Spending more time at home has its perks - one being that we can dedicate more care to our health and beauty routines.
Skincare has become one of my personal home comforts during this uncertain time. I've learned that I can actually achieve quite a lot without the "I'm too busy" excuse (who knew, eh?) and taking as little as 10 or 15 minutes out of my day to cleanse and tone has proven to be a real mood-booster.
With very little else to do, I've been indulging my inner skin nerd, researching new products and brands to try out - even venturing into the sustainable and cruelty-free skincare world. If there's one thing we learned in 2019, it's that while 'sustainable' may be the new it buzz word, it's more than just a passing trend and this year has seen people endeavour to be as sustainable as they possibly can.
Usually, the first things that people tackle in their efforts to live a more sustainable life are diet and lifestyle. One aspect that sometimes falls under the radar is make-up, but there are plenty of ways to ensure that your skincare/makeup routine is even just a little bit greener.
For example, you could swap out regular plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones, opt for a moon cup instead of a tampon or simply say no to single-use products such as cotton pads and makeup wipes.
Another way to switch things up? Try to go for cruelty-free makeup products where possible. Luckily the demand for such products means that there are actually quite a few brands to choose from, many of them Irish. Available online at just the click of a button, there's no reason to even have to leave your comfy leaba.
Keep an eye out for the PETA logo or the Leaping Bunny logo (a quick Google search will show you what they look like), as they're the most reliable cruelty-free certification logos.
*Though vegan and cruelty-free tend to be used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. Vegan means that the product is free of animal products and doesn't use any animal-derived ingredients. Cruelty-free means that no components of the final product have been tested on animals.
Here are a few products look out for:
Spotlight Whitening Toothpaste
Founded by Irish Dentists Dr. Lisa and Dr. Vanessa Creaven, Spotlight toothpaste comes in tubes made from sugar cane - making them the world's first-ever 100 per cent recyclable tube. The toothpaste itself is also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
Carter Beauty Cosmetics
Carter Beauty by Mariss Carter is a Peta-Approved member of Beauty Without Bunnies, meaning they're completely cruelty-free and don't test any of their products on animals. With everything from foundation to eye-shadow palettes, they've got all bases covered... literally.
Based in Westport, Anneco Beauty specialises in mineral powder makeup creating natural, chemical-free, animal cruelty-free and vegan products. Their use of earthy tones and minimal ingredients make for products that feel light on the skin and wear well throughout the day.
Sculpted by Aimee Connolly
As one of Ireland's leading MUAs, you can bet that Aimee Connolly knows what's good when it comes to makeup. All products are 100 cruelty and paraben-free, with the business also working towards becoming a fully vegan brand.
SoSu Dripping Gold
SoSu is the brainchild of blogger turned businesswoman Suzanne Jackson. Though products don't bear the leaping bunny symbol or vegan society logo (down to licencing fees), SoSu products are Peta approved and are also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Also part of the Marissa Carter empire, Cocoa Brown tan follows the lead of her other products and is proud to be 100 per cent cruelty-free.
Pestle & Mortar
Vegan, paraben-free, fragrance-free, cruelty-free... Pestle & Mortar is one of the most highly-rated Irish skincare brands and damn does their stuff work. They're probably best known for their double cleansing system which founder Sonia Deasy swears by.
Kennedy & Co
Granted, this list is mainly aimed at all the ladies out there, but that doesn't mean that male skincare can't be sustainable too. Created by Darren Kennedy, Kenndy & Co is an Irish skincare brand designed specifically for men - revolving around men's skincare and grooming routines (including hair care). Infused with soothing and nourishing botanicals, oils and vitamins, their products are all cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
Founded by Celia O'Grady - a qualified beauty therapist, health fitness instructor and life coach, Nia is 100 per cent vegan and Irish made. Their Just Balm is very needed with all this hand washing.
Nima features a 100 per cent vegan line called the Vegan Veluxe - one set aimed at beauty professionals, the other more used for use in everyday makeup routines. Using innovative fibre technology, the synthetic brushes are every bit as good as the real deal.
Natural, cruelty-free, hand poured and made in Ireland... meaning MuME ticks all the boxes. Their gentle vegan brush cleaning-set has proven to be a big hit with beauty and skin nerds - winning them many awards along the way.
Located in West Cork, Warrior Botanicals is a grassroots herb and botanical craft studio that specialises in making small-batch skincare and herbal potions. Their online shop (and Instagram feed for that matter) will leave you feeling calmer just looking at it.
People are all about yoga, meditation and mindfulness these days - especially of late when it provides a welcome retreat from the world around us. Yogandha aromatherapy oils are specifically designed to link our sense of smell with a sense of relaxation and calm.
Kotanical is the first company in Ireland to distil oil from natural native sources. They specialise in handmade rollerballs and diffusers, all cruelty-free and leaping bunny certified.
According to the brand's Instagram bio: "Inis makes you feel close to the sea, no matter where you are" and that alone would convince me to invest.
The Burren Perfumery
An all-natural cruelty-free and certified organic producer in Co Clare, The Burren Perfumery makes perfumes and cosmetics inspired by the surrounding landscape.
Technically not Irish, but Beauty Kubes are stocked by Irish business The Kind so I've included them. A plastic-free alternative to shampoo and conditioner, the cubes are vegan-friendly, sulphate free, cruelty-free and free from palm oil.
Making use of biodegradable packaging, Indeora is an Irish brand that makes magnesium-enriched health deodorants. And it's coconut scented so you can pretend you're on a tropical island every time you apply it.
Beo has recently launched their sleep well range which includes a Burren beeswax lip balm, a lavender pillow mist and a sea salt, Epsom salt and seaweed bath salt mixture. All packaged using recycled, recyclable and biodegradable materials the brand is also proudly cruelty-free.
Other places/brands worth mentioning include Glossier, ELF, the Body Shop, Wet N Wild, Lush and Charlotte Tilbury. Penneys has also become far more eco-conscious, delving into the world of sustainability too so don't be surprised to find vegan-friendly products in your nearest siopa.
Though it's not always easy to be 100 per cent sustainable or 100 per cent cruelty-free, it's definitely something that I'm personally more conscious of in my own day-to-day life and even little steps amount to big ones when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture.