The scoop on natural and organic skin care, and the brands that have earned their customers' trust.
If you’re looking for organic skin care, chances are that you already have a good idea of why you should use it. Choosing organic skin care products is a great way to clean up your beauty routine. What you should know before diving in is that the FDA doesn’t regulate the term “organic” in cosmetics, and the USDA doesn’t have any authority over cosmetics that don’t have agricultural ingredients. Long story short, “organic skin care” isn’t perfectly safe, and you should still pay attention to ingredient lists when shopping for new products.
What’s natural skin care?
- “Natural” isn’t a regulated term, which means anyone can put it on their product.
- It generally means that the ingredients come from natural sources.
- Natural sources can still be harmful to your health. For example, iron oxides that come directly from the earth can be contaminated with heavy metals. That’s why iron oxides used to color cosmetics are better off made synthetically in a lab instead.
- Some brands do have strict definitions for what natural means in their products. It’s best to find brands that stick to these standards and have earned trust from their customers.
- Foreign natural standards for cosmetics exist like BDIH and Ecocert, but they don’t ensure that you’re avoiding all harmful synthetic preservatives.
What’s organic skin care?
- The term “organic” isn’t regulated by the FDA for the cosmetic industry. That means any company can easily call their products “organic skin care.”
- There are organic certifications that can give more weight to the organic content of a formula.
- Skin care products can have USDA organic certification if they contain agricultural ingredients. The product needs to contain at least 95% organic ingredients, and the remaining ingredients need to be approved on this list. Remember, the USDA has strict standards for products that can be labeled organic, but only for agricultural and food products.
- Organic standards for cosmetics exist in other countries, but it’s generally agreed that USDA organic is the highest certification standard.
- Many skin care companies that don’t have organic certification can still be completely safe to use. Certification is expensive to obtain. Many brands source their ingredients from small local farms that already meet the USDA requirements, but don’t go through the trouble and expense to obtain official certification.
Natural and organic skin care aren’t regulated terms, so the answer varies. It depends on each individual brand, product, and ingredients list. Both are healthy options if the companies have strict standards in keeping harmful synthetic and natural ingredients out of their formulas.
Best natural and organic skin care
We’ve done research to find the highest performing natural and organic skin care products. These brands are free of the most harmful synthetic ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, fragrances, and more. The formulators are experienced and have won trust for their ingredient choices and products. We’ve also picked out brands that have a strong ethical conscious, including cruelty-free practices and sustainable packaging.
100% Pure is a natural cosmetics brand based in California that was founded in 2005. All of their products are cruelty-free and sustainably packaged, and many have won a cult-following for their effective formulas. 100% Pure offers USDA organic skin care products, and also has a strict definition for “natural” that’s modeled after USDA regulations. Their founder Susie Wang has over 15 years of experience in formulating skin care that’s truly healthful for all skin types.
Tried-and-true skin care from 100% Pure:
Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream
Vitamin C Serum
Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Ultra Riché PM Treatment
Juice Beauty is a natural beauty brand based in California that was founded in 2005. Their formulations all rely on an organic antioxidant-rich juice base with potent skin-beneficial ingredients. Their skin care products all meet the COPA standard, meaning Juice Beauty buys most of its ingredients from USDA certified organic farmers. All Juice Beauty products are vegan and cruelty-free, and many are made with sustainable energy.
Annmarie Skincare launched their natural products in 2009. They choose organic and wildcrafted ingredients that meet their clean and sustainable standards, and all products are cruelty-free. The company does a thorough job of explaining why they chose not to become certified organic. Annemarie is MADE SAFE™ verified though, which guarantees that all of their products are free of known toxic chemicals.
Nourish was launched in Pennsylvania in 2003 as the world’s first USDA certified organic skin care collection. That means at least 95% of the ingredients in their formulas are organic and the remaining ingredients must be on the USDA’s approved list. Nourish Organics’s mission is to make organic beauty mainstream, and goes to lengths to ensure our health and preserve our planet.
Laughing Tree Organics
It’s hard to find a brand as respectful to their ingredients as Laughing Tree Organics is. Most of their products contain an impressive 70-100% organically farmed ingredients. All of their creams are actually handmade in small batches, and they adhere to an eco-model that combines the best of clean and green beauty.
Tata Harper founded her upscale natural beauty brand in Vermont in 2010. The brand prides itself on creating innovative skin care products that are completely free of synthetic ingredients. The products run on high performing botanical ingredients in potent concentrations to produce real results. Ingredients are grown on their own farm and formulated in their Vermont labs for a true farm-to-face result.
In 2010, the Vermont company Ursa Major set out to create robust formulas that would do all the work running on only healthy ingredients. The result? A natural skin care line that outperforms conventional products and is actually enjoyable to use. Men and women will love their natural shave and deodorant collection. Ursa Major is working its way to using more organic ingredients and sustainable practices.
Image credit: Acure
Acure is a family-owned personal care line that focuses on plant technology for healthy yet affordable products. They like to keep it simple with organic ingredients you can pronounce, but they go above and beyond for plant science like with their plant stem cells. Acure is all about natural and organic skin care that anyone can afford and will benefit the whole planet. Their products are vegan and cruelty-free, some are USDA organic, and they’ve donated extensively to breast cancer research.
Natural isn’t always better, and Puristry clearly embodies this in their formulating expertise. Their products include plant chemicals that are powerful yet still suitable for sensitive skin. All the products are certified organic in their “The Routine” collection if you’re looking for that seal of perfection.
Tried-and-true skin care from Puristry:
Nopal Cactus Cleanser
Yerba Mate Eye Cream
Mun takes a minimalist and holistic approach to natural skin care. Their potent botanical formulas focus on nourishing and balancing all skin types to look their healthiest. The formulas are simple with powerful ingredients. Mun has partnered with women’s co-operatives in Morocco to source some of their ingredients, and empowers the local community and ecosystem.
One Love Organics is a role model for all small batch skin care lines. They manufacture all of their products in its ECOCERT licensed facility in Georgia, allowing them to lovingly craft every detail of their formulas. The company also earned the Gold Certified Business Seal of Approval as a leader in green business. Their simple, healthy formulas are certified organic by ECOCERT, leaving more room for fun in life.
OSEA is a natural skin care line inspired by the sea that was founded in 1996. They’ve said no to toxic, synthetic ingredients, and instead feature organic sustainable seaweed and vegan ingredients in their formulas. OSEA makes an effort to source USDA certified organic ingredients whenever possible, and avoids all animal-derived ingredients including carmine and lanoline.
You’re the best judge
Remember to still pay attention to ingredients lists when purchasing natural or organic skincare products. And when in doubt, reach out to the company and ask about their practices! It’s all about finding what works best for your skin type, and choosing products that are the most loving for your skin and the whole planet.