Shop Small This Holiday Season

When you’re doing your holiday shopping this year, consider looking around at some of your local, small businesses for gift ideas. This year’s gift-giving can be brightened up in so many ways by taking this step.

Supporting small businesses and local artisans not only helps to create more local jobs, but you will be helping to give back to the community, as many of these small businesses likely source from other local businesses. Another bonus is that this method of shopping will help to keep dollars returning to your neighborhood! You will be creating a ripple effect of good karma.
If you’re unsure of where to begin looking, here’s a nifty little tool to direct you towards small businesses located near you.
If you’re a fan of online shopping (I mean, who isn’t?) then sites like Etsy are a great way to support passionate artisans who often hand-craft their shop items.
On top of all this, you will undoubtedly be able to find some of the most diverse and unique gifts you’ve ever given to your loved ones (or yourself, of course!).
Get out there and start spreading the cheer, and share with us some of your favorite unique, local shops and items!

OIL CLEANSING METHOD // Does It Really Work?

As an licensed Esthetician and skin care expert, I get so many questions from clients about what I use to cleanse my skin. First, I let them know that everyone’s skin reacts differently to different ingredients in skin cleansers. Also, many drug store cleansers contain toxic ingredients that can aggravate sensitive or problem skin. This brings me to why I’ve been obsessed with the oil cleansing method and why I have only used OIL to cleanse my skin for the past 3 years.

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First, I’ll just talk a little bit about WHY it works. The skin is a unique organ and the largest in our bodies. It absorbs everything we put on it almost immediately. Another important thing to keep in mind is that oil dissolves oil. I know it sounds crazy, but trust me, using oil to cleanse your skin is a great way to get a clean healthy skin without letting toxic ingredients into your body. Below is a quick list of pros and cons to get you motivated to try oil cleansing!



-Organic oils can be very affordable (organic is best when using oils for skin care)

-They last a long time as a little goes a long way

-You’ll use a LOT less moisturizer (saving even more $)

-Most of the oils can do DOUBLE duty as a light moisturizer and also be used on the body

-You can customize the oils you use to suit your skin care concerns

-Or even add essential oils for added benefits + aromatherapy

-You will know EXACTLY what you’re putting on and in your body (woo hoo!!)




I haven’t found ANY yet but I’ll keep you posted!




Find a recipe that suits your skin type + skin concerns: there are so many recipes on the internet but I recommend trying a simple blend of maybe 2-4 oils to start off. You can always add or remove oils to customize your own recipe- below I’ll share the oils I have been using but please remember- what works for me may not work best for everyone.


STEP ONE- Apply a quarter-sized amount of your oil mixture to your face and massage it in well- you can leave it on for a few minutes to let it further loosen up dirt/debris.


STEP TWO- Run a clean washcloth under very hot water (as hot as you can stand without hurting yourself) and ring it out- when its still hot but cool enough to apply to your face- place the cloth over entire face (or do small sections at a time) and gently remove all traces of oil. Go over face as many times as needed to remove all the oil.


STEP THREE- The oil should leave your skin soft, supple and slightly moisturized so you should need very much moisturizer if any at all but it’s always a good idea to lock in moisture- especially if your skin has been dry or dehydrated. Just apply a spray of toner or hydrosol on a cotton pad to remove any excess makeup if necessary and apply your moisturizer/sunscreen.






JOJOBA OIL- good for oily or acne skin- closely replicates the skin’s natural oils


AVOCADO OIL- good for sensitive, dry, wrinkle prone and helps with eczema- brightens and hydrates the skin with fatty acids and vitamin E- this one is my personal favorite and I always include it in my oil blend (it works great on hair too- to help seal and repair dry ends)


ROSEHIP- good for sensitive, dry, wrinkle prone skin


CASTOR OIL- good for acne skin, helps with detoxifying the skin and can also disinfect and kill bacteria on the skin, also very moisturizing and can soften dry skin and reduce age spots


The above oils are known as ‘carrier oils’, I usually combine 3 or more oils for a good mix of skin concerns but you can just use one or two to get started. I combine equal amounts of each of the oils in a dark glass dropper bottle (a few $$ at Whole Foods or Amazon) and keep it in a dark place (light makes the oils turn bad faster). Also always make sure you clean the container very well in between making your oil blend! I’ve included some additional essential oils to add for other skin benefits & aromatherapy- keep in mind these are very concentrated and potent so just add a few drops to your carrier oil of choice for an apothecary boost—

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LAVENDER- a superstar oil with unlimited uses, good for oily, dry, sensitive, reducing wrinkles, scars and eczema + calms anxiety, depression and fatigue


FRANKINCENSE- a powerful astringent, good for oily, reducing scars, wrinkles, dark spots + calming and grounding and uplifting


GERANIUM- good for oily, acne, dry, sensitive, scars, reducing wrinkles and eczema


ROSE- great for acne skin, dry skin + calms and relaxes the mind and can be used as a natural floral perfume when combined with a carrier oil



I love AURA CACIA oils- they make fantastic, affordable organic oils and are easy to find at retailers or online- they also have a bunch of DIY recipes to try on their website!! We can’t wait to try them all! (available at


*I usually purchase my oils at my local Whole Foods but many other store like Target and CVS are starting to carry these oils as the demand for natural skin care increases— so shop around and find a sale if you can!



Have fun making your own magic potions– leave a comment and let us know what combinations worked best for you!



V&V Beauty Editor

MOTD COSMETICS // Lux Vegan Makeup Brushes Review


We’ve tried a lot of cruelty free and vegan makeup brushes but these really stand out. MOTD COSMETICS makes luxury vegan makeup brushes from synthetic materials and never use animal fur. They use a synthetic material that is hypoallergenic, dries faster and lasts longer than most animal fur brushes.

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With their super soft bristles, these brushes provide a smooth and seamless makeup application. These brushes come in several sets and are also sold separately so you can customize a set of any six brushes or add them on individually. The sets are affordable and this company has fantastic customer service. After ordering the wrong set by mistake, the exchange process was quick and painless; they even covered the return shipping so I could get the set I wanted asap! Also, these brushes are just beautiful in design, and each have a cheeky saying on them that give hints on how to use them- their eye definer brush is called ‘Miss Shady Lady.’ We love leaving them out on display in an up-cycled candle holder turned makeup brush caddy.

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They’re just a small company but growing and gaining popularity due to the quality of their products. We love supporting small businesses that are passionate about animals and the environment. Needless to say we’ll be rocking theses brushes for a while and recommending them to all our friends and family.


Available at {lux vegan makeup brush essentials- $70} *10% OFF if you subscribe to their email updates!




Jewel Tones // Fall/Winter Trend Alert

Lucky for us, FW16 has presented some pretty great trends and fashion statements that we can get on board with. In particular, jewel tones have really stuck out this season. Shades like deep emerald and ruby red were a huge hit on the runways and red carpets all year, with their deep, sophisticated tones making a lasting impact.
Jewel tones tend to fall hand in hand with natural earth tones, perfectly contrasting one another, which can help to add a mysterious and alluring factor to any outfit.
These powerful colors speak for themselves, without needing much accessorizing to make their statement. Typically a natural taupe or cream pairs best, along with subtle metallic accessories like bronze or copper.
For warmer skin tones, a good color to try would be an emerald or olive color, or even a more earthy, amber or rust tone.
If your skin is more on the cool side, then stick with tones that are the same such as amethyst or sapphire.
For neutral skin, most any color will work, but I suggest a slightly muted or softer version of these bright colors, such as jade or rose quartz.
The best thing about this trend is that there are ways to make it work for everybody, so it is a winner in our book.
Comment and tell us your favorite fall colors and how you wear them!


The clean beauty movement is all about learning. It is partially our responsibility as consumers to learn about ingredients and how to read labels to keep our skin and bodies safe. In addition, it’s also the responsibility of the companies we trust to use ingredients and manufacturing methods that are non-toxic and safe for our skin and the environment.


So how do you figure out what ingredients are toxic and what aren’t? There are some ingredients that are worse than others and so many lists available that describe the potential dangers. One resource we love to use is Environmental Working Group. EWG is a non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. They help consumers figure out what’s in their shampoo, household cleaners, what pesticides are in their food and even what kinds of safeguards are in place to protect their water, soil & air. They have a division of their website called Skin Deep that provides safety ratings on over 60,000 products ranging from skin care, beauty, hair care to nails, fragrances and oral care. We’ll provide links below to our favorite non-toxic resources.

What to swap first?


The first thing we recommend swapping out for a more natural non-toxic formula is foundation. Foundation covers the most ground on the skin and is probably the best first step in de-toxing your makeup routine. Many people use foundation everyday and pay no attention to the ingredients that are being absorbed directly into their skin. Furthermore, the cosmetics industry isn’t regulated so they don’t have to be honest about what’s in their products. That being said, we still have to rely on labels to tell us some info and sites like Skin Deep are super helpful in sifting thru so many brands that are marketed as ‘natural’ and ‘safe.’ Just type in a product or ingredient and it will search the database for any info. We’ll link our favorite clean beauty resources below!






EWG Skin Deep Database

Certified ORGANIC Label Guide


ECO + ANIMAL FRIENDLY (unisex!) GIFT GUIDE // Great Gifts For Him OR Her

We’ve collected some of our all time favorites for our first ever (unisex) holiday gift guide!

Hope you enjoy our cruelty-free & conscious collection of goodies that would make great gifts for a guy or a girl.

ROOTFOOT // Organic ‘Spirit Animal’ Fragrance Oilsimage5

First up on our gift guide is ROOTFOOT, who carefully create their perfume oils with high-grade organic & wildcrafted essential oils. Essential oils have been used worldwide for centuries for aromatherapy, skin care, purification and even medicine. Their Spirit Animal roll-on fragrances incorporate the healing benefits of aromatherapy with a mystical element of connectivity to your ‘spirit animal’ of choice. They come in Bear, Coyote, Deer, Eagle, Fox, Whale and Mountain Lion- each scent has its own intentions for wear to bring out those qualities in the wearer. We chose two to try and fell in love with this line immediately. Bear is an earthy woodsy blend for strong grounding forces, healing and introspection- made with organic jojoba, vetiver, pine and sandalwood. Coyote is a bright citrusy geranium blend intended for adaptability, playfulness, and illumination of truths- made with organic jojoba, geranium, lime, angelica root, vetiver and grapefruit. We love these roll-on fragrances and can’t wait to try more mystic goodies from this brand- they also offer longer lasting anointing oils(pictured in ‘mystic’) and At just under thirty bucks a pop, why not try a couple contrasting scents?! Let us know if you choose one that we didn’t, we’d love to hear how you liked it in the comments!


WHERE TO GET IT: {$28 each)


GROWN ALCHEMIST // Facial Kitimage3

A green beauty blogger favorite, GROWN ALCHEMIST products look great on the shelf and feel great on your skin. This company’s approach to skin care is simple- organic formulations comprised of natural technologies to achieve real results without harmful chemicals. Boom! They use certified organic botanical ingredients and plant chemistry to maximize skin texture and appearance. This mini facial kit comes with their Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser, Anti-Oxidant Treatment Serum, Balancing Toner, Hydra-Repair Day Cream, and two ultra moisturizing lip balms (watermelon + vanilla). This combination works well for all skin types and the ingredients are gentle enough for sensitive skin. This kit is perfect for someone who travels a lot anyone who wants to take care of his/her skin in style. They’re website is almost always sold out but we found the kit and more at the link below.




VOTCH // Vegan Leather Watchesimage2

Launched in 2016, VOTCH is a London-based company already making waves in the eco-chic community. Their stylish and cruelty-free watches make a great gift for the fashion forward animal lover in your life. No harm to animals and less harm to the environment than traditional leather straps, this company also partners with different charities and donates a portion of proceeds to a different charity each season. This elegant but trendy design is available in several colors and styles. We love the ‘Dark Grey’ for it’s super chic minimalist appeal and the fact that it looks fantastic on men AND women. We love the aesthetic and ethics of this brand and can’t to see what they come out with next.




PACT // Organic Cotton Crew Socksimage4

Because who doesn’t like a super soft pair of stylish socks? We love PACT for organic cotton basics; and especially for their cute comfy crew socks. Conventional cotton is grown using harmful insecticides/pesticides, damages soil, has a toxic impact on the air we breathe and uses more than 50% more energy + water to produce! In addition to helping the environment, growing organic cotton keeps farmers and their families safe from toxic chemicals. Under the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), factory workers are entitled to safe working conditions, regular employment and paid living wages. Workers are also protected from discrimination, inhumane treatment, excessive work hours, and child labor must never be used.   Also, Fair Trade Certified program empowers farmers to get a fair price for their harvest and a percent of sales of Fair Trade products goes into a fund for farmers to use to improve their social, economical and environmental conditions. We’re happy to support a company that is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment and improve the conditions & quality of life for the people who make our clothing. Their crew socks come in a bunch of colors and patterns (solids too!) and they also offer other basics like underwear, t-shirts and leggings for women, men and babies.


WHERE TO GET IT: + Whole Foods stores {$9.99/pair or a 3-pack for $24.99}


KOVAL DISTILLERY // Single Batch Four Grain Whiskeyimage1-2

Last but not least, one of our favorite distilleries that make one of the best organic whiskeys on the market. Featured in countless magazines and best-of lists, KOVAL is a classy company and Chicago’s first distillery since the mid 1800’s. They source their grains from a local organic farmer collective and produce small batches that are individually numbered. The Four Grain is distilled from oat, malted barley, rye and wheat, then aged in oak barrels and bottled at 94 proof; producing a light banana note, creamy base and a spicy finish. A runner up for ‘U.S. Micro Whiskey Of The Year’, this small batch, single barrel, unfiltered, organic, whiskey has a brighter cleaner taste and is also a great addition to classic cocktail recipes (they have great recipes on their site too!). We love whiskey but they also offer other vodka, gin, liquors and special edition spirits so stay tuned to their site for new stuff. Gift it neat or turn it into a cocktail kit like the one pictured.


WHERE TO GET IT: Purchase online below at: Binny’s, Ace Spirits, Ezra’s, (Germany) or in store if you’re in Chi-Town {we found the Four Grain for $49.99 but prices vary depending on retailer}


Let us know which of our picks you liked and what you’d add to the list in the comments below! Thanks for reading and happy gift giving!













evanhealy // Rose Face Care Kit review

Not too long ago, we posted about an evanhealy Rose Balance Face Care Kit on our Instagram page, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. First of all, we’ve been wanting to try evanhealy products because of their pure, high grade ingredients, which are fairly traded, as well as the fact that their company is almost 100% vegan. On top of that, evanhealy works with women’s cooperatives and uses glass packaging as opposed to plastic, and is completely cruelty-free. Talk about an awesome company!

Evanhealy has several different lines designed for specific skin types, but I chose the trial-size kit that contains all of their core Rose line products, which is ideal for normal to oily/dry combination skin. And let me tell you, after just about a week, my skin. feels. great.

Here is what this kit contains-


Rose Cleansing Milk
This is a creamy, gentle cleanser that leaves skin relaxed and refreshed. This is probably one of the best smelling cleansers I have ever used, and I am honestly excited to wash my face every night/morning because of it. The silkiness of it is so calming, particularly because I recently realized I was beginning to over-exfoliate my skin which causes tiny tears and was making my skin tone uneven due to irritation. These products have already begun to turn my skin around and repair any damage done.
Rose Geranium HydroSoul
Hydrosol is floral water similar to essential oils but less concentrated. In fact, hydrosol is the water that is left over from steaming the flowers and plants used to create essential oils. The Rose Geranium HydroSoul is gentle enough to be used on any skin type, and is most effective when combined with the Rosehip Geranium Serum.
Rosehip Geranium Serum
This balancing serum is rich in EFA’s (essential fatty acids) and vitamin C, which, used consistently over time, are effective in minimizing hyper-pigmentation, fine lines, and scarring. This product is intended to be used along with Facial Tonic Hydrosols, like the Rose Geranium HydroSoul, so I usually mix about a pea sized amount with 5-6 sprays of the hydrosol in the palm of my hands, then firmly but gently press the mixture into my skin.
Rose Vetiver Day Moisturizer
For times when I need extra hydration, I like to mix a small amount of this moisturizer with a few drops of the rosehip serum and press into my skin after just spraying with the hydrosol. This combo moisturizes effectively without feeling heavy or clogging and is chock-full of antioxidants.
French Rose Clay Mask I recommend using this mask once a week by mixing about a teaspoon together with a little water or the HydroSoul to form a paste, then apply it to skin and let tighten & dry. Clay masks help to improve blood circulation and increase oxygenation to the skin’s surface. This one really helped to decongest my skin and loosen up build up, leaving my skin polished and gently, naturally exfoliated and absorbed any excess oils. A perfect alternative to the exfoliating face wash I was previously using daily!
Trying out this line has definitely made me super excited to try out many more evenhealy products! They have something that will work great for any skin type out there, and offer lots of different packages/trial sets so you can try them all out for yourself!
I got my Face Care Kit on sale for about $24 at my local Whole Foods Market, or you can head on over to their site for your own (along with all of their other great products)

THAT GLOW THOUGH // Glowing Skin Guide

Keeping that gorgeous summer glow throughout the winter months can be tricky. Here’s our insider guide to getting glowing skin all year long.



In the fall/winter months, our skin becomes dry and needs a little more TLC to keep it soft and supple. Dead skin cells can build up and reduce the amount of effectiveness from your favorite skin care products. Exfoliating is an easy way to make sure you get the most out of all those expensive serums and moisturizers. Once or twice a week is plenty if you’re using a more abrasive scrub. A gentle exfoliating face wash(those containing papaya and pineapple enzymes work well) or the help of a mechanical face brush can be used nightly if needed. Just be sure not to overdo it, over exfoliating can create tiny tears in the skin and will cause redness and inflammation. Always make sure to replace moisture to the skin after any type of exfoliation.


Be sure to use an emollient cream suitable for skin that may become chapped and flakey during cold weather. Apply a creamy moisturizer to clean, toned skin and massage in thoroughly. Assist the skin in retaining moisture by reaching for products with naturally moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, argan oil or jojoba oil. Pro tip: spray facial toner or botanical water on skin to refresh moisture and keep it glowing throughout the day.


There are so many self tanners on the market, it’s tough to figure out which ones work and which ones will leave us looking like a pumpkin. Luckily, we found one that gives the ultimate glow without the dreaded orange look. VITA LIBERATA is one of the best self-tanning products around. Already a much-loved secret of celebs Gwyneth Paltrow, Sofia Vergara, Rita Ora and Ellie Goulding, it’s also a favorite of makeup artists and estheticians. It’s available in two formulas and produces a tan that lasts up to four times longer than competitors. Almost too good to be true, Vita Liberata is the first ever odorless tan(seriously!), it’s also non-toxic, made with organic ingredients and almost all products are animal friendly. They have a range of products we can’t wait to try but our choice for typically dry winter skin would be their ultra hydrating lotion formula for a little extra moisture. As a bonus, they have application tutorial videos on their site to help you master that streak free professional finish!




Available at (phenomenal 2-3 week tan lotion in ‘medium’ $54)


MOON FRUIT // Super Fruit Nite TX Review

Over the moon about this new addition to my nightly skin care routine.  I’ve only had this product for a few days but am already noticing a difference.  This is the first product I’ve tried by HERBIVORE BOTANICALS.  They use natural, non-toxic, ethically sourced and highly effective ingredients in their skin care line.  Earth AND animal friendly, this company does not use plastic packaging, animal ingredients or testing.  I use this product after cleansing and using a toner or botanical water.  The lavender scent was light and I didn’t feel that I needed to use much as this cream is very rich.  This product goes onto the skin as a pretty purple color but must be MASSAGED in and absorbed well to work effectively.

This treatment is packed with natural antioxidants, fruit enzymes and AHA’s(alpha hydroxy acids).  AHA’s act as a chemical defoliant and dissolve the cement in between skin cells which aids in the reduction of wrinkles and improves overall look of skin.  It sloughs off all the old skin cells to reveal a brighter, healthier complexion.  It also includes hyaluronic acid to maintain skin’s natural moisture balance and suppleness.  Hyaluronic acid is helpful to all skin types, is incredibly gentle, effective in retaining moisture and provides antioxidant defense against environmental toxins.  Pro tip: if using this product during the day, always combine with an SPF (30+) to protect skin from increased photosensitivity.


I would definitely recommend this treatment as a great upgrade to your existing moisturizer.  Although the price point may seem high, I like to remind my clients that if they’re on a beauty budget, it’s better to spend more on serums and moisturizers(products with active ingredients) and purchase more basic, affordable cleansers and toners.  A little will go a long way with this product so get your hands on it if you can. It moisturizes, minimizes my pores(like a boss), and leaves my skin more even toned and glowy.  Bonus points for the packaging, which is recycled/reusable and looks great on the shelf!  Overall, I would definitely recommend this product, especially to clients who are concerned with enlarged pores or want to start using natural anti-aging products.


Available at Sephora and ($58)







Let’s be honest – leading an animal friendly and environmentally conscious lifestyle isn’t always the easiest or most convenient way of life, especially if you’re new to it. But it’s more than worth it and doesn’t have to be as much of a challenge as you may expect!
Trying to find ethical clothing and accessory brands (that are still TRENDY) can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. We’ve been there, and that is why we’ve put together a list of some designers to check out that you’re sure to fall head over heels for. All of these awesome brands are eco-friendly, vegan, and top notch quality. Trust us, you don’t have to sacrifice your style to live a more guilt free fashion life.
Keep in mind there are tons of sustainable and cruelty free designers out there to keep your eyes peeled for, but these are a few of the most popular and some of our personal favorites.
Stella McCartney is a well known celebrity favorite. And for good reason. A completely vegetarian brand, Stella never uses leather, skins, fur or feathers in any of her products or collaborations. And the synthetic materials that she uses look AMAZING and are often made sustainably. She also collaborates with big brands like Adidas and incorporates her animal friendly ideas in their designs.
As their statement says, “immaculate craftsmanship and an aesthetic embodying edgy elegance, infused with an understated glamour,” Delikate Rayne is contemporary and modern, with a timeless and romantic vibe using only animal-free textiles.
Yet another on the list of favorites from some of our style icons. Reformation has a large focus on reducing environmental impact and using sustainably sourced materials. With each garment, they tell you exactly the amount of water used, waste produced, and carbon dioxide released to make it, and compare it to the industry standard for scale.
All MATT & NAT aka [MAT(T)ERIAL + NATURE] bag linings are 100% recycled plastic bottles. This is amazing because plastic can never ever be broken down over time, meaning if we don’t reduce the production of it and re-use/repurpose what has already been produced (as this brand is doing) then it stays on the earth forever. Recycling  plastic in every way possible is extremely important for us, the animals and the environment.
 * Friendly reminder – If you have clothing/accessories that are not made of wool, leather, suede, or silk, it is likely vegan/organic/cruelty free. But don’t forget to do your research and know what to look for!
What are some of your favorite animal friendly and ethical clothing brands and why? Tell us in a comment below!