Fun fact: the word 'organic' is meaningless with cosmetics, since the FDA doesn't prosecute brands for using the term even if their products aren't organic. It's kind of terrible. When I'm not testing all kinds of beauty like it's (literally) my job, I stick to organic products, and after a ton of trial and error, I have a whole slew of USDA Certified Organic obsessions to share.
Everything here with an asterisk (*) is an actual, government certified organic product, and of the non-USDA products, two are from the EU and certified organic there, one is just an actual plant, and another only contains one non-certified ingredient. To keep this story from being 3,000 words long, the product descriptions are all concise, but if you have any questions I'd love to answer them. And if you have additional product suggestions, I'd love to see them in the comments! Here's how I get my skin in good shape, naturally:
First things first: soften up with fancy water face spritz. I use John Masters Organics Lavender Hydrating Mist * because it has The Perfect Spray™. Organic brands are notorious for having terrible packaging, but not the John Masters atomizer; it's a delight to use. Also, the mist smells like a sun-warmed field in Grasse. I like to imagine the Chanel lavender farmers and Choupette applauding politely every time I spray.
Then it's time to clean. I'm hooked on the mango sorbet-colored Calendula Coconut Oil from Kuumba *. Calendula is anti-inflammatory, so it's great for sensitive skin, redness, bumps, dryness, etc. I rub a teaspoon between my fingertips to melt it, then massage it in gentle, quick circles for about a minute. After that, I wet a muslin washcloth in warm water and gently work the oil off.
I'm a wuss with exfoliation—you're supposed to treat your face like silk, after all—so I bring out the konjac sponge for daily decongesting and brightening. Konjac is actually a root (thanks, Nature!), which makes them eco-friendly in addition to being a godsend for sensitive, acne-prone skin. Plus, it's fun to tell people you've been rubbing a tuber on your face.
At night, I'll also layer on Éminence Organics Citrus + Kale Potent C + E Tonic (available online June 1), which has lots of acidic Vitamin C to help with texture and clogged pores.
If my skin is dry, the way it was every damn day this NY winter and nonexistent spring, the next step is rose hip oil *. It's 1) deeply hydrating, and 2) deeply orange—like natural self-tanner without the risk of becoming a human tangerine. Just a couple of drops works fine!
If you haven't tried Sanre, please do. I have yet to try a product of theirs that isn't superb. I have dry skin, so I use the Supple Sunshine Rosemary Lavender Day Cream *. My only warning would be that the name's a bit of a misnomer, because Supple Sunshine is more a solid serum than a cream. That's actually a plus for me—still moisturizes and protects, but also thin and quick to absorb. Generally, it's happiness in a Whole Foods jar, and I hope it never changes.
Have dry, sensitive skin and cystic or hormonal acne? Neem oil, my friend, could very well change your life. I've known about neem for years, but the concentrated oil has a nuanced bouquet reminiscent of rancid diesel fuel, so I'd avoided putting it directly on my face.
THEN, miracle of miracles, I was wandering around the co-op near my apartment and found Evan Healy Neem Immortelle Purifying Infusion. Evan is a genius/hero who cut neem with immortelle flower (aka daisy) extract, rendering it refreshingly herbaceous, like some kind of manly, wildcrafted cologne instead of Eau de Old Lawn Mower Engine. It started healing up the spots on my neck and jaw overnight, and unlike tea tree oil it's not drying. So even those of us with skin that's naturally like the Mojave in July can use it with not-actually-reckless abandon. All its ingredients except the immortelle oil are certified organic, so this one doesn't quite make the USDA cut, but it's amazing and I felt the brand attempts to be as organic as possible, so I included it.
Perk Up Eyes
I just found out about Pai, an organic skincare line from the UK, but so far everything I've tried from the brand has been exceptional. Their day cream and rose hip oil are both fantastic, but for the purposes of this story, I wanted to focus on their Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream. It soaks in so extraordinarily well, better than any other organic “heavy' cream I've ever tried, and it's far more functional vis a vis actual eye area plumping and hydrating than most of the non-organic stuff I try on a weekly basis. I use it on my lips as well; it's a beautiful base for matte rouge or liner.
There are a ton of great natural sunblocks (I'm talking physical sun protection—I don't use the chemical kind). Right now, unsurprisingly, I'm using Sanre Shaded Rose-Solar Healing Facial Cream *, but Juice Beauty's * super bland (in a good way) sunblock is equally great. The Hall of Fame natural sunblock for me, though, will always be Suntegrity, which smells like fresh orange juice and also comes in tinted moisturizer form if you want buildable coverage with your natural broad spectrum SPF.
Photos by Lacey Gattis.