Natural skincare is no longer in vogue as much as it is a point of fact in our modern world. For good cause, too: Mounting research shows that ingredients such as petroleum jelly and phthalates—formerly common additions in everything from face wash to moisturizer—can wreak havoc on your health, contributing to issues ranging from hormone imbalance to cancer. In response, companies both huge and boutique have strived to normalize organic and natural—and we, as consumers, are benefitting immensely from it.
But with this arrives a dizzying array of choices, rendering most of us stumped when we’re ready to try the next—or our first—natural skincare product.
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together the 5 hottest natural ingredients on the market—so that you can start seeing glowing results.
1. Rice water
J-Beauty is here to stay as it becomes increasingly clear that Japan is leading the race in natural skincare. One of the most common components in their skincare products is rice water—literally, the leftover water of cooked rice. A staple in Japanese (and Korean) skincare for centuries, rice water’s high levels of minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants renders it ideal for soothing skin and leaving it ultra-hydrated. What’s more, a 2013 study reveals that rice wine (fermented rice water) shields skin against sun damage, improves collagen production and prevents wrinkles.
While aloe may not have the exotic newness one might expect on a hottest ingredient list, there’s something to be said about the staying power of quality. Which aloe has, in spades: Not only is the time-tested botanical an excellent salve for burns, it brims with nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, as well as potassium, zinc and magnesium. Further, it has “polysaccharides that give hydrating, anti-inflammatory benefits and allow for aloe to give a protective barrier to the skin,” Elle reports. Translation? The luminescence you’re after. Find aloe in Avalon Organics’ Intense Defense Renewal Cream.
Matcha has been having a moment since it made its way onto the menu at Starbucks; since then, it’s turned up everywhere from ice cream to chocolate. Made of ground-up, specially-grown green tea leaves (which gives matcha products that soothing avocado color), it’s loaded with potent antioxidants—as in 20 times the antioxidants in blueberries. Specifically, it’s packed with catechin polyphenol, which helps stave off free radical damage from environmental toxins. Matcha also has the potential to lighten dark spots and balance skin tone, while operating as a powerful cleansing agent. This is due to its high levels of chlorophyll, which aids in eliminating toxins and purifying pores.
Shaping up to be a “standout ingredient on the horizon”—according to the CEO of Vitelle Labs Liz Cocchia—CBD oil is turning up in everything from moisturizers to serums. Also known as cannabidiol, it’s comprised of pure CBD and an oil such as olive and hemp—and it’s being marketed as one of the brightest new solutions to acne (in part because of its ability to decrease excess sebum production). Abounding with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, it can also result in a smoother, more radiant complexion. And while its full effects are still being researched, some of CBD’s most promising benefits arrives in the impact it has on TRPV-1 and GPR55 receptors, both of which play a role in inflammation. Indeed, scientists are finding more and more evidence showing that it can help treat psoriasis, dry skin, and eczema. But will it get me, um, high? you may ask. No: Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychotropic.
Derived from the seed of the tropical neem tree (or, to some, the Indian Lilac), neem oil packs a powerful skin-nutritional punch. Chief among those is Vitamin E and fatty acids, which help combat dryness. Studies also report that neem oil can penetrate beneath the skin, thereby aiding in the recovery of severe dry skin or “skin cracks” while also ensuring that moisture stays in. The Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research further reveals that neem oil can stir collagen production—thus giving you suppler skin—and enhance elasticity. Used for centuries in India to treat everything from acne to eczema, it can also be used to soothe a dry scalp. Beautiful hair, gorgeous skin—sounds like the natural ingredients for a healthy, happy you.