For good reasons, many prefer natural skin care ingredients over chemical-based ones. Unfortunately, some of the products we find in the market contain harmful chemicals which can have adverse long-term effects11. Studies reveal that we can link some harmful chemical ingredients to skin diseases, congenital disabilities, cancer, genetic mutation, etc
With natural ingredients, you can minimize the risk of skin reactions due to chemical substances while enjoying healthy skin.
However, with many natural skincare products in the market, it can take time to keep up with each one and the benefits they provide for your skin. This article will look at some natural ingredients that can benefit your skin. Whether you have oily skin, acne-prone skin, dry skin, or combination skin, read on as we dive into some natural skincare ingredients and their benefits.
For a list of brands that use some of these ingredients, and shun the packaging waste inherent in traditional skin care, check out our list of the best zero-waste makeup brands, and we’ve also got 20 tips for zero-waste skincare
With so many skincare products tagged as “natural,” you want to ensure you go for real natural ingredients that are safe for your skin. Pay attention to the ingredient list when looking for natural skin care ingredients. Ensure these ingredients are easily identifiable.
You may also want to look for certifications like USDA organic or COSMOS. You also want to ensure these natural skin care ingredients are suitable for your skin type and address your specific skin problems.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular natural skincare ingredients, their uses, and their skin benefits.
Quick links to the natural skin care ingredients we've featured:
Aloe Vera is a versatile plant that you can find in many cosmetics and skincare products. The Aloe Vera plant grows in tropical climates across the world. This natural skin care ingredient contains active substances like Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C, amino acids, and salicylic acids. Aloe Vera has healing properties and can effectively treat different skin conditions16. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can also be used as a regenerative treatment.
This natural ingredient comes distilled from apples through fermentation. The fermentation process forms acetic acid, which contains antibacterial properties. It is consumable, but you can also use it topically on the skin or hair.
You can use argan oil topically or orally for good hair, nail, and skin health. Manufacturers extract this plant-based oil from kernels that grow in argan trees. You will commonly find argan oil mixed in several cosmetics and natural products like soaps, shampoos, and conditioners.
Avocado oil is a non-fragrant plant oil pressed from the pulp surrounding the avocado pip. It contains essential nutrients and phytochemicals like Vitamin A, B1, B2, B12, and D, Vitamin E, lipids, fatty alcohol, etc.
Bentonite clay is well known for its absorption quality. This all-natural clay absorbs toxins from your skin, leaving it clean and healthy. It is aluminum based and contains a soft group of minerals called montmorillonite which forms crystals commonly called clay. Manufacturers use bentonite clay for medicine and skin care purposes.
Cedarwood essential oils come from the wood, foliage, berries, and stumps of cedar trees. You will mostly find Cedarwood oil in medicine, cosmetics, and art. It also comes with a natural scent. However, it is important to use Cedarwood oil carefully as it can aggravate the skin.
Coconut oil is one of the most popular natural ingredients. It comes from coconut trees which you can find in tropical locations worldwide. This natural skin care ingredient contains a few bioactive compounds like lauric acid, fatty acids, flavonoids, etc. It also contains vitamin E and has hypoallergenic properties.
Primrose is a plant native to central and eastern North America. People use Evening primrose oil for medicinal and ornamental purposes. The oil contains omega fatty acids, which help to fight inflammation and treat bruises and minor wounds.
As the name suggests, this oil is extracted from grape seeds. They contain antioxidants and linoleic acid, which improves the overall health of your skin. Its anti-inflammation properties, alongside high amounts of vitamin E and omega fatty acids, make it an effective topical treatment for the skin.
This tea is a popular beverage worldwide and has several beneficial properties for the body. The use of this tea started in the early 12th Century in China and has quickly spread to different countries worldwide. It contains antioxidants that help to reduce aging and repair the skin.
Hemp seed oil comes from the cannabis flower. More specifically, manufacturers derive this oil from pressing hemp seed. It comes in a dark to light green color and has a distinctive nut-like scent. It contains vitamins A, B, B1, C, and E, proteins, essential amino acids, magnesium, and other minerals. Manufacturers often mix this oil with carrier oils or creams, as they can drastically reduce dryness.
Hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant and helps to lock in moisture, keeping your skin hydrated. It binds up moisture and increases the water content on your skin. Although the body naturally produces this natural skin care ingredient, you can also find hyaluronic acid in foods like potatoes, avocados, soy-based foods, green vegetables, and so on.
Jojoba oil is one of the most widely used natural wound treatment ingredients. It is derived naturally from a shrub that grows in American Southwest and Northwestern Mexico. It became a popular skincare product and certified organic in the 1970s and contains a variety of alcohol and fatty acids. It has a chemical structure similar to human sebum(i.e., the oil produced by the human skin), which makes it easily absorbed into the skin.
Kojic acid is a natural metabolite found in most depigmentation creams, face serums, soaps, and cleansers. It inhibits the formation of tyrosine required for melanin production.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that’s popular for consumption. However, it also has great benefits for the skin and is suitable for most skin types. L- Ascorbic acid, just like other antioxidants, can break down when exposed to light or air. You want to ensure you correctly store them in an air-tight bottle or tube.
You can find the Lavender plant in different parts of the world, including Europe and North and East Africa. The Lavender essential is distilled from the plant and appears colorless. It also comes in a delightful natural fragrance.
Licorice root extract is an essential natural skin care ingredient considered one of the oldest herbal remedies. It is native to Southern Europe and Western Asia and is used for treating various ailments and flavoring. Licorice root extract also has many benefits for the skin, including inhibiting the production of melanin pigment.
Neroli essential oil is a natural skin care ingredient extracted from the flowers of bitter orange trees through steam distillation. It has a rich floral scent in perfumes and other scented products. You can also use Neroli oil in body lotions and cosmetics.
Olive oil is a common natural skin care ingredient that goes as far back as the early 7th century BC. It is an important cooking oil in countries around the Mediterranean. However, it is not new to the beauty industry. It is rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that keep your skin moisturized and protected.
Pomegranate is a fruit from the Middle East cultivated throughout northern India and the Mediterranean. Most parts of the Pomegranate, including its roots, oils, seeds, juice, bark, etc., contain beneficial nutrients. It also contains powerful antioxidants like punicic acid.
Rosemary extract is a woody herb known for its unique natural scent. It contains strong antioxidants which protect the skin. It is also an anti-inflammatory agent and also helps in soothing skin issues like acne and eczema. However, because of the high concentration of fragrance compounds, this natural skin care ingredient should be used moderately (especially if you have sensitive skin) to prevent aggravation of the skin.
Sandalwood is well-known for its woody fragrance. Many people use sandalwood for aromatherapy and meditation. It also comes in varieties, including East Indian Sandalwood, Pacific Islands Sandalwood, Australian Sandalwood, etc.
The East Indian Sandalwood is the most common and has been used to treat different health problems. You can also find sandalwood in zero-waste hand soaps, body scrubs, body creams, and other natural skin care products.
Sea buckthorn oil is plant extracts from the shrubs’ fruits and seeds. You can find this shrub across Europe and Asia. Manufacturers use this ingredient for medicinal purposes. However, it also comes with major benefits for the skin.
Shea butter comes from the African shea tree and is a common natural ingredient in many moisturizers. It contains fatty acids and antioxidants that help hydrate the skin deeply.
Sunflower seed oil is a mild non-comedogenic carrier oil that is very absorbent. It also has no fragrance and can work for all skin types, including dry, normal, acne-prone, and oily skin. It contains a high level of fatty acids, Vitamin E, squalene, and sterols. Using natural skin care products with sunflower seed oil is a great way to enrich your skin.
Tea tree oil is a herbal remedy made from tea tree leaves and is native to North Eastern Australia. This essential oil contains anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties that help tackle germs, fungi, and bacteria.
The Turmeric plant is native to Southeast Asia and is a well-known spice in Asian meals. People also use Turmeric to make traditional medicines and dyes for clothing. It mainly contains chemical compounds called curcuminoids which makes it anti-inflammatory.
Witch Hazels are plant extracts from the bark, twigs, and leaves of plants in North America and some parts of Asia. Witch hazel is an astringent that helps to tighten the skin. It contains chemicals that may help fight bacteria, reduces swelling, and repair skin. When applied, it may help to minimize skin irritation temporarily.
Some of the best ingredients for natural skin care products have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifungal properties. They also contain nutrients like Vitamin A and E. These natural skin care ingredients can slow down aging, inhibit the effect of harmful UV rays and improve the skin's overall health. Some ingredients may work for one person’s skin and not work for another.
We have listed 28 natural ingredients you can add to your skincare routines for various skin types and conditions.
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Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.