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The 11 Most Effective Natural Beauty Products You Can Buy

Store shelves are packed with "natural" beauty products, but which ones are a must for good health? Our experts reveal their top picks.

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Switch your skincare to paraben-free

There are over 800 chemicals in beauty products sold in the U.S., many of which are potentially harmful in a variety of ways, according to holistic beauty author and educator Tara Mackey, founder of The Organic Life. “One hundred percent of what we put into our skin gets absorbed into our bloodstream,” she says. Parabens are commonly used in personal care products as preservatives even though a small British study found a potential link between parabens and breast tumors, reports Real Simple. Next time you’re in the market for a new eye cream, try Ildi Pekar 100% Raw Honey Eye Cream. It’s paraben-free, uses natural oils and 100 percent certified organic raw honey, among other natural ingredients. Want to go ever more green? Here are natural moisturizers you already have in your home.

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Toss those old lip balms

Lip balms are typically formulated with petroleum jelly, and some science has shown that petroleum-based products may release toxic compounds directly into our very porous skin, reports huffingtonpost.com. “Avoid formulas with petrolatum, and swap for balms with baobab oil,” says Nyakio Kamoche Grieco, a natural beauty products expert and formulator. Nyakio Baobab Lip Balm, from her line, uses the oil of the baobab super fruit from Ghana to hydrate lips and nurture skin. The baobab tree is known to locals as the “Tree of Life,” thanks to high levels of vitamins A and E, a variety of omega fatty acids, and other nutrients in its fruit.

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Swap out your serums

Serums are a wonderful gift to your skin—as long as their active ingredients aren’t overshadowed by large amounts of parabens and other potentially problematic preservatives. “If you’re putting it on your skin, it’s going into your pores and through your bloodstream,” explains Mackey. Looking to go more natural? Skin Authority Turmeric & Blueberry for Brightening serum is paraben-free and harnesses the natural brightening power of turmeric to give skin a glowy look.

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Trade your perfume for essential oil

Avoid anything that has fragrance or perfume, which can be irritating at the very least, and at worst, potentially toxic. “Look for perfumes that derive their scent from essential oils and contain organic oils as a base,” Mackey says. This green beauty tip is one of her favorites because it’s easy enough to source fragrance-free products whether they technically fall into the organic beauty category or not. Osmotics Cosmeceuticals Skin Rescue Nourishing Oil was designed as a natural beauty solution to skin hydration but also doubles as an essential-oil based fragrance that is free of harmful chemicals. The formula uses coconut, almond, sunflower, grape seed, sesame, and red raspberry oils to nourish and leave a gentle fragrance that lingers for hours.

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Get rid of those old makeup sponges

Sure, those makeup sponges are super handy when it comes to getting a flawless finish with your foundation, but did you know that most of the big brands are loaded with potentially harmful chemicals found in commercially produced foam? It’s the kind of stuff you’d never want to put near your skin (not to mention that they’re notoriously hard to clean). Eco Tools recently debuted makeup sponges made from plant-based materials. Aside from that being eco-friendly, the sponges are literally green, and that’s pretty adorable.

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Use a more natural makeup brush and sponge cleaner while you’re at it, too

If you’re already swapping your beauty tools for better, more natural versions, make sure you’re also cleaning them with holistic ingredients as well. You can actually use a plant-based hand soap to swish your brushes and sponges around in each week to get all the gentle cleansing benefits you’re looking for without any of the harsh ingredients. One to try: Ecos Hypoallergenic Hand Soap is plant-based, free of parabens and irritants, and still strong enough to really break down even the most stubborn oil-based concealer residue on your favorite brush. Pamper your skin with these simple, homemade face mask recipes.

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Choose heavily committed makeup brands

Sure, it’s easy for just about any company or line to come out with an organic beauty item or two or offer a few natural beauty products in their line, but Mackey suggests opting for brands that you know are committed to making products that are consistently safe and effective. That’s often a challenge when it comes to products with rich color payoff like eye shadow and eyeliner, so make sure you do your homework. Vapour Organic Beauty Artist Eye Palette delivers the same colors and textures as the not-so-natural brands, but uses organic ingredients, leaves out the nasties, and even includes eco-certified ingredients you’ll feel good about. In fact, the whole line does, so it’s a pretty safe bet.

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Try an all-natural highlighter

The Internet is obsessed with using makeup highlighters everywhere from foreheads to collarbones, but that’s not the best idea if many of the most popular shimmery highlighters on the market are packed with parabens and potentially irritating compounds. Try switching to a limited-ingredients formula like Rituel de Fille Rare Light Luminizer, which uses an entirely cruelty-free recipe and 99 percent natural ingredients. They also don’t use synthetic dyes, fragrances, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, or talc. Beautiful (literally).

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Incorporate more honey into your skincare regimen

Did you know that honey is naturally antibacterial and requires no preservatives? Beauty products with high concentrations of honey can usually cut back on their use chemical preservatives as well as irritating synthetic fragrances. Try swapping out your in-shower scrubs for honey-rich formulas like worker B Coconut Raw Honey Scrub. Raw honey is one of the best natural beauty products out there, and the cornerstone of the short ingredient list. It also contains naturally antibacterial and preservative-free coconut oil. This is one of those natural beauty products you’ll love to use each day thanks to the cake-like smell every time you pop open the jar. Manuka honey is said to be especially potent. The Manuka Doctor ApiClear Purifying Facial Peel exfoliates gently, without any irritation. Here are nine more health and beauty benefits you get from honey.

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Look for sulfate-free conditioner

Shampoos and conditioners often contain synthetic scents, dyes, preservatives, and sulfates. Try opting for an oil-rich green beauty alternative to hydrate dry locks instead of an over-processed deep conditioner. Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil deep conditions, hydrates, detangles, and smells like an absolute dream without so much as a drop of sulfates, parabens, or silicones.

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Don’t use any old hair color

If you’re a fan of home hair color, we salute your love of beauty and this cost-efficient method of changing up your look, but the quest for natural beauty products shouldn’t stop at just skincare and makeup. When it comes to popular hair color kits, most are actually full of chemicals including parabens, sulfates, and even something called resorcinol, a known hormone disrupter, according to Safe Cosmetics. Madison Reed makes a home hair color system that is loaded with natural oils and rich multi-tonal pigments (like the expensive salon stuff), but is totally absent of resorcinol, parabens, phthalates, and a host of other nasties.

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.