Does It Really Work Green Edition
Does It Really Work Green Edition
Does It Really Work Green Edition
Organic produce? No question. Organic face cleanser? Well, yeah—but is it any good? We can relate to that hesitation. Everyone may want to reduce carbon footprints, but no one wants to drop big bucks on an eco-friendly product only to discover it's a dud. So to help you hit the beauty aisles with confidence (and a cleaner conscience), we rounded up a reusable bag of green picks, gave them to trusty testers, and found winners that are worthy of your wallet. Click through to see our favorite picks now!
With just nine ingredients (plum seed and sweet almond oil among them), the light lotion is meant to hydrate all types of complexions and even soothe inflamed ones ($25, usa.weleda.com).
EXPERT OPINION "I love how simple it is," says Wilson of the naturally derived formula. "And sweet almond oil is a good moisturizer." It absorbs very quickly, says Dr. Fusco, who notes that almond oil is also an anti-inflammatory. "I would feel comfortable recommending it to patients with sensitive skin."
OUR VERDICT We tapped a staffer with a mild case of rosacea to take this formulation for a test run. "It's my new favorite lotion," she says. "I had just stopped using a retinoid treatment, and my face was red and peeling. This truly calmed my skin, moisturized it, and got rid of all signs of irritation within a couple days."
With ingredients from nature, the fluoride-free formula aims to whiten using silicas, which remove surface stains ($29, tomsofmaine.com). Xylitol, a naturally derived sweetener, brings some flavor to the mix.
EXPERT OPINION In this paste "the silica acts as an abrasive to exfoliate stains off teeth," says Wilson. N.Y.C. dentist Emanuel Layliev would recommend it to "help maintain a white smile," and says that "the xylitol can reduce the formation of plaque by keeping bacteria from binding inside the mouth."
OUR VERDICT Though we didn't notice a radical difference over several weeks, we also didn't find discoloration worsening either. The taste is mild. One tester says, "Though I liked it overall, it doesn't give that jolt of freshness I want from a toothpaste."
Hydrating Makeup Dissolver
Brand founder Adina Grigore whipped up the first batch of this natural recipe in her Brooklyn kitchen. A few years later and it still contains just three organic ingredients: extra-virgin olive oil, sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil. The company claims the moisturizing formula can cut through waterproof makeup without leaving a greasy residue ($14/2 oz., store.swbasicsofbk.com).
EXPERT OPINION These natural oils do hydrate skin, says Wilson, but they're not the most effective solvents for every type of makeup.
OUR VERDICT On the plus side: The thin liquid did remove our base, concealer, blush, and lipstick completely and didn't cause any irritation. The drawback: It leaves a noticeable film on skin that was too heavy for some testers. "My face felt greasy afterward, so I had to wash it." And some reported the product wasn't strong enough to make mascara totally disappear without a fight.
Caffeinated Undereye Jolt
The serum works to check undereye baggage with green coffee–seed oil (packed with antioxidants and caffeine) and targets the appearance of lines with moisturizing argan oil ($38, sheaterraorganics.com).
EXPERT OPINION Nothing unnatural in here, says Wilson. "The caffeine in the coffee-seed oil can constrict blood vessels and helps regulate circulation," she says, so blood won't pool and look bluish behind thin undereye skin. Another plus: "Argan oil is rich in squalene and essential fatty acids, so it's an excellent hydrator," says Dr. Fusco.
OUR VERDICT One pea-size drop of the slippery serum covers both eye areas and leaves a visible shine. After weeks of religious twice-daily use, our skin was definitely softer and hydrated; our dark shadows and little lines were ever-so-slightly improved.
Cleansing Face Mask
Packed with botanical extracts and fruit acids, this gentle creamy cleanser washes and brightens skin ($39, sevanibeauty.com).
EXPERT OPINION This is a great pick, says Wilson. The naturally derived formulation "melts away dirt with natural oils but doesn't make skin oily," she says. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and the acids will get rid of dead skin cells. "I'd suggest removing it with a gentle cloth so you get a physical exfoliation too," says Dr. Fusco.
OUR VERDICT We have a feeling this will find a home in quite a few InStyle editors' cabinets. "The first ingredient is aloe, not water, followed by avocado oil, which is probably why my face was so soft and smooth after using it," says one staffer. Another used it as a mask and says, "It worked just as well as my regular gritty scrub—and left me with zero redness."
Soy-Based Nail Polish Remover
We've all heard how acetone-based removers can dry out nails. This natural, soy–based formula nourishes and hydrates tips while taking off traditional solvent-based lacquers ($12, scotchnaturals.com). It also gets rid of the brand's water-based polishes.
EXPERT OPINION The ingredients and emollients within are naturally derived, but N.Y.C. manicurist Jin Soon Choi felt a need for more speed: "It just doesn't work very fast."
OUR VERDICT We soaked our cotton pads with the stuff, and it still took major elbow grease to remove both types of polish completely from nails. And while we like that our digits were moisturized, the film it left was super-slippery.
Mineral Root Cover-Up
Natural pigmented mineral powders in each applicator mask neglected roots and add volume to hair ($19, jonathanproduct.com).
EXPERT OPINION "I was surprised by the coverage I got from it," says N.Y.C. stylist and salon owner Kattia Solano. "I used it on a brunette, and from a foot away you couldn't even see her grays anymore." The natural powders also "give hair a thicker texture, the way dry shampoo does." She recommends stroking the brush over dry roots, then rubbing off the excess with a towel to ensure there's no residue.
OUR VERDICT Each tube easily deposits the tinted powder (a quick shake releases the fine particles from the base of the bristles). It blended into our tester's light-brown roots "seamlessly," and she preferred this "simple and neat applicator" to "sticky" liquid or spray-on touch-ups.The oil-absorbing formula comes in four shades: black, brunette, blonde, and red.
This certified-organic balm (with organic cocoa and shea butter, plus coconut and apricot oils) could be the ultimate space saver ($22, revolutionorganics.com). It boasts more than 20 uses, including the ability to moisturize skin and cuticles, soften the look of fine lines, prime the face before makeup, and even tame flyaways.
EXPERT OPINION It wins points for convenience with N.Y.C. dermatologist Francesca Fusco, who calls the purse-friendly stick "cosmetically elegant." She says, "I really like how it penetrates; it doesn't just sit on top of the skin. It kept my lips moist and wasn't greasy." In terms of fine lines, "dry skin exacerbates the appearance of wrinkles," says Wilson, "so this product can diminish that creepey look."
OUR VERDICT It's not a heavy-duty moisturizer, but one light coating will keep dry patches feeling soft for several hours. "It felt so good on my cracked lips," says one staffer, "and I also liked sliding it over my brows to make them neater and more groomed."
Luxe Body Moisturizer
To quench flaky, irritated skin, this USDA-certified organic butter is loaded with oils (such as grape seed, jojoba, sunflower, and sesame) that create a hydrating barrier so skin retains moisture ($23, homespacollection.com).
EXPERT OPINION You'll definitely want to reach for this substantial cream in the winter when skin is driest, says Wilson. Dr. Fusco was won over by its nongreasy feel and "fantastic emollients like chamomile and olive oil," but adds that at $23, "it's a little pricey, so I'd use it to target tough areas including knees and feet."
OUR VERDICT The texture isn't like a traditional dense butter, but feels "light," "airy," and "almost whipped," say testers. One person with especially parched limbs, who usually slathers on thick moisturizers, was surprised by how well the lightweight cream performed: "I put it on after an evening shower, and in the morning my skin was still soft and hydrated."
This grainy aloe-based gel—certified organic by the USDA and fortified with fruit oils and skin-sloughing corncob granules—attempts to replace your body wash and shower scrub ($10, ulta.com).
EXPERT OPINION Ground murumuru seeds and corncob grit are mild exfoliators, "so the polish would be well tolerated by most skin types," says Dr. Fusco. "And it's full of hydrating ingredients, like pomegranate-seed oil, so it feels nice on the body." Even though there are no strong detergents in the tube, Dr. Fusco says, "the coconut oil is going to dissolve some dirt on the surface, so it would be a good cleanser for someone with sensitive skin."
OUR VERDICT We were happy to swap our jar of slippery salts for this neat delivery system. The gel is beyond gentle: "I barely felt it scratch my skin," says a staffer, "and I didn't need to use soap afterward." It leaves limbs smooth, though not incredibly moisturized. The subtle earthy aroma had a couple of testers craving "a sweet or calming herbal scent that lingers."
Chemical-Free Bug Repellent
This natural mist infused with essential oils (like citronella, geranium, lemongrass, and rosemary) was created to send biting insects, mosquitoes, and ticks scurrying in the opposite direction. Vitamin E was added to help soothe skin ($20, malinandgoetz.com).
EXPERT OPINION Citronella oil—the herbaceous scent you associate with sleepaway camp and backyard BBQs—is indeed natural, and "bugs hate it," says Wilson. The spray's natural and naturally derived ingredients are fine to use frequently on the skin "unless you're allergic to one of the essential oils," says Dr. Fusco. The solution is effective, "but if I were hiking deep in the woods, I'd bring something with a strong chemical."
OUR VERDICT It kept mosquitoes and other bugs away from our tester during a trip to Texas. "I was able to take an hour walk through a wooded area and emerge with zero bites. It didn't irritate my skin, and I like the fresh, citrus smell."
Pure Rose Scent
Ever wonder what 10,000 rose petals smell like? This natural fragrance attempts to capture that exact essence inside an easy roller-ball applicator ($22, jurlique.com). The makers say blending rose oils with a shea-butter base makes it more potent and long-lasting.
EXPERT OPINION "This is a well-formulated fragrance oil," says Wilson of the naturally derived blend. "And I wouldn't expect it to cause any adverse reactions on the body," since some of the ingredients, like shea butter and safflower-seed oil, are used in skin care. Once applied, oils tend to have more longevity on the skin when compared with artificial perfumes, she says.
OUR VERDICT If you adore the unadulterated scent of blooming roses, you'll flip for this sweet-smelling creation. Sure, it's incredibly subtle—you have to get very close to detect it. But one tester still picked up traces of it on her wrists even after she washed her hands.
Silicone-Free Anti-Frizz Cream
This organic pomade, which is ideal for coarse, thick hair, adds shine, defines curls, and resists humidity. With beeswax and natural oils, it also offers heat protection ($29, intelligentnutrients.com).
EXPERT OPINION When it comes to pumping out this USDA-approved formula, "less is best," says Solano, who likens it to a mix of pomade and gel. "I wouldn't put it on wet hair before a blowout, because it can make strands feel kind of heavy," she says. "I'd use a little to provide hold and definition to thick, frizz-prone curls."
OUR VERDICT The honey-like texture "sticks to the first thing it hits, so it's a little hard to distribute through hair," reports one staffer. On thin, dry locks it's best used sparingly to slick down flyaways and seal split ends. Says another tester, "I worked it over my wet curls and let them air-dry. Afterward, they were well-defined but not ultra-bouncy.
Gentle Face Peel
This natural, two-step system delivers a brighter, smoother-looking face right after use ($90, emerginc.com) . These peel pads come loaded with lactic and fruit acids, and the clarifying versions contain willow-bark extract to get you glowing.
EXPERT OPINION These natural acids extracted from fruit do exfoliate, says Wilson, "and refining the surface can make fine lines appear less obvious." Count Dr. Fusco as a fan: "It's a very good peel—right up there with the leading ones available at stores." Dr. Fusco also thinks the tea tree oil–infused formula is gentle enough to use on acne-prone skin. "If you're new to peels or have tried others and found them aggravating, consider this one."
OUR VERDICT Love! The peel pad prompted a low-level tingle that faded in a minute. After wiping a clarifying disc over skin, we were treated to a rosy, fresh-from-the-gym complexion that looked smooth and stayed soft for hours.Sweep a peel pad over skin, then wait two to five minutes before using a clarifying pad.
Moisturizing Lip Gloss
Each shiny, pearlescent gloss (there are 12 shades) is infused with sunflower-seed and olive oils ($9, burtsbees.com). Apart from looking pretty, the natural formulas are designed to moisturize and soften dry pouts.
EXPERT OPINION The texture is "almost balmy and not goopy," says N.Y.C. makeup artist Troy Surratt. "The viscosity allows it to adhere to lips, making it long-wearing." If you love a bold lip, though, you're likely going to crave a bigger color payoff than offered by this naturally derived formula. "It's great for an everyday look. The red and pink shades subtly enhance the tone of your lips."
OUR VERDICT Yep, we're suggesting you cram one more gloss into your over-stuffed purse. Most testers found these to be hydrating and "almost weightless." The shimmery rosy tones "made my face look brighter," says an olive-skinned staffer, though another wished the formulations—lightly flavored and scented with vanilla—"smelled a little better."
Zen in a Bottle
This 100 percent naturally derived mix of oils and botanical extracts, housed in a handy roller-ball bottle, promises to immediately ease feelings of stress with an aroma dominated by lavender and clary sage ($22, aveda.com).
EXPERT OPINION "The scent of lavender is known to be linked to relaxation," says New Jersey cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson. But if you don't actually believe in the practice of aroma-therapy, "your mind might block the effects."
OUR VERDICT It's soothing upon first sniff, but the calm fades as soon as the air clears. One tester who associates the smell of lavender with her bedtime ritual said her tense shoulders softened after inhaling. Says another stressed-out staffer, "It's nice for a little while—though I'm still going to need yoga classes."