11 Moisturizers That Don't Support the Fossil Fuel Industry

If all the climate headlines have you scared, here’s an easy way to support eco-friendly brands.

12 Moisturizers That Don't Support the Fossil Fuel Industry
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

If you're not freaked out by the recent climate news, I don't know what to tell you. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's just-released report shows, we're nearly out of time to prevent disastrous, cataclysmic global warming and sea level rise. As far back as 2011, experts have emphasized that we can't shop our way out of this enormous problem — it will take government action to force profiting companies away from the activities leading to our planet's demise. But if you still want to make sure your skincare routine isn't supporting the fossil fuel industry, the good news is there are tons of options that use only sustainable ingredients.

Countless crude oil-derived petrochemicals are used in skincare, but the most obvious ones to look out for are petrolatum, petroleum, petroleum jelly, paraffin, and mineral oil. Other common culprits are ethylene, propylene, and butadiene, along with any ingredients ending in -eth, which means they're created with the petrochemical ethylene oxide (same with PEGs). Anything that starts with ethyl-, butyl-, methyl-, and propyl- is a red flag, as are triethanolamine, diethanolamine, and monoethanolamine, which is usually abbreviated to MEA. Finally, look out for EDTA and "fragrance," which can also conceal wilderness-damaging compounds.

That can seem like a lot to remember, but a growing number of brands now come right out and say their formulas are petrochemical-free, which is easier than memorizing a bunch of chemical names. Switching isn't going to solve our global predicament, but abandoning the ingredients can effectively tell companies we're done supporting those that wreck the world. (That said, the most sustainable path is finishing whatever you have on hand before cracking open a more eco-friendly product). And with the myriad fabulous sustainable formulas available, there's no reason not to get on board.

These are the best moisturizers that divest from the fossil fuel industry:

Best for Smooth Skin: Cocokind Texture Smoothing Cream


As the name suggests, Cocokind's moisturizer smoothes out rough textures like skincare sandpaper, yet the formula is one of the most gentle I've ever seen. Unlike harsh exfoliants that can end up damaging your skin barrier, the Texture Smoothing Cream relies on supportive ingredients like antioxidant-rich flax and celery extract, fatty acid-depositing tsubaki seed oil, and squalane to smooth skin.

"Gamechanger. Not only is the smell refreshing, but this moisturizer has truly smoothed my skin texture out," writes one person; another says that they witnessed an enormous transformation within five days of trying the cream. "My skin is moisturized, smooth, bright, and almost has a dewy look."

Price at time of publish: $22

Best for Wrinkles: Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer


Juice Beauty goes a step beyond petrochemical-free with certified-organic ingredients. These include primrose, linseed, jojoba, and borage oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, panthenol, and allantoin, which is the active ingredient in scar-healing creams like Mederma. As combined in the Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer, shoppers see fantastic developments.

"I have been using this product for about four months now, and friends are asking if I had Botox," a reviewer writes. A different person comments that after trying "just about every moisturizer on the market," Juice Beauty's has been a godsend for firming their skin and reducing fine lines. Take it from a last shopper: "I used this for deep wrinkles on my forehead area. After two weeks, everyone at work was asking [if] I changed my makeup, because they can't see my lines anymore."

Price at time of publish: $70

Best for Acne and Sensitive Skin: Prima The Afterglow Cream


While not specifically indicated for use on acne, the numerous reviews extolling the virtues of Prima's Afterglow Cream say it's a mighty acne-fighter, without any of the harshness that traditional acne ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can bring. Instead, the luxurious moisturizer turns to CBD, which researchers identify as a promising ingredient for toning down acne's trademark inflammation.

One resounding compliment comes from a nurse who, in the face of "super dry" air, keeps their skin calm and hydrated for a full 12 hours with the cream. Another person writes that they were thinking of getting Botox before integrating the moisturizer into their routine, and now won't even consider it — their wished-for smoothing is done. And for acne, all it takes is seven days to see the clouds part.

"After one week my skin is clear from blemishes and pimples, glowy, and my uneven skin tone is even again. I can happily say I am wearing minimal makeup and I'm loving it," writes one customer. The crowning praise? While recovering from surgery and ostensibly with their appearance on the backburner, another person says their mail carrier asked their secret for looking so youthful.

Price at time of publish: $68

Best for Brightening Hyperpigmentation: Ren Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream Moisturizer


Ren was one of the original Earth-centric brands, and I remember being stunned to stumble across the high-quality line at Whole Foods while wasting time in the skincare aisle. It's since transitioned into Sephora and e-commerce, but the planet-forward ethos remains: Its formulas are vegan and cruelty-free, and its packaging is made with recycled plastic that's infinitely recyclable.

Just as important, the brand's Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream Moisturizer makes for bright skin to rival our future if the government gets its act together. Two forms of vitamin C, vitamin E, sea buckthorn oil, and tara pod extract are behind the radiance activation, which shoppers say is significant and fast-acting. "My face has never felt so moisturized or soft. The sunspot over my lip is fading," says someone of the effects they saw in two weeks. "And bonus, my forehead wrinkles are less obvious."

Another person writes: "Amazing results from the very first use. I've struggled with dull skin and blemishes ever since I had children over a decade ago. I am always skeptical about topical creams...but I can honestly say this has transformed my complexion. It has gone from dull to radiant in a matter of days."

Price at time of publish: $52

Best for Redness: Weleda Skin Food Original


Another natural OG player, Weleda's Skin Food is legendary both in and out of the clean beauty community. Celebrities like Ashley Graham, Rihanna, Victoria Beckham, Michelle Williams, and Julia Roberts turn to the soothing cream, as do celebrity makeup artists Katey Denno and Katie Jane Hughes. The reason? It's a skincare superhero, with over 16,000 five-star ratings on Amazon and almost 4,000 five-star reviews raving about the intensely moisturizing, botanical formula.

"Believe me when I say you will not recognize yourself in the morning. It was like my skin transformed overnight," writes one impressed reviewer. "It was smooth, poreless, scarring had almost disappeared, and any sign of redness was gone. This was after one night! My co-workers mentioned I looked like I was glowing."

Over three dozen other shoppers touch on the redness-reducing aspect in their reviews, uniformly celebrating their newly calm, soft skin despite factors like daily retinol and electrolysis treatments. At its regular price of $19, people say it out-performs hundreds of dollars' worth of skincare — making its currently discounted tag of $14 all the more appealing.

Price at time of publish: $19

Best for Oily Skin: Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer


Alpyn Beauty's formulas are as far as you can get from petrochemicals, since the Wyoming-based brand sources all their ingredients from the area's wild mountain plants (and has worked to restore 900 acres of native sagebrush grassland that wildlife depends on). Concurrent with the theme, the PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer's formula leaves skin petal soft (leaves, eh? This thing on?).

Said formula brings in a juicy bouquet of plant ingredients like apple fruit extract, apricot kernel oil, centella asiatica, squalane, peptides, glycolic acid, vitamin E, shea butter, ceramides, vitamin C, borage oil, and jojoba oil, along with retinol's less-irritating cousin, bakuchiol. The mix is especially well-suited for those with oily skin, according to reviewers: "I wanted a light moisturizer for aging skin, and I got it," one person writes. "Skin has improved over two weeks, and looks flawless. Reduces oiliness and blemishes too."

Let's just say there's a reason why this one was sold out on Amazon.

Price at time of publish: $60

Best for Dry Skin: Ghost Democracy Cocoon Replenishing Ceramide Rich Cream


Speaking of ceramides, Ghost Democracy's less-expensive Cocoon moisturizer goes full throttle with the ingredient — think a slightly more sophisticated, lightweight take on Cerave's beloved Moisturizing Cream. Said ceramides, squalane, oat seed extract, and a hefty lipid blend unite to deliver deep moisture to skin, without potentially problematic fragrance or silicones.

"This cream has been amazing! I have very dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin. The texture is thick and creamy, but it does not break me out like other thick creams," one person writes. "It deeply moisturizes my skin so I wake up to a super soft face." Another dubs the cream "delicious," especially because the formula retains enough airiness that it's not heavy or suffocating on their skin.

Price at time of publish: $34

Best for Combination Skin: Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturizer


Tata Harper is the underground ringleader behind much of Hollywood's great skin, as fans Jessica Alba, Tracee Ellis Ross, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Watson, Brooke Shields, Anne Hathaway, Lake Bell, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley attest. The brand's Regenerating Cleanser is its most instantly recognizable product, but the Water-Lock Moisturizer has cultivated a fanbase amongst those with combination skin.

One person living in high-humidity Maryland writes that the plant extract, peptide, and hyaluronic acid-infused formula is the ideal year-round hydrator for their combo skin, and others expound on the anti-aging benefits they've seen. "Love, love this product and company. My face feels and looks younger after one application," one reviewer says, and another writes that at 74, the moisturizer softens and brightens their complexion. With that number of famous fans, I can't say I'm surprised.

Price at time of publish: $68

Best Oil Moisturizer: Mara Natural Algae + Moringa Universal Face Oil


For those who've boarded the face oil train and don't intend to disembark anytime soon, great news: Where some oils supplement their ingredients with cyclic silicones like cyclopentasiloxane, Mara's sea-inspired collection makes the most of sustainable, ultra-effective elements. Per the brand, "nutrient-rich superfood plant oils" like moringa, bilberry, baobab and kalahari melon carry phytonutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and F to the table for incredibly glowy skin.

As one person sums up, "I have very dry skin and nothing would quench the thirst of my dryness until this face oil. It lasts for hours, and I'm on my third bottle." Personally, I've been using the oil on and off for years, and whenever a new product rubs my skin the wrong way, I return to the Universal Face Oil to know peace once again. It's pricey, but one or two drops per use means it lasts and lasts.

Price at time of publish: $40

Best at the Drugstore: Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream


If all this talk of $72 moisturizers has your wallet feeling frail, I've got you — or rather, Jessica Alba's got you. The actress's Honest Beauty skincare line is just as good as the brand's mascara, and at $20 flat, the paraben-, silicone-, petrolatum-, mineral oil-, synthetic fragrance-, and dye-free formula ensures anyone can find skincare that doesn't contribute to the oil industry.

The Hydrogel cream fittingly combines a gel texture with ample moisture, for results that impress even self-proclaimed "skincare fanatics." "I am all about safer-for-you ingredients these days, and the beautiful blend of ingredients creates a silky, fluffy and rich texture," writes one person who says it makes their skin look younger. "It absorbs perfectly — feels like my skin is drinking it up, instead of leaving greasiness. I have been using it on my face and neck for several months, and am constantly told I am glowing and look rested. And I can assure you, I am not rested."

A reviewer after my own heart.

Price at time of publish: $20

Best With SPF: Kari Gran Natural Essential SPF 28 Facial Sunscreen


For many years, I wouldn't look twice at a moisturizer if it didn't include SPF. I prioritized multi-tasking skincare, and while I'm now more open to layering (especially since so many moisturizer-SPF duos use chemical sunscreens that I avoid), Kari Gran's moisturizing sunscreen means I don't have to carve out time for a multi-step routine. I've tried some truly excellent sunscreens in my years of product testing, but the brand's Natural Essential SPF 28 is in my top three of all time, if not number one.

The classy black bottle doesn't give much away re:the formula, but once you give it a good shake, out comes a milky fluid that deeply moisturizes as it protects skin with non-nano zinc oxide. Non-GMO red raspberry seed oil, plum seed oil, macadamia nut oil, kukui seed oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, organic beeswax, and vitamin E oil mean the zinc easily smoothes over skin, creating a veil of sunscreen and antioxidants. It's so moisturizing that my skin feels plump and hydrated no matter how much salt I eat, and that's a lot. One hundred stars out of five, and no problematic ingredients to speak of.

Price at time of publish: $47

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