Today I welcome Sunny Subramanian of Vegan Beauty Review to the blog!
Sunny and I met back in 2013 at a vegan blogger meet-up when she lived in the Bay Area. It wasn’t until then that learned of her expertise in the beauty realm, her beauty blog and overall vegan awesomeness! While I don’t see Sunny often, I am thankful that our paths have crossed (and I can’t tell you how many times one of her posts has helped educate me!). And, I am so truly honored to have the opportunity to have her here to share more about herself and learn some fun tips about vegan beauty at the same time. Welcome Sunny!
Cowgirls & Collard Greens: Welcome to Cowgirls & Collard Greens Sunny! I am so excited to have you share your expertise in vegan makeup and beauty today. Thank you for your time and efforts! I like to ask all of my guests to share their vegan story. Can you share why and when you became vegan?
Sunny: I went vegan in 2000 after watching a few horrific undercover factory farming videos in college. This is when I finally had that “A HA” moment and realized that I can’t actually say I love animals and eat them, too. The videos were so powerful that I didn’t even go through a vegetarian phase–I became an overnight vegan (in El Paso, Texas of all places!). After having a decent amount of vegan time under my belt, I decided to start my vegan beauty and lifestyle blog, Vegan Beauty Review, where my main goal is to show the world that veganism is fun, beautiful, and delicious.
C&CG: What made you interested in makeup and the beauty world? Did you always love makeup when you were growing up? Do you have any formal training in cosmetology, fashion or being an esthetician?
Sunny: I’ve been a compassionate beauty junkie since I was in utero (I like to joke that placenta was my very first eye cream!). When I was little, I quickly became obsessed with cosmetic glitter and purple eyeshadow (child of the ’80s much?). I also used to sneak my mom’s fancy beauty products (anti-aging face creams, lotions, serums) when she wasn’t looking. So yeah, I’ve always had an affinity for beauty stuffs from a young age. I don’t have any formal training when it comes to cosmetics or beauty applications, but I’m an avid learner, and these days, YouTube is my bae for tutorials, tips and tricks.
C&CG: You must stay busy between being a wife, a vegan mommy of two boys and keeping your social media & website current with the most up-to-date vegan beauty information (that’s an entire job in itself as things are constantly changing!). What keeps you most busy these days? Are there any new projects you are working on?
Sunny: I never realized how valuable and precious time was until I became a mommy. Ha, even though Beyonce has the same 24 hours in a day, I find it a struggle to carve out pockets of time for my work and various projects. Finding a perfect work-life balance is no joke and is something I’m constantly trying to working toward. Aside from mommy-ing and blogging, I’m also focused on traveling more this year, becoming a certified yoga teacher (classes start this fall), and writing on a couple more books focused on vegan lifestyle.
C&CG: I understand that you’re a new author. Can you share a little bit about your book, The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty that launched last year?
Sunny: I really wanted to write a book that focused on vegan and cruelty-free beauty that was fun, accessible, and empowering. Making beauty products from scratch is such a gratifying feeling and you’re 100% in control of the ingredients, so you can assure they’re non-toxic, organic, highly effective, etc. These DIY beauty recipes are easy on the wallet, simple to whip up, and yield gorgeous results. They’re great for gifting, too!
C&CG: There are an abundance of vegan-friendly and cruelty-free beauty brands. Can you share with us a few of your favorites?
Sunny: I’m currently gaga over 100% Pure’s Pomegranate Oil lipstick in Hibiscus. It’s a bright red that complements my olive-y skin tone perfectly. It’s long-lasting, it applies like a dream and it’s uber moisturizing. Another product I super duper love is Osea’s Blemish Balm – it’s the perfect moisturizer to use when dealing with breakouts. I also can’t live without Pacifica’s deodorant wipes – I seriously use them every single day.
C&CG: Is there a difference between a product being vegan and being cruelty-free? In other words, can a product be cruelty-free and not vegan?
Sunny: The terms “vegan” and “cruelty-free” can definitely overlap, but they are not mutually exclusive. In the beauty industry, “cruelty-free” refers to products that haven’t been tested on animals in any stage of production while “vegan” refers to products that don’t contain any animal ingredients (ex. beeswax, honey, carmine, lanolin, etc.).
C&CG: Outside of loving all things vegan & beauty, what other passions and hobbies do you have?
Sunny: I love eating (’tis a passion fo’ sho!), crafting, doing yoga, traveling, and going on fun adventures with my family.
C&CG: You live in Portland, Oregon which is known for its abundance of vegan eateries (also known as the “Vegan Mecca”). Do you have a favorite vegan restaurant in your area?
Sunny: I’m grateful to live in Portland, where there’s vegan food aplenty. I’ve lived here for two years and I feel like I’ve only tapped into about 10% of this city’s vegan offerings. My fave foodie experience by far is dinner at Farm Spirit. They create gorgeous and out-of-this-world, delicious, seasonal, local dishes. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date night.
C&CG: What is it that inspires you to stay vegan?
Sunny: I initially went vegan for the animals, but over the years I’ve learned how beneficial going vegan is for my health and the planet, too. It’s seriously a win-win-win situation…I’m being eco-friendly, saving thousands of animals, and I’m enjoying having more energy, glowing skin, and overall better health – that’s a bunch of yasssss-ness right there. What more inspiration could anyone possibly ask for?
C&CG: Do you have any advice for those who want to ensure they are helping animals by purchasing vegan and cruelty-free beauty products?
Sunny: There isn’t any government regulation when it comes to using the term “cruelty-free” so it’s left to each company to determine what its “cruelty-free” label means. Luckily, lots of companies are incorporating vetted vegan and cruelty-free logos like Leaping Bunny, Vegan Certified, and PETA’s Caring Consumer logo. You can also reach out to companies directly and ask them if their ingredients or finished products have been tested on animals (third party or otherwise), and whether or not they test when required by law (e.g. Animal testing is mandatory in mainland China for imports).
Also, be on the look out for common animal-derived ingredients such as: honey (bee barf), beeswax, carmine (crushed bugs), collagen, lanolin (jizzy sebaceous gland substance from sheep), etc. For a complete list of grody, non-vegan ingredients, PETA has a wonderful and thorough guide.
C&CG: Thanks for your time and for sharing about your personal life as well as some awesome beauty tips Sunny!
Sunny Subramanian runs the website Vegan Beauty Review (.com), where she writes about the latest and greatest cruelty-free beauty products, fashion, and food. She’s also co-author of The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty. For more updates from Sunny and Vegan Beauty Review, be sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and subscribe to VBR’s YouTube Channel.