Join the Cult? Bepanthen, Clarins, St. Ives, and Sudocrem

There are some products that feature frequently in magazines' "Best of" lists, then you try them for yourself and wonder how on Earth they ever got there...

I bought this ointment from Bepanthen after I saw a blogger recommending it for chapped lips, an affliction from which I constantly suffer, no matter how much water I guzzle. It's thick, white, and gloopy, so more of an overnight treatment than your everyday lip balm. Obviously the packaging (it's got a baby's bottom on it for crying out loud!) means it isn't exactly conducive to carrying it around in your handbag and whipping it out at lunch time, especially if you are currently without child, as I am. Aside from those issues, I just didn't find that it did anything for my lips. It kind of sat on top of them, like a barrier, and never actually sank in or had any real moisturising effect. At least the smell of this ointment was fairly inoffensive, slightly medicinal, and it's worth noting that it doesn't contain any fragrances, preservatives, or colourants. Bayer, the company behind Bepanthen, appears to engage in animal testing so even if I did like the product (I don't), I would not be repurchasing.

Oh boy, where to begin with this one. My mother warned me not to waste my money on it, but did I listen? Do we ever? Clarins' Beauty Flash Balm claims to do many things, mainly moisturise, brighten, and tighten. Most people seem to use it in place of a primer and that's how I tried it. While it definitely made my face feel tighter (uncomfortably so), I didn't witness the promised glow and it certainly didn't help my makeup go on any better; I actually think it had the opposite effect and left my foundation looking patchy. I had read several people's accounts of the balm "pilling" on them i.e. it formed small balls on the surface, so I knew it required a very light-handed application, but there were still days when I found myself peeling bits off my face. Yuck. I really didn't enjoy the strange synthetic scent and I'm pretty sure my skin had a reaction to it every single time I wore it, leaving me red and itchy, not surprising really considering the list of ingredients. I didn't even bother trying to finish the tube, something that is very rare for me. It would seem that mothers really do know best after all. I believe Clarins products are sold in China, therefore they are not considered to be a cruelty-free brand. 

St. Ives' Blemish Control Apricot Scrub is so harsh that I seriously feel like it would be more suited to scrubbing the sink than your face. I found it so abrasive that I ended up repurposing it to exfoliate my bikini line in an attempt to prevent ingrown hairs post-waxing. If you're looking for the beauty equivalent of sandpaper, this is it. The apricot scent is pleasant enough but quite strong and probably not for anyone sensitive to fragrance. As for this scrub's spot-fighting abilities, I felt it irritated my skin more than anything, actually causing more flare-ups. While investigating St. Ives' cruelty-free status, I was redirected from their site to that of Unilever, whose policy states: "We do not test our products on animals and are committed to ending animal testing ... Occasionally, when there are no suitable non-animal approaches available, some of the ingredients we use have to be tested; and some governments test our products on animals as part of their regulatory requirements." So even if St. Ives doesn't test the finished product on animals, countries where it's sold (like China) do, and its parent company does admit to sometimes testing ingredients on the furry ones.

Ah Sudocrem, the all-purpose wonder cream found tucked away in every bathroom cabinet in Ireland. A beloved zit zapper for many, a lavender-scented, sticky white mess for moi. It never helped to clear up my spots (no matter how thickly I layered it on!), although I do think it had a cooling effect on the more angry ones. Described as an "antiseptic healing cream", Sudocrem is still my number one choice when it comes to treating cuts and burns, but a cure for acne it is not. I was thrilled to find out that the cream was originally developed in Dublin and is still manufactured there to this day, as I love to support Irish businesses where possible. However, I was not so thrilled to discover the company's policy on animal testing. When I couldn't find any information on their various sites, I reached out to Sudocrem via Twitter and this was their response: "Sudocrem is not tested on animals but we cannot guarantee that individual ingredients have not been subjected to it, as they are from various suppliers." I'm not really sure what to make of that statement; the finished product is not tested but the ingredients might have been, not exactly what I would call cruelty-free. It's such a shame, I was really holding out hope for that one. If anyone can point me in the direction of a truly cruelty-free antiseptic cream, I'd be much obliged.

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