Natural products have risen to the forefront of the skin care world. Whether it be moisturizers, face masks, serums, or sunscreens, the skin care industry has seen more people become interested in going all-natural.
There are plenty of great reasons to begin using natural skin care products. A 2015 study found that natural ingredients such as plant extracts were a safe and cost-effective alternative to synthetic products. Not to mention, the plant extracts were also found to be beneficial to skin, too.
If you’re looking to add more natural products to your skin care routine (or if you’d like to embark on an all-natural skin care routine), we’ve rounded up some of the best natural products to add to your daily regimen.
Shopping for any kind of new skin care requires some careful consideration. For anyone buying natural skin care products for the first time, it can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few things you may want to consider when shopping:
Your skin type
Regardless of what kind of product you’re in the market for, you’ll want to make sure that it suits your skin type. Whether you have oily, combination, dry, or sensitive skin, choosing a product without doing research on formulas may cause your skin to react badly. Any product more suited to your skin type, natural or not, is more likely to be effective.
Natural skin care products span from drugstore to high-end prices. If this is your first time trying out a particular product or brand, it may be best to choose something that’s on the more affordable side. If you’re familiar with a brand and its formula, you may feel more confident in spending money on its products.
Ingredients that may irritate your skin
After doing some research on your skin type, you should peruse ingredient lists to make sure you steer clear of anything that may irritate your skin. Although beneficial, some people may be intolerant of some ingredients in natural skin products.
Make sure you read the product details and ingredients before purchasing. You could also do an at-home patch test to see if your skin reacts to the product. Start with a dime-sized amount of the product and apply it at your jawline, neck, or under your ear for facial products. If your skin doesn’t agree with the product, you’ll see irritation such as redness or itching, which can also suggest an allergic reaction.
You may not see the effects of trying a new skin care product right away. “Breakouts during the first 3 to 4 weeks of using natural products are completely normal,” says award-winning skin care formulator and founder of Merindah Botanicals, Mel Driver.
“This happens because natural ingredients encourage the elimination of toxins that have been accumulating in the skin from the use of synthetic skin care products,” she says. “It can take up to 30 days for new skin cells to reach the surface of the skin and to see true results.”
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition for what qualifies as natural skin care. Even the FDA is unable to regulate what is marketed as “natural,” as there is still very little research that has gone into understanding the benefits of natural skin care.
Some products may be certified by the Department of Agriculture or by other skin care agencies such as NATRUE, but not all natural products are regulated.
Driver says that this is because “there are not enough regulations in the beauty industry, and greenwashing is still a widespread practice.” Greenwashing is when companies claim to be eco-friendly or environmentally conscious through different advertising and marketing techniques, despite not being either of those things.
Natural could mean naturally occurring, naturally derived, or nature-identical. Because of this, it is always important to check the ingredients of the product.
While they are all similar and can be easily confused with each other, naturally occurring, naturally derived, and nature-identical are not the same things.
- Naturally occurring. An ingredient is considered to be naturally occurring when it’s found in nature and is used in its natural form, with no further treatment or refining. Raw honey and crushed flowers are examples of naturally occurring additives.
- Naturally derived. These ingredients need to be treated in order to access particular properties of the raw material. For instance, extracts of raw fat or coconut oil, often used in moisturizers, are treated before being added to a product.
- Nature-identical. This means that the ingredient has been produced in a lab and is chemically identical to a natural product. Sorbic acid, for example, is originally derived from rowan berries, which contain vitamin C.
Note that this is also not a definitive guide because of the inconsistencies in skin care.
The skin care products we’ve included in this list are all either naturally occurring or nature-identical. We also picked products based on budget, transparency of ingredients, and customer ratings and reviews.
- $ = under $20
- $$ = $20–$35
- $$$ = over $35
Best natural cleansers
Best milk cleanser
Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk
- Price: $$
- Best for: normal, dry, sensitive, or mature skin
- Key ingredients: resveratrol, grape juice, sesame seed oil, and chamomile
A creamy, soothing cleanser, Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk is certified with organic ingredients that aim to protect the skin. Sesame seed oil, whilst most commonly used for cooking up a stir-fry, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. The botanical extracts of chamomile, calendula, and linden help soothe and replenish skin as well as provide a boost of vitamin C, which can help repair damaged skin.
Many reviewers love the effectiveness of this cleanser since it’s a gentle product that hydrates the skin without causing any irritation. However, some users noted that the smell was a little stronger than other cleansers, so if you’re sensitive to fragrance, you may want to opt for a different product on our list.
Best drugstore cleanser
Versed Gentle Cycle Milky Cleanser
- Price: $
- Best for: dry and acne-prone skin
- Key ingredients: oat milk, probiotics, marula oil, and blackberry vinegar
Budget-friendly and rich with antioxidants like marula oil, this cleanser helps balance the skin’s pH levels and keep its microbiome healthy. Balancing your pH levels is crucial in helping the skin combat harmful microbes and germs. A healthy microbiome is important for your health as it keeps your skin supple and hydrated. When your microbiome suffers, your skin can become vulnerable to other issues.
The product also uses oat milk (not just for lattes!) as an anti-inflammatory, since, according to the brand, it’s been known to help nourish dry skin. Meanwhile, the blackberry vinegar can help calm redness and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier.
This formula is vegan, nontoxic, and cruelty-free, and reviewers love the way it lifts any built-up residue, grease, or makeup.
Best cleanser for pH balance
Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash
- Price: $$
- Best for: normal, combination, and oily skin
- Key ingredients: aloe, lemon, white tea, rice seed, and sugarcane
This concentrated foaming gel has a hint of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which functions as an exfoliant. With regular use of this face wash from Ursa Major, your skin’s moisture and pH balance will work to stay the same, which helps maintain overall skin health.
This cleanser aims to clean the skin using ingredients such as rice seed, which can help moisturize and smooth the appearance of the skin, and sugarcane, a natural source of glycolic acid that brightens and clarifies skin.
Reviewers note that this product works great as a gentle exfoliator when left on the face for a minute, followed by light scrubbing.
Best natural toners
Best toner for combination skin
100% Pure Fermented Rice Water Toner
- Price: $$$
- Best for: normal, dry, oily, and combination skin types
- Key ingredients: shiitake mushrooms, bearberry, niacinamide, licorice, and sake
100% Pure has become a fan favorite in the world of natural skin care thanks to its USDA certification. The concentration of ingredients such as white mulberry, shiitake mushroom, and licorice can balance skin tone and lessen the appearance of dark spots and brighten the skin.
Although normally from the kitchen or pantry, according to the brand, shiitake mushrooms can help brighten the skin with kojic acid, a chemical produced from fungi and a byproduct of fermented rice wine and soy sauce.
Best toner for acne-prone skin
cocokind Organic Rosewater Facial Toner
- Price: $
- Best for: sensitive skin or acne-prone skin
- Key ingredients: rose hydrosol
This product checks two boxes since it can be used as a toner and a setting spray. If you’re looking for something natural to soothe, hydrate, and balance your skin, this rosewater facial toner is an affordable and reliable option.
Best of all, cocokind is a brand that is committed to sustainability. They reuse their shipping boxes (and encourage and help their customers to recycle empty bottles), packaging materials, and are a One Tree Planted partner, an environmental charity that plants trees for every dollar raised.
Those who used this toner found themselves incorporating it as part of their daily skin care routine. Many say that thanks to the way rose water smooths out blemishes, they see a visible change in the texture of their skin.
Best triple-action toner
Youth to The People Kombucha Exfoliation Toner
- Price: $$$
- Best for: normal, dry, combination, and oily skin
- Key ingredients: lactic acid, kombucha black tea ferment, and tree bark ferment
This toner from Youth to the People is a triple-action power toner and is best used overnight due to its strong (and slightly harsh) formulation. Made with kombucha black tea ferment, it aims to enhance the skin’s natural microbiome by working as a prebiotic.
The toner also works to smooth skin texture, tighten pores, and reverse the look of oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is formed as a result of exposure to ionizing radiation (found in X-rays, CT, CAT, and PET scans) and a variety of other chemical agents.
Although some reviewers classified this toner as a bit too harsh for sensitive or mature skin, others noted that it changed the texture and feel of their skin within just a week. You may want to patch test it first since the formula can sting slightly and feel very sticky.
Best natural moisturizers
Best body lotion
Bangn Body Firming Lotion
- Price: $$$
- Best for: all skin types
- Key ingredients: coconut oil, sunflower oil, jojoba oil, aloe vera leaf oil, shea butter, and coffee bean extract
A summer favorite, Bangn Body Firming Lotion has gained a cult following after the brand launched in 2019.
Designed for both the face and body, the firming lotion promotes skin circulation, collagen production, and blood flow. It uses ingredients such as shea butter, a super moisturizer, and coffee bean extract. Because it is a nongreasy formula, your complexion should feel renewed and firmer with regular use.
Best drugstore moisturizer
Weleda Skin Food Original Cream
- Price: $
- Best for: dry or rough skin
- Key ingredients: sunflower seed oil
Described by users as an affordable and natural moisturizer, this product is made by Weleda, an all-natural brand that has been around for 100 years. The cruelty-free and vegan formula has even been certified natural by NATRUE, and its ingredients are all ethically sourced from fair-trade, biodynamic, and organic gardens.
Their moisturizer’s blend of rosemary, chamomile, and pansy has been found to hydrate dry skin anywhere on the body (think elbows, hands, and feet). However, due to the thick feel of this lotion, you’ll only need a little bit—a little goes a long way!
Best moisturizer for mature skin
Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer Cream
- Price: $$
- Best for: mature and dry skin
- Key ingredients: hyaluronic acid and evening primrose oil
This replenishing moisturizer features primrose oil, which has been known to help improve the appearance of maturing skin. However, its championing duo is hyaluronic acid and peptides, which aim to quench dryness and calm, repair, and replenish skin prone to rosacea and redness.
Many reviewers have commended this moisturizer for helping clear up any adult acne and scarring. The brand recommends using it every day and night to promote a smoother, brighter texture.
Best natural serums
Best serum for combination skin
Versed Sunday Morning Antioxidant Oil-Serum
- Price: $
- Best for: combination skin
- Key ingredients: sea buckthorn extract, camellia oil, vitamin E, chamomile flower extract, and jojoba oil
Coined as an oil-serum hybrid, this product does more than just hydrate the skin. It’s packed with nourishing ingredients like camellia oil and sea buckthorn that help to reduce redness, strengthen the skin’s barrier, and prevent moisture loss. You can use this under or over your moisturizer.
Best serum for sensitive skin
Burt’s Bees Renewal Intensive Firming Serum
- Price: $
- Best for: sensitive skin
- Key ingredients: bakuchiol and hyaluronic acid
This Burt’s Bees serum offers a liquid with a thicker consistency that helps enrich the skin with ingredients like hibiscus. Dermatologist tested, the serum aims to help by plumping up the cells in your face and tightening the skin’s surface.
The brand also notes that it uses a natural retinol alternative. Bakuchiol, a plant extract described as natural and less irritating than retinol, and vitamin E work to promote healthy, firm skin. If retinol is too harsh for your skin, you may want to opt for this organic serum.
Best natural sunscreens
Best sustainable sunscreen
Raw Elements Certified Natural Sunscreen
- Price: $
- Best for: all skin types
- Key ingredients: non-nano zinc oxide, sunflower oil, cocoa butter, and vitamin E
In a completely recyclable and reusable tin, the Raw Elements Face and Body Lotion is SPF 30+, water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, and is free from soy, gluten, and nuts. The sunscreen provides UVA-UVB broad-spectrum protection.
UVA and UVB are different classifications of UV rays, with UVA being 95 percent of the UV rays that reach the ground. When searching for sunscreen, you should opt for a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 15.
Its active ingredient is 23 percent non-nano zinc oxide, an all-natural shield against harmful UV rays. This product is also reef-safe and cruelty-free.
Best lightweight sunscreen
cocokind Daily SPF
- Price: $$
- Best for: mature and combination skin
- Key ingredients: zinc oxide, blue phytoplankton, microalgae, and rice starch
Another goodie from cocokind, the daily SPF formula is a lightweight, mineral-based sunscreen with SPF 32. The sunscreen uses zinc oxide, which works to prevent damaging ultraviolet radiation. And although these are usually found underwater, this sunscreen uses blue phytoplankton and microalgae, which according to the brand, can shield the skin from the effects of blue light and pollution.
Reviewers really like the way this sunscreen absorbs into the skin, and it doesn’t feel too sticky or greasy throughout a long day, either.