Whether it’s skincare or food we’re buying, more of us are opting for products that boast organic and natural credentials. It makes sense, as we strive towards more environmentally friendly, healthier and sustainable choices.
But what exactly do these terms mean? Well, like most things in life, the answer is not straightforward.
Although there are a number of certification bodies, there is no legal definition for either of the terms, which can mean that what is natural when it comes to skincare can vary.
“Natural facial moisturisers use plant-based ingredients with moisturising properties,” explains aesthetic practitioner, Dr Sophie Shotter. “In fact, many ‘conventional’ moisturisers also utilise botanical ingredients but will formulate them in a way to enhance their results.”
Organic, meanwhile, has become a buzzword in both nutrition and skincare, she adds, highlighting that what this means can vary worldwide: “I take organic in skincare as meaning that the natural ingredients in the product have been grown according to organic farming standards, and no more than this.”
For an organic beauty product to carry a Soil Association Cosmos organic symbol, 95 per cent of all plant, animal or microbial ingredients which have been subject to basic processing must be organic.
In this handy video explainer, dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto explains that it’s a popular misconception that natural skincare is safer or more effective than synthetic or chemical-based skincare. But there are some handy things to look out for if you are keen: “If the top three to five ingredients have got long synthetic chemical-sounding names, chances are it’s not particularly natural in nature.”
Luckily there are a multitude of beauty brands and moisturisers in the natural and organic skincare space, with more innovative products and formulations coming out each month. Although it can be a tricky area to navigate, all of the natural moisturiser options we’ve selected below have been chosen for both their effectiveness and focus on using either naturally derived or organic ingredients (or both). Where products have been certified by a regulatory body, we’ve endeavoured to highlight this.
How we tested
During our review of the best natural facial moisturisers, we looked at a range of important factors: ingredients, texture, ease of application, how it felt on the skin, overall results and value for money. For weeks we applied creams to freshly cleansed skin, both day and night. We were also keen to see how they fared under make-up and generally felt on the skin during a normal day to day routine.
Where creams were designed for especially dry or eczema-prone skin, we reached out to testers who suffer from these skin issues to get their honest verdict. We tested a huge variety of facial moisturisers that are marketed as natural or organic.
The best natural facial moisturisers for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Upcircle face moisturiser with argan powder: £18.99, Upcirclebeauty.com
- Best for dry skin – Salcura bioskin dermaserum: £13.95, Allbeauty.com
- Best for oily and combination skin – Neal’s Yard Remedies yarrow and comfrey moisturiser: £22, Nealsyardremedies.com
- Best for blemish-prone skin – Vitaskin vitamin B blemish control moisturiser: £15, Hollandandbarrett.com
- Best for mature skin – Dr Organic organic rose otto day cream: £9.99, Hollandandbarrett.com
- Best overnight moisturiser – Lumene Nordic hydra hydration recharge overnight cream: £13.40, Feelunique.com
- Best budget moisturiser – Garnier Organic rosy glow 3 in 1 youth cream: £5.95, Superdrug.com
- Best luxury moisturiser – Tata Harper superkind fortifying moisturiser: £104, Net-a-porter.com
- Best natural skincare staple – Weleda skin food light: £5.45, Superdrug.com
- Best for hydration – Antipodes baptise H2O ultra-hydrating water gel: £22.45, Feelunique.com
- Best for eczema-prone skin — Hydrosil tumeric and hypoallergenic milk salve: £9.95, Skinshop.co.uk
Upcircle face moisturiser with argan powder
What do you do with discarded argan shells that are the by-product of the argan oil industry? Well, if you’re Upcircle, you finely grind them and make a multi-award-winning face cream. Famous for its innovative repurposing of by-products, Upcircle has a dedicated, and well-deserved, following for this fast-absorbing moisturiser made from 99 per cent natural ingredients. It’s also suitable for all skin types and beautifully nourishing, thanks to vitamin E-rich argan powder, cocoa butter, aloe vera and blood orange. It also contains linseed oil, which can be beneficial for chronic skin conditions, such as rosacea, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis.
Although it’s suitable to be used in the evening too, we liked applying it after our morning cleanse to leave skin feeling brighter, refreshed and nourished. We’re big fans of the fact that it comes in a glass jar with an aluminium lid, which are both fully recyclable, plus the fact that the brand offers a refill option.
Salcura bioskin dermaserum
Best: For dry skin
Suitable for use on even the most sensitive areas of the face, such as around the eyes and mouth, this serum/cream hybrid is a fantastic option for dry skin. Our tester, who suffers from eczema, found it to be light and soothing, especially when her skin was feeling itchy. She also noted that it had a pleasant scent, compared to other dry skin-specific creams she’d used in the past, but did note that she had to apply a more liberal amount on especially dry patches.
Salcura, which specialises in crafting natural products for those suffering from allergic reactions, has included a number of natural oils and extracts in the derma serum, which it calls a “vitamin bomb” for the skin. Lubricating safflower oil, omega-rich grape seed and antibacterial eucalyptus oil are just some of the key ingredients.
Neal’s Yard Remedies yarrow and comfrey moisturiser
Best: For oily and combination skin
Neal’s Yard Remedies is famed for its natural and organic beauty products, and over the past three decades has produced some note-worthy moisturisers. Its yarrow and comfrey is one of our favourites. It has the distinctive botanical scent of a Neal’s Yard product, which we found quite soothing, and absorbs surprisingly easily given how thick and creamy it looks in the pot.
Designed with oily and combination skin in mind, the yarrow in the cream helps balance the skin’s natural oils, while the overall effect of the product is to leave skin looking matte yet fresh. It made for a nice base for make-up, so we used it mostly as a day moisturiser, but it could also be used in the evening.
Vitaskin vitamin B blemish control moisturiser
Best: For blemish-prone skin
Holland and Barrett’s Vitaskin range, which hit the shops last year, is an under-the-radar treasure trove of vitamin-enriched skincare products. Our favourite is the 97 per cent natural vitamin B blemish control moisturiser, which soothes skin and reduces the appearance of spots thanks to powerhouse ingredients niacinamide and eucalyptus oil. The latter gives the cream a pleasant menthol scent, which leaves skin feeling cool and fresh. We also liked the texture, which feels both lightweight and deeply moisturising. The 100 per cent vegan formula also sank in pretty easily and left us with a smooth and soft complexion.
Dr Organic organic rose otto day cream
Best: For mature skin
With a luscious rose scent and a luxuriously creamy feel, this option from Dr Organic is an incredibly hydrating option that would work especially well on mature skin. Formulated using organically certified and natural extracts, the ingredients list of this vegan moisturiser boasts rose otto flower water, calendula flower extract and extracts from the aquatic plant, menyanthes leaf.
The cream takes a little rubbing in but once it has been absorbed, skin is left feeling properly pampered, thanks to its inclusion of aloe vera, glycerine and shea butter. After application, our skin was left feeling nourished and not at all greasy, while the aroma from the pure organic rose otto extract left us feeling blissful.
All of Dr Organic’s skincare range contains a minimum of 70 per cent organic ingredients and is free from parabens, SLS and mineral oil.
Lumene Nordic hydra hydration recharge overnight cream
Best: Overnight moisturiser
So often, overnight moisturisers can be heavy and cloying. True, you do want to pack in the hydration overnight, but it’s refreshing to find a PM moisturiser that is, well, refreshing. This new launch from Finnish brand, Lumene, combines the brand’s signature ingredient, pure arctic spring water, with organic Nordic birch sap and prebiotic Nordic oat xylitol. Interestingly, this latter ingredient is created from oat hulls, which are by-products of the Finnish food industry.
Lightweight and easily absorbed, the cream was an absolute dream to apply. It instantly quenched thirsty skin, didn’t leave skin feeling greasy or tacky and delivered the promised hydration by morning. We can honestly say, it’s earned its place in our nighttime skin routine. The formula is also vegan and crafted from 97 per cent naturally derived ingredients.
Garnier organic rosy glow 3 in 1 youth cream
Best: Budget moisturiser
Garnier’s range of organic moisturisers are a great go-to. Budget-friendly, vegan and certified by the Soil Association, they’re also an accessible introduction to organic skincare. While their lavandin moisturiser is a top pick for a richer, overnight cream, we’re big fans of the velvety rosy glow three-in-one youth cream, which makes for an excellent day cream. A glow-giving combo of organic rosehip seed oil and vitamin C, work to leave skin looking healthy and radiant. It’s also rich enough to leave skin feeling plumped and moisturised. At such a purse-friendly price point, it’s a no-brainer really.
Tata Harper superkind fortifying moisturiser
Best: Luxury moisturiser
Formulated with sensitive skin in mind, this moisturiser from Canadian luxury beauty brand, Tata Harper, is beautiful in many ways. Lightweight, fragrance-free, refreshing and housed in a luxurious-looking glass bottle, it would be a fab addition to any skincare routine. It’s definitely a luxury buy, with a price tag of over £100 for 50ml, but if you’re looking for a moisturiser to splash some cash on, then you won’t be disappointed.
Ultra-light and silky, the formulation, which combines 28 botanical ingredients, feels somewhere between a serum and moisturiser, sinking into skin instantaneously. With 100 per cent of the total ingredients being from natural origins, and 60 per cent of those from organic farming (certified by Cosmos), the moisturiser is also free from essential oils, fragrances and more than 85 common allergens and irritants. Tata Harper also formulates, manufactures and packages its products on its own farm in Vermont, even growing some of the ingredients in its very own organic garden.
Weleda skin food light
Best: Natural skincare staple
Named as the top “natural skincare phenomenon” by Vogue in its 2020 Beauty Awards, Weleda’s skin food light has become an instant staple. It’s no surprise really, when you consider that many a beauty editor and make-up artist has one of the original skin food tubes stashed away in their bags. Combining, organic sunflower oil with extracts of wild pansy, calendula and camomile, it’s a soothing treat that’s great to reach for when skin is feeling a bit more parched than usual.
One of the pioneers of natural and organic skin and body care, all of Weleda’s personal care products are certified natural by Natrue and are free of synthetic preservatives, mineral oils and genetically modified organisms. Their skin food light is as described: lightweight and less thick than the original skin food formula. We loved how easy it was to apply and how our skin just drank it up.
Antipodes baptise H2O ultra-hydrating water gel
Best: For hydration
Combining hydration favourites hyaluronic acid and manuka honey, this water gel from the New Zealand-case skincare brand Antipodes is serious about giving a moisture boost. We loved the light gel texture that left skin feeling cool and refreshed, while the manuka honey helps the complexion feel soft and moisturised. Mamaku black fern and hibiscus flower are also included to boost cell turnover, says the brand.
Our skin had been left feeling dry and dull with the swiftly changing weather, so we found this gel to be a great option. It’s sure to come in handy over the autumn and winter as the temperature drops.
Hydrosil tumeric and hypoallergenic milk salve
Best: For eczema-prone skin
Utilising organic turmeric – renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties – this dry skin salve is a must-have for those prone to eczema flare-ups or who suffer from intensely dry skin. Aside from turmeric, the secondary star ingredient in this product is donkey milk. Thanks to the high amino acids and antimicrobial proteins, the formula makes for a rich and protective ointment for when skin is really suffering.
Our tester, who experiences eczema flare-ups, loved this salve for its nourishing qualities. She noted that although rich, it doesn’t feel heavy and she liked to apply it before bed, letting it work its magic overnight. She didn’t subscribe to the “miracle product” hype, but thought it was a great formula nonetheless. It’s also brilliant value for money, as a little bit goes a long way.
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