When it comes to natural beauty products, it can be tough to tell the green from the green-washed. So, we researched hundreds of ingredients and worked with our expert advisory board to find the truly fabulous. We slathered, spritzed, and sprayed our way through 134 “clean” nominees to come up with this year’s crop of beauty breakthroughs: high-performance skin- and hair-care offerings with no harsh chemicals. Here’s your guide to the 27 products that both met our tough standards and exceeded our performance expectations.
Part of a gorgeously packaged Australian skin-care line inspired by blends long used in Aboriginal culture, this night cream is replete with hand-harvested nectars like banksia, jacaranda, and wild rosella.
“The next morning, my skin was soft, smooth, and thoroughly nourished. I love the interesting and innovative botanicals in this product.” —JV
First popular in Japan, these soft, squishy sponges are loaded with ceramides—lipids made by our skin that keep it well moisturized—and effortlessly remove dead-skin cells that can dull your complexion.
“I love that this sponge contains ceramides, which really help to improve the moisture barrier in skin. It’s great for dry or sensitive skin.” —Valori Treloar, MD, YJ advisor
This minimalist formula includes shea butter and almond oil in the first three ingredients, yet it’s so lightweight and absorbs so quickly that it soon became our testers’ favorite all-around moisturizer.
“I can apply this incredibly hydrating moisturizer and put makeup on right afterward—it absorbs that quickly.” —MR
This multitasking shampoo doubles as a body wash and is gentle enough for babies as well as sensitive-skinned adults. Bonus: This company helps provide health care to more than 1,000 women in Togo each year.
“I love having a shampoo that the whole family can use. My daughter has sensitive skin, and this worked great for her.” —AT
The unique combo of lavender, chamomile, and Atlas cedarwood—an ingredient thought to stimulate the brain’s pineal gland to release sleep-inducing melatonin—set our testers up for a profound unwinding of the senses.
“This is such a great mix of nourishing oils, and the fact that most are certified organic is a big bonus.” —MR
To help us choose our winners, we asked these experts to share their extensive ingredient knowledge—and to try all 130-plus products that were submitted for consideration.
Kristen Arnett, an international natural makeup artist, beauty educator, and brand consultant, as well as editor in chief of greenbeautyteam.com.
Danielle Messina, a clean-beauty advocate and author of The Glamorganic Goddess blog. Messina became a natural-beauty convert after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31. Her mission: to find healthy beauty products that work without carcinogens.
Janet Nudelman, director of program and policy at the Breast Cancer Fund and co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition whose goal is eliminating dangerous chemicals from personal-care products.
Valori Treloar, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, certified nutrition specialist, and co-author of The Clear Skin Diet.
Jody Villecco, global quality standards coordinator for Whole Foods Market, including its Premium Body Care standards, a pioneer retail standard developed for natural personal care in the United States.