How to be Cruelty-Free in Bangkok

I had an epiphany a month or two ago, that a lot of products are tested on animals. I can’t remember exactly what triggered it – but it was something I’d sort of half known but never really thought about as I got on with my daily life.

And I don’t mean putting body lotion on a rabbit’s cracked paws or brushing its teeth with toothpaste. I mean putting nail polish on a rabbit’s eyeballs, pumping its stomach full of toxic liquid. There’s some more info about animal testing here.

I googled, and began one at a time to put in the hair care products and makeup brands that I used to see if they were tested on animals or not. And, I found that basically they all were, in some way or another. Through a good few weeks of intense googling sessions it seems there are three types of brand:

1 – Those that test their products on animals or allow their products to be tested on animals (eg. if they sell in China).

2 – Those that use ingredients that are tested on animals to make their products.

3 – Those that use other forms of testing (after all it is the 21st Century, we have better and more reliable methods), or no ‘new’ chemicals or ingredients, only those that we already know are safe.

Unfortunately most of the products in Boots and Watsons or supermarkets like Tesco and Big C fall under category 1 or 2. That is to say, big brands like L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, Church & Dwight, Clorox, Colgate-Palmolive.

I resolved to try and find more products from category 3, to substitute what I’d been using up until that point. I thought it would be really difficult, or really expensive in Bangkok to do so, but the great news is, it hasn’t been difficult at all. There isn’t much on the internet though about cruelty-free brands that are available in Bangkok though, so I thought I’d put together a list to help anyone that is looking for them.

But of course, use this a a place to start. Do your own research too – a lot of blogs I’ve seen tout things as being cruelty-free, when actually if you go on the brand’s own website you can clearly see their policy on testing on animals (e.g. Younique). But, its not always clear, ‘Cruelty-Free’ is a phrase that isn’t regulated by anyone, so companies can use it to mean whatever they want it to mean. I used PETA’s website, to search their database, and also Cruelty-Free International. There are apps like Bunny-Free too, which you can even scan a barcode and it will tell you (it’s not always 100% accurate though, I’ve found). These websites typically have types 1 and 3 on them, and if they don’t come up I’ve assumed they’re type 2. Another thing that I aim to do is email a few companies and ask them. If they have nothing to hide then there should be no reason not to reply.

This list is not exhaustive, at all. There may be more brands out there in BKK and the rest of Thailand, but this is what I’ve found, what I’ve bought, and what I like. Please, if you know of more and where they are available, leave a comment!

Sephora – EmQuartier/CentralWorld/and has other branches
Though it should be pointed out that Sephora itself is not cruelty-free. I think there are likely to be other cruelty-free make-up brands at Sephora too.
Tarte
Make-up.

NyxNyx is owned by L’Oreal, but has the ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo, so doesn’t test.
Make-up.

Murad – but it’s a bit pricey for me.
Face cream, sunscreen.

John Master’s Organics
Shampoo, Conditioner, hair products. (Also has pet shampoo available at Lazada, but that’s mighty pricey unless there’s an offer on.)

EmQuartier
Zuii Organics take the escalator next to Sephora a few floors up and you’ll see the shop/stand. Their products are organic too, though some things are rather pricey.
Make-up, make-up remover.

Terminal 21/CentralWorld
The Body Shop and plenty of other branches. Again I’ll point out that it’s owned by L’Oreal.
Make-up, make-up remover, face cream, body lotion, perfume, shower/bath gel, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, lip balm.

Boots – has branches everywhere.
Burt’s Beesowned by Clorox who test on animals, but Burt’s doesn’t.
Lip balm, hand cream, moisturiser

Lazada.co.th
Kiss My Face
Toothpaste (fluoride free), soap, detangler (for kids), hand soap, shower gel/body wash, hand cream, body moisturiser, face cream, foot cream.

Aubrey Organics
Shampoo, conditioner, face cream.

Desert Essence
Shampoo, conditioner (they make toothpaste too but it’s not sold at Lazada).

Pipper StandardI don’t actually know if this is strictly cruelty-free and not tested on animals. However, the brand is ‘all natural’; the main ingredient is pineapples so it’s eco-friendly.
Laundry detergent, stain remover, fabric conditioner.

Radiance Wholefoods has a few other things that I haven’t included. Also has fresh produce, check them out!
Conscious LivingThey also have their own website where you can buy. Again, I don’t actually know if this strictly cruelty-free, however, the brand is ‘100% all natural’ and it looks to be eco-friendly.
All in one cleaner, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash.

Etsy.com
Shipping could become a little expensive, but Etsy is a wonderful website full of shops selling homemade things. Lots of organic stuff, though not necessarily guaranteed that the ingredients aren’t tested on animals. Also a great place to buy reusable menstrual pads. A lot of companies that test on animals also make disposable pads and tampons, so if you really can’t face giving them money and want to be environmentally friendly too, I recommend re-usables. Anyway, re-usables are much comfier and quite easy to deal with in Thailand. (Tip: Shipping is cheaper from Australia than America to Thailand.)

For now that’s all. I’ll add a post or update as and when I find any more brands.

Don’t forget to comment if you know anything I’ve missed :)

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Silhouette

Playing about in the waves after a long day of kayaking.

Click here for my post about kayaking in Koh Chang, Thailand :)

Click here for more information about the weekly photo challenge.

Messing about in boats

“Mmm, you’ve got to have confidence in your spray-skirt”, J agreed.

I took a sip of water. The hum of conversation continued around us. It was getting darker, and if I twisted around ever-so slightly behind me I could see the amber glow sinking at the mouth of the river. Someone had sketched on the palm trees in charcoal.

Cross legged on the floor we passed around the bill and managed to work out what each of us owed. We traded our table for a wooden boat, and as the dusk turned black we sped up the river. A breeze stirred the humid air. The twinkling lights from the fireflies reminded me faintly of Christmas.

Back at my hotel I considered S’s story. Held tight in her kayak, she had braved the waves, only to get tossed about and lose control under a vicious wave. To be honest, however big the wave had been, didn’t seem to matter to me. She couldn’t get out of her boat. She couldn’t roll well enough, and her spray-skirt was too tight. She panicked.

Several times that day I’d got flipped upside down while attempting to surf for the first time ever. It was fine, fun even, I pulled on the handle of my spray skirt and I could breathe air again. But once already, I’d gotten into my kayak and secured my spray-skirt only to have paddled for a little while and have someone point out that I’d gotten the handle stuck inside. I tried to open the seal from inside with my knee, but failed. “People drown that way.” Her panic seemed quite real to me.

We had three more full days at the symposium, and in that time S hoped to regain some of her confidence. I hoped to learn some more about kayaking and experience less than flat water. A few of the other people hoped to achieve their BCU 3 star qualification.

By the end of the week, I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t done more sea-kayaking sooner. I got flipped out of my kayak an uncountable number of times, and the bruises on legs got bigger. I kept going back in. My nose and throat burned from the salt water, but I pulled my white Tiderace to shore, emptied it and fought through the waves again and again. And I started to actually brace properly. I managed not to get flipped over a few times. I started to win!

With the aid of our wonderfully qualified instructors, S managed to improve her rolling technique. She flipped herself over and back up again while A adjusted her paddle and gave a bit of a tug on the side of her kayak. While still not fully trusting her spray-skirt, her confidence was growing bit by bit.


This was my first ever ‘Sea Kayaking Symposium’. It was run by Kayak Chang in Koh Chang on the east coast of Thailand. They’re based at the Amari Emerald Cove Hotel at Khlong Prao beach, which is a beautiful hotel (though I stayed elsewhere).

I would highly recommend Kayak Chang as a company for some serious kayaking trips and journeys around beautiful islands. The company is very professional, with well looked after, good quality and practically new equipment. The guides have been kayaking for years and know what they are talking about.

These aren’t sit on top tours that you can do in a bikini though – note. You pay more for a reason. For me it was worth every single penny.

I really hope next year I will be able to kayak again with Kayak Chang. The symposium was brilliant – my love for Koh Chang has increased, and I know I need more kayaking in my life.

Click here to find out more about Kayak Chang and the tours and courses they offer :)

Please note – this is completely my own genuine opinion!

Containers – Weekly Photo Challenge

Containers

“Now then, Pooh,” said Christopher Robin, “where’s your boat?”
“I ought to say,” explained Pooh as they walked down to the shore of the island, “that it isn’t just an ordinary sort of boat. Sometimes it’s a boat, and sometimes it’s more of an accident. It all depends…”
“Depends on what?”
“On whether I’m on top of it or underneath it.”

________________________

Boats are containers that can take us to so very many places. Or not, as pooh rightly points out.

I’ve decided to get back into the swing of photo challenges every now and again. See here for more information about the challenges.

ไปเที่ยว – Candlelight Beach, Koh Samet

Following on from my last post, I took another trip to a beach a week or two ago. This time I went to Koh Samet.

I’ve been to Koh Samet lots of times, but only ever to Hat Sai Kaew, which is the biggest and most popular beach on the island. It’s fun, but this time my sister and husband were coming along, so we checked out Ao Sang Thian which is a bit further down the island. We got a green songthaew/taxi to Ban Khiang Talay. I’d seen some bad reviews of this place online, so I was a little worried. But it was so lovely! The staff were very friendly, and the food was great with veggie food too.

We went snorkeling, swam and relaxed on the beach. We pretty much had it to ourselves, the same as in Prachuap. It’s so beautiful, and a completely different feel from Hat Sai Kaew. The beach here is a lot smaller, and a bit rocky, but with clear blue warm water and only the sound of the waves, what more do you really need?

The thing with Koh Samet is that it’s one of the driest places in Thailand, so you can go there in the low, rainy season and still be blessed with lovely blue skies.

In the evenings we opened a beer or 3 and sat on deck chairs on the beach, with the soft glow of a few lights behind us. It was just about dark enough for us to clearly see stars, and once our eyes adjusted we saw the crabs come out to explore the sand after the tide had gone out and the hot sun had gone in.

If you’d like to party and meet new people, head to Hat Sai Keaw. But if you’d rather some peace I suggest going to one of the other beaches! I’d completely dismissed the other beaches, thinking they were too small, or not beautiful. Instead, it was totally worth it.

Have you ever been to Koh Samet? Where did you go? Or do you know of any more small, quiet beaches in Thailand? Let me know!

ไปเที่ยว – Prachuap Khiri Khan

Things have started hotting up in Thailand, in more ways than one. But with regards to the coup d’etat, for me, and most people I believe, day to day life is as normal.

The weather though, is sweltering. It hasn’t rained much yet which, If I can remember from the past two years is a little odd. Let’s hope the heat breaks soon!

I went to a new beach last month, which I thought I would share. Perfect for anyone who likes a bit of peace and quiet and not to far away for a quick break from Bangkok. It’s low season right now, so that’s one reason there weren’t many people when I went.

Phu Noi Beach, Prachuap Khiri Khan

It’s very near Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, and the town of Pranburi. Our minibus from Victory Monument in Bangkok took us right to Blue Beach Resort where we were staying. It’s a lovely place to stay, family run and good food (they know how to please westerners; they don’t use MSG). There are also kayaks for you to use for free, which me and my girlfriend made good use of.  We kayaked to the two islands in the pictures below, where there were a few monkeys.

Prachuap-4132320

Prachuap-4142343

Look at the beach! An empty stretch of sand! It might not be the clearest water or the whitest sand in Thailand, but we had it nearly to ourselves. Wonderful.

Prachuap-4142332

We didn’t do a lot, just kayaking for a few hours every day and swimming! Next time I’d like to explore the national park some more, I’ve heard good things.

I love that there are quiet little hideaways like this within reach of Bangkok. Why are we all working so hard if we can’t spend a little of that hard earned cash on some recuperation every once in a while?

I’ll write my next post about another quiet beach I went to on Koh Samet when I’ve uploaded the pictures.

Has anyone ever been to this area, or Sam Roi Yot park? Where did you go, what did I miss? Leave a comment! :D

Sorry I’m late…

Prachuap-4142340

No, thank you.

My students had 2 exams, both around 30 minutes long and together worth 40% of their final grade. The exams were to be taken in class time, at the same time we usually have class… that is to say, at 9am on Thursday. There are 15 students in the class.

At 9am I had about 8 students. 9.05 I had 10 and at 9.15 I had 12. Because I am probably far too kind I waited and we started the exam at 9.20. Between then and 9.30 the total number of students present rose to 14. The 2 last students said ‘sorry I’m late’ and began their tests.

At 9.43am, in walks the final student. ‘Sorry I’m late.’ The first exam will finish at 9.50.

Another class. Same 2 exams. Class starts at 1pm.  Class always starts at 1pm. At 1.10 I have 16 out of 35 students. The last 4 students come at 2.20 pm. That’s an hour and twenty minutes late for an hour long exam. They looked incredibly baffled when I said they had missed it.

I’m not going to pretend that I was never late at university level. In fact I remember having a 2 hour Spanish exam unusually on a Saturday morning and jumping out of bed just as it started. But the thing that gets me is…. These are their FINALS. Of course, the majority of my students turned up on time, or a few minutes late, and studied hard. But with every class the pattern of at least one student being more than half an hour late or over an hour late has repeated.

Am I… Is this… just… What?!

You know what the icing on the cake is? I had to reschedule the exam for the 4 students that came at 2.20 pm.

There’s more.

I asked them what time they could do. They said 1 pm. They came at about 2 pm, smiling sweetly.

NOT. EVEN. FUNNY.