Now, let's get something straight here: I'm no beauty blogger.
I don't have the knowledge to write with any authority whatsoever on cosmetic products and, frankly, I'm not interested enough in them to care.
I am interested in animal welfare though and Makeover The World - a fantastic campaign that my ridiculously talented colleagues at the RSPCA have been working on - has made me pay a bit more attention to the products I'm using.
The aim of the campaign is to end the testing of cosmetics and their ingredients on animals worldwide (extending the ban that was introduced in the EU in 2009). I have to be honest, before I started work at the RSPCA I thought cosmetics testing on animals was dead, full stop. And I think a lot of other people think that too. Sadly not. Around 27,000 animals still suffer in the name of our beauty every year. In some countries - China, I'm looking at you - it's actually illegal to sell cosmetics that haven't been tested on animals. Which is all kinds of unnecessary and cruel.
I don't want to use products from companies that test on animals. I don't want to add to their suffering.
I have a problem though - my horrible, prone-to-bad-eczema skin. I'll spare you the itchy, scabby details but I am so allergic to so many things. It's taken me more than 10 years to find a foundation I'm not allergic to (MAC, not cruelty free). There's only one moisturiser I can use on the most badly affected part of my body, my hands (Aveeno, owned by Johnson and Johnson, not cruelty free). If I so much as think about using a (cruelty free) Lush product my skin starts to peel from my body. It sucks, basically.
That said, I still want to do my bit. It's taken some hunting but I've found some cruelty free products that I'm not allergic too - and some that don't go on my skin. They're all purse friendly too as they're from high street favourites Superdrug and M&S, both of whom have cheap, cruelty free own brand ranges.
Here are my favourites:
M&S Limited Collection quick dry nail polish in mauve
Apologies for the terrible finish on this mani - I applied it at night and fell asleep before the topcoat was dry! Anyway, this is a lovely, bright, summery purple. The polish is quite thin so you can build up layers to make it as opaque as you like. It's really hard wearing too - mine lasted a week before the first chip appeared. And it cost the grand sum of £3.50. I also bought it in aqua marine, a lovely dark turqiosy-green which I haven't really tried yet but looks lovely in the bottle.
Superdrug B. First base coat
I'm a recent but passionate convert to Superdrug's premium own brand, B. This base coat is fab - long wearing, nice consistency, easy to apply. I use it as a top coat too (see, told you I'm not a beauty blogger) and it gives a lovely high gloss finish, assuming you can stay awake long enough for it to dry. It's a steal at £4.99.
M&S Limited Collection Holly Sharpe blusher brush
I hate buying makeup brushes and really resent spending money on them. M&S ones are great though and this one is considerably more fun - and orange - than the average. The angled bristles are great for applying blusher evenly and are lovely and soft. It'll set you back £5.
Superdrug Tea Tree spot stick
I've always had a tea tree spot stick in my skin care inventory and this one is lovely. At £2.99 it's also one of the cheapest. It comes with a little foam applicator stick and is a nice consistency (ie not too sticky). It doesn't smell as horrifically strong as some brands either.