A round up of the best natural beauty brands available today. (Photo: Sandbox Studios)
“Do they really work?” That’s the question people often ask about natural beauty products. While many people like the idea of switching to skincare that is free of toxins, they like the idea of amazing skin even more. Who wants to swap glowing skin for breakouts or dullness? No one. The good news is this: natural products really do work, just as well as their standard counterparts. Truly, you won’t notice a difference.
The second question is usually about price. It’s the same as the regular skincare brands. There are the lower-priced versions like Acure, Weleda, and S.W. Basics—which all can be found at Target. And then there are the splurges. If you want to go natural, you can find a line for your budget.
The trick is sorting through the thousands of options. For the past few weeks, we’ve been sampling dozens of masks, scrubs, serums, and moisturizers to find the best products out there. We narrowed it down to 13 brands who pride themselves on delivering truly natural beauty (not just using the word and then filling their products with complicated ingredients). Here are the most amazing natural skincare brands and their standout products.
The Brand: Acure
The Story: Proof that you can have amazing all-natural products at a great price—the majority of Acure’s line is priced under $20. Everything is made from plant and food-based ingredients including antioxidant blends and plant stem cells. The line is free from animal testing, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and artificial colors. And you don’t have to go searching far and wide to find Acure products—they are sold at Target.
What You Should Try: The Day Cream ($19) is a perfect everyday moisturizer and includes Gotu Kola Stem Cells to help fight free radicals and 1% Chlorella Growth Factor derived from green algae to support collagen and elastin fibers. Their 100% certified organic Argan Oil ($13) smells terrible, but the seriously glowing skin you wake up to makes it totally worth it. With the exception of the Argan Oil, the line doesn’t have the earthy smells or unexpected textures of other organic brands, making it a good choice for natural product newbies.
The Brand: Weleda
The Story: While holistic and all-natural have become buzzwords in the beauty world, the Swiss-based brand was committed to those philosophies back in 1921. The company believes that nature offers everything that’s needed to create powerful beauty and wellness products. They promise that you won’t find one unpronounceable synthetic compound or one toxic chemical in their ingredient list, instead you’ll find flowers, herbs, fruit extracts, clays, roots, and minerals. The 100% certified natural and organic products comply with the stringent EU standards.
What You Should Try: The Wild Rose spray deodorant ($14) actually works to block sweat and neutralize odor (not always the case with natural versions). It also has the added bonus of an intoxicating rose scent that smells more like perfume than deodorant. The Baby Calendula Body Cream ($13) is intensely moisturizing and doubles as a hand cream for adults. The entire baby line is a good pick for parents looking for natural lotions, diaper creams, oils, soaps, and shampoos.
The Brand: Nude
The Story: The idea behind Nude is that nutrition is as important for your skin as it is for your body. Each product features a “balanced diet” of omegas, minerals, probiotics and antioxidants to feed skin—without sulphates, parabens, mineral oil, silicones, and synthetic fragrance. Founded by Bryan Meehan and Ali Hewson, the line started in 2007. While the products aren’t inexpensive, they definitely deliver luminous, lit-from-within skin.
What You Should Try: The Detox Brightening Fizzy Powder Wash ($42) mixes with water to form a rich exfoliating lather that instantly brightens skin with Vitamin C, Inca gold oil, and rose hip seeds. The Miracle Mask ($48) is just that. In just five minutes skin is completely renewed—looking smoother and brighter. Of all the natural products I tried, this is the one that delivered the most instant results.
(Photo: S.W. BASICS)
The Brand: S.W. BASICS
The Story: Every product at Brooklyn-based S.W. Basics is made with five ingredients or less, most with only three. Founder Adina Grigore feels that, “Fewer ingredients = less chance for skin irritation, higher potency, and a smaller overall ecological impact.” Grigore was also motivated by the fact that the term all-natural has been diluted, and often includes “not all-natural” ingredients: “We created S.W. Basics to be an absolutely, positively, 100% truly all-natural line.” The brand, which is now sold at Target, also has a commitment to sustainable agriculture, buying ingredients only from organic, Fair Trade, or small-farm sources.
What You Should Try: At first, it’s hard to know what to make of the Cream ($12). It has an almost dry texture in the jar, but turns into a rich oil when rubbed into the skin. It doesn’t take long to see that the combo of organic extra-virgin coconut oil, organic extra-virgin olive oil, and wild-harvested shea butter is one of the most effective moisturizers ever. It amps up hydration to even the most parched skin. The Makeup Remover ($14) is a combo of organic sweet almond oil, organic extra-virgin olive oil, and jojoba oil. Paired with a cotton ball it easily removes even the most stubborn eye makeup. It also doubles as a hydrating facial oil.
(Photo: Dr. Hauschka)
The Brand: Dr. Hauschka
The Story: This German-based wellness company launched their pioneering holistic skincare line in 1967. The brand is committed to producing natural products with at least 70% organic ingredients. You won’t find any synthetic anything here with creams, lotions, and makeup designed to support skin health with primarily plant-based ingredients.
What You Should Try: If you have sensitive skin you will love the gentle, non-irritating cleansers and lotions. The Soothing Cleansing Milk ($36) is a perfect daily cleanser, and makeup remover with bentonite clay and almond oil to reduce redness and calm irritated skin. It also doubles as a shaving cream. The exfoliating Cleansing Cream ($14) includes almond meal, calendula, and chamomile to remove build-up and reduce pores. The Lip Balm ($16) cures even the most chapped lips with pure silk powder, jojoba, apricot kernel oils, beeswax and cocoa butter.
(Photo: Kahina Giving Beauty)
The Brand: Kahina Giving Beauty
The Story: Founder Katharine L’Heureux’s holistic line of organic skincare features potent natural ingredients including argan oil for moisture, Rhassoul clay to purify, green tea to tone, and rose to calm skin. The pure argan oil which is the cornerstone of the line, is extracted by Berber women in Morocco using centuries-old techniques. The products are free of artificial preservatives, including parabens, artificial color, and fragrances.
What You Should Try: The Kahina Fez Body Serum ($32) boasts an intoxicating scent and rich moisturizing benefits. argan oil rich in vitamin E along with watermelon, sunflower, olive, and coconut oils deeply hydrate skin. The serum’s exotic fragrance comes from a combination of essential oils including rose and orange blossom, patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang, with a touch of cumin and clove. If you want the benefits of argan oil, but don’t like the oily texture, the splurge-worthy Kahina Night Cream ($105) uses the argan oil and red wine grapes to boost collagen and restore skin while you sleep.
The Brand: Naturopathica
The Story: With degrees in therapeutic herbalism, massage, esthetics, and aromatherapy, Barbara Close founded the Naturopathica spa in East Hampton as center of wellness and beauty. Their skincare line relies on transformative ingredients including seed oils, probiotics, botanical extracts, and plant stem cells, along with clean cosmeceuticals like AHAs, retinols and peptides. All of their products are dermatologist tested to be non-irritating and don’t contain parabens, glycols, or sulfates. “Our approach to skin care addresses the primary cause of premature aging of the skin—inflammation and over-stressed skin caused by irritating ingredients and the environment.” About 60% is certified natural and organic by ECOCERT because they use select active ingredients, like Vitamin C, that have to be synthesized to be stable.
What You Should Try: Vitamin C Revitalizing Lotion ($58) blends two forms of vitamin C, with vitamins A, E and Kudzu Extract for a transformative lotion that aims to minimize free radical damage to the skin. For a more potent version, try the Vitamin C Wrinkle Repair Serum ($114). The Argan & Peptide Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream ($84) uses argan plant stem cells, and matrixyl to calm puffiness and reduce wrinkles, lines are visibly softer after regular use.
The Brand: Suki
The Story: If you have problem skin, but want a natural line to be the fix, check out Suki. Founded by Suki Kramer after she got tired of prescriptions that just temporarily suppressed her skin issues, synthetic products that caused irritation, and natural products that did nothing. Her line of 100% pure, concentrated ingredients from only botanical sources aims to provide real skincare results. “It’s not a choice of 100% pure OR synthetic anymore! We actually CAN have it all,” states Kramer.
What You Should Try: The Sensitive Cleansing Bar ($12) relies on calming oats and soothing shea butter to reduce redness and dryness without over-stripping skin. To heal cracked, dry lips reach for the 4-Swipe Formula Lip Care ($11). It may look like just another lip balm, but it exfoliates and hydrates lips immediately.
The Brand: Amala
The Story: “Nature gives us everything we need to look and feel beautiful.” That’s the philosophy behind Amala an outstanding line of organic skincare. The power of their products comes from potent plants sourced from global fair trade farmers and then custom distilled to retain their natural therapeutic benefits. As an added bonus, 5% of the brand’s profits are donated to their fair trade farm network.
What You Should Try: The Rejuvenating Hand Cream ($18) makes worn out hands feel soft with the combo of licorice root and cocoa bean. The Advanced Firming Complex ($248) does it all—sort of like the natural version of Crème de la Mer. Cocoa bean fights inflammation, soy improves firmness, and Inca Inchi Seed contains nature’s highest concentration of Omega 3s to soften wrinkles.
(Photo: Grown Alchemist)
The Brand: Grown Alchemist
The Story: A team of cosmetic chemists based in London, Paris, and Australia create these certified organic products with advanced peptides, antioxidants, hyaluronic acids, and collagen boosting actives to provide “better beauty results without chemicals.” Their argument for going natural with your skincare is this: “The body generally finds artificial ingredients incompatible and rejects them. Whether the reaction is visible or not, every incompatible ingredient is identified by the body as toxic and rejected.” According the company, the rejection takes the form of producing free radicals which “increase the signs of aging, causing dryness, fine lines and wrinkles, worse still these chemicals are potentially carcinogenic.” Products are grouped according to skin issues, with solutions for wrinkles, blemishes, enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, and redness. The packaging is also key—everything is sold in non-leeching UV-protected packaging to keep ingredients as effective as possible.
Standout Products: The Gentle Gel Facial Cleanser ($39) with chamomile, willow bark, cold pressed role petals and aloe vera is strong enough to remove makeup but gentle enough for sensitive skin. For a petroleum-free lip balm that really hydrates try the Lip Balm ($13) with shea butter, jojoba oil, and sweet almond.
The Brand: REN
The Story: Since launching in 2000, REN has kept expanding their line of clean skincare, introducing products that tackle a range of issues including redness, oiliness, blemishes, and aging skin. REN uses only 100% plant and mineral derived ingredients and is free from synthetic ingredients like synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colors, animal ingredients and parabens.
What You Should Try: For skin that looks visibly plumper and feels firmer, apply a few drops of Keep Young & Beautiful Instant Firming Beauty Shot ($54) underneath moisturizer. If you sometimes get peels at the dermatologists office, try Ren’s Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask ($55)—the results aren’t all that different. Natural fruit acids from passion fruit, lemon, grape and pineapple, along with Papain from papaya renews skin in only ten minutes. Dead skin cells are removed leaving a brighter, smoother complexion.
(Photo: Tata Harper)
The Brand: Tata Harper
The Story: From farm to face. Everything from this standout natural beauty brand is made on their 1200-acre organic farm in Vermont. The products are 100% natural and non-toxic, smell incredible and are designed to be potent and powerful with between 9 and 29 actives ingredients in every formula. With her glowing skin, the glamorous Harper is her own best advertisement.
What You Should Try: Face oils promise glowing, radiant skin, but some can also cause clogged pores. That’s not the case with the Beautifying Face Oil ($48). Brown algae extract and Camellia flower oil deliver softer, more radiant, and clearer skin too. To even out discoloration, tone down hyperpigmentation and fade dark spots, try the Concentrated Brightening Serum ($220). The serum (which is worth using just for the amazing floral scent alone) inhibits melanin within 24 hours decreases pigmentation over time (expect to see results in about a month).
(Photo: One Love Organics)
The Brand: One Love Organics
The Story: Founded by Suzanne LeRoux, One Love Organics, the line is produced in micro-batches at the company’s ECOCERT lab in Georgia. Focusing on high quality ingredients that are also effective, One Love Organics is free of parabens, nanoparticles, synthetic perfumes and dyes, and silicon. The brand has also partnered with beauty blogger Elizabeth Dehn to create the Vitamin Collection, a range focused on high quality vitamins and antioxidants to help fight signs of aging and keep skin glowing.
What You Should Try: The Vitamin E Eye Balm ($48) from Elizabeth Dehn not only provides rich moisture to delicate skin around the eye, but also works to reduce puffiness thanks to organic fennel, a natural anti-inflammatory. The do-it-all Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm ($68) can be used as a cleanser, moisturizer, and hair treatment. It’s packed with cold-pressed plant oils and mango butter to keep skin healthy and hydrated.