Archive for March, 2012

It has recently been discovered that some very large companies have been allowing their products to be tested on animals in China in order to sell them within the country. These companies are Estee Lauder, Avon, Mary Kay, and Mac Cosmetics.

The government of China has very strict standards for allowing cosmetics to be sold, probably the most stringent in the world. One of the requirements is for each ingredient and formula to be tested on animals by one of their authorized institutions. The testing is performed on the animals’ eyes and skin. Bottom line, if a cosmetic is sold in China, it has likely been tested on animals. I say ‘likely’ because they do seem to be creating a database of test results in order to not have to duplicate testing on certain ingredients. It’s unclear as to whether some products wouldn’t have to be tested on animals at all based on previous tests completed. 

The companies mentioned above previously had 100% cruelty-free policies but are now making   statements on their websites such as this one (taken from Estée Lauder’s FAQ page):

The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. is committed to the elimination of animal testing. We are equally committed to consumer health and safety, and bringing to market products that comply with applicable regulations in every country in which our products are sold. We do not conduct animal testing on our products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. We evaluate our finished products in clinical tests on volunteer panels. 

Note the “except when required by law”. All the Estée Lauder companies seem to use this verbiage even though they may not be sold in China. These companies include Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Bumble and Bumble, Clinique, Darphin, Jo Malone, La Mer, Origins, and Smashbox (very sad since they used to use the PETA symbol for cruelty-free). 

Cocoon Apothecary‘s policy is that we will never ever ever test on animals even in China, never.

Cocoon Apothecary Cruelty Free and Vegan



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Processing shea butter.

The beauty industry has always been an area where women could make money – from making potions, perfumes and soaps out of their homes to the becoming business moguls like Elizabeth Arden, Anita Roddick and Estee Lauder. Women are still dominating this industry with thousands of indie beauty businesses thriving around the world. Producing the final product and selling it is only a portion of this industry.  As you delve into the supply chain, it becomes clear that women are also responsible for the growing and harvesting of many of the ingredients that go into these products. It is a female industry through and through. On this International Women’s Day, I want to honor the unseen women around that world that provide Cocoon Apothecary with all of the amazing botanicals that we enjoy daily.

A few examples:

  • Shea Butter from Burkina Faso – Rural women organize cooperatives where they gather and process the shea nuts and are paid fairly for them. They use the money earned to pay for their children to go to school and for basic needs such as food and medicine.
  • Argan Oil from Morocco – Argan oil is processed exclusively by women within cooperatives where they work half days in order to be able to tend to their families and are paid fairly.
  • Rose essential oil and water from Bulgaria – Women get up before the break of dawn to harvest the roses as the sun rises. They women pluck the flowers by hand and collect them in their aprons. It is traditionally a women’s job and not much has changed since the 16th century.

Buying natural beauty products that use organic, natural, fair-trade ingredients is a great way to support women around the world but you can also give money directly to female entrepreneurs in the form micro-lending. I’ve listed a few organizations below.




This International Women’s Day, I urge you to give something to a woman that might make her life a little easier.

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Imagine a world with only a few artists that work for big corporations that mass produce their work and sell them at Walmart. If you want something for your wall, it must be a cheap print. No art shows, no local galleries – just the same prints on everyone’s wall. This is what has happened to the perfume industry. There are only a handful of perfume houses and all of the synthetic fragrances out there are manufactured by five different chemical companies. We have been denied an art form that is as much a part of our history as the oil on canvas.

This insanity began in the late 1800’s with the discovery of aldehyde, a synthetic substance that creates the fake scents that we are so accustomed to. They were initially added to natural fragrances to help boost the scent but as perfumers realized that these chemicals had better staying power and were immensely cheaper, they started taking over the industry. The first completely synthetic perfume was Chanel No 5 introduced in 1919 and coined as a ‘modern perfume’. That was basically the end of natural perfume in the 20th century.

The art of blending scents is an ancient craft that certain people are born to do – as much as some people are born to create amazing food. Unfortunately, the tools and knowledge and empowerment to take on perfumery have been unavailable for many years. Fortunately, it is now seeing a resurgence thanks to a few factors, namely the growing popularity of aromatherapy, the indie craft movement and the awareness of environmental toxins. I met a true perfumer at a craft show this past Christmas who had beautiful scents – I fell in love with one that contained frangipani (plumeria). She told me that it came naturally to her and it was an intense passion of hers. She sounded like a true artist and I felt so happy that she not only found her creative outlet but was in a time and place where she could actually access the tools to create what she was clearly born to do. Check out this amazing article about another perfumer, Jill McKeever of For Strange Women that was the inspiration behind this post (thanks Meredith for linking!) and <DROOL>.

So before you purchase that cheap chemical crap that gives many of us headaches and fills a room (obnoxious), consider the artists out there who are expressing their true passions and using expensive, exotic natural ingredients that come from farms rather than labs.

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