Natural skin care products typically do not contain chemicals or synthetic ingredients. They may also include more environmentally friendly options.
The natural skin care industry is one of the fastest-growing markets in beauty.
There are plenty of reasons to use natural skin care instead of traditional products, like avoiding potentially harmful synthetic chemicals. Plus, it can be an eco-friendly option.
Here’s how you can get started with your own natural skin care routine.
Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.
That’s why we rely on a diverse group of writers, educators, and other experts to share their tips on everything from the way product application varies to the best sheet mask for your individual needs.
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The term “natural skin care” can mean different things. The “natural” label isn’t regulated across the industry. This means each company can choose what “natural” means for themselves.
“There’s a lot of debate in the industry on what’s considered ‘natural’ and what’s not,” says licensed aesthetician and beauty blog author Dana Murray.
“Often, natural ingredients can be inconsistent in makeup, so it’s hard to measure effectiveness and potency. [As well, some] natural ingredients, like essential oils, can cause irritation to the skin,” she says.
According to a 2015 clinical review of plant extracts in skin care, botanical products can be a rich source of:
According to the authors of the above review, plant extracts may be a safe and cost-effective alternative to synthetics. Here’s a quick look at how these may benefit different skin types:
For oily skin
A natural skin care routine for oily skin may help reduce oiliness without the use of expensive skin care regimens or prescription drugs.
There are several methods of using natural skin care and home remedies for oily skin.
For dry skin
There isn’t much that’s more frustrating than itchy skin caused by dryness.
A natural skin care routine for dry skin may help reduce the effects of heat, hot showers, arid climates, and harsh soaps — all things that can trigger dry skin.
For combination skin
Caring for combination skin isn’t always the easiest. But it’s still possible to find a natural skin care routine that reduces both dry patches and shine.
Products that include harsh ingredients, such as fragrances, can irritate both oily and dry skin. Using natural skin care products may help those with combination skin.
For acne-prone skin
A natural skin care routine for acne may offer many benefits, like potentially saving money by avoiding expensive acne solutions. It can also help prevent undesirable side effects, such as dryness, redness, and irritation.
Natural solutions and home remedies for acne can help meet your skin care needs.
For sensitive skin
A natural skin care routine for sensitive skin may help rebuild a healthy skin barrier by avoiding products with irritating ingredients.
A 2018 study examined the risk of skin sensitivity associated with products containing fragrances. Products that you wear for a long period, like moisturizers, can be more likely to cause skin issues.
For darker skin tones
- acne keloidalis nuchae, which presents as bumps on the back of your head or neck
- keloids, which are raised scars on your skin
- skin cancer
- vitiligo, which causes a loss of skin pigment and may be more visible in darker skin tones
While natural skin care products may potentially benefit acne, it’s important to see a dermatologist for a correct diagnosis for other skin conditions, such as cancer or vitiligo.
Without strict definitions, you’re largely on your own to research which products are “natural” — depending on what it means to you. Luckily, this article can help.
Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a new product.
What is the product derived from?
This is the first question to ask yourself.
In other words, what’s in it, and where does it come from? Is it a natural source, like plants, animals, minerals, and marine sources? Or is it derived from petrochemicals?
- Naturally-occurring: Ingredients in these products are used in their natural, unprocessed state. Examples of naturally-occurring ingredients include raw honey and crushed flowers.
- Nature-identical: Ingredients in nature-identical products are produced in a lab and are chemically identical to those that occur in nature. An example is sorbic acid. Originally derived from rowan berries, sorbic acid is now commonly included as a nature-identical ingredient.
- Synthetic: This term sits on the far end of the spectrum and includes ingredients that were created and processed in a lab. An example of this is parabens, which are
common preservativesfound in cosmetics and skin care products.
How is it processed?
Just because ingredients are derived naturally doesn’t mean they’re processed naturally.
Ingredients can be processed physically or chemically.
- Processed physically means the molecular composition or structure stays the same.
- Processed chemically means the molecular composition or structure changes.
Examples of naturally derived but physically processed ingredients include raw, unrefined oils and butters. These are processed through means like cold-pressing or filtration.
An example of a naturally derived but chemically processed ingredient can include castor wax. It’s a vegetable wax derived from the castor bean. It’s produced by adding hydrogen to pure castor oil, a process called hydrogenation.
Know your labels
There are various certifications and marketing words under the umbrella of “natural” products. Some are regulated and some aren’t.
Companies can have their products
They can also label their products as organic to indicate that all the ingredients are derived from organic sources. This means the product itself may not be certified, but all the ingredients are certified organic.
This unregulated term refers to environmental impact and sustainability.
“Green” products are usually produced with the intention of limiting environmental impact.
For example, a green product may contain raw materials that are harvested in a way to support the environment rather than harming it. Because this term is unregulated, it may mean different things for different brands.
This unregulated term describes products that typically focus on being nontoxic.
Note that this term may mean different things to different brands as there is no federal regulation surrounding it.
These products are created without animal by-products.
The term “cruelty-free” means that the finished product hasn’t been tested on animals. However, keep in mind that individual ingredients may still be tested on animals.
It’s also important to note that, while vegan products are almost always cruelty-free, cruelty-free products are not always vegan. An example would be an organic lip balm that contains beeswax.
Brands can claim these terms without being certified, as there is currently no regulation for such terms. But, if brands want to ensure it, several organizations certify vegan and cruelty-free products.
This regulated descriptor focuses on sourcing, ensuring that ingredients are sourced ethically in terms of the planet, people, or environment.
Still, everyone’s skin is different. What suits one person’s skin may not work for someone else.
As a general practice, the following routine may work for most.
This first step should occur every morning and evening. Gently apply a cleanser to your face in circular motions. Rinse and pat dry.
Exfoliants should not be used daily. Instead, use them 1 to 3 times weekly to remove dead skin cells without causing irritation. Apply exfoliants in a similar way to cleanser for 30 seconds at a time before rinsing with lukewarm water.
On the days when you aren’t exfoliating, simply skip this step.
Toners are one of the most common steps left out of skin care. Toner can help tighten pores, eliminate impurities, and rebalance your skin.
Clarifying toners can help rebalance your skin’s pH.
Additionally, you may consider talking with a dermatologist about vitamin E, ginseng powder, and other antioxidants that some
Ceramides are key ingredients to look for in moisturizers. They help hydrate and protect the skin’s natural barrier.
To be specific, look for phytoceramides, which are plant-derived ceramides. These are waxy lipids found naturally in skin that help hold in moisture.
Jojoba oil is another great moisturizing ingredient that boosts rejuvenation and protects against environmental stressors due to its potential anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, according to a
Serums are essentially next-level moisturizers. They deliver active ingredients deep into the dermal layers. Use a couple of drops of serum on your cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead.
5. Sun protection
Mineral sunscreens may provide an eco-friendly alternative to chemical sunscreens. Dermatologists also tend to recommend those with sensitive skin. While mineral sunscreens can leave a white cast on skin, which can be more noticeable on darker skin, tinted options may help.
Pro tip: Creams should be applied with the lightest fluids first. For example, serum, moisturizer, then SPF.
1. Repeat the a.m. routine
Follow each step, but skip the sun protection.
2. Eye cream
The skin around your eyes is the most sensitive part of your face and one of the first areas to develop wrinkles.
While eye creams often contain the same ingredients as regular moisturizers, they typically contain fewer aggravating chemicals.
Spend more time gently massaging your creams into your skin. This helps strengthen the muscles in your face and encourages collagen production. Also, you can apply eye creams with your ring finger — using this weaker finger may help reduce accidental tears on this naturally thin area of skin.
3. Night moisturizer
Using a night cream can efficiently support your skin through the regeneration process.
In addition to your daily routine, think about adding a few products once or twice per week for some extra TLC.
Consider using a lightweight mask that draws out impurities a couple of times per week.
Retinol serum can be used to support rejuvenation and graceful aging. It can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles over time.
However, retinol is a synthetic ingredient and may cause side effects, such as stinging and rashes.
The plant-based alternative bakuchiol appears to have similar effects on the skin compared with retinol, according to
Clarifying oatmeal mask
This mask regulates the skin’s pH with apple cider vinegar while removing excess oil and buildup with ground oats.
- 3 tbsp. ground oats
- 1/4 tsp. apple cider
- 1/4 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
- Combine the ground oats and apple cider into a smooth paste.
- Add the lemon juice and brown sugar, stirring until even.
- Apply to freshly cleansed skin for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rub in circular motions.
- Rinse off with warm water.
Tea leaves face toner
This toner isn’t only natural but also helps fight acne.
- 1 tsp. peppermint tea leaves
- 4 tsp. white tea leaves
- 1/2 cup boiled distilled water
- 2 drops of lavender oil
- Combine all ingredients in a French press.
- Let the mixture steep for 10 minutes.
- Pour into a glass container to cool.
- Combine mixture with aloe vera until it fills a 4-oz. spray bottle.
- Spritz on your face after cleansing, and store in the refrigerator.
Sugar face scrub
This homemade exfoliant nourishes skin while also sloughing off dead skin cells.
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp. honey
- 2 tbsp. oil of your choice
- Combine honey and brown sugar in a small bowl, and stir until it forms a thick paste.
- Add the oil and mix well.
- Spread the paste over clean skin.
- Leave on for 5–10 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (ADA), all-natural products, such as vitamins and herbal remedies, can potentially interact with cancer treatment — specifically chemotherapy and radiation.
This is especially true for vitamin A, vitamin C, and St. John’s wort. Serious side effects can occur if they are used during cancer treatment. So it’s best to talk with a doctor before starting a new routine. The ADA also points out that just because a product may be natural does not mean it is necessarily safe.
If a product is truly natural, keep in mind that one major drawback may be a shorter shelf life due to a lack of preservatives. A given product’s shelf-life
If any of your natural skin care products start to smell or change in color or texture, it may be time to discard them.
Another exception is sunscreen. Most have shelf lives of
If you’re looking to go au naturel with your skin care routine, know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Brands can call their cosmetics whatever they want under the “natural” umbrella, so be sure to do your research.
Remember to read the labels, and always do a patch test before fully diving into a new product.
Ashley Hubbard is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, focusing on sustainability, travel, veganism, mental health, social justice, and more. Passionate about animal rights, sustainable travel, and social impact, she seeks out ethical experiences whether at home or on the road. Visit her website.