You've probably experienced it with food many times-eating junky, prepackaged foods and tasting nothing but chemicals. Contrast this with a meal made from wholesome, organic ingredients and the choice seems obvious. You wonder how anyone could prefer processed over fresh food.
The same holds true for personal care products. Most drugstore products are laced with fillers, irritants, and dangerous compounds that leave your body anything but beautiful. These chemicals can irritate skin, clog pores, serve as estrogen disruptors, and pollute the environment. The difference with natural beauty products is unmistakable: lotions feel rich and nongreasy, and shower gels are perfumed with pure essential oils and herbs, guaranteed to nourish your body and senses.
One of the most exciting aspects of natural personal care products is the increasingly widespread use of super functional ingredients-from antioxidant-rich pomegranate and collagen-boosting goji to wrinkle-reducing hyaluronic acid and antiaging algae. These cutting-edge beauty nutrients are popping up in more than antiaging products. Body lotions, toothpastes, shower gels, and skin supplements are all sporting these smart additions.
Our picks for this year's Best of Natural Beauty Awards combine the best of what's happening in the world of natural personal care-pure, simple ingredients expertly infused with innovative, effective ingredients.
- A.C. Grace Unique E Natural Moisturizer captures the skin-regenerating properties of vitamin E in this nongreasy, rich face lotion-great for
all skin types and everyday use.
- Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion, unscented, is our pick for an everyday hand and body moisturizer-keep one at home and another bottle at the office.
- Maybe it's the exotic rain forest ingredients, such as cupuaçu butter and açaí, or perhaps it's the intoxicating scent, but Gentle Açaí Renewal Scrub from Alba Botanica's Rainforest line is a standout facial exfoliant guaranteed to brighten your skin.
- Perfect for delicate and acne-prone skin, ZZ Sensitive Day Cream from Annemarie Borlind Natural Beauty leaves skin noticeably softer and less red and irritated.
- Also from Annemarie Borlind Natural Beauty, For Lips is satiny lip balm you will never want to be caught without (seriously). It works great as a base for lipstick too.
- Let's be honest, ladies: we all need a little help when it comes to keeping our skin firm as we age. Enter Lumessence Lift from Aubrey Organics, a CoQ10- and algae-infused cream that firms and softens naturally.
- Varicose veins or spider veins got you down? A. Vogel Venaforce Soothing Horse Chestnut Leg Gel from Bioforce cools and tones skin instantly. Combine with Venaforce Tablets (also with horse chestnut) for best results.
- Badger Vanilla Coconut Every Day Body Moisturizer has a dreamy scent and triples as a body balm, lip salve, and cuticle oil.
- Our favorite all-around pain relief cream, Boiron Arnicare Arnica Cream, works fast on pulled muscles, aches, sprains, strains, bruises, and other injuries. It's also great for massages!
- It's no surprise that Burt's Bees Natural Skin Care for Men Shave Cream is a health food store best seller-this cream features chamomile, calendula, and linden and a clean, fresh scent (ladies: treat the man in your life to a blissful shave).
- Whether you've got puffiness, dark circles, and/or fine lines and wrinkles around your eyes, you can't go wrong with derma-e Hyaluronic & Pycnogenol Eye Crème, featuring cutting-edge ingredients for skin renewal (i.e., hyaluronic acid and the antioxidant Pycnogenol).
- Looking for an alternative to expensive (and toxic) department store antiaging face creams? You'll want to try derma-e DMAE - Alpha Lipoic C-Ester Crème, which tones and tightens skin
via potent antioxidants.
- The scent alone will entice you to try Desert Essence Organics Coconut Conditioner (it smells like a tropical island). But it's the silky, shiny results you'll get after using this incredibly moisturizing conditioner that will make you a die-hard fan-fast!
- No doubt about it, using Desert Essence Natural Tea Tree Oil Facial Cleansing Pads daily helps keep your complexion clear. Perfect for travel or to toss in your gym bag for a mini postworkout facial.
- Dr. Hauschka Skin Care Cleansing Cream, a botanically based face wash, gives you a deep clean (with a hint of scrub) and soft skin-the perfect balance.
- For oily or combination skin, we love Earth Science Clarifying Facial Wash, a foaming oil-free cleanser packed with skin-friendly ingredients, including cucumber, lavender, hyaluronic acid, sea kelp, and rosemary.
- You get it all with Eco Lips Facestick-82 percent organic sunscreen (SPF 30) for lips, nose, and face. Never be without sun protection (the compact size makes it ideal for traveling).
- Emerita Personal Moisturizer offers relief for one of the most common problems in menopausal-age women: vaginal dryness. The water-based, nutrient-rich formula (no mineral oil or parabens) can be used as needed.
- Ultraluxe and supermoisturizing with just the right amount of lavender, EO Soothing Shower Gel in French Lavender truly turns your shower into a spa-like experience.
- Keep your color longer with EO Protective Shampoo (for color-treated hair) in sensual Rose & Chamomile-you'll notice shinier, softer, and bouncier hair after one use!
- French Transit Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant Roll-On in Pomegranate has a lot going for it-no aluminum chlorohydrate, a fresh, fruit-kissed scent, and the ability to keep you smelling great all day long (with no messy white residue).
- We love Giovanni's Cleanse Body Wash in Cassifluer White Tea for its romantic scent and soft, pampering lather. This beautiful bottle also makes a lovely gift.
- Just a little drop of Head Organics Natural Hair Serum is all you need to tame frizzy hair and infuse locks with incredible shine. Stash in your purse for midday touch-ups.
- Organique by Himalaya Neem & Pomegranate Toothpaste is, hands down, our favorite natural toothpaste. You'll love what's in it-and what's not (no gluten, SLS, fluoride, or saccharin). And the taste, fresh and naturally cooling, is hard to beat.
- We love the whole line of Home Health products, but there's something extra special about Goji Berry Facial Cream, an antiaging formula with goji berries, hyaluronic acid, retinol, and organic herbs. The light, skin-softening cream works great on all complexion types.
- Many scented body lotions can be overpowering, but Hugo Naturals Vanilla & Sweet Orange All Over Lotion hits the perfect scent note while also deeply hydrating the skin. Also a great gift idea.
- Hugo Naturals Vanilla & Sweet Orange Foaming Hand Soap does much more than simply look beautiful in any kitchen or bathroom-it smells amazing and cleans hands without overdrying.
- Humphrey's Cucumber Melon Witch Hazel Toner, with a refreshing feel and scent, instantly helps reduce redness and blotchiness. Also great for revitalizing skin after a workout.
- Indigo Wild has created the perfect bar soap with Zum Bar Sea Salt Goat's Milk Soap-an invigorating scent with lots of lather and that squeaky clean feeling. Stock up on a few and give out to friends and family.
- Make moisturizing a nighttime ritual and ensure quality beauty sleep with Jason Everyday Natural Care Sleepytime Hand & Body Lotion (infused with Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea).
- Looking for a mineral-based lip color that goes with everything? Try Kiss My Face Sheer Organic Shine and Sheer Organic Shimmer (a two-in-one deal) in Ruby, which complements most skin tones.
- On wet or dry hair, Lamas Beauty Chinese Herbs Revitalizing Styling Cream seals in shine, tames flyaway strands, and provides natural volume.
- Flattering to all skin tones, Larénim Youth Dew Luminizer is a multitasking beauty product you'll want to have in your makeup bag at all times-use it all over your face for an instant, fresh glow.
- The scent alone will convince you that Mill Creek Botanicals Cool Lavender Deodorant works to block odor-causing bacteria. The gentle formula also contains tea tree and coriander.
- Apply Mineral Fusion Base Setting Powder for Face over your foundation to set your makeup and reduce shine. This clean, natural powder is free of parabens.
- Want instant gratification? You'll get it with MyChelle Dermaceuticals G2 Instant Firming Serum, featuring goji (for lifting and collagen-boosting), pomegranate (for antioxidants) and argireline (to relax muscles).
- Nature's Answer PerioWash Alcohol-Free Mouthwash in Winter Mint was formulated by a dentist and contains everything you need for healthy teeth and gums, including CoQ10.
- Fresh and fruity, Nature's Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Hair Defense Shampoo, for color-treated hair, is loaded with antioxidants that actually help prevent color fading.
- Nelson's Pure & Clear is a unique homeopathic skin care line featuring blemish-fighting sulfur and skin-healing herbs. The line includes Purifying Cleansing Wash, Balancing Toner, Nourishing Moisturizer, and Acne Treatment Gel.
- NOW Foods Hyaluronic Acid Firming Serum is like a natural alternative to Botox-use it to fill in fine lines and wrinkles, and to smooth your skin.
- Organix-South Thera Neem Facial Complexion Botanical Cleansing Bar shows off the skin-clearing powers of neem in a concentrated soap (featuring a minimum of 90 percent organic oils).
- Boost your skin's appearance with Pangea Organics Himalayan Geranium & Pomegranate Balancing Oil, which smells like a botanical garden and is rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids. Great for all
- Give sensitive skin a moisture surge and radiant glow with Reviva Labs EFAs Cream, designed for thin, delicate skin. This thick cream features essential fatty acids from 10 different sources, including rosehip, avocado, and pomegranate oils.
- With glycerin, panthenol, and shea butter, ShiKai Color Reflect Daily Moisture Conditioner truly makes hair soft, shiny, and manageable. It works to extend the life of hair color and contains UV filters to protect from breakage and frizziness.
- Sprunk-Jansen Spotless Acne Spot Treatment does exactly what it promises-clears blemishes and reduces redness quickly using ancient Egyptian herbs known to promote beautiful skin. A medicine cabinet essential!
- If you're steering clear of chemicals, but still need to cover gray, Surya Henna Brasil Cream is the ticket. It comes in seven rich colors, including Strawberry Blonde, Black, and Dark Brown, and it's free of ammonia, peroxide, heavy metals, and other harsh chemicals.
- Stay dry, fresh, and sweet smelling with TCCD International Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal. We like that it contains aloe to make it extra-soothing after a close shave. It contains no harmful aluminums, plus it's hypoallergenic and fragrance-free.
- Trimedica Pure MSM Cream, free of heavy metals and fossil fuel derivatives, is a medicine cabinet essential-it doubles as an effective remedy for achy joints and muscles and a natural skin moisturizer.
- Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream leaves your hands luxuriously soft and renews, firms, and prevents the formation of age spots with antioxidant-rich pomegranate seed oil.
- Ultrarefreshing Zia Skin Basics Sea Tonic, Rosewater, & Aloe Toner is a hands-down winner for it's subtle, fresh scent and alcohol- and, paraben-free profile. Use with Zia Ultimate Moisture for incredibly soft skin.
- With the taste and texture of a fruit smoothie, Barlean's Strawberry Banana Omega Swirl Flax Oil is one of the yummiest ways to take your essential omega-3, a "good" fat that contributes to luminous skin and shiny hair. Take 1 tablespoon every day, or mix it into juice, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
- Brittle nails and sallow, sagging skin begone! BioSil ch-OSA replenishes your body's "beauty proteins" including collagen, keratin, and elastin, known to "plump" skin, smooth wrinkles, and strengthen hair and nails.
- It's as if an herbal apothecary formulated it just for you. Gaia Herbs Skin & Nail Support with Gotu Kola combines strengthening herbs including alfalfa, nettle leaf, and burdock in this fab formula.
- Almost every age-associated problem faced by women is addressed when you take Garden of Life Oceans 3 Healthy Hormones with EPA and DHA. This formula alleviates mood swings, hot flashes, and weight gain associated with menopause. And a healthy dose of amla fruit helps to tone skin.
- Your skin will literally drink in the organic resveratrol, hyaluronic acid, and collagen from ReserveAge Organics Collagen Booster, a powerful age-reversing combo that works to reverse wrinkles.
- This one wowed us. Solgar Hyaluronic Acid 120 mg is formulated with vitamin C and collagen to hydrate and plump skin for a youthful look.
- Thinning hair? Both men (and women) love Natrol Shen Min Hair Regrowth Hair, Skin & Nails. It works by giving the cells that divide frequently, such as those in the skin and hair, the steady supply of nutrients they need.
- Think beauty is an inside job? More than 14 vitamins and minerals, plus MSM, silicon, and herbs work from within to nourish and strengthen in Natural Factors Hair, Skin & Nails Super Nutrient Formula.
Personal Care 101
Do you think it's selfish to pamper yourself? Are you always taking care of others and putting aside your own needs? Research has shown that caring for yourself is a critical component of well-being. Besides, it's hard to meet your responsibilities to others when you haven't taken your own oxygen first. If you want to begin to put in a little "me time," here are three simple steps to start you on your way.
Choose organic, inside and out-You wouldn't purposely eat toxic food. But remember that what you put on your hair, skin, and nails is also absorbed into your bloodstream. Choose pesticide-free personal care products, checking labels on your deodorant, lip balm, and toothpaste to make sure you're not exposing yourself to harmful chemicals. And don't forget to check items you regularly use, such as mascara, nail polish, and dental floss. They can all contain contaminants that work their way into your system and harm your health.
Nurture your senses-"Use it, or lose it" is not just a phrase. Your five senses-taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight-are always hungry for new experiences. So, break out of your shell! Replace your usual butter with coconut butter or exchange your routine cup of coffee for a savory tea. Try a new shampoo or body oil. Pick up an unusually textured bar of soap. New sensory experiences are not only enjoyable, they also provide the stimulation needed to keep your body and mind sharp.
Make it easy-Meditation is a centuries-old tradition that recognizes the advantages of simply slowing down. The health benefits of relaxation include lower blood pressure, increased blood flow to the muscles, and improved concentration. A comforting lotion or soothing cream can create an environment and sense of balance that lets you breathe easy. And you can relax your mind when you know that the items that you use are planet-friendly and cruelty-free. -Eleanor Brownn
Product Examples (from left)
Nurture My Body Organic Ginger Hand and Body Lotion mixes essential oils of lavender, rosemary, and sweet orange for a pleasant aroma, and blends them into a silky formula to nourish your skin.
Artisana Raw Organic Coconut Butter is a flavorful and nutritious alternative to dairy butter. Mildly sweet with a delightful texture when heated, it contains the flesh-not just the oil-of the plant, so it retains all of the fiber, vitamins, and minerals of the coconut.
With flavors such as Tangerine, Raspberry, and Vanilla & Honey in a beeswax and olive oil base, Aubrey Organics Treat 'em Right Organic Lip Balm not only hydrates your lips, but also gives your taste buds a sweet treat.