My 6 Favourite Natural Ingredients

by Gio
best natural skincare ingredients


I have a bit of a reputation for disliking natural ingredients.

But that’s not true. What I dislike is the idea that natural is always better. Cos slathering your body in poison ivy is better for you than silicones… 🙄

Or what about those plants extracts that are just sprinkled in? You seriously believe it’s that drop of apple extract that moisturises your skin? 🙄

See how I got my bad rep now?

I hate it when natural extracts take the merit for something they don’t do. But I’m the first to admit that some natural ingredients are AMAZING.

They make your skin soft and smooth, protect it from UV harm and keep those pesky wrinkles away. I honestly couldn’t live without them. Here are my fave natural ingredients that have found their way into my skincare routine:

1. Zinc Oxide

Since I’ve switched to zinc oxide-based sunscreens a few years ago, I’ve never looked back. I love zinc oxide because it can protect against the entire UV range ON ITS OWN. No other UV filter does that. Plus it is very gentle. It’s one of the very few filters even sensitive skin can tolerate.

Ok, its texture is thick and it does leave a white cast behind but I can live with that. It’s a small price to pay for the excellent protection it provides.

Plus, there’s a workaround. You can always get a tinted sunscreen, like Sunumbra Sunscreen SPF30+. 😉

Related: Why Zinc Oxide Is The Best UV Filter Ever

2. Shea Butter

The skin of my body is very dry. Shea butter is the only thing that can make it soft and smooth again. For hours.

Shea butter is so moisturising because it’s loaded with fatty acids, including oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, palmitic acid, and linolenic acid. They create a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. Studies show it helps skin recover from TWL [transepidermal water loss] within two hours and improve skin’s barrier after three or four.

Shea butter is the key ingredient in all my fave body creams and lip balms,  likeHaus of Gloi Pumpkin Butters and The Body Shop Coconut Body Butter.

Related: Why I Love Shea Butter

3. Coconut Oil

I’m not a big fan of coconut oil for skincare.

It’s true that, like shea butter, it’s very moisturising and can amp up your skin’s hydration. But it can also clog pores and give you pimples. My skin is combo so I’m sure my drier areas would like it. My oilier ones? Not so much.

But I LOVE coconut oil for hair. Coconut Oil is one of the few ingredients that can actually penetrate hair, strengthening and moisturizing it from within. The best type is virgin coconut oil, but don’t go overboard with it. You don’t want to turn your hair into an oily mess.

Related: What Does Coconut Oil Do For Skin And Hair?

4. Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid is a little known antioxidant that naturally occurs in whole grains, coffee, spinach and many vegs and fruits. It’s one of my fave antioxidants because it can destroy three types of free radicals: superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide!

It works very well on its own but it’s when paired with vitamins C and E that it really shines. Together, these three antioxidants enhance one another’s effectiveness so they’re even more powerful against wrinkles.

In case you’re wondering, I usually get my fix from Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster.

Related: Why Ferulic Acid Is One Of My Fave Antioxidants

green tea in skincare

5. Green Tea

Green tea is another antioxidant that does double duty. It’s loaded with polyphenols, a group of antioxidants with  anti-inflammatory properties. They keep wrinkles at bay and reduce the redness and inflammation caused by sun exposure.

Green Tea is included in my favourite day moisturizer, Olay Total Effects Day Cream SPF 15, and serum Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum.

Related: Why You Should Add Green Tea To Your Skincare Routine

6. Olive Oil

I couldn’t end this list without mentioning olive oil too. I’m Italian, after all. 🙂

Extra virgin olive oil (the only type you should use on your skin) is a multitasker: it’s rich in fatty acids (such as oleic, palmitic, and linoleic) that are super moisturising  and antioxidants (like resveratrol) that prevent wrinkles.

That’s not all. EVOO is also a great makeup remove and hair conditioner (olive oil is another of the few ingredients that can penetrate hair). Seriously is there anything it can’t do?

Related: Why Olive Oil Is A Godsend For Skin And Hair

What are your favourite natural ingredients? Share yours in the comments below.

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10 comments

herroyalbleakness August 20, 2013 - 1:34 pm

In all truthfulness, I only thought about having a natural ingredients because of this post! It’s a great read, Gio. I’d like to look for numbers 1-5 in the current products I use!

You just made me want the Sunumbra Sunscreen and the Super Antioxidant serum (both unavailable from where I live :\)!

Reply
beautifulwithbrains August 22, 2013 - 6:29 am

Herroyalbleakness, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Most natural ingredients are so hyped up, but others are very beneficial and can be real godsends. I wouldn’t know how to live without these six ones!

What a shame! I think you can purchase both online, though. Both websites should ship worldwide.

Reply
herroyalbleakness August 20, 2013 - 1:42 pm

a natural ingredients *favorites*

Reply
beautifulwithbrains August 22, 2013 - 6:29 am

Herroyalbleakness, 🙂

Reply
Ann June 5, 2018 - 4:40 pm

Definitely honey. Using it in my morning cleansing routine has helped my face find balance and keep zits away!

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Gio June 8, 2018 - 2:14 pm

Ann, I love honey too. So great for acne. 🙂

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Charlette June 5, 2018 - 10:47 pm

Love your bluntness! I get tired of the “only-natural-is-good” crowd! Someone told me that the last few ingredients in a particular skin care product were really bad. I said–those are the preservatives! She responded that preservatives are bad. I hit my forehead with my hand and bit my tongue so I wasn’t impolite. Really? The “natural-know-it-alls” who really know nothing–really get on my nerves.

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Gio June 8, 2018 - 2:18 pm

Charlette, tell me about it! Since brands are starting to remove preservatives from their products, we’re hearing of more recalls from stores because they’re growing mould on the shelves! It’s this kind of nonsense that gives the natural world a bad name and it’s a shame cos there are natural ingredients that work really well.

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Caroline Helies September 2, 2018 - 5:19 pm

I admit I did get sucked into the “more natural” movement before finding your blog, so thank you! I now choose my products differently, and my approach is probably very bad from your point of view, I don’t know lol, but like I do with (processed) food, I tend to pick products that have a small(ish) list of ingredients that I mostly recognize rather than a huuuuge list. My strategy might be weird, or complete nonsense, but, so far, it’s working for my skin!

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Gio September 7, 2018 - 5:03 pm

Caroline, I admit I was getting sucked into the natural movement 10 years ago but when I started doing more research, I released that’s not necessarily better and this blog was born. 🙂

I don’t find that weird. 🙂 A lot of products are full of fillers. Once you know what ingredients work for you, picking products with just a handful of ingredients is a smart move.

Reply

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