As you probably know, April is Earth Month—and while that certainly seems like a pretty apt time to highlight the very best in green beauty, Byrdie’s annual Eco Beauty Awards are timely for more than that one reason. Currently, the natural beauty space is exploding with products utilizing cutting-edge science and conscious sustainability practices—not to mention some gorgeous, eco-friendly packaging. In short: natural beauty has never been cooler, and there are more options than ever to choose from. With that in mind, we made it our goal to sift through all of the offerings out there to serve up the best products in skincare, haircare and makeup.
Selecting the very best in clean beauty was no easy task—it involved a rigorous nomination process, calling in all of those picks, and then testing every last one before confirming our winners. We rated products based on three pillars: efficacy (does it work?), ingredients (is it made with high-quality, non-toxic ingredients?), and sustainability (does its creation take into account environmental impact?). Other things we took into account: if products were MADE SAFE, COSMOS certified, Leaping Bunny certified, and weren’t filled with a slew of artificial fragrances. All of these winners fulfill our standards for what a “clean” beauty product is, and because “eco” to us also means earth-friendly, we tried to highlight brands and products that are making a conscious decision to employ sustainability practices somewhere along the production process, whether it’s from the way they source ingredients to the materials they choose for their packaging. Today, we’re unveiling the winners of our Eco Beauty Awards in the skincare category. Check back tomorrow and Thursday for our winners in makeup and haircare!
The specs: True Botanicals combines pure, environmentally-conscious ingredients coupled with cutting-edge science. It’s one of the few natural beauty brands that utilizes independent clinical trials, and works with teams of researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Cornell to identify the most nourishing non-toxic skincare ingredients to target issues like acne, hyperpigmentation and aging. This gentle cleanser is made with green and white tea, aloe vera, and green tea seed oil to pack an antioxidant punch and leave your skin feeling softly cleansed—never tight.
The praise: “I require two things of my cleanser: The first is that it’s gentle enough where it won’t strip my skin, and the second being that it remove all of my makeup in one wash—multi-layers of mascara included. This particular cleanser does both of those things while smelling like a spa, so you could say I’m hooked.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Pai was a brand born out of the founder’s first-hand frustration with finding chic, effective products that wouldn’t irritate her sensitive skin, and this brand-new cleansing oil is a new Byrdie favorite. The golden elixir is made of 90% organic ingredients, like sunflower oil and jasmine extract, that gently cleanse your skin without stripping.
The praise: “I usually shy away from oil cleansers from natural brands, mostly because they tend to leave an oily film on my face after cleansing. Not so the case with this new holy grail. It gets rid of all traces of makeup in just a few seconds, and leaves my skin feeling soft and clean, even if I don’t always remove it with a muslin cloth (a girl gets lazy, okay?). Plus, using it feels like a spa experience: the formula starts as an oil and melts into a milk, and the smell is slightly fragrant and altogether addicting. It’s made actually me look forward to washing my face every night, which says a lot.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: Moon Juice might be more widely-known for their supplement powders, but don’t sleep on the brand’s skincare offerings. This gentle exfoliator combines a potent blend of AHAs and brightening ingredients like niacinamide, while also incorporating a lesser-known star ingredient: reishi, a medicinal mushroom long touted for its anti-inflammatory abilities when ingested, which also soothes and protects the skin when applied topically.
The praise: “I first tried this product as a possible replacement for my Biologique Recherche Lotion P50—I had run out and was looking for something a bit more cost effective. Turns out, it does all the good stuff the French toner is known for (brightens, prevents breakouts, evens skin tone, and makes your face glow like never before) but it’s totally clean. I’m a huge, huge fan.” – Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Odacité combines the effortlessness of the French beauty ethos with a California twist. Founder Valérie Grandury started the brand after battling breast cancer and pledging to remove all toxic ingredients from her beauty routine. The result? A streamlined collection of high-performance products made with high quality ingredients sourced around the world. This blue-hued cleansing water swaps plain water for skin-soothing aloe vera juice, and adds a punch of turmeric, neem, and holy basil to protect your skin against pollutants as it wipes away impurities.
The praise: “I admit, I was first drawn to this product because of its enticing blue hue. Beyond just being a pretty product, I love how this leaves my skin feeling soft and hydrated and preps it for whatever serum I layer on afterwards. It gets rid of whatever makeup is left on my face after cleansing (and doesn’t sting the eyes!), and I swear my skin looks brighter since I’ve incorporated it into my routine.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: LOLI takes the concept of DIY beauty and adds an eco twist. Treat the products—which range from powdered grain exfoliators to soothing botanical waters—like ingredients in your kitchen, meant to be mixed and measured to suit whatever your skin needs might be in the moment. The brand monitors their supply chain closely and uses earth-friendly packaging, from the food-grade glass jars that can be reused in your kitchen to the certified compostable labels, bags and boxes. Their star product is this golden face oil, up-cycled with the pit of the French Ente plum—a part that’s usually discarded but just happens to be chock full of antioxidant, brightening abilities.
The praise: “LOLI reeled me in when, along with its plum face oil, the brand sent me an Ente plum, which is only grown in Gascony, France, and was hand-picked and shipped to me within 24 hours. (Chic, non?) The brand is the first zero-waste beauty brand—they cold-press their Plum Elixir from the kernel of the Ente plum that’s usually thrown away after eating. Typically, I steer clear of using face oils, but this version is so lightweight that my skin drinks it right up without feeling greasy afterward. It’s super nourishing and reparative—plus, the bottle is adorable.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Farmacy works closely with local farmers in Pennsylvania and the Catskills to ensure that the brand’s key ingredients—Echinacea GreenEnvy and honey—are cultivated in a way that’s good for the planet. This buttery formula starts as a rich, luxurious balm and melts into a face oil as you warm it up in your hand and press it into your skin. Boasting a slew of natural ingredients like blackcurrant seed and jojoba, grape seed and evening primrose oil, it locks in moisture and helps you wake up with a glowing, firmer-feeling complexion.
The praise: “My favorite part of this balm should be its proprietary ingredient, Echinacea GreenEnvy, which has sky-high levels of cichoric acid, fueling my skin with powerful antioxidants…love that! But the addictive element is the luxurious, oil-gel texture. It practically melts into your skin, plumps every fine line and creates the most incredible light-reflective surface. It’s like wearing highlighter to bed—and sometimes you just want that!” – Leah Wyar, GM and editor-in-chief
The specs: The brainchild of celebrity makeup artist Munemi Imai, MŪN products are centered around the healing benefits of the prickly pear seed oil and feature botanical ingredients grown under conditions that protect the soil’s ecosystem. This moisturizer provides perfect lightweight hydration while improving your skin’s barrier function; licorice root and niacinamide add a brightening boost.
The praise: “My combination skin can’t get enough of this light-as-air moisturizer. Unlike a lot of other natural formulas, this moisturizer doesn’t feel heavy or occlusive. Instead, it leaves a lightly-glowing, almost-velvety finish behind and perfectly preps my skin for my foundation or tinted moisturizer. The ingredients are so good (did I mention it contains hyaluronic acid?), and it keeps my skin feeling happy and balanced. It’s a universal moisturizer I’d recommend to pretty much anyone.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: May Lindstrom created her namesake line because of her own highly-sensitive and reactive skin, which would erupt in blisters, rashes, and eczema patches when coming in contact with even most natural products. Thus, her products are created around the ethos of clean, gentle ingredients that soothe the skin and the belief that a skincare ritual can be self-care. This buttery blue balm is a Byrdie HQ favorite for its skin-soothing abilities and potent cocktail of nurturing oils, like lavender, geranium and blue tansy.
The praise: “Blue Cocoon melts in my skin like the decadent, anti-inflammatory butter I’ve always wanted. Once warmed between your fingertips, the blue balm turns into an oil, letting organic, feel-good ingredients absorb into your skin. Instantly, you feel warm and soothed; it even has properties to ease anxiety and stress.” – Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Ranavat Botanics was founded under the belief that using fewer, high-quality ingredients can yield the most noticeable results. Case in point: the oils in Ranavat’s line are cold-pressed to preserve their potency, and the essential oils are steam-distilled for purity. This serum is made with saffron, a royal spice and ayurvedic ingredient long used for its firming, brightening abilities.
The praise: “I was hooked on the Ranavat line as soon as I learned that its products are based off of ingredients used by Indian royalty. You’ll find beautiful, indulgent components like jasmine and French green clay among the products, each of which transport you to an ornate palace dressed with hand-painted tiles (or so I imagine). My favorite of the bunch is this serum, an oil-based blend of saffron, turmeric, rose, and licorice—a decadent combination that soothes, brightens, and smooths. I instantly notice a more vibrant complexion each time I use it.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Alpyn Beauty is making wildcrafted beauty a thing: all of the products in the line feature ingredients that are sustainably sourced and hand-cultivated from the founder’s home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Supposedly, the high elevation and intense elements make for more resilient plants, which make for more potent skin benefits. It’s tough to find a really effective, feel-good eye cream that checks all the boxes (bouncy, fast-absorbing, fills lines, et al). It’s even tougher to find one that’s also formulated without parabens, sulfates, and artificial fragrances.
The praise: “This product from Alpyn Beauty offers all the goods. It feels so amazing as you apply it, plumping up your skin and refreshing tired eyes in one sweep. Plus, a cocktail of natural brightening, lifting, and stimulating ingredients, including licorice root extract, algae, bakuchiol, and centella asiatica, work to reduce puffiness, hydrate your skin, and protect against free radical damage.” – Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Nécessaire started out of a desire to revolutionize the body industry and bring the same care and quality ingredients we use to treat our faces to the rest of the 90% of our skin. The streamlined collection of body products not only take your shower aesthetic to the next level, but are made with clean, high-quality ingredients meant to give you super-soft skin. The body lotion is a Byrdie HQ favorite—it’s unscented so won’t irritate, and is chock full of vitamins like vitamin a, b3, and c, as well as omega-6 and omega-9 to firm and tighten. Think of it like a daily multivitamin for your skin. Did we mention the packaging is completely recyclable? Even the box it’s shipped in is made out of 100% recyclable and 100% post-consumer waste material with recycled ink.
The praise: “I try to only use unscented body products ever since I had my first-ever eczema flare-up as an adult a few months ago. This body lotion is a holy grail because it’s completely non-irritating and gave me the softest skin of my life; baby-soft skin, if you will. The skin on my legs is notoriously sensitive and perpetually dry, and this body lotion leaves them feeling silky-smooth. I never thought I’d feel this strongly about a body lotion, but trust me—you’ll feel the same after just using it once.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: Bastide is every Francophile’s dream with its elegant packaging and thoughtful craftsmanship. All of the products are made in Provence by local French artisans and favor natural, clean ingredients that instantly transport you from your bathroom into the French countryside. This fig-scented body wash is gentle enough for the most sensitive and dry skin, and free of sulfates and excessive chemicals.
The praise: “If you’re just starting to clean up your beauty routine, body wash is the perfect place to start, as it covers such a large surface area of skin. Typically you have to settle for fragrance-free versions since perfume can be secretly packed with no-no ingredients. But this wash comes in five fabulously healthy French fragrances—fig being my favorite. Plus it’s oversized, so withstands about two months of showering. Worth every penny, IMO.” – Leah Wyar, GM and editor-in-chief
The specs: Herbivore Botanicals is known for creating natural, cruelty-free and vegan products that deliver noticeable results. This body polish is noncomedogenic and features Moroccan rose oil to soothe the skin, along with finely-ground sugar crystals for a gentle exfoliation.
The praise: “I consider myself a body scrub connoisseur, and this one from Herbivore is my all-time favorite for a few simple reasons. First, the texture. There’s nothing worse than a too-gritty body scrub, which can tear at the skin, or a too-fine body wash, which doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything. This falls perfectly in the middle of the spectrum, where the sugar crystals slough away in the most satisfying way before melting into a light, hydrating film. The scent is what really gets me: it gives just the slightest hint of sweet-smelling rose, and instantly transports me to a much happier, Zen place. Plus, unlike a lot of other scrubs, it never irritates my sensitive, eczema-prone skin.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: Makeup artist Lina Hanson sources the materials for her namesake line from all around the world, with the intention on finding the highest-quality natural, ethical and organic ingredients on the planet. The key ingredients in all her products are fair-trade and sustainable, ensuring that the people harvesting and producing the ingredients are compensated fairly. This body serum is made with vitamin e-rich apricot kernel oil, a beauty secret of the hunza people in North Pakistan. Other all-star ingredients: argan oil from Morocco to protect against free radicals, and Brazil nut from Peru, the harvesting of which provides local farmers a means of income that doesn’t require them to cut down timber in the country’s rainforests.
The praise: “Time is a real luxury, and I don’t moisturize my body nearly enough. So it’s pretty often that I find myself walking around my office with desert-dry exposed arms or ankles. I keep the Lina Hanson serum at my desk for just those moments—it pumps moisture from oils like apricot, avocado, argan and grapefruit peel into my skin, and smells just like a creamsicle.” – Elspeth Velten, editorial director, growth
The specs: When you first notice a breakout—especially of the cystic variety—apply this treatment directly on the spot three to five times a day. The formula helps combat bacteria and diminish blemishes, while also working to prevent over-drying as it heals. It won’t strip the skin of its natural, necessary oils or leave your face with flakes or crustiness. Instead, the scent of evening primrose, lavender, lemon, parsley, thyme, cypress, and rosemary essential oils fill your nose to promote relaxation as it zaps your pimples away. And, even better, the blend is made entirely from consciously-sourced plant materials.
The praise: “I’d tried just about every spot treatment before landing on this favorite, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s non-irritating, non-drying, and, yet, really effective. I love the way the smells and it’s so easy to apply—just tab it on at your desk and very literally watch your breakout reduce in size and redness over just a few hours.” – Hallie Gould, senior editor
The specs: Tata Harper is one of the early pioneers of the green beauty movement, and definitely one of the first to prove that natural and sustainable could be synonymous with luxury. This resurfacing mask has reached cult status for good reason. It’s made with pomegranate enzymes to gently exfoliate away dead skin cells, as well as pink clay to tighten the pores and willow bark to brighten. The mask has a really cool texture, kind of like Jell-O, and is made to be used more often than most exfoliating products. It’s super gentle, never causes redness or irritation, and works perfectly to smooth and retexturize before a night out. On top of all of that, 100 percent of the total ingredients in this product are from natural origin and 83 percent of the total ingredients are from organic farming. It’s vegan and free from toxins, fillers, artificial colors, artificial fragrances, all synthetic chemicals, and GMOs.
The praise: “I consider this a rescue mask, which especially comes in handy when I have hangover skin (you know, when you went to bed with an entire face of makeup on after a night of dancing). It helps unclog my pores and bring my complexion back to life without slapping my wrist for neglecting my skin the night prior.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: If you’re looking for intense moisture and a super-potent formula, look no further. Circumference created a mask using botanical oils and concentrated plant extracts to repair dry, sallow skin so it’s soft, soothed, and supple. It’s creamy, works quickly (20 minutes, to be exact), and the natural ingredients are all effective, sustainably sourced, and guided by radically ethical practices. The company promises no toxins, ever.
The praise: “Circumference first caught my eye when I met with the founders about a year ago and was blown away by their commitment to sustainability. In fact, they were one of the very first beauty brands that started out with a commitment to sustainability at the forefront; the fact that the products are all aesthetically pleasing and actually work is just an added bonus. They source all of the ingredients from their native growing regions, where they’re already happily integrated in the ecosystem and therefore, more potent. The brand works closely with the local farmers to monitor signs of shortage; if there is a shortage of a certain ingredient, they’ll swap it out for another that provides the same results. I respect how transparent the brand is about everything, from packaging to ingredients. This mask is a must-have for me whenever I travel. I smother my face with it during long flights and my skin drinks it up. Whenever my skin looks tired, dull, or just blah, this mask brings it back to life.” – Faith Xue, editorial director, creative
The specs: It’s the original—we bet you’ve had a tube of this since middle school and you wouldn’t have it any other way. The formula is simple—beeswax and vitamin E—to moisturize and condition your skin. Then, there’s the signature peppermint oil to provide the refreshing tingle the company has become known for. It’s 100 percent natural with zero parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, or sulfates.
The praise: “Burt’s Bees is the classic natural lip balm in my eyes. I remember getting a few tubes in my stocking on Christmas as a kid and being obsessed with the minty tingle and reprieve from chapped lips. Also of note: the tinted lip balms give off the prettiest sheer wash of color while keeping lips smooth and supple; perfect for those who want to dress up their lips but are also battling dryness.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: There is perhaps no more hotly-debated topic than that of natural deodorant. Kopari’s coconut oil-based version fulfills all of our dreams for a natural, clean formula that actually works. The aluminum- and baking soda-free tube houses a blend of coconut water, coconut oil, and sage oil to keep your underarms feeling (and smelling) fresh all day.
The praise: “To be frank, I need a high-powered deodorant. My go-to is usually Degree for men (side note: why are we still gendering deodorant?), which is a tough, aluminum-heavy player. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Kopari’s popular coconut deodorant helped keep sweat and smell at bay. I also love its rounded shape for easy application.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: Lest you think clean, high-quality, and eco-friendly products always come with a hefty price tag, allow Grace + Tonic to change your mind. The COSMOS-certified brand was formulated with idea of making luxurious-feeling, clean beauty products more accessible to the masses, and the three products in the collection—a cooling rollerball eye serum, mud mask, and featherlight moisturizer—are as nice-looking as they are effective. You can snatch up the entire vegan and cruelty-free collection exclusively at Target.
The praise: “Along with its chic packaging, Grace + Tonic is an innovative, affordable line of natural products boasting attractive SKUs, like a cleansing mud made with Brazilian purple clay to exfoliate and leave your skin feeling cashmere-soft.” – Lindsey Metrus, senior editor
The specs: The fragrance world, love it however much we do, can be notoriously shady about its ingredients, with toxic ingredients hiding under the blanket term “fragrance” in many an ingredients list. Hermetica, the brainchild of the co-founders of luxury fragrance line and Byrdie-favorite MEMO International, makes a case for clean, sustainable perfume that still feels luxurious. The innovative new brand is completely alcohol-free and instead relies on a blend of natural ingredients and synthetics derived from renewable raw materials to create its four alluring scent profiles: floral, oriental, woody and green. The bottles are green in appearance and also green eco-wise: they’re made from recycled glass and sand, and can all be refilled and reused. Source1 is the base of all of the brand’s fragrances, and also a standalone scent that combines notes of bergamot, dry amber, and fresh wood for a your-skin-but-better effect.
The praise: “I’ve been a fan of MEMO’s scents for a long time, so was immediately intrigued by the founders’ new alcohol-free line of appealing jade-hued bottles. Suffice to say, they did not disappoint. Source1 is a warm, amber-scented perfume with the slightest citrus kick, and wearing it is an instant mood-booster.”