Your Guide to Green, Natural Beauty Products on a Dime

Alden Wicker
Posted

woman washing faceHow far would you go for perfect skin?

It’s hard to say no to chemical-laden cleansers when you’re staring down a zit in the mirror, or a miracle cream when you’re wondering if those laugh lines make you look laughably older than you are.

But many traditional skin care products contain an alarming array of toxins that have been linked to everything from rashes to breast cancer. As we explained in our guide to safe, non-toxic makeup, it’s important to know what you slather on your face, so even if you decide that the reward is worth the risk, you’re at least fully informed about what you’re spending your money on.

So we tried almost a hundred different organic and natural skincare products, each tested by several staffers. The resulting list reflects the products we loved best. And we looked up every ingredient in our picks to make sure they are all as safe as a juice smoothie.

Organic and non-toxic products can be more expensive, but they’re also potentially safer for your health. It’s up to you to decide what works best given your budget and your health concerns. Read on to find out our favorites.

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing MaskIf You’re Looking For …

Organic Ingredients, Try Juice Beauty

Just like Juice Beauty’s makeup line, the skincare offerings are chock full of FDA-certified organic juices, extracts and other delicious tinctures. With all these feel-good natural ingredients, it’s no wonder the products left our skin soft.

Add this to your regimen: Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Mask, $24 or $12.94/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: End-Zit blemish control mask at $7.99/oz and Ole Hendrickson blemish attack purifying mask at $18.82/oz

Moms Editor Cheryl says, “It’s not as thick as some other masks I’ve used, so it didn’t make my face feel cake-y, and I had noticeably smoother skin after only two uses.”

Best for: Acne-prone skin

Find it: At Whole Foods and SkinStore.com

Burts Bees Spot Blemish Treatment

Convenience, Try Burt’s Bees

If you like to pick up your face wash at the same time as your tissues and prescriptions, then you’ll love Burt’s Bees, found in most drugstores. The scents and packaging are no-fuss, so watch out in case your significant other tries to snag it!

Consider adding this to your regimen: Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Targeted Spot Treatment, $10, or $38.42/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: Neutrogena On-the-Spot Acne Treatment at $7.24/oz and derma e Very Clear Spot Blemish Treatment at $23/oz

Best for: Combination skin

Editorial Assistant Alden says, “I dab it on my problem spots before I go to bed at night, and I can see and feel the difference the next morning. It’s more effective than toothpaste, and not nearly as unattractive!”

Find it: At drug stores nationwide and Drugstore.com

Sibu serumThe Latest Hot Ingredient, Try Sibu

Maybe you’ve tried acai from South America and pomegranate from the Mediterranean, but have you tried sea buckthorn from the Himalayas? Sibu claims this hardy berry’s 190 bioactive compounds (non-nutritional compounds found in foods that are purported to have health benefits) and omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 oils will help your hair, skin and nails. And you can test its powers in everything from day creams to a liquid nutritional supplement.

Consider adding this to your regimen: Sibu Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Serum, $35 or $35/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: RoC Multi-Corexion Skin Renewing Serum at $25/oz and Peter Thomas Roth VIZ 100 Intensive Hydrating Serum at $65/oz

Best for: Dry skin

Senior Editor Laura says, “I normally use a very expensive serum on my dry skin to keep it from becoming rough and flaky. This worked just as well and is half the price!”

Find it: At Whole Foods and Drugstore.com

John Masters Organics TonerA Little Bit of Luxury, Try John Masters Organics

Organic and natural products have a tendency to be cutesy or hemp-y. But from the classy packaging to the seductive scents and sumptuous texture of the products, John Masters has the air of a luxury beauty line perfect for indulging; the fact that the products are certified organic is a bonus.

Consider adding this to your regimen: John Masters Organics Toner, $20 or $10/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: Neutrogena Alcohol-free Toner at $.94/oz and Vichy Normaderm Purifying Astringent Toner at $2.61/oz

Best for: Sensitive skin

CEO and Founder Alexa says, “The toner is very gentle and refreshing, and I also love the rose scent!” 

Find it: At Vitamin Shoppe, Whole Foods and Beauty.com

Weleda Cleansing MilkPerfectly Pure Ingredients, Try Weleda

Not only are many of the ingredients of Weleda products organic, they are also harvested right from Weleda’s own “biodynamic” gardens across the world. (Biodynamic gardening and farming is an especially strict form of organic agriculture.) And the fact that Weleda has been in business for 90 years gives us confidence that it has had plenty of time to perfect the formulations of its delicious-smelling products.

Consider adding this to your regimen: Weleda Gentle Cleansing Milk, $19 or $5.59/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: Boots Original Formula Cleansing Milk at $1.60/oz and Vichy Purete Thermale Intensive Cleansing Milk at $2.60/oz

Best for: Dry skin

Editor in Chief Maria says, “It left my skin really clean and fresh, and the lavender scent is amazing.” 

Find it: At Target, Whole Foods and Drugstore.com

MyChelle Pumpkin CleanserA Complete Regimen for Your Skin, Try MyChelle

MyChelle’s selling point is that the line has complete skincare regimens for every skin need, from dry skin to youth blemish control to age defense, so you can personalize your routine.

Consider adding this to your regimen: MyChelle Creamy Pumpkin Cleanser, $17 or $4.61/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: Noxzema Clean Moisture Deep Cleansing Cream at $.60/oz and Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Moisturizing Cleanser at $5.55/oz

Best for: Dry skin

Executive Editor Carrie says, “I think it was the neg that made this cleanser smell so yummy. It also left my skin feeling super-velvety.”

Find it: At Whole Foods and Vitamin Shoppe

Acure Brightening Facial ScrubOur All-Around Favorite, Try Acure

The whole office couldn’t get enough of the products from Acure, which did everything they promised and more, leaving our skin feeling soft, clean and glowing. Plus, everyone was enamored of the scents.

Add this to your regimen: Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, $15 or $7.50/oz

How the price compares to conventional products: Clean & Clear Morning Burst Shine Control Face Scrub at $1.20/oz and Bliss Pore-Perfecting Face Polish at $7.14/oz

Best for: Combination and acne-prone skin

Editorial Assistant Gabrielle says, “I loved the facial scrub! My skin was clearer, softer and healthier, and the scrub even helped remove blackheads. It’s incredible.”

Art Director Tiffany says, “This is the best facial scrub I have ever used. I could see a visible difference when I got out of the shower. It’s so fresh and clean. If I had a larger sample I would’ve used it on my whole body.”

Find it: At Whole Foods and Spirit Beauty Lounge

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  • PatienceP

    I love the Burts Bees Deep Pore Cleanser and Starflower Essentials is also a great line

  • Adrienne

    Thayer’s Alcohol-Free Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner is amazing. Totally worth it.

  • Angelaras

    I love acure organics. I use them and I’ve never been happier. They’re reasonably priced compared to other organic products and the smells are heavenly. They aren’t heavy and doesn’t bug me like mainstream hair/face products. I’m mildy chemical sensitive and they’re perfect for me. 

  • Grace

    This article is misleading. “Green” should be sustainable, not “organic.”

    • Lady Chevaliere

      If they were talking about “green” in terms of sustainability, they would likely have discussed Lush products.

      • Anonymous

        For the purpose of this article, we’re talking about products that have little to no questionable ingredients in terms of toxicity. Lush is great for their packaging-free bath bombs, and fair-trade practices, for sure. But Lush products fall on a wide range of ingredient safety, from totally clean to alarming. It’s up to you what you think is most important!

  • Niora fan

    Niora products are really effective and wonderful, especially if you have sensitive skin with adult acne.  The products are alphahydroxy based with a creamy jojoba based cleanser.  Fighting wrinkles and acne has never been so easy.  Very clean ingredients and a great company.  They ship right to your home which is so convenient.  Check them out at Niora.com.  You won’t be dissapointed and it’s very reasonably priced.

  • Marthalynn

    I use Sibu’s serum and their night cream. I normally buy my products from medi-spa’s, but I think these products work just as good as the expensive ones I get. And I feel good knowing they’re organic and safe. I also use their liquid nutritional supplement and it tastes so good! Not sure if it’s doing anything, but it’s full of good-for-you stuff so I’m sure it is.

  • AmyH

    Want to *really* do something to fight the problem of toxics in consumer products? Write to your congressional representatives and ask them to support the Safe Chemicals Act that will overhaul TSCA, our outdated, toothless federal chemical regulation law! Safe products should be the norm, not something only available to upper-middle-class folks with the time to research these issues and the disposable income to buy non-toxic alternatives.

  • Mandyleigh129

    I noticed that a lot of these companies don’t make products with SPF in them….any suggestions for sun protection?

  • Jenb425

    Check your products for health ratings on ewg.org and goodguide.com.  Even some of the ones listed above can do better.  For instance, some Weleda products are safe but there are a few I would not used based on the ingredients that they contain.  Ingredients that we put on our skin seep into our bodies and we should care about it as much as we do the food we eat.

  • Kathleen

    Dr Hauschka products are one of the original “green” lines. Grown biodynamically in Germany. Been around for over 60 years.

  • Anonymous

    Check out Arbonne products. They are all natural products and great for dry, oily, combination, and of course sensitive skin. They carry the only products I can use without breaking out or swelling due to allergy. They also offer sun protection in their products.

    • Sammyn3boys

      absolutely agree, arbonne products are wonderful!

  • Lady Chevaliere

    Lush is where it’s at. I have NEVER tried a product I liked more than their Coal Face, Dark Angels or the endless array of moisturizers and other very skin friendly trinkets. I recently discovered that almost all my skin problems come from the simple fact that my skin hates chemicals, and switching to utterly natural, fresh ingredients did the trick.

  • Topello

    So, I see some of these product and it seems there is an assumption that we are not aware of healthy, green alternatives but we are. The problem is cost and a person’s budget. I mean $24 for a product that one can get for $7.99, the frugal girl in me screams. This is a “first world problem” and the market isn’t accessible to everyone. The most reasonable product out of all of them was Burt’s. I agree with the person below that we should write to those who develop these products but until the market is accessible to everyone not just those who can afford it, this isn’t going to be a helpful article. sorry.

  • Guest

    While not natural, the best and cheapest skincare by far is prescription Retin-A cream. Whether you have acne, combination skin, or fighting wrinkles (or all three), this is the best product out there. All those high-priced wrinkle creams that contain Retinol (which is basically overdiluted Retin-A), aren’t worth the price. And I’m not sure you will ever see any results;…because they ARE so diluted, which is what the cosmetics companies want!  Retin-A cream is the only thing that rebuilds collagen which is what gives our skin that “dewy” glow. Wrinkles are the result of a lack of collagen underneath the skin, so use something that works to keep your pores cleaned out and ”dewy”! Yes, there are people who will say that their skin is too sensitive for it, but if you get it in only a cream form (not the gel) at the lowest dosage possible (0.25%), use it only after waiting an hour or two after cleansing your face 2 or 3 times a week with regular exfoliating and moisturizing, you shouldn’t have any problems with it. Your regular primary physician can prescribe it for you but may recommend a dermatologist is your acne is really bad, like mine was. But at age of 51, I still do not have any wrinkles due to both genetics and regular use of Retin-A thru the years for severe cystic acne. Your insurance will probably not cover it, but the generic version is only about $35.00 (twice a year)-far cheaper than those over the counter products. I also love Boots #7 microdermabrasion exfoliator-not that cheap, but a little goes a long way. Just one more note: Your skin does not absorb everything! It all depends on the size of the molecule of what you are putting on your face. That’s why only some medications can be given transdermally (i.e. patches that the molecules are small enough to be absorbed thru the skin, such as nicotine patches, hormone replacement, etc). Its alot more important to watch what you put into your body (food, alcohol, etc.), than what you put on it. Easier said than done! If you want to “go green”, go ahead, but I want something that works!

  • Erincampbell

    I love Suki products. 

  • Tina86

    I am sort of obsessed with making my own shampoos and conditioners:

    Shampoo: 1 TBSP Baking Soda, and 1 Cup Water (Leaves your hair REALLY clean)
    Conditioner: A couple drops essential oil of your choice, a bit of honey , 1 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar and 1 Cup Water 

    (I have hair that is past the bottom of my bra, and I find after this rinse my hair is detangled, and easy to comb through.  Also, you can’t smell the apple cider vinegar once your hair is rinsed… in case you are worried.)

    Deep Conditioner: Apply Coconut Oil liberally to dry hair (you can mix in some essential oils (I like vanilla)), then rinse it out and shampoo and condition as your would normally.

    Total cost for all of the ingredients is like 15$ for a month or two supply of Shampoo, Conditioner and Deep Conditioner.  My hair smells and looks awesome, and no… I don’t look like a dirty hippie… I was a business major, am a manager in an office,  own my own home & car, and am debt free.  

  • Eva

    I love that this list even exists (thank you!), but I also wish there was a similar list of more economical (and sustainable) beauty products. The most affordable product I see on the list is Burt’s Bees. Thank you.