Consumers are increasingly wising up about the ingredients and transparency about where their skincare products come from. This has led to many people seeking out the brands labelled natural, organic, GMO and pesticide-free, and even vegan.
However, actually finding organic products is difficult. “Organic” is not a legal term in skincare, so brands are free to use it as they like, even if they only contain a small amount of one organic ingredient.
For full assurance, look for products bearing a certification label, such as the Soil Association in the UK. Brands will have had to meet strict criteria including a certain percentage of organic ingredients (typically at least 95 per cent) in order to carry the label. However, there is even variation in standards between certifiers.
In skincare, it is almost impossible to make 100 per cent organic formulas; ingredients such as clay or water, for example, are both natural and harmless, but cannot be farmed and therefore cannot be called organic.
Some of the brands we’ve listed aren’t certified but claim to use organic ingredients wherever possible.
All our choices contain high proportions of natural, organic and high-quality ingredients, even if they are not fully certified, and all give results that compete with more mainstream, less “clean” brands.
We’ve applied the same standards as we always do to testing skincare, looking at experience of use, long-term results and price.
You can trust our independent roundups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Pai camellia and rose gentle hydrating cleanser and cloth
All of Pai’s products are certified organic and natural by the Soil Association, and are also vegan and cruelty-free, so you can order without having to work out which products ticks which box. Its gentle cleanser is a cream formula, which won’t strip natural moisture from your skin, and contains omega-9 and vitamin E-rich camellia oil, as well as nourishing rose otto oil. Use it as a second cleanse with the face cloth included.
Neal’s Yard wild rose beauty balm
Neal’s Yard was doing organic long before it was trendy; it has been certified by the Soil Association since 1991. We love the bestselling multipurpose rose beauty balm, which is a blend of organic rosehip (rich in vitamins A and E), geranium and patchouli oils.
Not only does it smell divine, but it nourishes wherever it is used. Try it as a cleanser with a flannel, as a deeply moisturising mask left on for 20-30 minutes, to moisturise dry elbows or cuticles, or to add glow to cheekbones or lips. Its versatility makes it a great choice for when you’re travelling.
A’kin certifed organic rosehip oil
Australian brand A’kin is vegan and its list of ingredients is clearly marked with exactly which ones are organic: in this case, both its two ingredients are – simple. This rosehip oil is nourishing and hydrating, light enough to absorb fairly quickly, and improves the appearance of pretty much everything – scars, uneven tone, even stretch marks, thanks to its minimum 80 per cent concentration of essential fatty acids.
De Mamiel intense nurture antioxidant elixir
De Mamiel doesn’t label each product as certified nor list its organic ingredient percentage, but it does promise that each product “contains the purest natural and organic ingredients” possible. Its elixir is a real powerhouse of antioxidants to protect your skin from environmental damage and support cell turnover, topped up with refining and collagen-boosting samphire and hydrating hyaluronic acid. We found skin to be softer, clearer and less irritated within a week of daily use; apply after cleansing and before moisturising.
Conscious Skincare make-up melt
This simple, light blend of organic sesame and castor oils dissolves all make-up, including waterproof eye products, without irritation or rubbing. It also contains rosemary, eucalyptus and myrtle, which are essential oils to clarify and even out skin. It is certified vegetarian and cruelty-free, is suitable for vegans, and is completely plastic-free if you choose to order without the plastic pump.
Bamford refining exfoliator
Bamford, founded by the owner of Daylesford organic farm, is all about natural and organic beauty. Its refining exfoliator is made from 86 per cent certified organic ingredients, and uses enzymes from apple, lemon and grape to exfoliate chemically, while fine volcanic particles exfoliate manually. It is gentle enough to be used every day to keep skin soft and glowing.
Dr Haushcka renewing night conditioner
Dr Hauschka has been making natural cosmetics since 1967, when there was no certification, and still pledges to make its products with as many certified-organic ingredients as possible. Its renewing night conditioner is a 28-day treatment course of serum ampoules; applied every evening. Its blend of witch hazel, lily, rose and sunflower helps to balance skin and encourages its natural renewal processes. Two weeks in, our tester found redness had noticeably reduced around the nose and cheeks and dryness had been improved.
Evolve Beauty hyaluronic serum 200
Evolve Beauty products are made in small batches in Hertfordshire, so are local and fresh. Its hyaluronic serum is a good example of a product that’s fairly low in the organic percentage (36 per cent) but still labelled organic. But if you can get over that – it is 99 per cent natural – it gives results that easily compare to more mainstream brands. Hyaluronic acid can hold more than 1,000 times its weight in water, so this serum locks moisture into parched skin, leaving it soft and plump.
Irene Forte apricot face peel
Irene Forte’s ingredients are grown at its very own 230-hectare, organic farm in Sicily. This at-home peel (not as scary as it sounds) contains natural enzymes from red grapes, lemons and apples to smooth textures, remove impurities and brighten dull skin, as well as apricot seed powder for light manual exfoliation. It only takes five minutes to work, so it’s a perfectly feasible step to add to your routine a couple of times a week.
Kypris moonlight catalyst overnight serum
Kypris makes vegan, natural and organic products that easily compare with the results of mainstream brands. Moonlight catalyst is a nice alternative to a night-time retinol: it uses pumpkin enzymes for really gentle exfoliation and brightening, plus EGF (a protein that accelerates cell turnover), which encourages healing and slows thinning of the skin. There’s no denying that it’s expensive, but for those with mature skin looking for an organic, gentle treatment, it’s excellent.
The verdict: Organic skincare products
Our favourite product is Pai’s hydrating cleanser, which is nourishing, leaves skin soft and feels truly luxurious to use. For its low price point and high levels of effectiveness, the Conscious Skincare make-up melt deserves a mention, as does A’kin’s gorgeous rosehip oil.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.