The Best Nontoxic Beauty Products I Tested In – 2017 – Broken Down By Category

best of 2017

As the year comes to an end, I look back on all I’ve struggled with and overcome: a receding hairline and hair loss; intense perioral dermatitis flare ups; annoying acne; and dry/dehydrated and irritated skin. While there were many lows, there were also a lot of highs. And many of those highs were due to finding efficacious, nontoxic, green products to help ease me back towards healthy skin. Therefore, as we wrap up this year, I decided to outline down below in seven categories, including Dry Skin, Acne, Dermatitis, Brightening, Hair, Body, and Eye + Lip + Neck my favorite products from 2017 that helped me get back to glowing skin!

For Dry/Dehydrated Skin
Skin feeling tight, itchy and eternally irritated? Sealing in moisturizing factors like vitamin B5 and rose extract with soothing, rich balms and hydrating oil cleansers is the winning combination. 

  1. Soveral Angel Balm This balm is in-demand, often sold out and the brand’s hero product for good reason; it breaks down sebum, dirt and congested pores, while creating a protective hydration layer. Geranium essential oil promotes circulation and reduces inflammation. Rosemary essential oil acts as a soothing antiseptic and antibacterial agent. It’s been sold out on Net-a-porter for months, but check back regularly if you want to get your hands on this amazing cleansing balm.
  2. African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence. This essence from African Botanics lists rose flower water, aloe and hyaluronic acid as the first three ingredients making it right off the bat an effective hydrating product. The gel texture glides on skin creating a moisture barrier you can feel immediately. Not to mention it contains vitamin b5 and b3, which are essential for preventing TEWL (trans epidermal water loss). I picked up a sample, almost cried when the last drop was gone and drove across town to purchase a bottle rather than wait the 2-3 days for shipping to bring it to me.  
  3. You Skincare Essential Hydration Serum is necessary if you’re suffering from dehydrated skin after a round of Accutane, drying prescription topicals, or overuse of acids. Aloe, vitamin b5, mushroom extract and cucumber soothe and hydrate skin, while the sodium lactate acts as a very mild exfoliant and humectant. I found it to be especially reparative.
  4. Soveral Forever Young Face Oil was named “Best Face Oil” by Harpers Bazaar when it launched in 2013, and I can attest it still deserves this title. The light-weight face oil has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and deeply hydrating properties. *Ms. Soveral recommends pressing a few drops onto damp skin post shower which is my favorite way to use it.
  5. True Moringa Universal Cure Balm will quickly heal windburned, sunburned, and over exfoliated skin. The thick, dense balm melts in the warmth of your hands and creates a sealed in barrier creating a moist environment for skin to truly heal. It also contains antioxidant rich moringa oil. Within a few days your red, irritated skin will be normalized and soothed.

For Acne/Congested Skin
Deep cystic acne? Small whiteheads? Little bumps? Each form of congestion requires something different. What may work for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I break down below which product is best for which type of breakout. 

  1. Apoterra Carrot Bar Soap is my FAVORITE bar soap of 2017! Bold statement, I know, but this bar soap helped me get through a rough phase when my barrier was weak and my skin was breaking out. The gentle pumpkin enzymes breakup congestion without over-stripping fragile, inflamed skin. And the vitamin e and omega rich pumpkin seed oil offer a boost of hydration. This is the bar soap that made me realize the power and effectiveness of bar soaps!
  2. You Skincare Clarifying Glow Serum was created by a skincare chemist to heal her severe cystic acne, so it’s really no wonder that this serum works wonders on deep, painful pimples. This serum brings together intensely hydrating ingredients, like vitamin B5, squalene, aloe, and rose with exfoliating lactic acid and brightening licorice root to fade red acne scars. My go-to when I need to combat monster pimples! Read my full review of the serum here.
  3. Marie Veronique + Kristina Holey Intensive Repair Serum is my go-to serum to get rid of blackheads, sebum plugs (those little bumps of congestion), and whiteheads. It helps to radically clear up congestion with lactic acid that exfoliates the top of skin and salicylic acid that exfoliates the inside of the pore breaking up blockages. It is intense, as the name suggests, so I like to use it as a once a week intensive mask. 
  4. Herbivore Lapis Face Oil blends two powerful essential oils for fighting inflamed, acne prone skin: blue tansy and jasmine. Blue tansy will immediately reduce the embarrassing redness that accompanies breakouts, while jasmine works as a powerful antiseptic to speed wound healing. Alone this oil won’t combat acne completely (a serum or cleanser with a decongestant is needed), but it will alleviate irritation and soothe the skin allowing it to heal faster. I recommend this face oil for those with acne and very sensitive and/or dry skin.
  5. In Fiore Pur Face Oil is a gorgeous oil I recommend for those with combination/oily skin and an excess of sebum. The key ingredient, neroli oil, is fabulous at balancing sebum and it also offers gentle exfoliation to prevent congestion and fade red acne marks.

best of 2017 brightening skin products

For Brightening
These products are effective brighteners made for sensitive, fragile skin. If strong acids traumatize your skin (like mine), these faves are wonderful alternatives that will give your skin a beautiful all around glow. 

  1. Therapi Honey Skincare Orange Blossom Mist soaks the skin in gentle rose water, astringent witch hazel water and soothing calendula. But it’s the brightening components of bergamot and neroli that gives a refreshed glow. I love the feel of this toner and its ability to simultaneously heal, tone, brighten, and soothe. (Read my full review here.) 
  2. Dr. Barbara Sturm Darker Skin Tones Hyaluronic Serum. I talk about this product A LOT. It has the ability to lighten discoloration with a gentle skin resurfacer, lumicol, while infusing the skin with anti-aging purslane and three different sizes of plumping/hydrating hyaluronic acid molecules able to penetrate various layers of the skin.
  3. You Skincare Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum. This is the perfect vitamin c serum for reactive skin! As you know, I have very sensitive skin and the low pH of L-ascorbic acid (the most common form of Vitamin C used in skincare products) makes my skin red and irritated. But this serum uses sodium ascorbic phosphate as well as antioxidants such as resveratrol and ferulic acid that work in synergy to heal the skin and gently brighten the complexion.
  4. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask happens to be one of my favorite clay masks! After one use you will see a visible glow to the skin! The gentle pomegranate enzymes deep cleanse the pores, as does the French pink clay. My only complaint – the jar is too small! I went through this lovely mask way too fast. #addicted
  5. Susanne Kaufmann Enzyme Peel can brighten and exfoliate the most sensitive of sensitive skins out there. It’s so gentle! The mild fruit acids remove dead skin cells sans abrasion. And I love the cooling, tingling feeling! best of 2017 dermatitis rosacea

For Dermatitis/Rosacea
Inflammatory skin issues were my nightmare – operative word is “were” – but I’ve finally left my perioral dermatitis in the dust, it just took a while to figure out how and with what. Here are a few faves I tested this past year that helped me A LOT during my dermatitis outbreaks. 

  1. Era Organics Face Wash. Love this basic, bare-bones cleanser. When your skin is in crisis mode, it really can’t handle anything abrasive, astringent, exfoliating or active; it wants simple and gentle! And those are two words that perfectly describe this cleanser I used to help me weather my PD outbreaks. 
  2. Marie Veronique Barrier Restore. If you are dealing with dermatitis, there’s a high likelihood that you have a damaged/weakened skin barrier. This serum brings together a combination of pro and pre biotics to rebalance the skin microbiome, soothing B vitamins and components able to replace the skin’s natural moisturizing factors balancing the stratum corneum.
  3. Susanne Kaufmann After Sun Gel can be used any time regardless if you go in the sun or not. It’s one of my favorite anti-inflammatory hyaluronic acid serums. Hydrating aloe, three sizes of plant hyaluronic acid, and cardiospermum, a powerful anti-inflammatory plant extract, come together to reduce redness and calm inflamed skin. And the cooling, tingly feeling doesn’t hurt. 
  4. SkinOwl Maqui Berry Face Oil contains baobab oil (one of my favorites) which has a unique blend of linoleic acid and oleic acid, which allows it to balance sebum and hydrate the skin simultaneously. Making it great at soothing irritated skin and calming inflammatory skin outbreaks. Plus, the maqui berry oil is a crazy antioxidant powerhouse containing vitamin E which protects skin from free radical damage while it’s in crisis mode.
  5. Lotus Moon Cherry Blossom Soothe Balm is an amazing balm for rosacea or dermatitis prone skin types. It contains willow herb extract which has been shown to reduce inflammation as well as 1% hydrocortisone. The shea butter in the balm does get a little clumpy, but nothing warms hands can’t smooth out. A little goes a long way with this favorite. 
  6. Skin Clinical LED Device visibly reduces redness and with consistent use, I’ve found it speeds up wound healing of my red acne marks, soothes PD flare ups, and helps to combat red inflamed skin. (Read my full review with before/after pics here  which also includes a discount code for 25% off!) 

best of 2017 eye neck lip

Eye/Lip/Neck Products
Dark circles and neck bands are my current struggle. But thankfully, in a sea full of ineffective products, I found a few that actually work – and work fast! 

  1. La Bella Figura Découverte Under Eye Repair Serum will blow you away with its ability to brighten dark circles and de-puff tired eyes. We’re talking near instant overnight results as the powerful ingredients high in linoleic acid lower oxidative damage in stressed tissues. Once you have this serum, you may never be able to go without it.
  2. Susanne Kaufmann Line A Eye Cream is the anti-aging powerhouse you need if you partied a little too hard or sun tanned a little too long in your twenties. Like all of Susanne Kaufmann’s organic skincare line, this product brings together clean ingredients with powerful bio-technology, so you’ll see ingredients like antioxidant rich broccoli seed oil alongside ectoin (a molecule found in bacteria that prevents cell damage). Brighter, smoother, firmer skin around the eyes is what you can count on after just a week of using this top notch eye cream.
  3. Susanne Kaufmann Regeneration Cream Line A (Neck). This cream is intended for the face, BUT I have found it to be the BEST neck firming cream I have ever come across. I’m developing unsightly neck bands and sagging neck skin, but after applying this cream in the evening, I awake to softened neck bands and shockingly smooth, taunt skin. I HIGHLY recommend this cream for those serious about having a neck that looks twenty forever.
  4. Lanolin Lips 101 Ointment Multi-Balm Strawberry. The dry Los Angeles air sucks all of the moisture out of my skin and lips, so by days end I’m left with dry patches and shriveled lips. But each night, I go through my nighttime beauty routine which includes applying Lanolin Lips and I awake to an intensely hydrated pout! This is by far the best lip balm I’ve come across and is a favorite in my bag at all times. 
  5. Henné Organics Lavender Mint Lip Exfoliator works magic to prep lips for lipstick! I apply this scrub on my lips while I do my eye makeup giving the jojoba oil and tingly peppermint oil time to sink in. After a few minutes, I’ll swipe the organic sugar crystals away with a towel to reveal soft, smooth lips ready for some color! 

best of 2017 body

Body Products
Bumps on the back of your arms? Vein-y legs? Scaly skin? Not with these. 

  1. Meow Meow Tweet Coffee Scrub Bar. I love the rough feel of the coffee granules in this bar! And while I’m not a coffee drinker myself, I do love the smell of roasted coffee beans and cinnamon! This bar will scrub you down, excite you for the day and leave your skin super soft.
  2. Susanne Kaufmann Detox Oil Scrub is one of those products you’ll shed tears over when you reach the last few drops – it’s that good. The apricot and poppy seed kernels glide over your skin without flaking to the ground promoting micro circulation, while a mixture of jojoba, sesame and apricot seed oil will leave your skin silky smooth. But it’s the bamboo extract, rich in silica, that elevates this product with its abilities to stimulate collagen, improve skin texture and tone. Warning: Once you try this scrub, regular salt scrubs just won’t cut it.
  3. In Fiore Firmante Elevating Leg Tonic. For firmer, smoother, less vein-y legs – you need this oil. The star ingredient, horse chestnut seed extract, stimulates lymphatic flow, decreases swelling and vein and cellulite visibility. And has been proven in studies to reduce swelling of the legs and encourage improved circulation as well as compression socks! The results will make you lust, but the experience of the strong herbal scent and tingly sensation will have you falling in love. (Read my full review here.) 
  4. Maya Chia The Revitalizer Beautifying SuperCritical Body Oil. Once you’re done slathering your legs with Firmante, work your way up to the backs of your arms and massage in, post shower of course, the Maya Chia body oil to be rid finally of those scaly little bumps on the backs of your arms. The neroli essential oil will help cell turnover, while the blend of antioxidant rich baobab, Marula, chia seed and cranberry seed oil will strengthen the skin and smooth its appearance. 
  5. Lilfox Forest Floor Vetiver Body Butter cocoons your skin in a tantalizing scent of vetiver, vanilla bourbon and bitter orange. I love getting out of the shower and massaging this balm all over during the dry, cold winter months. It sinks right into damp skin and leaves the most delightful finish. PLUS, I love how big the jar is and how far a little scoop of product goes. This item seems expensive at first, but trust me, it lasts a long time!

best of 2017 hair

Hair/Scalp Products
An itchy, irritated scalp and hair thinning woes can be conquered (I promise – I’m proof)

1. Ursa Major Face Wash is an AMAZING scalp wash! I have an irritated, oily, sometimes flaky scalp, but ever since discovering the astringent, sebum balancing, refreshing benefits of this face wash – for my scalp – my scalp has been balanced and my hair silky. I use it every night to wash my scalp and follow with a second cleanse with the Rahua shampoo on my hair mid shaft to ends. The blend of antiseptic and balancing essential oils, like juniper, blue tansy, vetiver and spearmint  leave my scalp feeling amazing! (It also makes a fantastic face and body wash!)

2. Rahua Shampoo Regular. I’ve talked at length about my love for the Rahua products ever since dealing with hair loss/thinning issues. The rahua oil in their products is rich in omega-9 particles that are small enough to get inside the hair follicles and strengthen them from the inside out. I’ve noticed thicker, healthier hair since using this shampoo and find myself highly recommending it to anyone with hair loss issues. 

3. Evolvh Ultra Shine Moisture Conditioner works so well to hydrate hair without weighing it down! As my hair grows longer, I’m constantly on the lookout for a deeply hydrating conditioner that allows for bouncy air dried hair. Once I found this one by Evolvh, my search was done. Love, love, love this conditioner.

4. R + Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo. When it comes to dry shampoo, I’ve tried THEM ALL: from the most expensive, to the bargain drugstore brands, and everything in-between. But my search may be over. Recently on a trip to New York City, I picked up a travel size of this dry shampoo from R + Co and instantly fell head over heels! This dry shampoo lasts. Meaning: the can isn’t empty after 4-5 uses and a few spritzes actually covers a lot of ground. The scent is amazing and the feel is dreamy. It will leave your hair refreshed, light, moveable and breathable all day. 

5. Reverie Cake works to soothe an irritated scalp, prolong the growth phase of hair follicles resulting in thicker, longer strands and brings together a blend of refreshing, balancing essential oils that will allow you to go longer between washes. It is expensive though and I do go through it fairly quickly, so I use this once a week and scalp wash with the Ursa Major wash and the two together keep my scalp healthy. Read my full review of Cake here.

6. Playa Endless Summer Salt Spray gives hair that un-done, sexy, texturized yet touchable, movement to hair we all want. While some texturizing sprays leave hair feeling crunchy and heavy, this one became a fast favorite for its barely there feel and no-curling iron needed voluminized results.  Read my full review here.

Written by Amy Chang, founder + editor