Do These Green Beauty Products Really Work?
THE CLAIM This mélange of essential oils (in a base of sugarcane alcohol) by Tsi-La is a USDA-certified organic blend. The scent ($95/1.7 oz; tsilaorganics.com)-dominated by notes of tangerines, neroli, and lemongrass-can last about five hours. It's also spiked with antioxidant extracts like goji berry and blueberry.
EXPERT OPINION "Natural oils tend to have a longer shelf life than synthetic perfumes," says cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson, while neroli has "particular staying power on the skin." As for the serum's antioxidants, Dr. Fusco points out that since only a tiny amount is applied to a small area, the skin-care benefits would be negligible.
OUR VERDICT The fragrance-a sweet, citrusy blend-is not as complex and nuanced as many synthetic formulas. But if you typically go for fruity aromas, you'll likely love it. Our testers found that the fragrance stayed strong for a few hours before fading into a soft sweetness.
THE CLAIM Badger's USDA-certified organic formula ($12; badgerbalm.com) delivers intense hydration and protects against free radicals thanks to organic essential oils like chamomile, lavender, and rose.
EXPERT OPINION "It's oily but absorbs in 15 minutes," says N.Y.C. dermatologist Francesca Fusco, who thinks this product is best suited for very dry complexions. The lavender can reduce inflammation, while sea buckthorn extract has fatty acids that keep skin super moisturized.
OUR VERDICT Love the smell of roses? Then you won't mind the floral scent. This product brought a dewy texture to parched cheeks, and applying it after a nighttime shower kept our skin hydrated clear through morning.
Biodegradable Polish Remover
THE CLAIM Priti NYC's acetone-free wipes ($10/10; pritinyc.com), infused with naturally derived soybean esters, make lacquer disappear. With an assist from lemongrass essential oil, they moisturize skin too. The nonwoven cloths are made from biodegradable plant fibers.
EXPERT OPINION The conditioning oil in the formula is less drying on nails than regular polish remover, says N.Y.C. manicurist Jin Soon Choi. However, she notes, "it works slowly, so it'll take more time to remove dark polishes."
OUR VERDICT Remarkably, one sustainable square removed ruby-red, run-of-the-mill enamel from all 10 fingertips. The remaining residue was a tad greasy, but our cuticles were definitely soft and hydrated.
THE CLAIM A sustainable bamboo handle makes light work of blowouts, while natural boar-hair bristles and tourmaline-infused nylon fibers bring on a mega-smooth finish ($40; 212-984-5027).
EXPERT OPINION New York City hairstylist Kattia Solano says the brush is great for "a smooth blow-dry with just a little body." But if you have thick, coarse hair, she adds, "you might want bristles that are longer and firmer."
OUR VERDICT We found the brush light and easy to hold during a blow-dry. One tester loved the tension it provided: "My fine hair didn't slip out of the bristles, which happens with other brushes." And, she says, her strands were left smoother than usual.
Gentle Zit Zapper
THE CLAIM Billed as 97 percent natural, the Yes to Tomatoes Spot Stick ($10; at Target) fights acne with salicylic acid and tea tree oil, and reduces irritation and redness with ginger root and bisabolol (a chamomile extract). Antioxidant power comes from lycopene, which is found in tomatoes.
EXPERT OPINION The majority of the ingredients are natural or naturally derived, says Wilson. Dr. Fusco likes salicylic acid to tackle pimples better than benzoyl peroxide, which, she says, has "a higher allergenic potential." Ginger and bisabolol are both natural anti-inflammatories, so they could indeed soothe irritation, says Dr. Fusco.
OUR VERDICT One tester noticed a decrease in zit size after just one day. Another found it didn't make much of a difference.
THE CLAIM With fragrant essential oils, this Weleda liquid deodorant ($13; weleda.com) neutralizes stinky odors without using aluminum or chemical preservatives.
EXPERT OPINION The ingredient farnesol is an antibacterial, says Wilson: By controlling bacteria, there's nothing to cause a bad aroma. So even though Weleda is not an antiperspirant, its natural ingredients and alcohols will keep your sweat from causing a stench.
OUR VERDICT We had doubts, but a few spritzes of this mist left us smelling fresh?even after a half-hour of Pilates and a 12-hour workday. It came on strong and citrusy, but the aroma died down after 20 minutes. Bonus: It's not designed as a sweat-blocker, but one tester felt more dry than soggy throughout the day.
THE CLAIM Episencial says its Sunny Sunscreen ($15; episencial.com) relies on natural active ingredients to block sun rays. It also whacks free radicals with antioxidants like green tea and bypasses synthetic preservatives, fragrances, and dyes.
EXPERT OPINION The bulk of this formulation is indeed naturally derived, says Wilson, noting that the UV blockers titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sit on the skin to form an effective barrier. The product is also a winner on Dr. Fusco's shelf: "I love the texture-I might start using it myself!"
OUR VERDICT On a sunny vacation in Puerto Rico, one tester said the lightweight formula kept her pleasantly pale for close to three hours. (Note: Dermatologists recommend reapplying every two hours.) Another tester was "amazed" at how, after just a little blending, the non-tacky cream disappeared completely into her dark skin.
Natural Lip Gloss
THE CLAIM Suki Lip Shine ($20 each; sukiskincare.com) uses natural ingredients, including shea butter and jojoba oil, to moisturize like a lip conditioner, while antioxidants such as rose extract soften and protect.
EXPERT OPINION Smile, it's a keeper. The natural formula provides "a subtle shine that's not overly greasy," says N.Y.C. makeup artist Nick Barose. "And the pigments don't dry out your lips."
OUR VERDICT Light and creamy, Suki is great for everyday wear. We loved how it kept our puckers moist for a couple of hours, but the hydration wasn't so intense that we'd ditch our regular chapped-lip treatment.
Sugar Body Scrub
THE CLAIM Unlike other, more crude exfoliators that can scratch your skin, these organic sugar granules in jojoba, coconut, and vitamin E oils gently remove dead cells while moisturizing your body ($29; malieorganics.com).
EXPERT OPINION The bits in this all-natural formula appear coarse at first glance, "but when the scrub mixes with water and gets onto the skin, it slowly melts," says Dr. Fusco. "I wasn't red or sore after using it, and I was able to put it on sensitive areas like my neck and chest."
OUR VERDICT We were sold on the fact that it wasn't dripping with soupy liquids. A palm-size amount rubbed over the limbs left them smooth and soft without any greasy film.
EXPERT OPINION "Converting junk into something useful is good from a sustainability standpoint," says Wilson. "It's just a bummer that the whole device can't be continually recycled." Why? The inclusion of a blade makes recycling tricky-and dangerous (you'd have to remove it, which is not recommended!).
OUR VERDICT The handles aren't the pastel, cushiony, scented variety some gals might be used to, but shaving with a cleaner, greener conscience feels terrific. Bonus points for the flexible base: It allows the three blades and aloe strip in this disposable tool to glide over knees with ease.
THE CLAIM Rose-Marie Swift, a makeup artist who has worked on Gisele Bündchen, offers a new, darker hue of her skin-healing concealer-foundation hybrid ($36; rmsbeauty.com). Though it doesn't carry the USDA-certified organic seal, it's chemical-free and made with hydrating organic oils like coconut and jojoba, plus it's housed in a recyclable glass jar. It also works as a bronzer on fair skin.
EXPERT OPINION The formula is sheer. "It's great for covering up bags and evening out minor discolorations," says Barose. "It's not too oily or dry, so it won't build up under your eyes." As for healing skin? "It's a good humectant, so it could help heal through moisturization," says Dr. Fusco.
OUR VERDICT It felt positively feather weight and all but disappeared into smooth, exfoliated skin. And the cocoa shade bronzed a fair complexion beautifully.
THE CLAIM This 100 percent USDA-certified organic argan oil ($40; oliebiologique.com) supposedly does everything but the dishes: It hydrates your complexion, heals cracked skin, tames frizz, and adds shine to hair.
EXPERT OPINION "Argan oil's best feature is its ability to keep skin and hair smooth but not greasy," says Dr. Fusco. Rich in fatty acids, it's also an antiinflammatory and antibacterial agent that's "tolerated by most skin types and won't clog pores."
OUR VERDICT A little goes a long way. Just a couple of drops quickly quenched our faces and left behind a noticeable sheen, though one tester craved a heavier moisturizer during dry winter nights. It's brilliant on hair: Another woman coated her thick, wet, shoulder-length strands with a quarter-size dollop before a blowout and was thrilled by the soft, shiny, frizz-free results, which lasted until her next shampoo a few days later.
EXPERT OPINION "Paraffin candles last long and burn cleanly, but paraffin comes from petroleum-a limited resource," says cosmetic chemist James Hammer. "Vegetable waxes come from renewable plant resources." Veggie waxes aren't as hard as paraffin, he also notes, so they make better short, chubby candles (like this one).
OUR VERDICT We loved how it was almost impossible to pinpoint the exact aroma wafting from the glass. ("It's floral. No, it's citrus! No, it just smells clean!") The soft wax melts quickly, though, and takes a while to solidify again, so don't transport the candle from room to room until it has cooled (or you'll probably make a mess, like we did).
Natural Bug Repellent
THE CLAIM Perfume yourself with this USDA-certified organic blend of oils and it'll ward off bites from the likes of mosquitoes, gnats, flies, ants, and more ($26; intelligentnutrients.com).
EXPERT OPINION"I love it as a repellent-it's a good alternative to chemical-based products," says Dr. Fusco, who believes it's the combination of natural oils (including sesame seed, castor, citronella, thyme, clove, cinnamon, and rosemary) that keeps away annoying insects. "I'd apply a few drops to the pressure points."
OUR VERDICT We put the slightly medicinal, slightly herbal-smelling liquid to the ultimate test: a spring trip to India, where "it's mosquitoes galore," said one tester. "I put it on before leaving the house every morning, and got a lot fewer bites than I normally would when visiting."
Practically Edible Face Mask
THE CLAIM These natural skin treatments ($20/2; dairyface.com) contain fresh, food-grade dairy cultures, organic milk fats, and probiotics, plus oils and herbs that hydrate and soothe the complexion. There are five kinds that can be used on the face or body, made without essential oils to avoid potential irritation. "After using one of these masks, skin doesn't need a moisturizer," says Dairyface founder Oksana Panasenko.
EXPERT OPINION "This mask is a star," says Dr. Fusco, who often recommends cold-milk compresses to her patients. "Milk's low pH and lactic acid help calm inflamed skin," she explains. After using the eye creme, she says, "my undereyes were tighter, so it's good for puffiness." And the probiotics in all Dairyface natural formulas can help balance skin bacteria.
OUR VERDICT We were tempted to put a spoon in this chilly, creamy stuff, but we slathered it on and endured the yogurty smell for 20 minutes. Afterward, our tester couldn't believe how soft, plump, and hydrated her face was. The only downside: remembering to keep it refrigerated. At $20 for a two-pack, you don't want it to spoil.
THE CLAIM Full of concentrated cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry extracts and spirulina seaweed, a daily 4 ml dose of Cosmetofruit's natural elixir ($80; spacenk.com) fights free-radical damage and promotes better-looking skin-from the inside.
EXPERT OPINION With zero synthetic ingredients, the formula is "basically a vitamin drink," says Wilson. The antioxidants can help prevent skin damage, she notes, and seaweed is beneficial in detoxifying and removing waste from our bodies. Plus, Dr. Fusco says, the green coffee extract in the Total Body Booster can help lessen water retention. And Wilson offers a key reminder: "You can put any product on your skin," she says, "but if you don't take in the vitamins you need and your cells are sluggish, the skin care won't work to its full capacity."
OUR VERDICT Every shot from the enclosed serving spoon was lip-puckeringly tart and left a tannic trail down our tongue. (Suggestion: Add to a glass of water for a tastier experience.) But after a week, we could swear we felt a bit more energized in the morning; after two weeks, one tester's skin appeared moisturized but not radically different.