#BeCrueltyFree for the Holidays!

The festive season is now in full swing around us; Hanukkah and Christmas are quickly approaching.  Shops are bustling with busy bodies buying up all kinds of goodies to stuff stockings and hide under the tree. I am a big lover of the Christmas season, I always have been. For my fellow Canadian’s and I, it is a time of year that is full of great beauty in nature; snow covered trees, icicles delicately hanging and reflecting the warm light from inside of the homes they adorn. The best kind of energy is abundant, kindness, hospitality, generosity and love are everywhere – the real human spirit truly shines.

 I can’t think of anything that I enjoy more than sitting around my parent’s living room with my siblings and our children on Christmas morning, eating the clementines that my Mother tucked into the tops of our stockings. Last week I told my 3.5 year old boy about this tradition (I told him that Santa brought the clementines not Nana), and he looked at me like I was crazy when I told him it was my most favorite part of Christmas. He continued with “Isn’t there chocolate? What about the toys?!. I giggled of course, remembering the excitement as a child, at the thought of all that could be hidden in those boxes and bags and how the eventual predictability of the clementine in my stocking likely took a few years before it became a joyous little surprise from the “big man” himself.

Our family use to go absolutely nuts buying gifts for each other every year. There were 4 of us kids and my Mother and Father. Some years, a couple of my cousin’s would join in on our celebration. Then the significant others began to creep in, and eventually our own children. The tree would literally be cascading through the living room with wrapped boxes, bows and bags.  It just grew and grew and grew.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that we all realized how completely ridiculous it had managed to become and we all decided that this tradition of spending and over the top gift giving had to evolve.

Now, we try and keep things festive, but minimal. The stockings still hang at the fireplace, full of small treasures and treats that we all contribute to. The children receive a gift from Santa, and one moderate gift from each of the adults/couples. The adults have all agreed that there is no buying of “things” for each other anymore. Instead, we all come together from different corners of the world, we sit and watch the children enjoy the special day and we indulge in as many home-made treats as we can fit into our happy bellies.

My contribution to the stockings is always cosmetic; make-up, nail polish, skin care, hair product, men’s shaving lotions and potions, etc. It is my industry after all, and everyone is always very happy to receive what I believe to be the very best of the best in each category.

I am very serious about using my hard earned dollars as a means of voting for the products and companies that I believe in. Those which are developing the best new ideas, using the most fantastic and clean ingredients, sourcing them ethically, and not testing them on sweet little bunnies are the ones that get my vote. Sadly, some of these criteria are not always easy to come by. It is shameful that cosmetic testing on animals still exists within North America; an absolutely unnecessary practice now-a-days, but one that is actively used by most commercial cosmetic companies. In fact, many people that I come into contact with are surprised to hear that Canada continues to allow cosmetic testing on animals. Many consumers assume that this is an archaic form of testing that might have happened in the 1940's, but couldn’t possibly be going on in the year 2014. Brands that refuse to change their ways no longer get my vote in dollars. It’s as simple as that. In fact, I am taking it a step further.  I have recently been asked by Humane Society International, in partnership with Animal Alliance of Canada to lend my voice to their nationwide #BeCrueltyFree campaign. As a professional make-up artist in Canada, I was initially hesitant, as I am vocally asserting myself against the practices of some of the biggest cosmetic companies in the world, many of which have actually written my pay cheques in the past. It is for that exact same reason that it is most crucial for someone like me to raise my voice in aid to this important cause.

It is partly in thanks to the #BeCrueltyFree campaign that cosmetic animal testing has been officially banned in the European Union, Israel and India. This campaign is driving policy change across the globe.  Legislative bans have been proposed in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil. Even China, the toughest nut to crack in this battle of eliminating animal testing, has made progress. As of June 2014, cosmetic animal testing is not mandated on domestically manufactured finished products. #BeCrueltyFree played an instrumental role in this change. 

Humane Society International's #BeCrueltyFree mission is to pass legislature and ban all cosmetic testing in Canada.

I want to encourage any and all cosmetic purchasing, whether it be personal, professional or this year’s Christmas shopping for others to #BeCrueltyFree. To celebrate the holidays and some of my most favorite cruelty free brands, I will be reviewing 6 individual beauty products and have collaborated with their inventors to give them to YOU for Christmas!

Stay tuned over the next 2 weeks for product reviews and giveaways from Pelle Beauty, LUSH Cosmetics, Kevin Murphy, Ellovi & Urban Decay and PLEASE join forces with us this holiday season and say “NO!” to cosmetic testing on animals in Canada by signing the #BeCrueltyFree petition here: