How To Go Cruelty Free with Makeup

I remember watching Legally Blonde 2 when it came out and thinking,
“Oh good, she got rid of animal testing for cosmetics! How great!”
But after that, animal testing for the purpose of cosmetics became an afterthought.
That is, until I started looking into it more and becoming more educated about the topic some years later.

For some reason, I just thought there was no more animal testing in the United States. I think part of it has to do with watching Legally Blonde 2 and thinking that Elle abolished it, lol.

Well, one of my friends decided to only use cruelty-free (“CF”) makeup products recently (and by recently I mean like last year) and I just thought it was an impossible task. For some reason, I believed that CF beauty products were subpar to those who did test on animals. I’m talking about those luxury brands like Dior and Chanel, or the high-end brands like Benefit or Bobbi Brown.

So when my friend would talk about animal testing and the different practices, I would listen but it didn’t really sink in.

But then I kept getting hit with all these CF videos on YouTube and different articles would pop up about animal testing, that I felt like I needed to look more into it.

It is extremely easy to switch to using only CF makeup! It is not an impossible task.

And so I put together a little guide to help you transition into using only CF makeup! With the new year, this is the perfect time to consider a change!

1. Educate yourself

Recently, Bret and I were shopping in Target and he mentioned he wanted a body lotion (he has dry and sensitive skin so he’s very picky). So he picked out an Aveeno one. I tell him to put it back because it’s not CF. He threw a fit and came back to the aisle with a different lotion that also wasn’t CF. Again I tell him to put it back as I walk down the natural beauty products aisle in the beauty area.

He asked me what the big deal was about CF vs. non CF products because testing on animals was not that bad. So I asked him if he knew what companies did to animals they test on. He gave me a blank stare. So I told him that companies don’t just put lotion on animals fur to see what happens, they inject them with it, in their bodies and eyes, to see how it irritates them, they skin them of their fur so they have more of a “skin” like form that’s closer to humans. After explaining these practices, he said “ohhh I just thought they put the product on the animal.”

The biggest thing about transitioning to CF beauty products is learning how animals are tested on because through that you’ll understand why testing on animals is cruel and is much worse than “putting lotion on a bunny.”

Also, a brand is not considered cruelty free if they don’t test animals except required by law. What this means is that brand does not test their ingredients or products on animals but they sell their products in a country that requires animal testing therefore that country tests the product on animals before they sell it to consumers. China is the main country that has this law; the Chinese government requires animal testing in order for a beauty product to be sold on mainland China. There are ways around this but that’s a whole different story (and not many companies choose this route because it’s very expensive).

There are two schools of thought when it comes to what people will consider CF brands. Most brands are owned by parent companies and most parent companies are not CF. Some people believe that if the parent company is not CF, then they won’t use the products. However, many believe that having a non CF parent company does not automatically disqualify the CF brand, but rather provides an opportunity to vote with our money. If we purchase products from CF brands and the parent company sees this, hopefully they’ll take note and consider making all their companies CF.

2. Look up brands you use on CF websites

There are several ways to find out if a product or brand you currently use is CF or not.

First, look at the product. Somewhere on the product you may see one of two logos: PETA or Leaping Bunny. Only these two specific bunnies mean that the brand is certified as CF. There are plenty of products out there that put bunnies on their packaging to depict they are CF without actually being certified. Additionally, some brands may put something like “we never test on animals” or “this product is cruelty free” on their packaging. Just because a product says this does not mean it is actually CF! This discrepancy is due to a lack of regulation on CF and packaging.

On the picture below, the first bunny is for PETA and the last bunny is Leaping Bunny. However, the bunny in the middle is representative of fake bunnies that brands put on products to fool people in thinking they are CF without doing any research.

comparing CF logos

Secondly, if you’re still unsure, check out a website that keeps track of all the CF and non CF brands. I primarily use Logical Harmony and her various lists to look up brands. She constantly updates her lists to include new brands or brands who have switched their stance. I appreciate her website because she personally contacts the brands, asks them very detailed questions, and determines their CF status based on their answers. She has a list of CF brands, brands to avoid (those who are definitely not CF), pending brands (brands who she has contacted but haven’t heard from), and grey area brands (brands who may or may not have responded and their responses are a little questionable). These lists are so helpful and I have the CF and Brands to Avoid lists bookmarked on my phone and computer for easy access when I’m shopping online or in store.

3. Look through your current makeup stash

It may surprise you how much stuff you have that is CF (unless you’re like my mom and exclusively use one or two brands). When I sorted through my collection to see how much was CF, I was shocked to see that about 75% was CF. There are lots of drugstore and high end brands that are CF!

4. Use up what you have and replace it with CF products

Now, if you want to transition to CF products, you don’t have to go throw out everything and start over. You spent your money on it, use it up! Since switching to CF makeup, I have only one thing left that isn’t CF and that’s MAC Fix+ because that takes forever to get through, lol. Then repurchase similar items that are CF, it’s really that simple.

My mom primarily uses Covergirl (not CF) and was shocked when we were at Target one night and I pointed out all the brands that are CF. You could tell she thought there was no way the CF brands outnumber the non CF brands at the drugstore. So right now I’m letting her use up all her Covergirl and Mary Kay and then when she runs out of a product, I’ll take her shopping at Target, Ulta, or Sephora and we’ll go on a little shopping spree!

Honestly, transitioning to CF Makeup is so easy (it was way easier than giving up Hot Cheetos and let me tell you, that was not easy). I hope this guide helps you in your journey. Please feel free to comment any and all questions you may have! If I can’t answer them, I’ll direct you to someone or a website that can!

Here’s a list of some of my favorite CF brands:

Wet n Wild
Catrice (Ulta)
Pixi by Petra (Target exclusive)
No7 (Target and Ulta)
Physicians Formula
Hard Candy (Walmart)
Burt’s Bees
LA Girl
Flower Beauty (Walmart and Ulta)
Makeup Revolution
Kat Von D (Sephora)
Too Faced
Urban Decay
Ulta brand

Favorite CF Skincare/Bath brands:

The Body Shop
Ulta brand
Soap & Glory
Burt’s Bees
Ole Henriksen
First Aid Beauty

To learn more I always watch YouTube videos and there are plenty of beauty YT’s that are CF:

Nicole Renee
Andrea Matillano
Kristen Leanne

YT’s that aren’t CF but have amazing reviews!

Emily Noel
Jessica Braun


2017 in Review

I feel like 2017 has flown by!

It’s interesting to look back and see where and how I was at this time last year compared to this year. I had just lost my dad and found out I was pregnant all while trying to finish law school.

2017 has been a stressful year but also a very rewarding and exciting year!

A the end of 2016, my dad died and I found out I was pregnant. This set the stage for 2017 because most of the year revolves around my pregnancy in one way or another.

In February we announced the pregnancy and in April found out I was having a girl! It was a very exciting time! I can still see the faces of everyone we told in person and their reaction to the news. Two of my favorites were, obviously my niece Layla (she had been wanting a sibling for forever so this was the next best thing) and my friends at school. Brittany, Brittany, Chris, and I went to lunch and two of them we eating a salad with raw Ahi Tuna on it. They said I should try it and I said I couldn’t because you’re not supposed to eat raw food when you’re pregnant. Their faces were priceless. They, of course, thought I was joking but after showing pictures of the ultrasound, they freaked out!

In March, I decided to take a leap of faith and published my sexual assault story. I’ll have more about this in a reflection piece I’m doing, but the reception was amazing! So many of you reached to me to tell me your stories and I truly appreciate that!

In May I graduated law school! I walked across that stage at 7 months pregnant and my bump was sticking out in a way that if you didn’t know I was pregnant you probably assumed I had just gained a ton of weight. Graduating law school was a great moment but also one of the saddest moments for me. I spent all morning trying not to cry and then afterwards, when I saw my mom, I broke down. I had dreamed of my graduation where, while being hooded, I’d look out into the audience and see my dad’s smiling face. It was definitely one of biggest achievements in my life and I was sad my dad couldn’t physically be there to see it.

From May to July I studied for and took the bar exam. This was a fun process…. I was in a considerable amount of pain by this point so studying all day was rough but I pushed through because passing that exam was the only thing I had wanted for a very long time.

A couple days after I took the bar exam my sister threw me a baby shower. It was so great to have something to celebrate after taking the two day exam.

In August I walked my baby out! The day before Amelia was born, Brittany and I went shopping (she was determined to walk the baby out) and that night I started having intense contractions! 12 hours later, my little Amelia was born!!

In September, my whole family traveled to Colorado for my aunts wedding. We stayed in one big house and it was fun to spend some quality time with everyone!

In November we celebrated the one year anniversary of my dad’s passing. It was a rough day because while I remembered my dad, I also found out whether I passed or didn’t pass the bar exam that night. Every time someone would ask about results and I would mention that I find out the same day my dad died, I always joked that it’s either going to be a really good day or a realllly bad day. But I passed! It was a very surreal moment for me and one I’ll never forget.

This holiday season was Amelia’s first! It was exciting celebrating Thanksgiving with just my grandpa, mom, Bret, and Amelia. It was more relaxed than normal. But Christmas, oh boy, that was fun! My sister hogged Amelia on Christmas Eve but it was so much fun opening all her presents and seeing what everyone got her. My favorite thing she got was two Totoro outfits from my brother and sister-in-law (the outfits also came with the cutest/funniest hat!).

Christmas Day we opened presents with my mom and then headed up to see Bret’s grandparents. I always love going to Nana Carol & Papa Gene’s house because they remind me of my grandparents who have passed away and I love seeing their faces light up when they hold Amelia!

This year was such a wonderful and stressful year all wrapped up in a bow. I can’t believe it’s going to be 2018 tomorrow but I’ve got some big goals and a list of things to do so I look forward to the year to come!

Last Minute Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

Every year I say I’m going to get all my Christmas shopping done early but it never happens (anyone else?). So to help out my fellow late shoppers, I’ve compiled a list of things that might make things a little easier for you either with you also grabbing these items or seeing these helps spark an idea for someone on your list!

For Family Fun Nights

I picked up these three games for a couple people in my family. You can never go wrong with Harry Potter especially because any Harry Potter fan will love channeling their inner Ravenclaw by testing their knowledge in trivial pursuit. Carmen San Diego was one of my favorite games growing up so when I saw this at Target, I knew it would be a really great gift for…ahem, myself. And finally, Catan! First of all, I suggest the actual board game, it’s amazing! But I did find this dice game that I picked up for someone because it can be played by one to four people. There are several people in my family who like playing games by themselves so I thought this would be perfect!

For the Newlyweds/My Best Friend Just Moved

My mom and I each have a huge stash of kitchen towels and oven mitts, not sure why, but they’re just so cute. These sets are perfect for newlyweds or someone who just moved as a house warming gift. It’s also perfect for those who like cooking or baking! I found the Give Thanks set at a local boutique but you can find similar ones at Homegoods.

For the Little Ones

The Little People sets, Mega Bloks, and Lego Duplos are great for young kids to help encourage creativity. I picked up these two sets for Amelia (obviously for when she’s older) because she loves, and I mean looooves, Bob the Builder. I decided on these because when we watch it, she can play with toys that resemble the things Bob uses.

Stocking Stuffers for Little Ones

I also picked up these plush dolls from Beauty and the Beast for her stocking. I’ve been telling everyone “no more stuffed animals” but I’m a sucker for all Belle related things. Like Bob, Belle is another favorite of Amelia’s so I thought she’d like these dolls to play with while we watch the movie and go to Disneyland.

For the Tween

My niece is in 7th grade and isn’t allowed to wear makeup yet so she loves painting her nails. I subscribe to Julep and when I don’t want the current months colors, I pick out ones I think she’ll like. Nail polish is always a good gift for middle schoolers. Lip gloss is also a good gift (it’s technically the only makeup she’s allowed to wear whenever).

For the Beauty Beginner

I love Soap & Glory products. I use their body scrubs and makeup, and Bret loves their facial cleanser (it’s the blue one). This beauty box is perfect for someone who may be starting to dabble in makeup. It comes with mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, a highlighter, lip gloss, and brushes. It’s a great set for a beginner to play around with and become familiar with using different products.

For the Makeup Addict

If you have someone you need a great makeup gift for that is more advanced than the previous suggestion, try the new Too Faced Gold Chocolate Bar eye shadow palette, the Anastasia Sugar Glow Kit, or theBalm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick set. All three of these are perfect for the holidays. The Gold Chocolate palette has great shimmer shades perfect for holiday eye looks. The Sugar glow kit is stunning and is great for fair, light, and medium skin tones. TheBalms lip set is great for those who love doing their lips. I love mini sized lip products because, think about it, when was the last time you finished a lip product before it expired?

Stocking Stuffers for All

Phone cases and pop sockets are great gifts for anyone! You literally cannot go wrong. Even if you don’t think the person will actually use the pop socket for its intended purpose, chances are they’ll use it just to fidget with it (a great alternative to the fidget spinner). I have one on all my phone cases and constantly find Bret playing with it. Fun and cute phone cases are great too because it allows the person to switch up their style every once in a while!

For the Caffeine Junkie

Tumblers and coffee to-go mugs are a must for anyone who loves hot or cold coffee or tea. I have a bunch of the Starbucks ceramic to-go mugs and they’re my favorite! I also have the cold drink cups for when I want tea or water on the go. These are what I like to give coworkers, bosses, or the mom/dad on the go!

For the Stressed Out One

I feel like everyone I know is constantly stressed, except my brother and sister-in-law…I’ve legit never seen them stressed. But, whether you’re a teacher or attorney, these soothing neck pillows, foot scrub and lotions, and bath salts are perfect for those who have stress as their middle name. My mom is a teacher and normally gets gift cards and candy from students during the holidays. To stand out, try something along these lines for teachers because they really deserve to be pampered!

For the Sentimental Ones

You can never go wrong with personalized gifts. I found these frames that have a space for a picture and a foot/hand print (it came with all the materials needed to do the print). I love these! When my niece was born, my sister always gave picture gifts to grandparents and great grandparents. At a certain point, they don’t need anything material, just the love from their families. That’s why if I ever struggled to think of a gift this year, I would just frame a picture of Amelia and call it a day, lol!

For the Memory Makers

This year I decided to focus more on making memories than giving gifts (although everyone still is getting something to unwrap). This week I took my mom, sister, niece, and sister-in-law to see The Nutcracker Ballet. The Nutcracker is one of my favorite things ever and I was so excited to share that experience with my family. We saw the American Ballet’s production at the Segerstrom and it was amazing! I’m always in awe of the ballerinas and the orchestra. If The Nutcracker isn’t your thing and you’re in California, try the Warmer Bros. Studio Tour or a trip to Disneyland.

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide and found some ideas for gifts from it! Comment below what some of your go-to gifts are for friends and family!

Decorating Small Apartments for Christmas

Since my first year of law school, I have tried to find the best way to decorate a small space. My previous apartment and the one I’m in now do not have a lot of space. The apartment I’m in now is tiny compared to what I lived in before. Friends will visit and joke that their bedroom is bigger than my whole apartment.

Here are some tips that I found help me organize and decorate my small space.

Be sparing in your decor

In small spaces it’s easy to want to show every piece of decor, try not to. Be thoughtful and sparing in how you decorate and things will look more out together rather than cluttered.

Wrap books as a way to decorate without spending much

As a way of practicing the previous tip, I decided to wrap some of my coffee table books that I have displayed on my shelf. Wrapping books to display adds a cute, fun, and inexpensive holiday decor piece that will guests wondering why they didn’t think of it first.

Use the rule of 3

This is a general tip for decor–decorate in threes. My mom taught me this (she is super into holiday decor) and it has been something that I constantly think about when decorating. For some reason, three pieces of decor together look aesthetically pleasing. Two is too few and four is too much. Three is just right!

Use a table runner under your tv

When we found out we were going to have Amelia, we immediately starting wondering how we’d fight a baby & her things plus us & our things in a 500-something square foot apartment. One way we did this was making the dining room area into her nursery. So all the dining room table decor I had (centerpieces, tablecloths, table runners, etc) became useless. That is, until I decided to put my table runner under our tv. I did it first at Halloween and loved it so I knew I’d do it for Christmas too. Using a table runner under your tv adds a little festivity too a small area you’d normally probably not decorate.

Decorate shelves on bookcases and tv consoles

My last tip is to decorate shelves on bookcases and tv consoles. On our bookshelf I took an entire shelf to hold our nativity. I think it looks really nice between all the books. It also utilized a space that can be awkward at times. My bookcase is from Target and has removable shelves so I can customize the height between each shelf. I like this because it makes it easy to decorate and store all of my books!

Tips on How to Organize Jewelry

Jewelry is one of my favorite accessories! You can easily transform any outfit just by adding a piece of jewelry.

I have a lot of jewelry as you can see from the pictures. Finding a way to organize it all has been the first thing on my to-do list for quite some time.

I wanted to organize it in a way so that I could see it all and easily pick out what I wanted to wear. I read somewhere that if you don’t see you won’t use it. I think the person was referring to makeup but I think it also applies to jewelry.

I found the necklace displays and tiered bracelet rack at HomeGoods, the mirrored jewelry box from Nordstrom Rack, and the earring display at the Container Store.

I have found that these are the best ways (for me) to display and organize my jewelry. I can easily see what earrings, bracelets, watches, and necklaces I have to wear, and my rings are stored safely where they won’t get lost.

These pictures also give a sneak peak into my Christmas decor! I was so excited to decorate this year that I started not long after Halloween. With it being Amelia’s first Christmas, we are so excited to get everything ready and perfect for Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving is much different than last year. Last year we were mourning the death of my dad (read last years Thanksgiving post HERE). Little did we know that God had so much in store for us this past year. Little Amelia and passing the bar exam are just two of the many things we are celebrating today.

From my little family to yours, I hope you have a wonderful day filled with family, friends, good food, and great love!

1 Year.

It’s been one year since I got the phone call. One year since my sister uttered that phrase. One year since I sat on my couch hunched over crying and hyperventilating.
One year since I lost my best friend, my hero, my Dad.

This past year has been difficult, too difficult to really put into words. It’s hard to explain, even to my family, the magnitude of my sorrow. But, to be honest, I try not to explain it to anyone anymore, because this year has been the worst and best year of my life and it’s hard for anyone to truly understand that.

My Dad died and then I found out I was pregnant and then I graduated law school and then I studied for and took the bar exam and then I gave birth and then I started a business.

I’ve cried almost every day for various reasons. If it wasn’t because of my Dad then it was because of my pregnancy. If it wasn’t because of law school then it was because of the bar exam. If it wasn’t because I was sleep deprived then it was because I was fighting with Bret. I think the biggest reason is because this was supposed to be my year. Everything important in my life was happening this year and my Dad was supposed to be there. Law school, the bar exam, and children. He was supposed to be there and it kills me that he isn’t.

This year has tested me in more ways than one. It tested all of my relationships, my stamina, my physical endurance, my patience, my intellect, and my emotional stability (or lack thereof).

It’s been quite a year and I’m exhausted.

I miss my Dad more than words can describe. I wish I could have five more minutes with him because I have so many questions and I just want one last hug.

Today is a struggle for one more reason: I get my bar exam results.

He was supposed to be with me when I found out. I imagined we would be at his house and he would crack open a bottle of wine the minute I found out, either to celebrate or console. Or we would be at our favorite restaurant, where he would have our waiter on stand-by ready to bring a plate of guacamole dip and a raspberry margarita.

I still feel like George O’Malley from Grey’s Anatomy when he said “I don’t know how to exist in a world where my dad doesn’t.”

I feel like part of me is in limbo and I know, with time, it will get better. I hope this next year without him will be a little bit better than the last. Until I get to point where I can say “I’m okay” and mean it, I’m just going to take it day by day.

For a while after he died, I kept wondering when things will start to feel normal again or go back to being normal. But this is my new normal.

My new normal is a gaping hole in my life where my dad used to be. It’s the Saturday’s I won’t spend eating donuts and eating Mexican food with him. It’s the hour long phone calls I don’t have where he would tell me about every little detail of his life since the last time we talked and hearing another story from my childhood again.

I wish this wasn’t the way it had to be. I’d give anything to go to VG’s or Tony’s with him again. But I’m telling my heart to beat again because he wouldn’t want to me to live a life mourning him.

I heard the song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” by Danny Gokey recently (you can watch it below) and felt like this song fits my life so much right now. I’m constantly telling myself to keep going when I slow down and just mourn him for hours. But I can’t. I won’t let myself because I know that’s not what he would want.

So for now, I’ll keep going and hope that each day gets a little better and a little easier, no matter how broken I’m feeling.

I love you & miss you, Dad!