Gina Florio
Updated May 02, 2017 @ 11:48 am

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When I was a kid I used to burst into tears when I saw a skinny stray dog on the side of the road, much to the embarrassment of my parents. I would cry uncontrollably and imagine how that sweet animal had no home, no family, no chew toys. I’ve since grown into a major animal lover who is much more interested in greeting dogs than human beings. To me, #SquadGoals means having a pet mini-pig named Cedric (yes, named after Cedric Diggory), along with several cats, three dogs, a few goats, and maybe a cow or two.

What does that have to do with makeup and cosmetics? A hell of a lot, actually.

We live in a time when the vast majority of the products we use on our face and body have been tested on animals, which, trust me, is not a very pleasant experience for those innocent bunnies, mice, and guinea pigs that get thrown into these horrendous situations.

There are so many countries out there that actually require cosmetics to have animal testing done before they can be sold, which means some of the biggest conglomerates in America that advertise cruelty-free makeup are actually performing animal testing on their products overseas in order to get their cosmetics on shelves around the world. Ick.

On top of all that, I did more and more research on all the crap that’s put in makeup these days — formaldehyde, coal tar, carcinogens, parabens, just to name a few — and I couldn’t justify trying to live a healthy lifestyle when I was putting all those nasty toxins on my skin (and thus into my body) every single day. So I stuck to the natural look for a while.

As a result, this is what I’m normally working with these days.

Okay, fine, that’s just a picture of me and a stupidly cute cat named Pechuga, which means “chicken breast” in Spanish. Because, well, he looks like a damn chicken breast.

But as you can see in this pic, these days I’m almost always roaming around Planet Earth makeup free. Not because I’m trying to make a statement, but just because I had been searching for the kind of makeup that would align with my values.

Fortunately, things changed when I had the *pleasure* of interviewing Melodie Reynolds, founder of Elate Cosmetics, and Krysia Boinis, co-founder of Vapour Organic Beauty. Both of these companies provide high-performance makeup that is toxin-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and affordable. They opened my eyes to all the possibilities out there — and now I’m knee deep in hella good makeup from companies that are as committed to conscious beauty as they are kindness to all living beings.

Allow me to walk you through my toxin-free, cruelty-free beauty routine.

Morning: 6:30 a.m.

Gina Florio

I’m a morning person (don’t judge), so by this time of the day I’m up and at it. I don’t wash my face in the a.m. I just rinse with warm water and the first thing I slap on is some Hydrating Serum Dream Drops by Hush + Dotti ($52). It gives me just the right amount of moisture I need. Usually at this time I’m heading off to yoga or the gym, so I simply add Universal Cremé in “Celestial Highlight” by Elate Cosmetics ($20) to my cheekbones and Tinted Lip Conditioner in “In Paradise” by ILIA ($26). Easy peasy.

Gina Florio

Late morning: 9 a.m.

Gina Florio

After I wash the sweat off my face, I simply apply that Hush + Dotti serum again and put on Stratus Soft Focus Skin Perfecting Primer by Vapour ($56), a product so luxurious and silky that it feels like Ryan Gosling himself is sweetly caressing my face. Then under my eyes go a few swipes of Organic Eye Balm by Hush + Dotti ($36) to moisturize my dry eyes and hide how many episodes of Peaky Blinders I watched last night.

Next up is Fresh Tint Foundation in “Bare” by Elate ($28), which truly gives me that “lit from within” glow I thought was merely a myth. Then I swipe Universal Cremé in “Elation” by Elate ($20) on my cheeks, Multi-Stick in “A Fine Romance” by ILIA ($34) on my lips, and Eyeshadow Trio in “Truly Effortless Soft Sand” by Honest Beauty ($25) on my lids.

The berry lips are my favorite touch. It makes it look like I actually put effort into my makeup routine, when in reality the above steps take all but the length of two Alanis Morissette songs to complete.

Gina Florio

Feeling pretty fresh. This is me for the rest of the day. The only touch ups I manage to sneak in are a few more swipes of the ILIA Multi-Stick on my lips, but the product is so high-pigmented that it has enough staying power for quite a few hours. I also dab my T-zone from time to time with toilet paper, since my skin is so oily you could fry an egg on it in July. But the Elate foundation stays exactly where I put it, so it keeps my skin glowing all day.

Evening: 6:30 p.m.

Gina Florio

After the workday is over, I’m usually scrambling for a way to make myself look decent for dinner or whatever other event I’ve reluctantly committed to. That’s why I turn to Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation in s125 by Vapour ($50). I know it’s pricey for everyday foundation, but it is so worth it. Not only because no bunnies were harmed and it’s full of organic goodness, but because it gives you an airbrushed, “I’m here for the photo shoot” look. The formula is light, easy to work with, and buildable, so you can make it look as dramatic or as subtle as you like. I’m a huge fan.

Next I go wild with Falling For You Makeup Palette by Honest Beauty ($35). This is the perfect thing to cart around in your bag since it has everything — several eyeshadow shades, a cremé blush, and two lip colors. I blend a little of the blush on and build on the four eyeshadow colors on the left.

I then take the Halo Illuminator by Vapour ($36) and swipe it on places I think highlighter is supposed to go (makeup is not my forte). The two final touches are Vibrant Lipstick in “Tantric” by Elate ($19), a strong, sexy look I wish I discovered in my awkward high school days, and the super fun Liquid EyeLine in “Joy” by Elate ($25). Voila! I look of age!

Gina Florio

By the way, my hair is just air dried with Kevin Murphy’s Gritty Business scrunched in there.

Gina Florio

And here’s a close-up of the gold liquid eyeliner I scored from Elate. It’s the only glamorous thing I own.

Gina Florio

Nighttime: too early to comfortably admit p.m.

Gina Florio

I wash everything off my face using extra virgin, organic coconut oil as makeup remover. After that, I apply the ever so dreamy Everything Organic Facial Oil by Honest Beauty ($55) (or the Hush + Dotti serum, depending on my mood), followed by Wild Rose Beauty Balm by Neal’s Yard Remedies ($47), which is a thicker, very moisturizing balm that gives me baby soft skin when I wake up. Finally, I apply Rosarco Oil by Briogeo ($28) on the ends of my hair to nourish my damaged strands overnight.

Finally, if I’m feeling extra, I clean my makeup brushes with a delicious hand poured makeup brush cleanser: “Clementine Lavender,” “Coconut Mandarin,” or “Tropical Oasis” by Swirl and Sparkle. These cleansers are so easy to use, and they smell and look as if Luna Lovegood invented them in Potions class one day when she got bored.

Gina Florio

Here’s the cruelty-free, toxin-free cleanser in action:

That’s it! I’m cooked! I climb into bed and read until I gracefully pass out, mouth agape, only to dream of mini-pigs for the next several hours.

Indulge in beauty-themed voyeurism by reading all of our past Beauty Files here.