I'm pretty embarrassed to admit that it's only very recently—as in over the past few months—that I've really started to sit up and take notice of issues like sustainability within the beauty industry. When it comes to my weekly food shop, I've been on the right page for a while—swapping my plastic-wrapped peppers for loose ones and making sure my peanut butter is palm-oil free before heading to the checkout. But when it comes to the beauty products that I enjoy using, I've very much had my head in the sand.
When it comes to natural beauty products? Honestly, I'm even worse. I've long-held the view that a lot of natural formulations simply don't work and rarely spare a moment's thought for the amount of preservatives, silicones and other chemical nasties that work their way onto my skin each day. But much like with my food shop – where I'll opt for grass-fed meats and organic veggies when I can afford to – I've really started to think a bit more carefully about what I'm actually using on my skin and hair.
To push myself well and truly out of my beauty comfort zone, I made a pledge with myself to take home and test all of the natural beauty products that I've been sent over the last few weeks; after all, there's no better time to experiment with your beauty routine than when you're working from home. I also chatted with as many brands as possible to find out their natural beauty recommendations. Turns out, some of the products that are already a part of my regular skincare rotation are natural and I hadn't even realised it.
Disclaimer: I'm still learning about natural beauty so, while some of these products might not be 100% natural, they all harness plant-based and natural ingredients as a major part of their formulas. I'm aware that there is still much to be done in terms of sustainable packaging and production, and that ingredients are just one part of this journey. We all have to start somewhere, right?
If you're looking for all-natural skincare with tangible benefits and uncompromised style, look no further than Herbivore. From fully recyclable packaging to their philanthropic stance, Herbivore has crafted some of the top-performing natural beauty products I've ever used; and this cleanser is a highlight. Suitable for all skin types, this non-fragranced, non-drying, ph-balanced formula ticks all of the boxes on my cleanser checklist.
I've spoken before of loving a certain gritty apricot scrub (my guilty beauty secret) but there are days when only a good physical exfoliator will do. This everyday cleanser is infused with natural jojoba grains to gently polish the skin and remove dead skin cells without irritation and it's genuinely really good.
I'm a bit hit or miss with traditional toners but when this one arrived in the post, it was the gorgeous smell that convinced me to try it. It's alcohol free and packed with naturally-derived ingredients like soothing calendula petals and antibacterial allantoin. Particularly well suited to blemish-prone skin, this is a product that will make a permanent home in my routine thanks to the way my skin was left feeling so fresh and clean afterwards.
Known as the 'Queen of Green', Tata Harper has been pioneering natural beauty in the industry for years. You'll find cleansers and lotions for every skin type in her collection but it's this balancing moisturiser that my skin adored. It calms any active breakouts, imparts luminosity and also doubles as a great primer for makeup.
I'm a big fan of Elemis skincare products, and already love the face mist from the Superfood range, but was pleasantly surprised to discover how clean the ingredients list was in this all-natural oil. I tend to avoid nourishing oils, as they can cause me to break out, but this one is packed with great ingredients like broccoli seed oil, radish seed extract and flax seed oil and left my skin looking clear and bright.
Speaking to them over Zoom recently, two PRs for this botanical skincare brand were raving about this mask. So much so that, straight afterwards, I put it to the test. Apparently, it's the Boscia hero product—which, incidentally, is pronounced bo-sha FYI—and I can see why. It contains naturally powerful antioxidants like activated charcoal and vitamin C to deeply cleanse pores and protect your skin afterwards. Plus, the peel-off formula has that gross (but satisfying) factor where you can actually see all of the impurities that have been pulled out of your skin.
This one of those products that was already in my skincare stash and, if I'm honest, I didn't realise it was natural—all I know is that it does a seriously good job or brightening your skin. It uses naturally invigorating treats like papaya powder, coffee extract and ginger that tingle when applied to your skin (in a good way) and reveal a more radiant complexion after 15 minutes.
Aurelia is a beautiful all-natural, British brand that I had only tried a couple of products for before. This probiotic treatment is something of an all-rounder, combatting everything from hormonal breakouts and dullness to the effects of pollution and loss of elasticity. I mixed a couple of drops in with my moisturiser and felt that my skin looked much clearer after just a few days of use.
Unlike other spot treatments which often contain alcohol to dry blemishes out, this is a natural, oil formulation that thwarted a particularly nasty under-the-skin cheek spot with ease this week. The carefully blended mix of tea tree, lavender, lemon, and rosemary oils, alongside salicylic acid, are chosen for their antibacterial properties so you're really getting to the root of the problem, fast.
Both KNC Beauty's Instagrammable eye and lip masks were created after the brand founder struggled to find any natural options on the market. Not only are these star-shaped eye patches fun to wear but they're packed with aloe, grape seed oil, rose flower oil and licorice flower extract to firm and brighten under-eyes.
Top tip—keep this eye cream in the fridge and you will thank me on mornings when you just can't open your eyes. It contains algae, aloe vera, rice bran and rosewater to disguise tiredness, hydrate under-eyes to reduce the appearance of fine lines and generally get you looking a little more wide-awake.
Free from parabens, silicones and other skin-irritants, this soothing shower gel is made from 93% natural ingredients. (Plus, how cute is the packaging?) This sweet, floral fragrance was my favourite—the result of a 100% natural geranium extract so no artificial scents here—and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it gently lathered up to cleanse skin in the shower.
Not only are UpCircle's products brimming with natural ingredients like shea butter, peppermint oil and coffee but they actually take coffee grounds from London cafes that would have otherwise been thrown away and repurpose them into their formulas. This body scrub was delightfully gritty, smelt incredible really left my legs and arms feeling smooth.
Finally—a natural deodorant that actually works. I've tried tons of different formulations over the years but have always gone back to aluminium-laden deodorants because, let's be honest, they keep sweat and unwanted odour at bay. This sensitive skin formula is free from the baking soda that many natural deodorants contain so I found that not only did it not irritate my armpits but it kept sweat to a minimum and I smelt good all day.
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.