The Best Natural Skincare Backed By Science
Tired of trying natural skincare products that don’t actually work? If you’re looking for the best of nature coupled with the latest scientific research, look no further than these proven brands to support your skin’s health (and with no toxic side effects!).
This post is sponsored by Mother Dirt. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
I remember going to the mall with my mom as a kid and getting so excited to try Clinique products at the beauty counter at Macy’s. We’d walk away with goodies in hand, thinking we got the creme of the crop, having blindly bought whatever was recommended by the ‘skincare specialist’.
Long gone are those days!
Thankfully, we now have access to so much more information, science, and transparency than ever before when it comes to the cosmetics industry.
For those of us who know the dangers of conventional skincare, beauty products are no longer just about getting that perfect shade of lipstick or that silky smooth moisturizer.
There’s a movement happening, and one where we’re looking VERY closely at what we’re putting on our precious skin. (Unfamiliar with just how toxic mainstream beauty products are? Check out this post about the Top 10 Toxic Skincare Ingredients to Avoid.)
While the government is still not protecting us (the last time a law was passed in the cosmetic industry was 1938–just think about all the chemicals that have been introduced into the world since then!), we at least have some incredible brands who have taken matters into their own hands to do the research about what ingredients are actually safe for us AND work wonders for keeping our skin healthy, clear, hydrated, and youthful.
After all, the skin is the body’s largest organ whose primary role is to serve as a physical barrier, protecting our bodies from environmental factors that could potentially harm us (toxic substances, foreign organisms, etc). It needs to be looked after like the important organ it is–not to mention, it’s what represents us outwardly to the world.
As I’ve experimented with literally hundreds of beauty brands over the years, there are some natural brands that may use great ingredients and smell amazing, but they just don’t work as well as the chemical-laden conventional products.
So when I find brands that are not only safe and natural, but ACTUALLY WORK and are backed by scientific research–sign me up!! Keep reading to find out some of my favorites!
Topical Probiotic Natural Skincare
Today’s beauty hack: spray bacteria on your skin!
Nope, not a joke. Let me explain.
One brand I’ve loved for years that strikes the balance of nature and science is Mother Dirt, a skincare line that makes preservative-free, hypoallergenic products to enhance and protect the skin biome by restoring, nurturing and maintaining beneficial bacteria.
Wait… the skin biome? Bacteria, huh?
Yuuuup! Who knew that your college biology class would end up being relevant to your beauty routine!?
Just like we have a gut microbiome that relies on good bacteria and probiotics to have healthy digestion and neurotransmitter balance, our skin also has a biome and relies on good bacteria to be healthy.
Conventional skincare products, environmental toxins (like sun radiation, urban pollution, weather, and harsh chemicals in the environment), and our cultural obsession with cleanliness and sterility reduces the diversity of good bacteria both inside and outside our bodies.
As a result, the epidermis thins and our skin’s microbiome is altered, leading to inflammation.
The solution? Infuse topical probiotics into your skin to strike that perfect balance!
In their patent-pending process, Mother Dirt use a super sensitive microorganism called AOB (Ammonia-Oxidizing-Bacteria) as their core measurement for testing biome-friendliness. Essentially, AOB is a peacekeeper that converts toxic buildup and sweat back into helpful things for the skin’s ecosystem.
If you think that sounds scary, don’t worry: Mother Dirt is a certified MADE SAFE® brand, a nonprofit organization and independent third-party verification process that created the USA’s first non-toxic seal for everyday products. In fact, Mother Dirt’s signature product, the AO+ Mist, was the first MADE SAFE® certified live probiotic product!
While great for anyone to achieve and maintain proper balance, these products are especially supportive if you have skin blotchiness or redness, dryness, oily or sensitive skin, or skin infections.
I recommend getting Mother Dirt’s Skin Recovery Kit, made up of three products:
- Foaming Cleanser: I love how this stuff really foams and is super gentle on your skin.
- Moisturizer: Non-greasy, quick-absorbing and doesn’t clog your pores.
- AO+ Mist: Use on your face (especially T-zone), armpits or anywhere you sweat like your hands and feet to help with odor. I’ve been using this for a few years and just love this stuff! It’s been proven in clinical studies to improve your skin’s appearance, blotchiness, sensitivity, and even body odor. Believe it or not, 60% of users are actually able to cut out deodorant when they use Mother Dirt’s AO+ Mist on their underarms!
Mother Dirt’s probiotic products have been proven to improve skin appearance within 2-4 weeks. (source; source) In fact, Mother Dirt believes in their products so much that they promise you’ll get balanced skin in four weeks, or your money back! Talk about risk-free.
Natural Skincare Products Outperforming Conventional
Another awesome brand is True Botanicals, which has been clinically proven to outperform conventional products in randomized, double-blind, comparative studies from independently verified, third-party labs.
Working with researchers at leading universities, including Carnegie Mellon and Cornell, True Botanicals identified nourishing botanical extracts that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and essential fatty acids. Then they developed potent formulas by combining ingredients known to address concerns such as breakouts, redness, and wrinkles.
Here’s an example:
In an Independent Scientific Clinical Study (a randomized, comparative, double blind trial conducted October 20 – December 10, 2013), the Renew Pure Radiance Oil + Renew Repair Serum not only delivered amazing results, it also out performed the iconic Crème de La Mer across every test measurement—from increased hydration to reduction in visible fine lines and wrinkles.
Summary of Results:
|After 45 days:||Renew Duo||La Mer|
|Increase of hydration||48.8%||36.4%|
|Reduction in appearance of fine lines and wrinkles||27.2%||17.6%|
|Increase in appearance of smoothness||20.5%||18.0%|
|Increase in appearance of firmness||16.4%||12.6%|
|Reduction in appearance of pores||14.4%||6.2%|
These results speak for themselves, no?!
If you’ve been following R+R for awhile, you’ll also know that I’m a big Beautycounter fan. Not only are their products free of over 1,500 chemicals of concern, but they perform a hazard and risk assessment on every ingredient they consider for inclusion in their formulas. They also test every batch of color cosmetics for heavy metals prior to bringing the product to market.
Their most recent cult-worthy product release, the Countertime Collection, is a safe alternative to retinol. A lot of beauty brands tout retinol as a safer skincare ingredient and we see it in SO many beauty products out there these days. But thankfully, Beautycounter is not like everyone else and–in fact–retinol is on their Never List.
It’s NOT worth taking a risk on retinol.
Studies show that retinoic acid can have harmful side effects, including being a skin irritant and making the skin sensitive to the sun’s damaging rays. In fact, both the EU and Canada have restricted the use of retinol—the EU cites a “precautionary principle,” which means that if an ingredient has shown evidence of danger to human health or the environment, it takes preventative action (and so should you).
Instead, opt for Beautycounter’s Plant-Derived ‘Retinatural Complex’ in Countertime with these star ingredients:
- Bakuchiol: Traditionally used in Chinese and Ayurvedic skincare remedies, Bakuchiol delivers many of retinol’s skin benefits—without irritation.
- Swiss Alpine Rose: Grown at the highest altitudes of the Alps, this flower is known for its ability to protect itself against environmental stressors like dehydration and helps boost skin’s antioxidant defense.
Countertime was 3 years in the making and developed to visibly reverse and soften fine lines and wrinkles, delivering the high-performance results you’d expect from a dermatologist prescription or uber-expensive product like La Mer–but without the risks!
After just four weeks of use in a consumer perception study, 97% said skin texture felt smoother, 88% said skin looked more youthful, 91% of participants said skin felt renewed and looked revitalized, and 88% said Countertime reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Get the Countertime Collection here, which includes all six products at a 10% discount. Each product has the Retinatural Complex, but also has a hero ingredient of its own.
Other Favorite Science-Based Natural Skincare Products
REN Skincare: This company chooses only bio-actives that benefit skin health, and ingredients that protect the efficacy of the formula. There are no toxins, no harsh or controversial chemicals, and no potential irritants, ever!
- Their #1 product is the Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic. Like a face exfoliator and resurfacing toner in one, formula promotes natural cell turnover to help even tone, diminish the appearance of pores, and reveal your inner glow. It’s made from natural salicylic, lactic, and azelaic acids to shed dulling surface cells and polish away imperfections—naturally! Lactic acid and willow bark extract (a natural form of salicylic acid) smooth, tone, and make pores disappear, while azelaic acid brightens and lightens hyperpigmentation and acne scars. Have sensitive skin? No worries! Traditional AHAs like glycolic acid work too quickly and result in a stimulation response that a regular skin type wouldn’t experience. Instead, the Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic uses lactic acid, which tends to be a larger molecule and therefore takes a little bit longer to work–essentially eliminating the skin’s AHA ‘shock’ that other AHA’s can trigger.
GOLDFADEN MD: This is the first dermatologist-developed yet naturally inspired skincare brand. This brand is a great option if you like more traditional products based in science, but less ‘crunchy’ than newer skincare brands.
- My favorites are the Vital Boost Even Skintone Daily Moisturizer–with skin-boosting and rejuvenating Vitamin D plus Gooseberry Extract for brightening, dewy skin–and the Bright Eyes Dark Circle Radiance Concentrate, which was shown in a consumer study to hydrate, nourish, and improve the overall appearance of the eye area by 90+%.
Goop By Juice Beauty: developed by goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow with organic skincare leader Juice Beauty, goop is a high performance, clinically proven skincare line that merges luxury formulas with certified organic ingredients, and without a long list of harmful ones. Their products are made from glow-inducing, age-defying Meristem plant cells (sustainably sourced from poet’s daffodil and sweet iris), then blended with a revolutionary antioxidant juice complex designed to brighten skin tone and target fine lines and wrinkles.
- NOTHING makes my skin as silky smooth as Goop By Juice Beauty’s Instant Facial, and it only takes 5 minutes. I usually put it on while I brush my teeth. Made with natural alpha and beta hydroxy acids, plant-based cellulose beads and 86% USDA-certified organic ingredients, it’s almost amazing how effective this treatment is!
Now, over to you! Have you tried any of these brands? What are your favorite science-baked natural skincare lines? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.