The Best Clean Beauty Products for Quarantine and Beyond

David Fincher

You’ve heard everyone from Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma Watson to Miranda Kerr swear by their clean beauty rituals. But what exactly does “clean beauty” mean? The idea that skincare can even be “toxic” is one to be reckoned with, and knowing what’s lurking in your favorite skincare products and finding equally effective alternatives can be a brain twister. The first thing to know about clean beauty is that it steers free from the dirty dozen, which are widely used chemicals and preservatives found in both drugstore and luxury brands (from Neutrogena to, yes, Chanel) proven harmful to the human microbiome, such as phthalates and parabens. To most, it is a little-known fact that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the beauty market, meaning any ingredient can be tossed into your favorite face cream. The good news is that the science of natural skincare has made gigantic strides in the last decade, so nontoxic products can be as (or more) effective as lab-made ones, assisting the skin in natural collagen production, cell turnover, brightening, and more. In these wildly uncertain times, we have to take extra care of ourselves—and what better way to do that than rethink our self-care routines and take pause to consider what we’re putting on our skin, inside our bodies, and washing into our fragile eco-system? With all grooming meccas temporarily shuttered, your DIY regimen has never been more important. To that end, we give you 10 natural, luxe, clean products that are all free from the dirty dozen.

The Palm Beach-based female-helmed skincare brand is the most promising newcomer on the clean beauty scene. Their killer body balm can be customized for a specific skin concern by speaking with their herbalist (you can even choose your scent and texture). While the balm’s base consists of sacha inchi, black seed, and coconut oil to replenish and moisturize, their hero ingredient is moringa oil. Moringa, a nutrient powerhouse easily absorbed by the skin, helps strengthen and maintain elasticity while preventing free radical damage and inflammation. This brand ethically sources its organic moringa in India, and every ingredient is tested for purity. P.S.: they also make a mean facial oil vetted by Emma Roberts.

When she couldn’t find effective yet non-toxic skincare products suitable for her troublesome skin, chemist Marie Veronique Nadeau created her own namesake line. Merging science with botanical and plant-based ingredients, Veronique has cracked the code to clean, effective, skincare designed to leave your skin at its best and brightest. Her heralded Barrier Restore Serum does just this, designed to help replenish moisture loss with ceramides, green tea, and jojoba seed oil, balancing moisture levels and reviving dry, dehydrated skin.

One of the pioneers of the luxury organic market, the California-based skincare guru Josh Rosebrook entered the haircare sector after fifteen years as a stylist in a Beverly Hills salon while developing his cult skincare line. The Enrich mask blends organic aloe vera with potent fatty-acid rich oils like baobab, marula, and hemp to effectively penetrate hair follicles which soften, restore shine, and deeply condition. Made in-house in small batches, the science-backed plant extracts like bhringraj and Indian Gooseberry stimulate circulation and hair growth. It can be used as an overnight mask by wrapping your hair in a towel—or after shampooing, leaving it in for ten minutes and rinse it out. If you need proof, look no further than his fanbase which includes Emma Watson, Alanis Morissette, and Alicia Silverstone.

After spending her childhood trying to fix her constantly irritated skin with no success, May Lindstrom went to the river running through her backyard to gather mud, local honey and mineral salts to soothe her skin herself. Stunned by her success when she found she didn’t have to look any further than nature, she created her holistic, six-product line with non-irritating, top-notch ingredients. Her Problem Solver Mask is a rich blend of raw cacao, activated bamboo charcoal, salts, and exotic spices that penetrate the skin to heal and brighten from the first use. The mask is known for fading hyperpigmentation and preventing breakouts, which has celebs like Amanda Seyfried, January Jones, and makeup guru Gucci Westman lining up. You may feel your skin warming or tingling, which is a sign the ingredients are getting to work.

When founder Karen Behnke was pregnant with her first child, she set out to create organic and natural formulations that performed as well as conventional beauty products. After five years working alongside chemists and microbiologists to perfect her formulas, her mission was a success. The brand is praised by Gwyneth Paltrow (she is also the creative director of their makeup line), who has spearheaded numerous product collaborations with JB and Goop. The firming eye balm’s efficacy is due to its sunflower-derived lipids combined with rice peptides and wild blueberry extrac—which increases skin hydration while renewing and restoring fragile skin from environmental stressors.

San Francisco aesthetician Athena Hewett created her Flora Serum (which doubles as a face cream) to firm, brighten, and hydrate the skin. The “glowy skin” you’ll be left with is owed to raspberry seed oil, which offers the highest levels of omegas and antioxidants available. It contains both light- and medium-weight hyaluronic acid; the former penetrates, while the latter acts as a skin barrier. She works with small farms around the world to ethically source her ingredients, like clary sage and rosewood leaf, and thoughtfully stabilizes her product with elderflower and radish root rather than alcohol, which dries out the skin.

After garnering a rockstar reputation in the clean beauty world for selling one product for just five years (an award-winning serum), Vintner’s Daughter founder April Gargiulo released a second one. To make the Active Treatment Essence, Gargiulo blended thirteen of the most nutrient-rich botanicals and fermented them for 21 days to fully extract their natural goodness and amplify their absorption into the skin. While this multi-correctional, hydrating, and brightening essence is made to work with the Vintner’s Daughter serum as the pre-step, it can also be used before your daily moisturizer. In addition to pre and probiotics, the essence is infused with vitamin C for brightening, and three plant stem cell complexes for collagen boosting.

The most important step in a facial is the exfoliating process—we don’t have to forgo that step now that we’re at home. This gentle, exfoliating face polish uses papaya and pineapple enzymes to clear and minimize the appearance of pores, while sun-dried Buchu and Baobab fruit work to refine texture and reduce the appearance of sun spots and fine lines. The crucial ingredient here is micro-algae which is rich in mineral salts and proteins to penetrate while protecting the skin barrier. Fans of African Botanics include Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts, Goldie Hawn, and makeup maven Jen Atkin.

The idea for a chia seed-based line occurred to Susanne Norwitz as she was traveling through Guatemala, and learned that the chia seed was a staple of the ancient Mayan civilization for its superfood qualities. Thus, in 2014, she created Maya Chia, a line of effective, natural products such as the Optimist. Consider it your go-to for a quick boost of hydration and noticeably glowy skin. Although it is lightweight, it’s high-performing and effective, thanks to a cocktail of antioxidants, amino acids, and phytonutrients, such as sake, white tea, and of course, the brand’s chief ingredient, chia seed. The spray can be used after cleansing or the final touch after makeup, or keep it nearby at your WFH corner to boost hydration throughout the day.

Six years ago, California native Shiva Rose started her toxin-free namesake brand to fuse modern technology with holistic skincare. Sourcing ingredients like her signature rosehip from organic farms in Oregon and Washington, her line uses active, effective ingredients to give your skin the nutrients it needs. Her strawberry serum stimulates collagen by seaweed and dulse, which have reparative properties for aging skin. It is also infused with fruits and berries, which help slow cellular decline, clear blemishes and brighten the skin. While it’s intended for mature skin, it can be used as a preventative measure for younger, youthful looking skin with a healthy barrier.