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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.
Solavedi Organics Eye Balm
This Ayurveda-inspired eye balm treats dark circles with a trifecta of botanicals: coffee, tea, and apple pectin.
“This balm goes on super-smoothly—no tugging or pulling at the delicate skin under your eyes ever again.” —Jody Villecco, YJ advisor
Yurrku Utopia Night Cream
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
See also 2015 Natural Beauty Awards
Andalou Naturals Konjac Facial Sponge Duo
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
Avalon Organics Brilliant Balance Enzyme Scrub
Walnut shells are a main ingredient in this scrub that buffs away dead skin while still being gentle.
“I can use this every day without my skin getting excessively dry or oily, plus, it has a great texture—not too slimy or thin—and an amazing lavender scent.” Tasha Eichenseher, YJ senior editor
Andalou Naturals Instant Brightening Face Mask
Want radiant skin without getting a spendy facial? This mask delivers, using organic pumpkin-derived enzymes, manuka honey, and citrus glycolic AHA.
“It feels cool and refreshing while it’s on and smells amazing.” —Abigail Biegert, YJ associate art director
Jāsön Gentle Basics Facial Cleanser
A minimal number of ingredients made this cleanser a clear favorite, especially among our testers with sensitive skin.
“This cleanser is a green alternative to Cetaphil, the classic super-gentle cleanser recommend by dermatologists, because this one has fewer ingredients and no parabens.” —VT
Moisturizer with SPF
Badger Damascus Rose Zinc Oxide Face Sunscreen SPF 25
Too often, natural sunscreens leave streaks on skin. This one provides broad-spectrum protection and blends easily.
“This sunscreen is surprisingly hydrating, and it doesn’t leave a greasy shine behind.” —Meghan Rabbitt, YJ senior editor
See also Natural Beauty Awards 2014
Lily Farm Fresh Skin Care Balancing Moisture Cream
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
Desert Essence Restorative Face Oil
Argan, marula, and jojoba oils make up some of the fab ingredients in this oil that our high-altitude testers raved about.
“I found this oil to be super-hydrating and easily absorbed, but without making my skin greasy or triggering breakouts.” —Carin Gorrell, YJ editor in chief
See also Natural Beauty Awards Guidelines
Acure Coconut + Argan Cleansing Towelettes
Great for traveling or stashing in your yoga bag, these biodegradable cleansing wipes nicely cleaned our testers’ skin and caused zero irritation.
“These towelettes remove makeup and grime and make my skin feel clean, not sticky.” —Amanda Tust, YJ senior editor
Jane Iredale BeautyPrep Face Toner
This gentle toner is infused with fruit and vegetable extracts that hydrate skin instead of drying it out.
“I love how fresh it makes my skin feel.” —Elizabeth Marglin, YJ associate editor
EveryDay Coconut Shampoo & Body Wash
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
Pure Glam Performance Dry Shampoo
This dry shampoo—loaded with arrowroot, clay, and rice powder—offers a quick fix for those days when you want to skip a wash or extend a blowout.
“This dry shampoo has an unbeatable scent, and it really saved me during the months after my daughter was born, when showers were a few-and-far-between luxury.” —CG
See also 6 Nourishing Winter Lip Balms
Mineral Fusion Strengthening Conditioner
With keratin to build elasticity and marula oil to boost luster, this conditioner wowed our testers.
“The lovely, luscious smell had me from the get-go, and that was only reinforced by its standout performance: It made my hair smooth, silky, shiny, and buoyant.” —Janet Nudelman
Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture Scent & Shine Coconut Oil
You won’t find conventional silicones in this frizz-taming hair oil.
“The applicator (a dropper) is perfect, helping me get just a tiny bit, which is all you need. Plus, unlike many other oils I’ve tried, this one didn’t make my fine hair greasy.” —TE
See also 6 Natural, Chemical-Free Deodorants
Osmia Organics Night Body Oil
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
Intelligent Nutrients Algae Bioactive Science OneBody Moisturizer
Infused with marine bioactives, pink peppercorn-seed extract, and coffee oil to improve skin elasticity, this crowd-pleasing moisturizer works well on all skin types.
“It hydrates without leaving a greasy or overly heavy residue, and it has a spicy, light scent that’s neutral enough to work on men and women.” —Kristen Arnett
John Masters Organics Orange & Rose Hand Cream
Nine certified organic ingredients, including antibacterial clove oil, give this hydrating hand cream a health boost.
“Unlike most other hand creams, this one absorbs easily. I can even use my iPhone touch screen directly after applying!” —JV
Babo Botanicals Super Shield Sport Stick Sunscreen SPF 50
This easy-to-apply zinc oxide stick goes on surprisingly sheer and kept our fair-skinned senior editor sunburn free in the high Himalayas on a recent trip to India.
“I love that this is water resistant, which makes it great for swimming and activities where I know I’m going to sweat. Plus, the stick form is so easy to reapply.” —MR
See also 6 Skin + Hair Sun Protectors
Tata Harper Smoothing Body Scrub
Simulate the spa experience at home with this decadent micro-polishing scrub that’s made with five biodegradable exfoliants.
“This body scrub made my skin so smooth, I didn’t even have to moisturize after my shower.” —Samantha Trueheart, YJ online editor
Sibu Cleansing Face & Body Bar
Naturally astringent sea buckthorn leaves are the key ingredient that makes this cleanser both hydrating and effective.
“I quickly became hooked on this cleanser’s refreshing foaming action, with the perfect amount of lather.” —JN
See also 7 Essential Oils Every Yogi Needs
Pure + Simple
This balm has a soft, smooth, buttery feel and a nontoxic formulation.
“It gives me just the right amount of nourishment without leaving my lips too glossy. Plus, the flavors are unique and even have aromatherapy benefits.” —KA
Lip Balm SPF
BurnOut Zinc Oxide Lip Balm
This balm has a velvety feel and provides chemical-free sun protection that goes on clear.
“It’s easy to forget to protect your lips, but this hydrating stick makes it a cinch.” —Rachel Aiweda, YJ editorial intern
Honeybee Gardens Truly Natural Lipstick
$13, honey beegardens.com
This lipstick glides on smooth thanks to coconut and sesame oil, and it can stay on for hours. Plus, it comes in an impressive 20 shades.
“By far the best natural lipstick I’ve ever used: It goes on smooth and hydrates, and the color really lasts.” —AB
Rejuva Minerals Water Resistant Mega Lash
This mascara lengthens and separates lashes with the best of them, but without nasty chemicals—all in a recyclable, BPA-free tube.
“This mascara extended my lashes without clumping, and it didn’t streak or run during yoga.” —AT
Goddess Garden Organics Erase the Day Mineral Removing Cleanser
Mineral-rich French clay draws out makeup and dirt particles like a magnet, getting rid of all traces of even the toughest-to-remove waterproof makeup.
“I’m really impressed by how well this works and by how clean the ingredients are.” —JV
Weleda Cuticle Softener Pen
No time for a manicure? No problem. Give your nails and cuticles some love with this sunflower-seed oil and pomegranate-seed oil pen.
“This product has done wonders for keeping my cuticles neat, clean, and soft. I keep one stashed in my purse to use when I’m waiting someplace.” —JV
Meet Our Advisory Board
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.