Best Cruelty-Free Products for Treating Sensitive, Oily, Acne-Prone Skin

I have an addiction to bath and beauty products. It started at the end of adolescence, when, for no particular reason, my skin turned into the crash site of Exxon Valdise – oily, sensitive, and in dire need of care.

And like the people who invested time and money in washing all those rocks and cleaning all those seagull feathers, I am committed to the environment and to treating animals with respect. My beauty should not come at the expense of some poor furry creature – and that includes both animal products and animal testing. You know those rabbits are locked in cages so small they can’t move, and some actually break their own backs trying to escape? I will only buy cruelty free.

But here the rub: because I have oily skin, I need to cleanse very thoroughly, but because I have sensitive skin, I can only use products that avoid many of the random extra ingredients – fragrances, emmolients, slip agents, foaming agents, and all that crap – which can irritate my skin.

So I’ve spent hours and (I hate to think how many) hundreds of dollars trying different cruelty free products to find the right combination that would tame the oil slick on T-zone without leaving me red, peeling, and irritated, with another $20 bottle of something down the drain.

And so that was my search process. Now, after years of trying literally hundreds of products, in this article I offer you the cream of the cruelty free cosmetics crop, all shockingly affordable.

Cleanser: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. ($3.50) It’s castile soap, meaning it’s made from olive oil, never animal fat. (Avoid anything with the words “tallow” or ‘tallowate” in them. Tallow = beef fat.) It’s gentle yet thorough, and it’s not just cruelty free, it’s organic! My favorite is the Baby Mild, but try the Peppermint for a refreshing tingle!

Mask: Queen Helene’s Mint Julep Masque. ($3) With the consistency of toothpaste and an inviting minty fragrance, Queen Helene’s masque is a dream come true for anyone with oily, acne-prone skin. Use this once or twice a week all over your face, throat, and dÃ?©colletÃ?©, and put a dab on pimples overnight and watch them shrink and dry up. It gives you a refreshing tingle, too!

Toner: Dickinson’s Witch Hazel. ($3) Witch hazel has been used as an antiseptic and astringent for generations. It’s safe, gentle, and effective. Dickinson’s also offers an alcohol-free version for those with drier skin.

Spot Treatments:derma e Tea Tree and Vitamin E Oil. ($14) With 75% tea tree oil, this is intense stuff, so it can be used sparingly. Several clinical studies have found that a 5% solution of tea tree oil is about as effective as a 10% solution of benzoyl peroxide, but the tea tree causes less irritation. This stuff applied with a cotton swab does the job admirably.

Sunscreen: California Baby’s Everyday/Year-Round SPF 30+ Sunscreen Lotion. ($15) Ordinary sunblocks break me out, so using a physical sunblock, rather than a chemical sunblock, is a necessity for me. Like many physical sunblocks, it contains titanium dioxide, so applying it heavily can leave you looking like Marcel Marceau only shinier. A pea size amount is plenty for your whole face.

Eye Cream: Beauty Without Cruelty Nourishing Eye Gel. ($15) Dense with antioxidants, this eye gel is cooling and soothing. BWC has the unique and admirable mission of using ingredients that have never been tested on animals, thus making animal testing in the cosmetics industry obsolete.

Day Cream: The Body Shop Tea Tree Mattifying Moisture Gel ($10) Glycerin-based, rather than oil based, it doesn’t leave you greasy and shiny like many moisturizers. Its production is cruelty-free, and its ingredients are all natural, gentle, and non-irritating, perfect for oily, sensitive skin

Night Cream: Derma e’s Tea Tree & E Antiseptic CrÃ?¨me. ($10) has 5% tea tree oil, the right amount for antibacterial benefits, and the anti-oxidant Vitamin E. It has safflower oil as one of its main ingredients, so I was worried about it being greasy or pore-clogging, but not to worry – it leaves my skin soft, clear, and smooth.

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