Last updated: Mar 15, 2009
Sure, youve made the switch to organic apples and milk. And that shower cleaner under your bathroom sink smells like fresh-cut lavender, not toxic fumes. So why not upgrade to more natural skin, makeup, and hair products? The best of the new natural stuff is affordable, feels luxurious, and actually works. Read on for the ultimate green beauty and fashion finds, from gorgeous nail polish that smells amazing to skin-care products gentle enough to use on a baby—but all for you!


Natural versus organic
Wonder what these labels really mean? When it comes to the word natural, not much. A shampoo full of chemicals may be called natural simply because it smells like grapefruit. But there are two labels worth looking for: If a product is stamped with the Department of Agricultures USDA Organic Seal, it means 95% of the ingredients that are in the cosmetics were grown organically. And if you buy something with the National Products Association Seal, which is being helped along with support by pioneering brand Burts Bees, you can rest assured that 95% of the ingredients are derived from natural sources that have no potential human-health risks.

Gentle skin care
The good news: “Studies have shown the level of chemicals in most skin-care products is well within the safe realm,” says Jeannette Graf, MD, a dermatologist and author of Stop Aging, Start Living. “But these products do penetrate your skin.” When it comes to cleansers, Dr. Graf notes, pass on potentially irritating synthetic sudsing agents like sodium lauuryl sulfate. Instead, look for products that contain botanical oils and plant extracts, which can remove dirt and makeup more gently. Seek out moisturizers with natural ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and honey. As for natural anti-aging products, there arent equally powerful alternatives for the most popular age fighters—retinol for wrinkles, hydroquinone for lightening—yet. But some ingredients like green tea, grape seed extract, and pomegranate are proven antioxidants.

Fresh face, healthy hair
Healthy makeups moment has arrived. You can now find everything from liquid foundation to mascara made out of greener materials with fewer chemicals. In fact, companies are formulating cosmetics without parabens (many antioxidants and vitamins have natural preservative properties), petrochemicals, and synthetic dyes. And youll be seeing a lot more colors made from plants and natural waxes and oils. When it comes to hair, the quickest way to go natural is to look for certified-organic ingredients and shampoos without sulfates, the synthetic suds that foam when you wash your hair. “Natural shampoos get your hair clean, but youll have to get used to a slightly less-soapy experience,” says salon owner John Masters, whose hair- and skin-care lines are formulated to be largely organic and chemical-free. But take heart: As more and more shampoos go sulfate-free, natural alternatives are getting better.

Nail polish that looks (and smells!) great
One whiff of conventional nail polish and its no surprise that it contains chemicals. The big offenders: formaldehyde, phthalates, and toluene. But many brands are removing these chemicals, and some are even using nonchemical-based colors, too. “I get my pigments from natural plants and minerals,” says Nausil Zaheer, developer of chemical-free Karma Organic nail polish and owner of Karma Organic Spa in Ridgewood, New Jersey. “I have 88 colors—but Im still trying to find an extract to create a black shade!”