product review

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Mat & Nat Vegan Handbags, A Review

Published July 19, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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I posted a while back about the awesome Gunas bag that I got, but failed to fill you in on the awesome deals I scored on 6pm.com for Matt & Nat bags! These have certainly become my favorite bags over the last few months.

I was particularly lucky that I was able to find their previous season bags at discount because they were much more in line with my aesthetic than their current, more brightly colored, and plainer line. These had nice luxe fabrics including quilted patent and velvety textured fabric, as well as attractive and versatile bronze colored, metal hardware. And if you read my previous post about vegan handbags, then you know I’m a stickler for good hardware! (Helen from Vegtastic! has a larger, but very similar style of  bag to the wristlet below, and I had thoroughly checked the quality of her’s while we were out to dinner one night, prior to purchasing!)

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Even though I adore this purse, it’s obviously not all purpose due to its diminutive size. That being said, it has totally filled my need for a dressy vegan wristlet perfectly! The short metal chain can be detached completely, worn as a short strap, or doubled over for a wristlet loop. It also came with a long, lightweight crossbody strap made from the same crinkly patenty fabric as the lining under the flap. I adore it! The lining is made from 4 recycled plastic bottles.

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The above bag has become my favorite everyday bag. It comes with an extremely long and fairly heavy metal chain strap (with patent fabric woven into it a la Chanel) that I have not been using much lately due to the weight. It is really convenient to have a strap though for things like grocery shopping, so I keep the strap close to where I keep my keys, in case I think I’ll be needing it. It’s designed to be worn a number of ways besides the obvious cross body shown here. I use it most often as a hand held using the built in handles, but it can also be folded over as a clutch, or worn as a strapped folded baguette type of purse with the additional attachment rings on the back. (See below!)

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Those two bottom corner zipper pockets are actually functional, but can only hold something really small like a lip balm. The inside of this one is made from 10 recycled plastic bottles. 🙂 This one is much roomier in comparison, but the zippered portion is still only about halfway up in this bag, so I’d kind of been thinking it’d be nice to have a shoulder bag to fill the gap between the two.

Conveniently, 6pm happened to have one left of that exact wish, which I ordered as I sat down to write this. It’s basically the bigger version of the wristlet, but in that lovely quilted patent. I figured it was too perfect to pass up, especially since M & N are no longer making it, and 6pm only had 1 left in stock! Given how much I’ve already been loving these bags, I think I would’ve been rueful had I not jumped on it.  I do hope Matt & Nat go back to some dressier, gothier styles again once fall/winter roll around. Their quality is excellent, and I love buying from vegan, eco conscious companies.

They still have some of the aforementioned style, the Santogold (same as Helen’s!), left on their site in that super cool crinkly patent, if you’re interested. (And two of the three colors are black & purple!) What’s even better is that they are on sale, along with the matching wallets of the same type, including my favorite style which is this one or maybe this!, so I may have to snatch that up while I still can. (And replace that hello kitty one from Vegas with something a little nicer!) 🙂

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Do you ever shop on 6pm.com for vegan stuff? It’s basically the close out for Zappos.com and if you type vegan into the search bar you’ll find great deals on everything from vegan nail polish, to shoes and handbags. Definitely worth checking out.

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Daiya Pizza vs. Tofurky Pizza

Published June 2, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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I just haven’t been able to get my Vida Vegan Con post together yet, so instead I give you a quick vegan pizza post. I was planning on getting that post written up yesterday, and was just sitting down to do so, when I got a call from Portland. It was the cab company with whom we had ridden last weekend, and in which Thomas accidentally left his phone. Apparently the phone he had reported stolen & gotten blacklisted was finally turned in, so we actually jumped in the car and drove back down to Portland for the night. But I digress.

When we got back today, we spent most of the afternoon having an impromptu goth dance party (just the two of us) in our apartment while the cats enjoyed the sunshine and looked on.

(Thomas took this picture of Ganon!)

(Thomas took this picture of Ganon!)

And here's little miss Midna

And here’s little miss Midna

Somewhere in there I decided to raid the freezer for pizza, and we decided a pizza show down was in order. In case you were wondering who won in our taste test…

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The Tofurky was the clear winner due to the Daiya’s technical difficulties in the crust department. It came cracked in several pieces, so we had to bake it on some foil, and it ended up having a soggy texture. The flavor of the roasted vegetables was pretty delicious though, so I think we may have to have a rematch for fairness. The only thing I don’t like about Tofurky’s pizzas is that they don’t give you enough crust. We do love their pepperoni, though.

This inconclusive taste test has been brought to you by Ty & Thomas. And here’s a picture of us at the White Owl in Portland yesterday, just because…

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GUNAS – Hostess Bag, A Review

Published May 18, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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My focus for 2013 has definitely shifted from vegan cooking to vegan lifestyle integration. The most major cause of this was the move from Florida to Seattle. Since we got rid of most of our earthly possessions to come here, now that I’ve been working for several months, I’ve been able to start shopping for new vegan versions of things that I parted ways with. I’m the type of person who buys really high quality or unique things and keeps things FOREVER, so when I switched to a vegan diet, the rest of my lifestyle items just lingered around. The sheer expense of doing a complete overhaul was absolutely prohibitive, so I figured it would happen slowly over time as things wore out.

In my pursuit of vegan handbags, I’ve been a stickler for fashion and quality. I like shiny and black, with nice heavy hardware, and classic designs. I wasn’t about to give up my high end purses for some cheapie bag that looked terrible and fell apart in a few months. The replacements would have to be knock outs, vegan or not.

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And then I found GUNAS… I was immediately fixated on this Hostess bag. Not only was it black and patent, it had a top handle as well as a nice sturdy looking shoulder chain, and the hardware was NOT gold. Plus, it was on sale. I figured it was worth a shot. Though you can’t really tell quality through internet pictures, I was hoping at this price point I’d get the kind of craftsmanship I was looking for.

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After a little bit of a wait, my bag came and completely met [and even exceeded] my expectations! Celebrity vegans like Anne Hathaway carry Gunas bags, and now I know why. These limited edition bags are either made by hand in house or in socially responsible factories elsewhere, depending on the materials. They try to be as eco conscious as possible and have won awards for sustainability in fashion.

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It has a beautiful red lining with a zippered pocket and 2 pockets of varying sizes for organization.

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It even has feet, which is a touch I really appreciate in my patent bags.

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The only con is due to the soft structure of the basket portion of the bag. Trying to get the magnetic snap closure to connect on the bag can be a little tricky. The top flap is sturdy patent, and the body gives with pressure, so you just have to let it slide down onto it. There’s a learning curve there, but I think it’s gotten a bit easier with time (I think due to the slight outward squashing, see below). It is nice and secure though, once it’s closed, which initially was a concern of mine since the points of carrying are all on the top patent piece, but it’s been fine.

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Due to the soft body of the bag it has gotten a little squashed. That’s mostly user error though, I tried putting it into my work backpack, and subsequently stuffing them into my work locker. Maybe not the best idea. (Since then I’ve been changing bags and using a wristlet with just the essentials in there.) I don’t think it’s gotten any worse since, and it closes easier now!

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Here’s a pic to give you an idea of the size worn on a 5’4″ person. This was its first trip out 5.5 weeks ago. It was right after my humerus fracture (that was one of the only shirts I could fit over my splint!) and it was really convenient to have a purse with a shoulder strap at that time!

Overall Impression:

I’m thrilled with my bag! They have a lot of variety in the styles they offer, so even hard to please people like me should be able to find something lovely to carry. The only thing that bummed me out a bit was that I found it on VeganCuts a couple of weeks after for $30 cheaper! So awesome for you, if you’re thinking about picking one up! (Here’s the link for all the GUNAS bags on vegan cuts!) And I’ll definitely check on there 1st for future purchases. (Which would probably be this wallet. It’s not the matching wallet, and it’s got gold hardware, but I don’t care. I think it’s ADORABLE!)

Thank you GUNAS! : )

BLINC Eyeliner Pen – A Review

Published May 10, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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Hey guys, I guess this post went up sans text when I uploaded the pictures this morning! My mistake; that happens sometimes since the default setting on the wordpress app is to publish! Oops! It was early. 😀

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Blinc known “across the world” for their “superior line of mascara”, is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida of all places! (Pretty much my hometown.) While I have yet to try their mascara (don’t worry, that’s next!), I am IN LOVE with their eyeliner pen!  All of their products are vegan and gluten free. (The pic above shows the pen and the packaging tube it arrived in.)

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I was very fortunate in that right after fracturing my left humerus, this eyeliner came in the mail. Fortunate because I was able to apply it effortlessly with one hand on the 1st try. The control you get from it being a pen is just amazing. (1st use pics above & below!)

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In fact, I was SO impressed that I immediately threw out the last of the brand that I had been using for the last 12 years. I had stuck with that brand because it lasted “16  hours”, and because it had a great cone shaped [non brush] applicator.

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This has the best applicator I’ve seen! It delivers the right amount of liquid to get nice opaque coverage. And the liner is JET BLACK.

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What’s also really great about it, is while it’s not waterproof in the traditional sense, it will NOT run. It only comes off with warm water and pressure. You don’t need eye makeup remover, and it won’t run in the rain. If your eyes water, it won’t budge. It’s absolutely fantastic. It also doesn’t smudge onto my eyelid the way my old one would after a long day.

Impression:

This is a 5 star eyeliner pen! I doubt there is a better one to be had, vegan or not! It’s a bit pricey at $26, but I will gladly pay it for as long as they make this product! Thanks to Melisser at Cruelty Free Face for the recommendation! 🙂

Teese, Tempeh & ‘Ties

Published May 7, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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This isn’t one of those recipes that you should bookmark because it’s totally going to blow your mind. Rather, it’s more along the lines of I didn’t want to pay to not cook again, and we could really use a trip to the store. That, and I had this roll of Teese Cheddar sitting on the counter from the last Vegan Cuts box. I also had a box of pasta, a brick of tempeh, and some frozen veggies. I ended up subbing out my 1st instinct of broccoli with chopped spinach.

Here’s what I did:

Teese, Tempeh & ‘Ties

1 package of tempeh, any variety, cubed

1 lb. pasta, your choice (I used Farfalle/Bowties)

1/2 package of frozen chopped spinach

1 8 oz. tube of Teese Cheddar cheese, chopped
(I threw in the last little bit of Daiya Jalepeno Havarti we had in the fridge too!)

1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. tamari
dash of cayenne pepper
fresh ground pepper

1/2 c. reserved pasta cooking water
1/4 c. nutritional yeast

Directions:

1. Heat a large pot of boiling water. Drop in the tempeh. Toss in the pasta, and cook according to pasta directions. Last minute or two, add the frozen spinach. Shut off burner. Drain, reserving a cup of pasta water.

2. Return pasta/tempeh/spinach to pot. (Mash up the tempeh or leave it cubed. I sort of did a little of both.) Add cheese and spices. Return pot to cooling burner and stir everything so that cheese melts. Add half of reserved water and nutritional yeast. Use a little more water if necessary, and taste for seasoning.

Thoughts:

There’s something really magical about making a “free” meal out of things you have hanging around. Especially when it dirties only 1 pot and combines a starch, a protein and some greens. It wasn’t bad at all, and it was pretty filling!

As far as the Teese goes:

It tasted a bit like american cheese or velveeta straight out of the tube. I thought the texture was maybe a little grainy, but it was hard to tell because I put so much other stuff in! If you were a velveeta kid, this is probably some good mac making for you.

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100% Pure Liquid & Powder Foundations – a review

Published April 24, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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I’ve been on the hunt for vegan foundation for some time. I had been using MAC studio fix for years and years, and was scared to try anything different due to my difficult, sensitive, oily skin. When I found that 100% Pure had both liquid and powder foundations, I was so excited that I ordered both in their lightest shade. What I really like is that they’re “the first and only cosmetics colored from antioxidant rich fruit and vegetable pigments.” Since your skin is your largest organ, and absorbs everything you’re putting on it, it stands to reason that you should only put on your skin what you’d be willing to put in your mouth, right? That’s why I switched to making my own coconut oil deodorant, and that’s why I was so happy to find these products. They also both have an SPF 20 built in using titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

For those of you who care, their lightest shade, Créme, is light enough! (My skin is too light for some lines, altogether.) Probably even a little too light for me according to some, but that’s how I wear my makeup thank you very much, and without blush, because I’m a goth girl at heart.

Powder Foundation

It comes in a metal tin instead of a compact with mirror. Towards the end of the product, the powder did break apart and crumble instead of leaving a little ring of powder, but it stayed pretty well in the container. From the reviews I read on their site, it used to come in a plastic compact that fell apart easily, so I guess this is their second attempt at the packaging. Still, it would be nice to have a compact with a mirror, and with an applicator sponge included.

I applied the powder with a damp sponge applicator from my last MAC compact…

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I decided to give you two separate chances to look at how terrible my skin is up close! (Go ahead and click the pictures to zoom in.) If you look carefully, you’ll see not only my Rosacea, but also that my skin was grumbling and breaking out about the new product. I recalled this happening to me when I switched from studio fix liquid to powder foundation years ago, and decided to stick it out, at least until the end of the compact.

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After a couple of weeks, my skin settled down and got used to it just as I had suspected. Here’s me later that day in natural light, in my work wig.

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(I wear a wig to work because I currently have dark purple hair.)

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Liquid Foundation

Now the reason I switched to powder foundation years ago was because my face is so greasy. With the studio fix, I was super oily even before my lunch break. I found the powder kept me matte much longer. However, my skin has gotten a bit dryer due to our move from South Florida to Seattle, so when I ran out of the powder foundation last week, I decided to give the liquid a try. I think with my new dryer skin, the powder was making my skin look too flaky and old.

Here is a picture of me in the liquid foundation (in natural light) after working all day. 13 hours, without blotting once! Definitely a sheen, but not bad at all! So I’m going to continue to wear it and see how my skin fares. It may have to go through the whole adjustment process again, but that’s okay.

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It comes complete with a pump already installed so it’s easy to dispense. I used a dry foundation brush to apply it…

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And here’s me made up (with a couple of other products I’ll be reviewing for you soon!) in the fading afternoon/evening natural light…

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Impression

** EDIT  8/12/13 : STILL ON THE 1st BOTTLE! I truly can’t believe how long it’s lasted. (I have 2 bottles on standby from when I thought I was close to out 2 months ago!) My skin seems to have finally become accustomed to it. Besides the chalkiness upon initially applying, I haven’t found a better vegan foundation. I really like the ingredients, the coverage and the fact that it has sunscreen! **

I find the pricing of the liquid to be reasonable at $32 USD for 1.7 oz / 50 g. (MAC studio fix liquid is $26 for 1 oz.) The powder foundation is slightly spendier for how much you get at $26 for  0.316 oz / 9 g. (MAC studio fix powder is $27 for 0 .52 oz/15 g). We’ll see which lasts longer!

I think the liquid gives better coverage than the powder. I’m guessing that’s why I ran out of the powder so quickly, because I needed to apply more layers to get the same coverage. So the powder will probably work better for someone looking for less coverage, applied either damp or dry.

Find all of their products at their website www.100percentpure.com. Most of their offerings are vegan, and you can do a search for only their vegan products at the top. The only exception is “cruelty free honey” in certain products.

Coconutty Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan)

Published April 7, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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I had been wanting to make chocolate chip cookies for some time now. When this month’s VeganCuts box arrived with Beyond Eggs egg replacer in it, I figured I’d have to just to try it out. These lovely cookies get their mild coconut flavor from the unrefined coconut oil I used, but you can certainly switch out the oil if you’re not into coconut. They do make the house smell heavenly! I used all white whole wheat flour, but I think any old flour will do… gluten free, all-purpose, etc.

Coconutty Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 18 cookies

3 tbsp. water + 1.5 tbsp. Beyond Eggs replacer (or 1 tbsp. ground flax seeds)
1.5 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour (or your preferred mix)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt (I may use 1/2 tsp. next time)

1/2  c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. coconut oil,  preferably liquid

1/2 c. chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 375*F. Whisk beyond eggs and water. Stir in vanilla extract, and set aside.

2. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) cream sugars and coconut oil. Whisk in egg  substitute and vanilla mixture until well combined.

4. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Mix in chocolate chips.

5. Dough may be crumbly, depending on the consistency of your coconut oil, but they’ll bake up just fine! Take about a tablespoon at a time, and shape into discs, leaving an inch or so between them, about 9 to a cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, and let cool.

My coconut oil was the consistency of softened butter.

My coconut oil was the consistency of shortening or softened butter.

Sifted ingredients.

Sifted ingredients.

Wet ingredients.

Wet ingredients.

Crumbly texture due to my coconut oil not being liquid temp.

Crumbly texture due to my coconut oil not being liquid temp.

2nd batch done!

2nd batch done!

Christy Robinson Vegan Star Necklace

Published April 5, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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Just a quick post to show you my lovely new necklace! I found her on Etsy / Christy Robinson, but she has a website where you can check out her earth & animal friendly jewelry.

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I had a lovely experience with her, and the necklace shipped out quickly from Dallas. I even got a free pair of earrings (which I will be gifting due to my ears being very stretched), a smoothie recipe and a sticker! 🙂

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And here’s a close up of it on…

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DIY Coconut Oil Vegan Deodorant

Published March 10, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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I don’t know if you’ve heard about how to make your own deodorant yet, but if you haven’t, or have been curious about trying it… pay attention!

I first came across the idea when my friend reposted this link on facebook. Then I noticed that Vegancuts.com was selling some for more than I wanted to pay, so started asking around to see if anyone had tried it. My friend Timb said he had been using a similar recipe with his own sage or peppermint oils for about 2 months, and that it was the best deodorant he’d ever used.

Just to give you a background on Timb, he’s a 6’4″ guy who lives in South Florida and drives a car with no A/C, so once he told me this, I knew it was worth giving it a try! Now the recipe he used said you could use cornstarch for the arrowroot from the above recipe, and listed the essential oils as optional.

Since I had a whole bunch of unrefined coconut oil, organic cornstarch and baking powder right in my kitchen cabinets, I decided to give it a go. (That and I had been scraping on the very last bit of my usual men’s antiperspirant, so I figured it was time.)

For my 1st batch I used a 1:1:1 ratio of the above ingredients, using 3.5 tsps of each. I used an empty vitamin D2 bottle as my container not only because I wanted to start with a small batch in case I didn’t like it, but also because I was flying the next day and was aiming to keep it to an airline friendly amount.

This is the recipe from my 2nd batch with just a little more cornstarch and in a larger quantity. Still fit in the vitamin bottle perfectly. Almost filled it… (Updated 4/9/13)

EDIT: 6/29/13 I have made a Summer Strength version as well! Not only is it better at fighting the summer sweat, it keeps the mixture a little less runny in the hotter liquid state. Also appropriate year round for Florida! See below! 🙂

DIY Coconut Oil Vegan Deodorant

2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. organic cornstarch (or arrowroot)
2 tbsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil

Summer Strength

2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. organic cornstarch (or arrowroot)
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking soda
2 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil

Directions: 

1. Combine dry ingredients. I did this by adding them in, and shaking the sealed bottle.

2. Add liquid coconut oil. If yours isn’t liquid, you’ll need to warm it up so that it’ll mix well. I have a very warm kitchen, so I just left it on the counter for a little while. I poured in the liquid, and shook it up again to combine all the ingredients well.

Results:

What I was left with was a rich cream. It hardened up in my bathroom over night, but it wasn’t a problem. Once I dug in a little with my finger it gave way. You’ll only need about a dime to nickel size amount for each underarm. I love the smell, even without the essential oils! It’s like rubbing macaroons into your axilla. 🙂 It may crumble a little, but mostly it just melts right in. I suggest rubbing it in the direction of hair growth after shaving to help with sensitivity of the skin. I did find it burned briefly a couple of times, but haven’t had the issue anymore, especially with the latest formula. (above)

DOES IT WORK?

YES IT DOES!! I agree with Timb, this is the best deodorant I’ve used. I’ve been using it for nearly a week and I have ZERO complaints. I wore it out singing and dancing, drinking, flying on a plane, sweating in Florida, etc. And even when I was actively sweating, I didn’t smell bad. After the sweating subsided, no odor. It really does the job.

*3/12/13 EDIT: So I do have one complaint! Since this is NOT an anti-persperant like I’m accustomed to, I am a little uncomfortable with the sweating part. I don’t know if adjusting the ratio could improve the wetness issue at all, but I may try that next.

*3/25/13 EDIT: I’ve just been using a bit extra on each underarm, and have not had the issue anymore. Of course, it’s been pretty cold lately. I’ll be making my second batch soon! I will keep you posted if anything else noteworthy comes up.

*4/9/13 EDIT: Updated the recipe with my more cornstachy formula. Works great!!

I’m so happy because not only am I off of the nasty chemical laden stuff that probably causes cancer, disease and god only knows what else, but it’s easy, cheap and vegan! Your skin is your largest organ, and absorbs everything you put on it, so whenever I can switch to something I wouldn’t feel unsafe eating, I feel a little bit better. Especially as someone working in the Oncology industry. Check it out and let me know what you think!

8/28/13:

We have video!!

HURRAW! Raw Vegan Lip Balm Review

Published March 3, 2013 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

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Have you tried HURRAW! lip balms yet? These little lip conditioners are not only vegan, but raw, organic, and gluten-free. They also come in an ever expanding variety of flavors. I first picked these up months ago at vegan brunch at Sweat Records in Miami. I originally bought the almond and root beer flavors. Coming up to Seattle presented a whole new level of need for lip gloss due to the cold weather, so I put in an order to add the above 4 flavors to my collection. I’ll just give you little descriptions of each starting with their most miraculous product.

Moonbalm (far right): If you only get 1 of their products, this is the one. It smells like a vanilla candle, and is extra thick and long lasting since it’s meant for sleeping. You can literally repair even the worst lip damage overnight with this stuff. Even with super dry peeling lips, this stuff fixes me up in just a few hours. (See results below.) I wear it in the day time too.

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Chocolate: Made with raw cacao, this one is just heavenly to smell. I’m not even the biggest chocolate person in the world, but this one gets me every time with its delicious scent. It’s dark brown color in the tube just results in a clear sheen on your lips.

Coconut: If you like coconut, you will love this one. My order contained a little note from the company that included a scribble that this had come out of a fresh batch the day before. I love notes from small companies.

Black Cherry: I really bought this one because it has a slight tint to it, and I thought it’d be a good choice for work, since I don’t wear lipstick unless I’m going out. It smells just like a cherry tootsie pop!! I noticed that this one will sting your lips a little if you have any cracks going on, so that made me park it back in the drawer for now. While they do say that the individual batches vary as far as the depth of the red tint, I found it extremely subtle, and a little disappointing. Pic below!

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Root Beer: Love this flavor! A must have for root beer lovers!

Almond: (NOPE!) The almond has a nice subtle scent, but as another reader below confirmed, it actually chaps your lips!!

According to HURRAW!’s website their criteria for making their balms was:

Super smooth, not draggy, not sticky, not sweet, not too glossy, not too smelly, never grainy, long lasting;
plus, it had to hold up to being in a back jeans pocket all day without melting!

Which I have to say, I think they did a pretty good job at nailing! The moon balm is definitely the thickest and most long lasting of the bunch, with the others feeling a little lighter and greasier. Originally when I first used the balms I bought, my lips were super chapped and I didn’t get a good result, but once I used the moon balm to get them in shape, I’ve found the chocolate, root beer and coconut ones do a good job maintaining them.

Check them out at www.hurrawbalm.com!

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