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The average American woman uses 12 personal care products a day, and she comes in contact with 168 unique ingredients. That’s fine when the ingredients are natural, like honey or olive oil, but it’s alarming (and sometimes dangerous!) when the ingredient lists are full of unpronounceable names and even more obscure functions.

The good news is that, as the green beauty movement takes off, beauty start-ups are embracing natural ingredients in a big way. Now, walk into any green beauty boutique and flip over that bottle or moisturizer or stick of deodorant, and you’re likely to see ingredients that look like they came from a kitchen cupboard—not a chemist’s lab. Natural doesn’t have to mean compromise, either. Here’s the inside scoop on some of the top natural ingredients used by beauty start-ups. Think of it as a primer for picking your perfect product.

1. Turmeric

This Indian spice contains a bioactive component called curcumin that has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. That means turmeric can be helpful in calming breakouts and reducing acne scarring, and it can even brighten your skin for a healthy, natural glow. 

Try It In: Fitglow Beauty Vita-Active Serum

2. Sea Buckthorn

The orange fruits — which are high in fatty acids and vitamin content – have been used as a restorative moisturizer in folk medicine for eons. Now, modern beauty brands are jumping on the bandwagon, lauding the high-moisture, no-irritant effects of this lesser-known oil. 

Try It In: Apoterra Night Regenerative Balm

3. Honey

Raw honey is packed with nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, zinc, potassium, and iron, as well as antioxidants, which may slow the effects of aging. Plus, it’s moisturizing and soothing to the touch, making it a perfect, feel-good addition to a face mask. 

Try It In: Laurel Honey Berry Mask

4. Charcoal

Because charcoal attracts and absorbs substances, it’s been used medically for decades to neutralize and remove toxins. The idea is that it might do the same for skin, drawing all the oil and dead skin cells from your pores, as well as zapping stinky smells. 

Try It In: Fitglow Beauty Detox Gel Cleanser

5. Oats

The FDA approved colloidal oatmeal — aka finely ground oats —as a skin-protective substance back in 2003. But the first commercially available version hit the market in 1945, and the practice of applying ground grains to the skin actually stretches back centuries. Oats have a variety of phenols that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with saponins provide a cleansing effect. In practice, this means that oat-based products are a go-to for many folks dealing with dry, itchy or irritated skin. Colloidal oatmeal can even help with some eczema. 

Try It In: Apoterra Hibiscus Exfoliating Mask

6. Avocado

With nutrients like vitamin E, potassium and lecithin, as well as antioxidants, avocado oil is super nourishing for your skin and can help moisturize and soothe irritated and dry epidermis. A 2011 study also found that avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis, meaning it could help regenerate new connective tissue. And if you spend too long in the sun, research shows that avocado oil can soothe the burn and promote skin healing. 

Try It In: Osmia Organics Black Clay Facial Soap

7. Matcha

This popular powder is made from ground up green tea leaves, which contain caffeine and can brighten and depuff your face while being gentle on your skin. Matcha is also known for its antioxidants (specifically, catechin polyphenols), which are great for battling dark spots and evening skin tone. And the amino acid L-Theanine is thought to boost the health and function of your amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with stress. 

Try It In: SuperGreens Face Mask

8. Quinoa

Forget the formaldehyde (blech!) that some beauty pros may suggest for hair treatments. More natural beauty brands are getting behind quinoa, a protein packed seed that helps to strengthen and fortify the hair shaft.  You’ll likely see it listed as “hydrolyzed quinoa,” which just means that the seed has been chemically cut into smaller pieces so the shampoo and conditioner is easier to use—and easier for your hair to absorb. 

Try It In: Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer

9. Castor Oil

Pressed from the seeds of the ricinus communis plant, castor oil has long had a starring role in digestive health. But natural beauty experts know that it can also work wonders for the face, and it’s been used to treat everything from psoriasis and acne to dry skin and eczema. The antioxidant-rich oil is also thought to promote hair growth, including eyelashes and eyebrows. 

Try It In: Province Apothecary Full Brow Serum


Ready to try a new ingredient? You can get your fix at Lena Rose Natural Beauty, where you’ll also find a trained team of green beauty experts to answer any questions you may have about which ingredients to run toward (and which to run from!) in your beauty routine.


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