegan.

I’m starting to prefer my bare face over my face with even a bit of make-up. My history of wearing make up started ten years ago, when I was 19, at my third year in college. It was a nude butter lipstick from a brand I already have forgotten (for sure it was a local drugstore brand, though). Before that all I ever used on my face was talcum powder. I remember feeling so conscious when I started wearing lipstick. I somehow felt guilty for wearing it. I felt like I was doing something prohibited, something decadent. I felt embarrassed even, because I thought that make up was just for mature women and I was still very young. When I wasn’t wearing make up yet, I would always thought that bare-faced women were the most beautiful. I liked seeing a woman’s bare skin, eyebrows and lips. I liked the transparency of a bare face.

I never moved forward into wearing more and more layers of make up. But I felt quite tempted to keep on trying out new products. I also admit that I started to think that women who wear make up looked better.

But maybe after a few days of being make-up free (because remember, in my previous post, I threw all my make up because of my health transition going on), my mind-set also has started to shift. After an afternoon of trying out different kinds of lipstick colors, I just felt relieved that it’s over. I felt actually good wiping away the final lip color and seeing my bare lips again. Putting just a bit of lipstick could change the way you look and honestly, I kind of missed how I actually looked like even for just one afternoon.

If you want to start shifting to DIY vegan personal care products, you must spend more effort in preparing your mind for the changes that would come as a consequence. I’ve tried the no-poo method (and other kinds of DIY natural shampoos), I’ve tried brushing using a plain toothbrush and virgin coconut oil, I’ve also tried oil-pulling, I’ve tried a DIY-coconut oil-and-coffee-grounds-scrub, I’ve tried a vegan and cruelty-free cold wax for my legs and underarm, among others. I really want to shift to a DIY personal care routine but the thing that always set me off track is the frustration from not getting the results I’m used to.

DIY natural shampoos make my hair sticky and just hard, it’s horrible to touch it. Virgin coconut oil for cleaning my teeth my be effective but it doesn’t give me the minty feel that I’m used to, and the taste of the oil sucks. The herbal cold wax left me with shallow wounds on my legs. I’ve always preferred to use depilatories because even though they’re toxic, they’re so easy to use (it sounded sick, I know, but that’s the truth) and just as effective. The only DIY thing I liked and would continue to do would be the coffee scrub and using virgin coconut oil as a hair leave-on, as well as moisturizer and body lotion.

The coffee scrub left my face and body feeling and looking fresh, soft and smooth. Plus the scent is just heaven! Likewise I have always preferred using pure oils as hair and skin moisturizers because they’re just the best products for that kind of job. Why make it complicated by adding synthetic chemicals?

Maybe I just gotta keep doing my research about DIY vegan products that I can really be comfortable using.

There is a surprisingly number of locally-made natural (not always vegan, though) and cruelty-free products. I wasn’t aware of this before. This is actually a growing local business that should be given more attention and support. Why not?

The Philippines’s biodiversity is one of the riches in the world. We have all kinds of medicinal herbs. We have tons of endemic species of flowers as well. Likewise, as a culture, we have always been using plants for our personal hygiene and medicinal needs before it even got trendy.

I remember my parents using guava juice to cleanse our wounds and oregano juice to cure sore throat. We would also pick up malunggay leaves in our front yard and put it in our soup. We would use pure aloe vera juice or coconut milk as hair treatment. We have the resources to establish brands that are purely vegan, non-toxic, cruelty-free and manufactured from start to finish, in the Philippines.

It’s a good  business because it supports the health of the people and the planet, it creates local jobs and it could answer to a global demand. If countries like the US and Switzerland are famous for its synthetic pharmaceutical industries, countries like the Philippines, India, Brazil, and such could be the giants of plant-based medicines and personal care products.

I bought a couple of them; a moisturizing shampoo with mandarin scent from Human Heart Nature and a Lavender Body Wash from Avalon Organics. At first I thought that the shampoo would leave an effect similar to the no-poo method (baking soda and apple cider vinegar) because after rinsing my hair initially felt sticky and hard. But as soon as my hair got dry, it was so smooth, soft and shiny! I didn’t want my hair to look straighter, because I like how naturally wavy it is, but somehow this shampoo makes it straight as well. Other Filipinas would probably like it that way. Furthermore, the Lavender Body Wash left my skin feeling smooth, soft and clean! The scent of lavender is so soothing! I felt like a royalty in the shower, hahaha! It also has a clear composition and it’s not difficult to rinse off.

Of course at first natural products seem expensive when you compare it with commercial, synthetic brands. But most of the time, it’s just a matter of difference in terms of packaging. The natural products that I’ve found look more expensive because they’re contained in bigger bottles, they don’t melt easily (as for the bar soaps) or you don’t need to use much every time. In the long run you could actually save more if you use them.

Overall, I appreciate the process I’m going through and the discoveries and lessons I learn along the way. It’s so fulfilling to live a more conscious life by being more aware and active in choosing products and habits that are healthy for you.

After all, what’s healthy for us is healthy for the planet, too.



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