The Natural Beauty Routine
The All-Around Salve: Argan Oil
Touted for its vitamin E, ferulic acid, and other potent anti-oxidants, the oil of this Moroccan tree quenches dryness and helps fill in lines. It holds promise for oily skin, too. In one study, applying a cream containing argan oil reduced sebum production by up to 42 percent.
Find it in: Aveda Green Science Lifting Serum, $53, aveda.com.
The Brown-Spot Fader: Licorice
This plant’s extracts help inhibit tyrosinase, the enzyme that causes pigmentation in response to sun exposure. It’s also rich in antioxidants, and it calms inflammation and helps diminish acne scars. So licorice is a natural lightening alternative to the chemical hydroquinone.
Find it in: DDF Intensive Holistic Lightener, $52, dermstore.com.
The Helpful Hydrator: Jojoba
The shrub’s waxy oil is a great moisturizer. Better yet, jojoba’s compounds can also reduce irritation when they’re added to products that contain skin-drying alcohol, like hand sanitizers and toners, says Jim Hammer, a cosmetic chemist in Easton, Massachusetts.
Find it in: EO Hand Sanitizer Gel, $24, vitaminlife.com.
The Gentle Line Smoother: Rose
- The oil is emollient and a potent source of antioxidant vitamin C, making it ideal for wrinkle reducers. Research shows it also has a calming effect: Topically applied, rose oil has helped people relax and lowered their blood pressure and breathing rate.
- Find it in: Pangea Organics Turkish Rose & White Tea Eye Cream, $60, pangea.com.
The Skin Plumper: Grapeseed
It’s a top source of skin-protecting proanthocyanidins, which are 20 times more potent than vitamin E and 50 times stronger than vitamin C. The extract helps skin retain firmness by preserving its collagen and elastin. Studies suggest it may help minimize scars and stretch marks, too.
Find it in: Fresh Sugar Rosé Tinted Lip Treatment, $22.50, fresh.com.
The Multitasker: Green Tea
Backed with great science, green tea offers a cocktail of antioxidants. When used topically, it helps prevent sun damage and skin cancer and treats blemishes. Drink the tea to reap some skin benefits and you may get a small metabolic boost as well.
Find it in: Unfortunately, this product is no longer available.
The Sun Shielder: Sunflower
With a concentration of vitamin E, this oil naturally protects skin and hair from the damaging and bleaching effects of the sun. "Its micronutrients absorb ultraviolet rays so skin and hair won't," explains Shawn Stearns, director of testing and technical development for Pureology hair products.
Find it in: Kiehl's Sunflower Color Preserving Deep Recovery Pak, $25, kiehls.com.
The Softener: Avocado
This familiar fruit is full of oleic acid, an essential fatty acid that has a softening and hydrating effect on hair and skin. A recent study showed that avocado extracts may help heal cuts several days faster and could possibly help guard against oral cancer.
Find it in: Opi Avoplex Cuticle Oil to Go, $7.50, ulta.com.
The Hair Shiner: Coconut
Many oils moisturize hair, but coconut oil is one of the few able to penetrate hair shafts fully (due to its low molecular weight). Over time, it makes hair shinier and skin more supple. The latest news: Virgin coconut oil has been shown to be an effective natural antibacterial agent.
Find it in: Burt’s Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo, $8 at drugstores.