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OSM & Vegan Beauty Review

by Amanda Wright

An interview with vegan beauty blogger and author of
The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty, Sunny Subramanian

It is officially winter, and whether or not you’re a year-round beauty guru, it’s the time of year to transition into the frigid chill, which can take its toll on our skin.

Our skin is the largest living organ on our body. That’s why it’s so important to make wise choices when it comes to skincare. And if you're vegan, it can get even more complicated. So we invited Vegan Beauty Reviewer, Sunny Subramanian, to share her insight.

Organic Spa Magazine: You’ve been vegan since 2007, but what inspired you to turn to vegan products? What led you to the lifestyle change and what keeps you there?

Sunny Subramanian: I started my vegan beauty blog, Vegan Beauty Review, in 2007, but I’ve actually been vegan since April 2000. I went vegan in college after watching PETA undercover videos of factory farming. I had always loved animals but there was an obvious disconnect because I ate them, too. I’m a crazy cat lady (and have been since the age of 6), and I knew I would never eat my kitties, so when I equated their lives to that of a cow or pig, I had my big a-ha moment and went vegan pretty much in a heartbeat. As I cut out the animal products from my diet, I followed suit with my beauty products. And boy have the times changed since 2000! I was eating LOTS of salads and fruit (and occasional veggie dogs and patties) back in the day because that’s basically all there was. Thankfully today, there is literally a vegan version of everything, including interesting foods like plant-based “pork-less ribs” crab cakes, “chick’n” fingers, yummy fermented sharp vegan cheddar, ha, even caviar. Same goes with beauty products - there are SO many vegan-friendly and cruelty-free brands that it’s hard to keep up with them all. It’s incredibly easy to be vegan this day in age, I’m super duper grateful.

OSM: When it comes to vegan beauty ingredients, would you please share with our readers what to look for? What to avoid? Do you have a specific checklist that you use when looking at products?

SS: I always read ingredient labels on beauty products, just like I do with my food. A good rule of thumb: if the ingredients list is super long with multi-syllable names you can’t pronounce, chances are it’s not the best option for your skin. Our skin absorbs roughly 60% of everything we put on it, so you want to make sure your products contain skin nourishing, plant-based, oils, butters, waxes, etc. Stay away from harmful preservatives, artificial dyes and fragrances, fillers, etc. The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty has more in-depth lists of all key ingredients to steer clear of.

OSM: What are some of the most common misconceptions about vegan beauty products? For example, we know that sodium tallowate looks like a chemical name on the ingredient label, but it is actually beef fat. What are some other hidden ingredients that vegans will want to steer clear of?

SS: PETA.com has a thorough list of animal ingredients to look out for, but some of the more common ones include the following:

Allantoin (cow pee)
Ambergris (whale barf)
Beeswax and honey (bee barf)
Carmine (crushed bugs)
Castoreum (beaver scent gland juice)
Civet (civet cat anal gland juice)
Collagen (bones, sinews, or placenta)
Elastin (ligaments, connective tissue)
Lanolin (wool grease)
Squalene (shark liver oil)
Tallow (animal fat)

I think it’s safe to say that even if you’re not vegan, these ingredients definitely have a cringe-worthy factor, right?

OSM: How do you explain the difference between organic and vegan beauty? Do you stick to exclusively natural and organic products, and why?

SS: Organic beauty refers to products that contain ingredients that are grown in organic soil without the use of chemical pesticides, and vegan beauty products are entirely plant-based, with zero animal by-products, and no animal testing. More and more, I lean toward all-natural, green beauty products because they’re healthier, more sustainable, and higher quality, but I’m by no means a purist. I definitely still rock my Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara from time to time.

OSM: What would you suggest or recommend to anyone who is beginning a similar journey? Resources? Brands? Build us a beauty regimen that’s all natural, completely vegan, pure, and nourishing.

SS: For anyone flirting with veganism and a cruelty-free lifestyle, my biggest suggestion is to take it at a comfortable pace, and go in it without an all-or-nothing attitude. It’s OK if you slowly phase out your non-vegan items with vegan alternatives. There’s a learning curve, and you’ll definitely meet your end goal with the right tools. VeganBeautyReview.com is a great resource for discovering vegan and cruelty-free brands - and there are a ton of them, too! Making beauty products from scratch is an easy way to make sure your products are all-natural and cruelty-free as well. I’d recommend starting out with a simple castille facial wash, rose toner, oil-based serum, and moisturizer. If you’re new to green beauty, get excited about seeing your skin transform!

OSM: In our most recent issue of Organic Spa Magazine we have featured your book, The Compassionate Chick's Guide to DIY, in our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide. Tell us a little about the book and the ideas you came up with to create '125 recipes.'

SS: Thank you so much for featuring my book in your Holiday Gift Guide - it’s such an honor, and I do truly feel it makes for a great present. My goal in writing this book was to create a user-friendly vegan beauty guide that was chock full of info, tips, and easy-peasy DIY beauty recipes with gorgeous photos. I want people to see these pics and want to eat these yummy (and mostly edible, lol) concoctions. Some benefits to DIY beauty - the recipes are simple and affordable, they’re fun to make, they’re perfect for gifting, they’re all-natural by default, and you probably already have most of the ingredients you’ll need to whip up all your favorite beauty products right in your kitchen.

Check out our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide to shop Vegan Beauty Reviewer, Sunny Subramanian's, book and other suggested gifts for giving. 

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