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The winners of Yoga Journal’s second annual Natural Beauty Awards are in! We tested nearly 150 products to find the 33 best for your skin and hair—all free of harsh chemicals and full of rejuvenating plant compounds. Discover a trustworthy lipstick, serum, or scrub that’s right for you.
Call it the year of farm-to-skin. Botanical ingredients are the new superstars in the beauty aisle, pampering you with their natural aromatic properties and soothing and strengthening powers. Plant extracts can offer nourishing and protective benefits without the consequences of harsh chemicals—by some estimates, more than one in five personal-care products contain chemicals linked to cancer—making for skin- and hair-care formulations that are safer and impressively effective.
The skin-care companies featured on these pages leave no stone unturned in their quest for botanical heavy hitters. For instance, Dr. Hauschka Skin Care, a pioneering biodynamic line that launched in Germany in 1967, introduced rose apple to its new night serum after studying more than 4,ooo different varieties of apple, according to Mandi Vance, education and events manager for Dr. Hauschka. “The apple we sought had to be crisp, juicy, and as soft, rosy, and full of vitality as your skin is after a good night’s sleep,” says Vance.
EO Products, a Marin County, California–based natural and organic skin-care company, adopts a biomimicry credo in an effort to emulate nature’s strategies for resilience. One of their newest ingredients is tsubaki oil, derived from the Japanese camellia, a species high in vitamin E and other antioxidants that can thrive in cold weather. “If tsubaki can flourish in a cold, extreme climate, it can also protect the skin from similar ravages, including sun damage,” says EO co-founder Susan Griffin-Black.
Beyond searching the wilderness for new ingredients, scientists are also having breakthroughs in the lab. Advances in plant stem-cell technology provide a way to extract concentrated antioxidants, which are thought to have an efficient stimulating and protective effect on human skin cells by increasing collagen production and cell renewal.
To help you find the best natural products, we searched for unique botanical-based ones around the world, and vetted 145 products, from 60-plus companies, that were either brand-new this year or had a new formulation.
All of the products adhere to our strict criteria for safe ingredients, based on the database of and guidelines for safe personal-care ingredients from the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, DC–based nonprofit that investigates chemicals in cosmetics. Then we tapped more than 130 readers to test and rate this year’s crop of personal-care products based on performance, texture, scent, packaging, and the innovative use of botanical ingredients. Check out the winners, learn more about ingredients to avoid, and discover the latest “it” plant extracts.
Read Our Beauty Awards Guidelines
See the 2014 Natural Beauty Award Winners