Not all skincare products are created equal. As a self-proclaimed skincare junkie since the ripe old age of 8, along with my ability to retain unhealthy levels of nerdy information — I’m a bit . . . snobby when it comes to my products.
Long gone are the days when I would march into my mother’s bathroom, eyes fixated on the glistening glass atomizers, jars full of ‘miracle’ creams and potions (scooping out just a smidge so that she wouldn’t notice there was a product thief living under her roof). Sorry mom.
I’ve since retired my love of Jergens, Carmex, St. Ive’s, Cetaphil, Johnson & Johnson, and the fancier but no less toxic Clinique, Clarins, Caudalie, Dermalogica . . . the list could go on and on.
Because more than a decade ago I learned what was hidden inside most of these products.
And the facts scared me.
It was around that time that the doors to the world of natural skincare were opened to me. Back in 2003 when I started my foray into natural products, there weren’t a whole lot of options. But in the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of high-quality, natural skincare options that are not only safe to use but that actually work (even better than their counterparts in many instances).
After more than a decade of experimentation (which continues to this day — just ask my man about our multiple medicine cabinets and shelves lined with products, and watch him smirk), I’ve settled on a few products that in my humble opinion are among the best.
To qualify, when I say “best”, my criteria is based on these 4 things:
- Must be all-natural, non-toxic (safe to put on my skin)
- Must use high-quality ingredients (no silly fillers, which are often toxic)
- Must actually work (keep my skin moisturized, brighten, exfoliate, etc.)
- Must be a sensory delight to use (aromatic, delicious, a pleasure-filled experience to use)
Here is my guide to the best natural skin care products on the market today:
1. White Tea Purifying Cleanser by Arcona
This has been in my rotation for years. If you want your skin to feel truly clean and refreshed, this is the cleanser. It’s great at clarifying, calming and protecting the skin. I use this in the shower, or when I need to remove makeup.
2. Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser by Annemarie Gianni
I just discovered this cleanser late last year and I’m hooked! A great, pH balanced cleanser for all skin types and conditions. This delightfully scented aloe vera based formula is light and deeply moisturizing, the perfect morning pick-me-up.
3. Nourishing Oil Cleanser by Tata Harper
A beautiful combination of oils that cleanses while moisturizing. The idea of using oils for cleansing purposes isn’t new and has been around for centuries. I’m such a fan of this brand, and this product (which leaves my skin feeling perfectly soft and glowy).
4. Raw Coconut Cream by RMS Beauty
Coconut is a great makeup remover, cleanser, moisturizer — you name it. And while yes, I could run to the market and grab a tub that’s more economical, I love investing in RMS Beauty’s freshly harvested, travel-ready jar. This is always in my skincare stash.
5. Orange Blossom Face Cleansing Pads by Preserve Skincare
Created by two estheticians who I know and love, these are the ultimate cleansing pads. I keep them in my bag just in case and use them whenever I’m too lazy to cleanse properly at night (which is more often than I’d like to admit).
TONERS + FACIAL SPRAYS
1. Rosewater by Heritage Store
Hands-down my go-to facial spray is this inexpensive rosewater. I spritz it on after showers, in the middle of the day when I need a pick-me-up, on flights, on hot summer days, after working out — all the time. It comes in a smaller travel-friendly size and in other scents as well (though rose is the clear winner).
2. Vitale Toning Floral Essence by In Fiore
An herbal toner that helps your face oils and moisturizers penetrate more deeply. It smells divine (in typical In Fiore fashion). A luxurious toner that I use in combination with my moisturizing products.
3. Ratrani Rose Replenishing Mist by Pratima
An Ayurvedic blend by one of my favorite skincare specialists Pratima Raichur. A great travel spray, and toner that leaves skin (and body) feeling fresh, clean and comforted. I use this all the time (and keep it on my desk for mid-day spritzes).
4. The Jasmine Garden by May Lindstrom
May has created a beautiful sensory experience with this toner. If you love Jasmine, this is a must-try. Another decadent product that leaves skin feeling fresh and clean. I use this after a long day outside (helps ease inflammation and redness).
SERUMS + TREATMENTS
1. Anti-Aging Serum by Annemarie Gianni
This line is as natural as they come, and is filled to the brim with ingredients that hydrate, soothe and boost collagen. It even has UV protective qualities and boosts cell production. One of the best skin serums I’ve tried.
2. Complexe de Fleur Cellular Renewal Complex by In Fiore
The ultimate all-natural serum. Derived from herbal infusions and floral essences, it’s one of my favorite skincare products on the market. A pricey indulgence, but one that I’m happy to splurge on. I see a marked improvement in the overall brightness and suppleness of my skin with consistent use.
3. Youth Serum by Arcona
An EWG #1 rated serum that helps prevent fine lines and repairs hyper-pigmentation and ultimately helps you have more luminous skin. They say it’s a morning serum, but I’ve often used this at night as well. As with all Arcona products — it works!
4. CaR Vital Glow Wild Carrot Serum Concentrate by Odacite
I’ll admit this isn’t in my usual rotation, but when I do snag a bottle, it’s one of my favorites. Odacite makes an array of highly concentrated serums that deliver. Check out their whole line, they are reasonably priced, last a long time and are highly effective.
MOISTURIZERS + OILS
Anti-Aging Facial Oil by Annemarie Gianni
I’m a relatively new fan of Annemarie Gianni, but her products are not only uber natural but effective and a treat for the senses. This facial oil is no exception. I use this rich oil at night before bed or whenever I’m needing a bit of extra moisture (hello desert summers).
Pur Face Oil CONCENTRÉ by In Fiore
If you have oily or acneic skin, this is your face oil. I am never, ever without this oil (or any of In Fiore’s face oils for that matter). I use this one in particular whenever I’m trying to tame redness, have breakouts or just want a light face oil to mix with a face mask or creamier moisturizer. It’s amazing!
Nourrit Face Oil CONCENTRÉ by In Fiore
Another face oil that never leaves my side is this incredibly rich, restorative formulation (coined the “ultimate skin reviver”). I use this AM, PM, after-sun and anytime my skin needs a bit of extra moisture and healing. If I had to go to a desert island with only 5 products, this would be in my bag.
Magic White Ice by Arcona
I’ve used Arcona products for more than 13 years now and being a bit of a fairweather product user, it says something, that this has remained in my skincare arsenal for more than a decade. I’ve even converted my man to a loyal user. It helps neutralize free radicals and hydrates without clogging pores. It’s the perfect lightweight moisturizer for summer (great for all skin types).
Crème de Fleur Complex Rejuvenè by In Fiore
Another indulgence that I keep around for times when I want a bit of decadent, deep hydration. I cannot over-emphasize the quality of In Fiore’s products. This cream feels like whipped air (that happens to be incredibly potent and rich in minerals). My skin adores this moisturizer, especially when she’s feeling dehydrated after a flight or during the dry seasons.
SCRUBS + MASKS
1. The Clean Dirt by May Lindstrom
May’s products feel like magic potions. My favorite one is The Clean Dirt. Put a bit of powder in your hand, add a few drops of water and watch the product literally come alive. The texture, the smell and more importantly, the effectiveness, are off the charts. It gets warm and tingles as it works its magic. I adore this exfoliator and use it at least once a week.
2. Lustra Exfoliating Floral Compound by In Fiore
Yet another beautiful product by In Fiore founder Julie Elliott. Often referred to as “divine mud”, this thick cleansing and exfoliating treatment is like a facial in a jar, no joke. I often put this on my face about 15 minutes before hopping in the shower. It can get messy, but it’s oh-so worth it. Your skin will glow afterward!
3. Blue Flame Mask by Astara
Hands down my go-to mask for breakouts and cleansing my pores. All of Astara’s masks for wonderful, but this one in particular, is both soothing and highly active/effective.
4. Sandalwood Rose Mask by Pratima
The perfect weekly mask for all skin types, this Ayurvedic blend of sandalwood mud, turmeric, and rosewater, purifies, exfoliates, tightens and calms the skin. I’m in love with the scent of this mask. Draw a bath, turn on some tunes and soak for 30 minutes with this mask on your face. A perfect weekly ritual.
5. Antioxidant Mask by Kahina Beauty
Another great mask to add your medicine cabinet, this refreshing and deeply detoxifying mask draws out all the nasties that accumulate on your skin. I love the texture of this mask (a little goes a long way). The fact that the brand has strong ties to philanthropy is also a big win in my book.
EYE + LIP
1. Refreshing Mint Eye Gel by Pratima
Looking for something to put on your eyes besides cucumbers? This lightweight, hydrating gel reduces ‘the puff’ and feels uber refreshing when you’re running on not enough sleep, or are just feeling over-taxed (i.e. too many hours in front of that computer screen).
2. Vitamin E Active Moisture Eye Balm by Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics
An intensely hydrating eye balm that I like to use at night to help replenish moisture and reduce puffiness. Very rich and very nourishing.
3. Restorative Eye Cream by Tata Harper
Another indulgent product, but one that is highly, highly effective (as are all of Tata’s products). This is a wonder eye cream. It addresses fine lines, puffiness, dark circles, you name it. And after a month of use I can definitely say I saw a big difference. Consider me converted.
4. Whipped Shea Butter for Lips by Evan Healy
The name says it all. This is a moisture-packed little stick of wonder. I use this obsessively during the winter months.
5. Organic Lip Balm by SW Basics
Cocoa lip balm? Yes please. I never leave the house without having this in my bag. I also have them stashed around the house in random places. I LOVE this lip balm. It’s inexpensive and effective. And smells delicious!
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I hope this list of curated products helps you begin your own love affair with natural skin care products. Tell me in the comments below what your favorite product lines are. And if you’re more of a DIY-er, I’d love to hear your recipe(s) for great skincare!