Supporting Small and Independent Brands

When you think of beauty brands, where to buy them, or what the “best” ones are, I’m sure many people will give fairly similar answers, especially if they’re active in the online beauty community. And it’s not hard to see why.

So often, you can pretty much lay money on seeing certain brands on a content creators feed. You can search for the hashtags of a particular brand only to be bombarded by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pictures tagging and hashtagging the same brand, and often the same few products. It makes the beauty world seem so small, so limited.

I hear a lot of people bemoaning the lack of “new” products, how every brand seems to be doing the same thing. How brands aren’t measuring up ethically to what we as consumers value. Most of all, I’ve found that people are becoming more aware of the “corporate” feel of the mainstream beauty industry. And that’s not to say these large brands aren’t producing good products or that they’re all unethical. But there’s a certain feel that has been lost when we engage with these products and these brands.

We’re inundated with constant new products that all feel the same, often because so many brands are coming out with the same things around the same time. The newness feels orchestrated, production for the sake of production and without the passion project fire behind it. After all, large conglomerates are in many ways too big to fail. If one new release flops, there’s always a new one to look forward to, or old successes to fall back on.

We beg for something new, something different, something that speaks to us and is brimming with love and is an extension of the creator themselves.

And it’s right in front of us. It’s right under our damn noses.

Step away from Sephora, Ulta, the department stores. Dig deeper through the explore page on Instagram and go to the content creators less viewed. You will find a whole world of new, exciting makeup and skincare and so much more. Look at The Indie Mood alone, and you will see so many incredible businesses driven by a sheer love of what they do and a drive unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

These independent, small brands are creating products that don’t just look and work, but fuel their day to day lives and the things most important to them. They build their businesses around what they love most, their customer, and what they value. Take Menagerie Cosmetics, for example. All their products are vegan and cruelty free, and part of their profits go towards the Animal Welfare Institute. This is a brand that has meaning behind it, it has a message and a purpose and fantastic products.

And that’s only one example. There are so many more doing the exact same thing by creating products and supporting the things that matter and when you contact the company, you’re talking to the person that founded it. Or, you’re only a step or two away from talking to them. The customer service, product quality, and sheer love is completely unrivaled.

I know this from shopping with them, but I also know this because it’s my family’s livelihood. My parents have had their own business since the 80s, and I know firsthand the difference support can make. But I also know what happens when the support isn’t there.

Just recently, a company that I love had to announce that despite overwhelming interest and demand for a new product, too few people actually acted on it. So few, in fact, that the launch had to be canceled. The announcement broke my heart when I read it because I could see how much of themselves that they had put into this, how much they had invested to make this happen only for the support to be pulled out from under them. Ultimately, everything worked out. But it was a stark reminder of a simple fact:

We need to put our money where our mouth is.

We know what we want from brands. We know what matters to us as consumers and we know how important it is to support one another. But we need to actually do something about it.

For so many large brands, even if they don’t sell out a release, they’ve still made enough to make a profit. There’s no concern for minimums or funding, it’ll happen and they will survive regardless. At this point, it’s almost Kafka-esque how self perpetuating they are. But for small, independent brands that are run transparently, follow their ethics overtly, and put their soul into every release? It’s an entirely different game.

We say we love them. We say their products are incredible. We know these brands are run in a way that we should support. But do we support them in the same way that we do larger brands? Do we post about them the same way?

Most of the time, no. We don’t. I follow so many influencers that only shop with large brands, and only mention large brands. In turn, as their own audience grows, those in the audience continue the same cycle, something Mara from The Library Apothecary pointed out in a conversation about this very phenomenon. And why? The products aren’t always that much better and we all know that we’re yearning for something off the beaten path.

We want the attention. We want the recognition. We want the PR and the clout and the likes and the rest of the shit. My most popular post ever on Instagram (promoted post notwithstanding) was a Glossier haul. I’ve mentioned brands that are helping communities in Ghana, brands that use locally sourced ingredients to create a small handful of absolutely amazing products, brands that are active in their support of women and LGBT+ and so many more. But those never get the same attention. Ever.

I wish people would search for the smaller brands and the independent brands with the same fervor they hashtag the same five cosmetic brands. For sure, it’s something I can do better with and I’m working hard to do so. These are brands that cannot do what they’re doing without our support. The big guys? They’ll keep going despite scandals and flops and the rest.

But if we want the industry to change in a mindful, intentional, holistic way, we need to support the brands that are doing the work with the same energy that we do the large brands. I’ve been guilty of perpetuating that cycle, but I invite you to join me in helping support indie and small brands the same way we do brands like ABH. You don’t even need to drop the big brands, because so many produce good products. But we do need to do right by independent brands, especially if they’re delivering on the promises we wish the big brands would make. There’s room for every brand, but if we want the smaller brands to be heard in the same way we have a lot of legwork to do as consumers.

I will be following up on a post about independent brands that I love, because honestly that deserves its own post. Talking about the why needed its own moment, its own frank discussion. Personally, I would love to get to the point in consumerism that a post like this wouldn’t be a need. But it is. It’s so easy to overlook these things, to not talk about them or ignore them. Let’s talk about it. Let’s remind ourselves of what matters.

Complex Beauty Ocean Potion Mask Review

Face masks are one of those really great skincare products that can take your skincare to the next level. There’s a mask for every need, that addresses every concern, and you can do other things while you’re letting one sit and work its magic. One brand I’ve mentioned on my Instagram is Complex Beauty, which is cruelty free, and vegan! I’ve been focusing a lot more on hydrating, soothing masks lately, since my skin is dehydrated and a lot more sensitive than I thought. So, I decided to test the Complex Beauty Ocean Potion mask to see how a replenishing mineral mask could help my skin.

complex beauty ocean potion mineral mask, replenishing, hydrating and soothing

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Hydrating Versus Moisturizing in Skincare

The skincare industry has managed to start getting people on the moisturizer bandwagon, even the stubborn people with oily skin who blanched at the idea of somehow adding moisture to their skin (yes hello, talking about me). But now, another nebulous and frankly nearly identical sounding word has cropped up: hydrating. They seem to mean the same thing, and often moisturizers are described as hydrating. But there is a difference in hydrating vs moisturizing in skincare.

And it’s actually kind of a big difference.

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ELF Beauty Shield Recharging Magnetic Mask Review

ELF has really been stepping up their skincare game lately, coming out with full lines that are also vegan. It can be hard to pick where to start sometimes, so I usually go for the type of products that I don’t already have in my collection. In this case, it was their Beauty Shield Recharging Magnetic Mask.

I have a few face masks, but none quite like this.

elf beauty shield collection

Some Background

ELF describes their Recharging Magnetic Mask as purifying, brightening, and pore minimizing. Including ingredients such as antioxidants, carrot seed oil, sunflower seed oil, vitamins C and E, and argan oil, this mask is all about replenishing and purifying your skin. The color is due to the iron powder, which is what makes this mask magnetic (duh).

I have a number of masks that are all about acne fighting and clarifying, but I haven’t been focusing so much on giving back to my skin through nourishing masks. So, I set out to test this mask on how well it maintained the health of my skin, and maybe if it would help heal the breakouts that I am so prone to.


For two weeks, I used this mask once every 2-3 days, leaving it on for 10 minutes. ELF recommends using the scoop side of the wand to apply the product, leaving it on for 5-10 minutes, and then using the magnetic head of the wand to remove it by lightly ‘gliding’ the head over the mask. No muss, no fuss, they even include covers to put over the wand so you can simply pull off the cover and leave the magnet head clean. They don’t recommend washing your skin off after use.

Full disclosure, taking this mask off is probably the most satisfying thing I’ve done, skincare-wise. Still doesn’t beat peeling the plastic off electronics though, but it is close.


Overall, I’m fairly happy with the results. I did notice that my complexion was brighter, and more hydrated. Using it was easy, cleanup was an absolute breeze, and it felt incredibly comfortable while I had it on. This is probably one of the least messy and most fun masks I’ve used. As far as performance goes, I’m pretty satisfied.

I originally got the kit which came with a jar and the wand, but on ELF’s site you can get just the mask refill, which also comes with 20 replacement covers for the wand head.

elf magnetic mask results

Final Thoughts

I have a couple pieces of input though.

First, this mask has dimethicone in it, which can be pore clogging, particularly for those with sensitive skin. It’s the ingredient in so many pore filling primers. I would describe the Recharging Magnetic Mask more as pore blurring for that reason, rather than pore minimizing. Niacinamide is one of the few ingredients that has actually been credited with ‘minimizing’ pores, but this mask does not contain that. Since they do not recommend washing your face off afterwards, this acts more like a pore filling primer, in my opinion.

Second, this product ran out quickly. I was out within two weeks. This may have been due to me overusing product, so I may try this again and use it more sparingly. At $24 for the kit, I had hoped it would last a bit longer, and that the jar would have been full- mine was not. The ‘refill’ is only $14 in comparison, which gives me the feeling you’re paying $10 extra for the wand.

Finally, the covers. They’re single use plastic covers, and likely cannot be recycled, especially once they’ve been used. Frankly, I consider them unnecessary, and are included more for convenience than out of need. I think that it would be better that these be optional, rather than included in every refill. I would rather just wash off the wand, which is what I did. If you really want to use something to cover the wand, just use a tissue or something like that.

The Magnetic Recharging Mask was definitely fun to use, and I did see some benefit to using it. If you have an extra $24 and a sense of whimsy, this is a great leisure buy. However, considering how quickly it ran out, the covers, and the ingredients, I think there are better alternatives that you could explore first.

Have you tried this one? What did you think of it?

Skincare Tips for Acne Prone Skin

Acne prone skin can be very difficult to deal with, particularly when so much information seems conflicting about how to handle it. Between doing your makeup, then your skincare routine, there are a lot of opportunities to make breakouts worse, not better. I’ve already pointed out some makeup tips for acne prone skin, but what about with skincare? Preventing breakouts is the best option, but often we’re stuck with breakouts that we may be irritating further. Come check out these skincare tips for acne prone skin.

Pacifica, Glossier

Don’t over-exfoliate (and try to avoid physical exfoliants).

When you’re dealing with breakouts, your skin is already stressed and prone to further breakouts or damage. While exfoliation can help lift the top layer of dead skin cells and allow treatments to penetrate, your skin needs time to recover. Not giving your skin that recovery period, about a week depending on what you use, can do more harm than good.

Also, consider not using physical exfoliants during particularly bad breakouts or with broken skin. These can cause microtears in the skin, which allows for the spread of bacteria, and cause further breakouts.

Minimize your routine.

If you have more than just a cleanser, toner/treatment, and a moisturizer, there’s a chance that you’re overwhelming your skin. When you throw so much at your skin, possibly with ingredients that counteract each other, the benefits can be lost. If you’re having an intense breakout, try and limit what goes on your skin to prevent irritation or congestion. Especially if you use multiple serums or several chemical treatments.

It can be very tempting to throw everything you have at your skin. But once it hits max capacity, it won’t be able to take on everything you put on it effectively. Using numerous, possibly contradictory, steps can make it difficult to know what may be agitating your skin, as well.

Moisturizers are your best friend.

Oily skin and acne often go hand in hand, and there’s a general concern of using moisturizers on already oily skin. However, using a moisturizer if you’re acne prone can actually help your skin heal more efficiently, and potentially limit breakouts in the future.

Providing your skin with the moisture it “knows” it isn’t getting can, over time, help reduce sebum production. Lower sebum production means less oil in pores and ultimately fewer breakouts. It’s also important as breakouts can become very dry and irritated, and the added moisture allows for the skin to heal better and absorb treatments more easily.

So is sun protection.

It’s hard to avoid the sun if you leave your home at all, and as UV rays can damage the skin, it can also irritate breakouts. That means that your skin isn’t just trying to heal from acne, but also from UV damage. Using a sunscreen will help limit that damage and allow your skin to heal better.

Going with the previous tip, finding a moisturizer and sunscreen combo is an effective option to limit two steps into one.

Avoid alcohol (the ethyl kind).

if you ever go into the drugstore and check the ingredient list on acne focused skincare, you’re probably going to find some form of alcohol higher on the list. Remember, the higher something is on the ingredient list, the higher concentration.

Alcohol dries the skin horribly, and for those with breakouts that does nothing but irritate them further. It can lead to flaking, irritation, and possibly scabbing should the breakout pop as they often do naturally. Look for gentler skincare products, without alcohol, to treat acne prone skin.

Be aware of broken skin.

I mentioned this earlier, but broken skin is any skin that has somehow lost its protective layer. You see this a lot when acne pops, generally when someone pops it themselves, or in the healing of cystic acne. The skin will scab as the body tries to repair the damage done by the bacteria.

Broken skin is the most vulnerable skin, as its a direct line from the outside of the body to the inside. Things can go septic, infections can start, there’s just a whole mess of things that can happen at this point. It’s also one way your skin develops acne scars. It’s critical that should you find any broken skin, that you focus on treating it first and foremost.

Skip the harsh treatments, don’t exfoliate, and focus on soothing and hydrating. If you continue to stress those broken areas, it will take them double the time to heal and it will not heal in the best way possible. Worse, if you continue to break the skin, bacteria will spread further.

Oils are not the enemy.

In a similar vein to moisturizers, oils seem to be one of those things that people with oily skin avoid, when it’s something they should consider using in their routine. Moisturizers are wonderful as they retain moisture for the skin, but oils are a little more high powered, and can deliver more moisturization coupled with effective soothing treatments

An excellent oil to consider is one with blue tansy, as it is very soothing and helps calm redness and irritation. The vitamins found in certain oils promote overall skin health and healing, and can be very beneficial in treating acne and excess oil production. I tend to recommend using an oil at night, as it gives the skin time to absorb it when your skin is doing most of its healing. It could be the boost your moisturizing step needs.

What are some ways you help your skin when you’re having breakouts?

My Ouma’s Eyes, and my Oupa’s Smile: Why I Won’t Get Plastic Surgery

When I was born, my immediate family consisted of my mother, my father, my dog, and me. My mother’s parents had already passed so I was never able to meet them. My fathers parents were still in South Africa, and it was decided that they would live with us. They would be able to be with their only son, the daughter in law they adored, and the granddaughter they had yet to meet. For six years, we were all together and every single photograph and video we have from that time is nothing short of joyful.

But then things changed, and my oupa died when I was six, before we moved to Florida. Four years later, my ouma passed.

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The Layers of Cruelty Free

With so many companies honestly- and not so honestly- claiming to be cruelty free, I thought it would be helpful to talk about what cruelty free actually means. Or, rather, how people determine what a company’s cruelty free status is realistically. There are a lot of different ways that people define what cruelty free is, as “We do not test on animals” is often not a complete answer.

Many points exist along the line of the production and manufacturing process at which animals can be harmed. There are also a lot of points after the process that animals can come to harm as well. I wish, really and truly wish, that the phrase was more effectively regulated but it simply isn’t. And, frankly, a lot of brands use that to their advantage. So let’s talk about what makes up “cruelty free” status.

cruelty free

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Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Foundation and Powder Review

*As of May 2019, Wet n Wild is no longer considered cruelty free. For a full explanation of the situation, please see this post on Logical Harmony.*

Foundation tends to be one of the more important products in your makeup routine. It’s the most visible part, and helps create the canvas for the rest of your look. It also happens to be one of the hardest to find a great match. For a long time, general consensus was that you got what you paid for, and great foundations wouldn’t be found in the drugstore.

But lately, options have been booming, though cruelty free options are still somewhat sparse at the drugstore level. So, when I found the Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Foundation and Powder, I was really excited! Some have called it a dupe for the Estee Lauder Double Wear, which I have used and loved in the past, but had to eschew due to their animal testing policy. After testing it out for a few weeks, how did it hold up?

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Goddess Provisions Review

Trying to find the right subscription box can be so very overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to find boxes for more obscure interests. There’s seemingly a box for everything, but trying all of them can be time consuming and it can get expensive. And it’s hard when you don’t know which ones are actually going to be worth the money.

Id been wanting to try a subscription box for a long time, but I couldn’t decide on which one. By the time I wanted to try one, I had decided to go cruelty free, which ruled out a few of the more common ones. And I actually didn’t want to try a makeup one, as I already have a bunch of makeup. Then I came across Goddess Provisions.

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7 Makeup Tips for Acne Prone Skin

When thinking of skincare, our makeup products don’t usually land on the radar. It’s so easy to forget that the makeup we wear affects our skin very directly. And when you have acne or certain skin conditions, it’s best to be extra careful of what makeup you use and how you use it. Sometimes, your routine can make such conditions worse, especially when you wear makeup to cover it. And it doesn’t help when most makeup tips for acne prone skin only make the situation worse.

However, there are actually quite a few things you can do to make an acne focused makeup routine more effective. Most are quite easy, and a couple require just a little tweaking to your individual needs. Here are 7 makeup tips for acne prone skin.

makeup for acne, how to cover acne, how to cover acne with makeup, makeup for acne prone skin, makeup tips for acne prone skin

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