Vegan and Cruelty-Free Gentle Skin Care Products
I was contacted a few months back by a small company in California asking if I wanted to test their gentle skin care products. The representative at Grateful Body had stumbled upon my blog, said she enjoyed my writing and wanted to send me some of their products to review. It’s always a pleasure of mine to discover and write about vegan products, so I accepted her offer. Shortly after the first email exchange, I received a package with five Grateful Body products from their sensitive skin line.
Note that Grateful Body is not an affiliate product, so I do not get a commission if you decide to purchase from them after reading this article. However, I get the immense satisfaction of introducing you to affordable, gentle, vegan and cruelty-free skin care products.
Grateful Body: A Company Born From a Desire to Heal
Grateful Body was started in 1998 by a gentleman by the name of Shannon Schroter. Based in Berkeley California, the company was created to offer products that would allow us to be more grateful for the bodies we are given and therefore feed our bodies with nutrients from fresh, organic, botanical products.
Schroter’s interest in the healing and nourishing properties of plants was initially rooted in sorrow, as he lost both his sisters to cancer. His journey through Traditional Chinese, Ayurvedic, Tibetan and western herbal medicine systems provided him with the knowledge he uses today to create the products for Grateful Body.
The Grateful Body products contain fresh, plant-based nutrients, and they are handcrafted in small batches using organic ingredients sourced from small growers.
Why Make Vegan Skin Care Products?
It was important for me to understand the reasons that motivated Shannon Schroter to create a vegan line of skin care products. I sent an email asking for some additional information on the subject, and received a very elaborate and thorough answer from the man behind the Grateful Body products.
Even though animal welfare is a concern of his, he is more concerned about the lack of efficacy of animal products when used for skin care:
Although the moral and scientific arguments for vegan skin care are powerful, the main reason for keeping animal products out of Grateful Body products is their lack of efficacy. Botanical products in their unadulterated, whole state are much more effective in delivering micro-nutrients that the skin can actually take up and use in a healing and remedial way. Stated plainly, with the exception of beeswax, using animal-sourced ingredients in topical products for any authentic therapeutic outcome is futile.
I found this interesting, as often the skin care industry will make bold claims about the miracle properties of certain animal-based components in their products, such as collagen. But as Schroter explained to me, these ingredients, in their natural form, cannot be absorbed by the skin:
The ingredient collagen, advertised as an important structural component for skin, cannot be absorbed dermally by the human body. And when animal products are synthetically processed in the laboratory to reduce their size and complexity, which is the case for most animal-sourced ingredients found in commercial skin care, then this processing has removed any actual favorable properties that might have initially been there. What you are left with is a sort of ineffective, lifeless, clogging sludge.
So we’re essentially being sold animal-based ingredients that are worthless as far as their abilities to nourish our skin. But why would anyone care so much about pushing these ingredients out to the public (and at some crazy prices too)? Well, it seems that a lot of it has to do with supply… and creating a demand:
Since our culture has industrialized animal consumption and it occurs on such a massive level, there is a constant, readily available stream of cheap by-products of the carcass rendering process. The commercial skin care industry is heavily dependent of this and because of the lack of significant regulation, gets away with murder. As an example, the phytochemical allantoin is one of many hundreds of active, natural components of the comfrey plant. Regrettably, scientists have discovered how to synthetically manufacture allantoin from urine, a prevalent by-product of carcass rendering. Subsequently, this ingredient is often found in skin care products labeled as ‘comfrey extract’.
I found this last statement greatly disturbing… Do you still like your expensive, designer facial moisturizer made with by-products of the carcass rendering process?
Testing the Grateful Body Skin Care Products for Sensitive Skin
To properly test these gentle skin care products, I switched my entire skin care routine to use the products sent to me by Grateful Body for six weeks. It was important for me to see the long-term results and changes, not just to test each product for a few days.
I was a little bit apprehensive when I first started using the products, as switching products usually irritates my skin for a few days as it adjusts to the different chemical composition (even if it’s a natural product, some components can cause my skin to react). I was also warned by the Grateful Body representative that some people break out a little after switching to their products. It is supposedly the result of toxins clearing out from the skin.
Well, I did not break out and my skin did not react to the change whatsoever. Actually, the transition was fluid and seamless. As someone with very sensitive skin, I can appreciate finding a product line that is so gentle.
A warning however to those with really sensitive skin: always make sure to test a new product on a small area of your skin (inside your wrist for example) in case of any any allergies.
Affordable Gentle Skin Care Products
After six weeks of regular use, I am left with about 2/3 of the bottle for each product I included in my routine, which means a bottle could easily last 2-3 months. The price for these products goes from $25 for the toner to $50 for the healing serum. If you calculate the monthly cost, I find this product line to be quite affordable, especially with the quality of ingredients it uses.
Grateful Body even offers a discount if you purchase their products on a subscription basis. To subscribe, you select the frequency at which you wish to receive the product (1 month, 2 months, etc.), you are charged when the product is shipped and shipping is free! All Grateful Body products can be ordered directly from their web site.
My Review of Five Gentle Skin Care Products
I wasn’t using a cleanser that I really liked, so I was excited to try the Grateful Body Facial Cleanser. However, this is the one product from their sensitive line that I stopped using after a few weeks. I feel like the product leaves a film on my skin (I even feel it on my hands). While this shows it is not a harsh product that overdries your skin, I wasn’t getting the clean feeling I expect after using such a product. It also wasn’t really good at removing makeup. I used the cleanser on my face to remove foundation, powder, bronzer and blush. After washing off the cleanser with warm water, I used a bamboo makeup remover wipe and still cleared some remaining makeup off my face.
I give this product: 3/5.
I will be very honest here and admit that I wasn’t using a toner before my test of the Grateful Body Facial Toner. I guess I was never really convinced of the benefits of this extra step in my skin care routine. This is however the product I enjoyed using the most and am still using today. The product does not contain alcohol but still leaves my skin feeling fresh and tight. The product also has a very light scent, a bit hard to describe, I guess it makes me think of the smell of kombucha. Overall, it makes for a lovely experience, one I enjoy making an integral part of my daily routine, both in the morning and before going to bed.
I give this product: 5/5.
Before starting the test, my day and night moisturizer was a product called Enzymion by Lush. The extra-gentle Facial Moisturizer from Grateful Body was the product I used in the morning, while I used the Serum at night. This moisturizer has a very light texture and was easily absorbed by my skin. It has proven to be a good base for makeup, as it evens out the texture of the skin. A little of this product really does go a long way! I did not see however a great difference in hydration, in comparison with my regular moisturizer. My skin is oily, especially in the t-zone, and I still found myself with shiny nose and forehead at the end of the day. I wonder if I should have tested their moisturizer for oily skin instead, maybe it would have better controlled the excess sebum.
I give this product: 4/5.
The Grateful Body Healing Serum is what I used as my night-time moisturizer. Instead of being a thicker version of a day-time lotion, it actually feels very light, the liquid is a bit transparent, almost gel-like. I had to use a little bit more of this product than I did the moisturizer, because it was absorbed so quickly by my skin. I really enjoyed the feeling of my skin after using it, not tense but firm and soft.
In this morning, I felt that my skin was a lot less oily, something that tells me it felt better nourished by this product than by the daytime moisturizer.
I give this product: 5/5.
Super Seed Gel Mask
Last but not least was the Grateful Body Super Seed Gel Mask. I loved the idea of this mask from the beginning, as you do not have to rinse it off. You apply, let it dry and then leave it on for the skin to absorb. The mask is a bit hard to apply, as it is a very watery gel-like liquid and I wasn’t always sure I had applied it everywhere. I used it twice a week, and I think this product really helped improve the overall texture of my skin. After the six week test, my skin feels softer, better hydrated.
I give this product: 5/5.
After testing the products for six weeks, I have decided to continue using them (except for the cleanser) for a bit. The toner and the mask are two elements of my new skin care routine that I truly enjoy and I will likely keep going forward.
These products and others from the various product lines can be ordered directly from the Grateful Body web site.