Green Beauty Products: Do They Really Work?

Green Beauty
Photo: Courtesy

We know the drill. Between jobs, school, kids, and date nights, you're lucky if you have time to shop for natural products—let alone waste hours in the beauty aisles decoding ingredient lists. So we made it our mission to take the guesswork out of discovering eco-friendly finds. Our editors (with the help of several talented pros) spent months gathering and testing potential winners. Ready to green up your act? From anti-wrinkle pills to natural nail polish, find out which products really work in our gallery!

—Angelique Serrano

01 of 14

Earth Tu Face Exfoliant Mask

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Rose, chamomile, and lavender blossoms combined with oats and powdery clay create a gentle exfoliator when mixed with water. The resulting paste promises to smooth even sensitive skin without scratching it.

OUR TAKE: The chunky paste ($72; earthtuface.com) isn't the most easily spreadable (or luxurious) exfoliator we've tried. However, for two weeks our tester rubbed it over one side of her face and used her chemical exfoliator on the other. "Both cheeks were comparable in softness and smoothness," she says.

02 of 14

Roots Rose Radish Citrus Face Oil Cleanser

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Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

The scant ingredient list (printed on a canvas bag that serves as packaging for this product) calls out natural cold-pressed castor and jojoba oils, plus tangerine, grapefruit, and lemon oils, which can remove makeup and excess sebum.

OUR TAKE: One tester with an oily complexion found the formula ($55; roots roseradish.com) a bit "heavy." Another tester with drier skin loved the "spa-like experience" of massaging it onto her face and reports, "It removed my makeup even better than my regular foaming face wash."

03 of 14

Weleda Wild Rose Facial Smoothing Capsules

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Filled with cold-pressed rose hip-seed oil, each natural capsule ($40; usa.weleda.com) packs antioxidants and vitamins A, C, and E to moisturize and strengthen skin from the outside and soften the look of fine lines.

OUR TAKE: "I've been using these nightly for weeks, and considering the nearly arctic weather we've been experiencing lately in the Northeast, the oils have really worked to hydrate my extremely dry skin," says our tester. Though she doesn't notice major changes in tone or fine lines, the product has "prevented the formation of rough patches, which I'm prone to getting in winter."

04 of 14

Dr. Brandt Detoxifying Antioxidant Water Booster Goji-Maqui

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

A dropper full of these natural and naturally sourced ingredients (anti-inflammatory antioxidants like green and white teas, grape-seed extract, and goji and maqui berries, $39; drbrandtskincare.com) in a daily eight-ounce glass of water boosts the health of your cells so skin looks more radiant over time.

OUR TAKE: It's no Moscow Mule, but as far as healthy beverages go, it's way yummier than a kale smoothie. Mixed in a cup of water, it tastes "fruity" and "a bit like an artificial sweetener," say our testers. "I've been drinking it for almost a month," says one reporter. "My face hasn't exactly aged backward, but it feels really good to know I'm taking in so many nutrients without a ton of effort."

05 of 14

EcoTools Pure Complexion Facial Sponge

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Made of fibers from konjac (a starchy Asian root plant), this natural sponge ($6; drugstore.com) softens when wet. Paired with your fave face wash, it exfoliates and cleanses.

OUR TAKE: The sponge becomes "pillow-soft" in water and gently washed our tester's "acne-ravaged skin without irritating it," she says.

06 of 14

Maijan Radiance Healing Herbal Facial Steam for Oily Skin

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

When soaked in four cups of boiling water, two tablespoons of these astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial herbs (like chamomile, lavender, and rosemary, $24; stylebell.com) and essential oils develop a steam that helps cleanse pores and restore elasticity.

OUR TAKE: Steam spiked with this blend actually tingled one tester's skin—in a good way. "I loved breathing in the soothing, herbaceous scent, and after 15 minutes, my skin was rosy and didn't feel as oily as it did before I began." After several sessions "my complexion behaved as it normally does, but I love the immediate payoff of a healthy glow."

07 of 14

Preserve Mail Back Pack Toothbrush

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

After polishing your chompers, this tool (made of recycled No. 5 polypropylene plastic sourced from yogurt cups, plus other pre-and post-consumer materials, $3; preserveproducts.com) can be recycled itself. Nab a free shipping label at mygimme5.com, pop it in the pouch the brush was sold in, mail it back, and—voila!—instant karma points.

OUR TAKE: The brush was comfortable to use, and mailing it back (two at a time) is easy. "The hard part is remembering not to throw out my toothbrush," says a tester.

08 of 14

Dairyface Beauty Mooscow

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

The natural formula (which must be stored in the refrigerator, $30; dairyface.com for stores) delivers a chilly dose of hydration with cream from pasture-raised cows and plant oils like olive and apricot. It also fortifies the skin with vitamins A and E and fatty phospholipids.

OUR TAKE: Because it's thin and slippery, we like how quickly it absorbs and immediately smooths the surface. "It doesn't deposit a thick moisturizing film over skin, like some heavy-duty body lotions do, so on frigid days I felt like I had to reapply a few times," says our tester. "I normally stash hand creams in my work desk or my nightstand, so I also found that this product was rarely at my fingertips when I needed it."

09 of 14

Nourish Organic Deodorant

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

The USDA-certified organic, aluminum-free stick ($10; nourishorganic.com) relies on cornstarch to absorb wetness. Plant enzymes convert bacteria into sugars to zap odors, while shea and cocoa butters soothe the skin.

OUR TAKE: "It's far more moisturizing than my other deodorants," says our tester. "After a 10-hour workday, I was sweating, but I couldn't sniff out any nasty odors."

10 of 14

Mischo Luxury Nail Lacquers

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Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Is it totally green? No. However, in the world of nail polish, it's considered "5-free," which typically means that it doesn't have formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin, camphor, toluene (a chemical solvent), or dibutyl phthalate (DBP).

OUR TAKE: We loved the on-trend shades ($18 each; mischobeauty.com), which, sadly, weren't immune to chipping within a day or two. Yet, our tester conceded, "I'm rough on my nails—I tear open envelopes and packages every day—so chips happen quickly for me no matter what polish I use."

11 of 14

Shea Terra Organics Moroccan Mud-Poo Hair Wash

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Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Moroccan mud draws dirt and oil from the scalp (seriously), while mineral salts and aloe vera juice soften strands. Vanilla and peppermint oil deliver a zesty scent.

OUR TAKE: It's not just cheeky marketing—cleansing with this concoction is literally like washing your hair with mud. One tester poured the hard-to-distribute, non-foaming liquid ($14; sheaterraorganics.com) over her long, thick hair and found the "gritty" texture "difficult to rinse our." A fine-haired reporter loves the scent but notes, "My scalp looked a little greasy several hours after I used it." Since the formula has zero chemicals, our testers felt good about it going down the drainpipes and into the ocean.

12 of 14

Agave Natural Bamboo Paddle Brush

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

Crafted from bamboo, the tool ($25; frsalon.com) packs nylon bristles that are embedded with a 32-mineral blend, which emits negative ions to zap static, smooth strands (so they better reflect light), and shrink water molecules.

OUR TAKE: One tester raves about what a "fantastic detangler" it is, though she didn't notice a big difference in the time it took to blow out her shoulder-length hair, which seemed smooth but not radically shinier.

13 of 14

Bare Love Beauty Hair Luxury Hair Fuel

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Jeffrey Westbrook/Time Inc Digital Studios

THE CLAIM:

The balm ($28; barelovebeauty.com) packs glossers like Babassu, passionflower, and rice-bran oil to put the shine back into dry, overprocessed hair. Slather some on your scalp minutes before shampooing and it'll help banish flakes.

OUR TAKE: One tester, who was nursing flakes thanks to a sunburn, rubbed a dollop over her crown and hairline before showering. "I had to shampoo twice to cut through the grease," she says. After one week and two applications, "flakes were gone, and my scalp wasn't as itchy." On our testers' dry strands, however, it got somewhat limp results.

14 of 14

Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Replenishings Hairspray

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Courtesy

THE CLAIM:

It adds soft hold with larch-tree resin and a natural polysaccharide. The organic mix ($34; intelligentnutrients.com) has aloe extract and emollients to shine and moisturize brittle strands.

OUR TAKE: Is it going to freeze an updo like the almighty Elnett? No. Can it hold and add some gloss to loose waves without leaving them crunchy? Yep!

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