I first started looking into natural beauty products when I realized that my skin was incredibly sensitive to certain chemical ingredients. While alcohol, parabens, lead, and dyes are all known to affect your health in various ways, my toughest enemies have always been minerals like talc and mica. They clogged my pores and dried my skin to a point where I wouldn’t feel comfortable barefaced — which is by far my favorite state. Waking up, taking a shower, and feeling ready to face anything the day throws at you, in your own skin, is an incredibly liberating sensation. I found that my skin’s natural glow was being replaced by the shiny properties of minerals like mica, which (don’t get me wrong) does add a lovely sparkle. It just wasn’t right for me.
When I look for natural beauty products, I don’t mind small amounts of chemicals as long as the core ingredients remain as close to nature as possible. In my eyes, it is not about perfection or unreal expectations of a product’s 100% natural origin: it’s about finding a balance between nontoxic ingredients and beauty enhancing properties. Because they’re often made up of extracts from fruits, leaves, and flowers, I’ve also found that natural-based beauty products not only enhance beauty momentarily, but can have lasting, positive effects on your skin. These cosmetics are not just changing how you look on the outside, but how your eyes, lips, and face are refreshed on the inside.
Put simply, I’m constantly looking for cosmetics that rely on nontoxic, clean components. There are so many benefits in naturally-occurring oils, clays, plants, and enzymes, that I’m always excited to try new brands that are raising the bar in this greener, milder space of the beauty industry. Companies are getting creative with their ingredient sources (flowers, mountains, the oceans) and are coming up with delightful ways to package their formulas — always a plus in my book. All that said, here are my favorite natural-based beauty products:
- Volumizing Lip & Cheek Tint by Tata Harper: This light tint gives you just a hint of glow with a thin rosy layer that feels like your own skin. I use the “Very Popular” or “Très Populaire” shade and find it perfect for your everyday flush. It’s also super gentle on the skin, infused with sunflower seed oil, coconut, beeswax, green tea, arnica, calendula, and other natural extracts.
- Hawaiian Facial Mask by Alba Botanica: This papaya enzyme mask is such a great pick me up for your pores! It’s clear, so you won’t look like Hulk wearing it around the house. You leave it on for around 5 minutes and, after a gentle tingle, it leaves your face feeling smooth and glowy.
- Shampoo for Oily Hair by Dikson Natura: Unfortunately, this one is really hard to find online. It’s mostly available in specialized hair product shops and salons, but if you’re in the US you can find one near you here. I use this to control the level of oil in the top part of my hair (scalp mostly), and it completely changed the game for me. The shampoo relies on essential oils like eucalyptus and lemon, as well as the ivy leaf (which you can actually see inside the bottle) and the soapwort plant extract. It contains no artificial fragrances, colors, silicones, parabens, or petroleum derivatives.
- Anti-cellulite Massage Oil by Brooklyn Botanics: I found this one after reading dozens of reviews on Amazon. I was looking for a mix of essential oils that could help tone and firm up the skin. It says anti-cellulite, but that wasn’t the main purpose for me, as I believe cellulite is perfectly normal and there’s little or nothing we can do to prevent it — at least with oils or creams. This massage oil blends grapeseed oil, eucalyptus, citrus lemon and grapefruit to tackle fat.
- Gifted Amazonian Clay Mascara by Tarte: Remember when I said I wasn’t looking for 100% natural cosmetics, but rather something nature-based that wasn’t toxic? This is what I meant. Tarte’s Gifted mascara is vegan and doesn’t include parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. More than a mascara to get that false lash effect, this product is reparative: it hydrates lashes and prevents loss with components like Vitamin C, Amazonian clay, Carnauba wax, and mineral pigments.
- Weightless Hydration Coconut Water by OGX: This hydration oil is a total lifesaver for split ends and dry hair. Organix (OGX) is really great with coconut-based hair and skin products, and I also live for their Miracle Oil Body Wash (the smell is dreamy!).
- Facial Cleansing Towelettes with White Tea Extract by Burt’s Bees. These soothing wipes contain aloe juice, camellia leaf extract, cucumber, citric acid, and white tea extract. They’re great for removing makeup, oil, and dirt, and I’ve found them to be extremely gentle on the eyes. They are ophthalmologist-tested, something that makes a real difference for those of us with sensitive eyes. Burt’s Bees has other towelette products infused with different extracts (pink grapefruit, cucumber & sage, and cotton), but these are the ones I’ve found work best with my skin type (normal to oily).
- Matte Lip Crayons by Burt’s Bees. Natural lipstick is a complicated one for me. Before finding this one, I had tried so many different formulas without any luck: pigmentation wasn’t there, the color chipped, or the lipstick itself broke, given the lack of certain chemicals that compact the cream. This new line by Burt’s Bees is my current favorite, and it is color-rich without feeling thick on the lips. It also fades off subtly, no harsh lines or chipping to worry about. Just retouch and go. My favorite shades are Redwood Forest and Carolina Coast (pictured). They’re the perfect everyday pink with a bluish base and a wearable, not overpowering, red tone. The formula itself is super light and combines shea butter, kendi oil, and jojoba oil.
- Drink of H2O Moisturizer by Tarte. This entire Rainforest of the Sea™ line by Tarte makes me feel like a mermaid. It uses the ocean’s most hydrating elements to give your face a cool moisture boost. Their Drink of H2O moisturizer, which has done wonders for my forehead lines, blends algae and marine flower extracts. Aside from these ocean-derived ingredients, the cream includes hyaluronic acid to plump up your skin — no highlighter needed 😉 I’ve actually used this product on my cheeks as a sort of highlighter a couple of times and it does the trick in a subtle, I-woke-up-like-this kind of way. My favorite.
- Peppermint Essential Oil by Doterra. As you’ve read throughout this article, essential oils are present in virtually every nature-based beauty product. Some of the essential oils most often linked with beauty include lavender, rose, and lemon. Peppermint, on the other hand, is not something you’d traditionally find as a facial skin nourishment, but please bear with me. This will be good. Ever felt so stressed that your temples hurt, or you can already see that migraine coming? True beauty comes from the inside out, and it is impossible to reflect that radiance you want with a massive headache. It simply doesn’t work like that. So rub a few drops of peppermint essential oil on your temples every time routine is messing with your energy, and I promise the belle in you will come out to play.
- Retractable Cruelty-Free Kabuki Brush by Ecotools. You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned any powder products, and that’s because I apply makeup mostly with my (clean!) fingers. However, every now and then, I’ll need to apply powder blush or some light bronzer and this retractable soft brush does the trick. The key? Being retractable keeps the bristles somewhat protected from dust and dirt. As a sidenote, if you’re not familiar with Ecotools, make sure to check out their cruelty-free, vegan, eco-friendly makeup applicators and bath accessories.
You’ll notice that I didn’t include any eyeshadow products, and that’s because I haven’t found a palette that strikes that nature-based/vibrant balance. My current go-to is Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Matte Tartelette, which is made without harmful ingredients such as parabens, mineral oil, and sulfates. Since it does contain mica, silica, and talc, I’m still on the lookout for an even cleaner option. For the time being, it works like a charm! My philosophy here is that the more you apply a certain kind of cosmetic (every day vs. once a week), the more you should worry about making it as harmless as possible for your skin — which is why eyeshadows, foundations, and blushes are not in my list of priorities. I don’t use them much, but if that’s not your case, take a look at these organic options for makeup in virtually every category.
I hope these milder, more natural beauty products allow you to truly freshen up next time you look at yourself in the mirror. Any recommendations of your own? I’d love to read! Leave them below.
PS: The unicorn makeup bag you see above is based on a stunning vintage illustration and is available right here.