Keep reading for a few things I fell in love with in the month of November!
1. Bliss Fab Foaming 2-In-1 Cleanser & Exfoliator with Bamboo Buffers (here)
Now I’m not saying I regret the decision, because I’m proud of myself for standing for something that I believe in, but my cruelty free journey, particularly when it comes to skincare, has been just that…a journey. To start, there aren’t a ton of cruelty free skincare brands available at the drugstore. And while I’m happy to shell out some money if need be, if I can find good products that are affordable and easily accessible, than all the better for me. Unfortunately though, as I mentioned, pickings are slim, and while both Pixi SkinTreats and No7—my go-to affordable, cruelty free brands—make some great products, I wasn’t loving their face wash offerings. Which leads me to my second issue…I have come to realize that I am the friggen Goldilocks of face washes, and nothing I tried was checking all the boxes. The creamy formulas didn’t feel like they got my skin clean enough. The foaming cleansers just came out as a giant ball of fluff that dissipated as soon as I started to work it in. The exfoliating cleansers stripped my skin and left me looking and feeling like an elephant’s ass. Having struck out time and time again, I was literally about to grab my trusty (though not cruelty free) CeraVe and restart the search once I finished that bottle, until I noticed an end cap at my local CVS introducing a new brand it now carries, Bliss. Conveniently for me, this marketing also advertised the line’s cruelty free status. I leaned in to investigate all the potential prospects and was instantly drawn to a beautiful baby blue cleanser that claimed to be “foaming” but was clearly a gel formula. Intrigued, I decided to give her a try, and thank goodness I did because she was juuuuust riiiiight. While the bottle claims to be “exfoliating,” I found that the “bamboo buffer exfoliators” are extremely minimal and don’t aggravate or inflame my skin at all. Moreover, this produced a lovely lather that leaves my skin squeaky clean but isn’t overly drying. The icing on the cake? It smells great, and the packaging is super cute. What else could a gal ask for in her face cleanser?!
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (here)
When I found out that this was Delia Owens’ debut novel, I was thoroughly impressed, as the woman is a lyrical genius when it comes to prose. It’s not often that I say a book is flawless, but this one right here might be the closest thing to it, at least that I’ve read in a while. Gosh, where do I even begin. The book takes place in a small North Carolina town, with the primary setting being the home of Kya, our protagonist, which happens to be a shack deeply embedded in the wild marshland that buffers the Carolina coastline from the Atlantic Ocean. The author actually holds dual college degrees in Zoology and Animal Behavior, and her passion for the natural world is evident through her writing. Her descriptions of the marsh and its surrounding beaches, lagoons, flora, and fauna are so detailed and vivid, you can’t help but be in awe of the beauty of the coast and all its creatures, even if you’ve never experienced it for yourself. But her power over words doesn’t stop there. The rhetoric that she employs to convey the overarching themes of the book, including isolation, loneliness, abandonment, fear, love, and family, put my stomach in knots and brought me to tears on numerous occasions. I also thought the way Owens wove together descriptions of biology and psychology to explore the connection between nature and nurture in the human psyche was equal parts fascinating and unsettling, as I think it is easy to forget that at the end of the day, people are just creatures on Earth trying to survive. Finally, the overall plot itself will keep you engaged until the final page and wanting more once it’s all said and done. The book is both an entertaining murder mystery and a stunningly insightful portrait of one women’s unconventional—though still quite relatable—coming-of-age story, stimulating the emotional and rational parts of my brain equally. Every night, I found myself reading well beyond my normal “bedtime,” unwilling to put this down, as I was too deeply invested in either uncovering the next break in the case or watching Kya maneuver through the various stages of her life. Beautifully written, emotional, thought-provoking, and highly engrossing, I cannot, cannot, CANNOT recommend this book enough.
3. EarthToSkin Super Fruits Banana Brightening Eye Cream (here)
After striking out hard in the affordable-skincare-that’s-also-cruelty-free department for months, November really came through for me. EarthToSkin is a new clean, cruelty free skincare line sold at Walmart. Yup…you read that right. Walmart. I was kinda skeptical myself, but I did some research and it turns out this stuff is actually the real deal, in every sense of the expression. Admittedly, I’ve never really been an avid eye cream user. Don’t get me wrong, in theory, it sounds great, but the Frugal Fanny in me just can’t get behind shelling out an additional fee (and eye creams aren’t cheap) for a product designed only to be used on two 2×2 squares of face space. However, as I’ve gotten “older,” I have noticed that this delicate skin around my eyes can get a little crepey and dull looking, especially now that the temps are consistently hovering around freezing and the air, both inside and outside, is devoid of moisture. And while I don’t have too many issues with full-on wrinkles around the eye area currently—at least, I don’t think I do—I find that the appearance of the few fine lines residing there can definitely be exasperated when my skin is dry and tight. So, all of this is to say that I decided to hop aboard the eye cream express, full steam ahead. And while this formula doesn’t necessarily kill it in terms of potent anti-aging properties (for those you’re going to have to shell out the dough, it’s just a fact), its ingredient list does pack a pretty serious hydration punch, which is really all I’m looking for, at least when it comes to eye cream. Key ingredient highlights include banana and mango extracts, known for their heavy concentrations of vitamins A, C, and E; shea butter; and squaline. I found the formula to be silky, lightweight, and easy to blend out, and I noticed that my undereyes instantly looked more hydrated and my fine lines were not as apparent. Moreover, this didn’t break me out or cause any milia. As I said, this isn’t going to be the long-term solution to any of your serious aging skincare concerns, but it is a great hydrating eye cream for under 10 bucks, so if that’s what you’re in the market for, I highly recommend checking it out!