Best Natural Beauty Products: Tried and Tested

Beauty Director and self-confessed product junkie Lisa Oxenham puts the best natural beauty products to the test...

Beauty Director and self-confessed product junkie Lisa Oxenham puts the best natural beauty products to the test...

Follow our Beauty Director Lisa Oxenham's journey as she switches her high-tech products for natural beauty products in an attempt to go chemical-free.

BODY CARE DETOX: We apply around 200 chemicals to our bodies every day so it’s no wonder that skin sensitivities and intolerances are at an all time high. ‘What you put on your skin is as important as what you eat,’ says Emma Reinhold, trade relations manager for health, beauty and textiles at the Soil Association, ‘the Soil Association stamp is an organic beauty seal of approval which helps shoppers identify truly organic products’. 

BEST DEFENCE: There’s a whole raft of beautiful natural products around at the moment. Nourish your body with Melvita’s L’Or Rose Body Oil, £30 and switch typically chemically laden products such as SPF and deodorant for natural alternatives. We love Dr Hauschka’s Rose Deodorant, £12.25 and Jurlique’s Sun Specialist SPF 40 High Protection Cream, £27.

ila: Face Oil for Glowing Radiance

FACE MASKS: Denise Leicester, founder of Ila Natural Skincare advises paying particular attention to the ingredients you use in your facial skincare. ‘When using a face mask it is important to look for those that are organic as they are left on the skin for a long time,’ she says. ‘Think of organic face masks as a wheatgrass shot for your skin.’

BEST DEFENCE: Detox and hydrate your skin with Ila’s Face Mask for Revitalising Skin, £60 or The Organic Pharmacy’s Honey and Jasmine Face Mask, £37.95. If you want to give your whole skincare routine a natural makeover, we love Aurelia Probiotic Skincare’s Refine and Polish Miracle Balm, £57, and Dr Hauschka’s Night Serum, £39. To give your skin a boost of luminosity we’re big fans of Ila’s Day Cream for Glowing Radiance, £66 as well as their Face Oil for Glowing Radiance, £75. If you have super sensitive skin, we also love Pai’s Bioregenerate Rosehip Oil, £22.

Aurelia, Refine & Polish Miracle Balm

TOXIN-FREE NAILS: Natural nail polishes are known for being chip-prone, but a new formula free of nasty chemicals is set to change that. ‘Nail brands such as Nailmatic are reacting responsibly to fear about potentially toxic substances in nail products,’ says Anna-Marie Solowij, co-founder of BeautyMART. ‘Now many offer the 3-free (or more) formula that doesn’t contain the plasticiser dibutyl phthalate, toluene (a solvent) and formaldehyde, which is used in nail hardeners’.

BEST DEFENCE: For nourishing, chip resistant formulas and bold colours, try NailMatic’s Party Trio, £18.

Melvita, L'Or Rose Firming Oil

MAKE-UP WITH MINERALS: ‘Pollution can cause inflammation band premature ageing of the skin, but protective cosmetics can help,’ says skin guru Lee Garrett. Give your face a break from chemical and synthetic pigments by using mineral make-up. It really is as effective as it’s counterparts.

BEST DEFENCE: Top derms use bareMinerals SPF 25 Mineral Veil, £21, after carrying out facials, fillers and other facial procedures to protect the skin from the environment.

Jurlique, SPF 40 High Protection Cream

TAKE TIME OUT TO RELAX: Each time we experience stress, we release two harmful chemicals, adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. ‘Stress can produce 10-25 per cent of toxic build up in the body, causing us to retain fluid,’ explains beauty therapist to the royals, Deborah Mitchell. ‘A relaxing 30 minute bath can help rid your body of these toxins.’

BEST DEFENCE: Use Ila’s Bath Salts for Cleansing, £49, to help combat puffiness and drain excess fluid. The School of Life’s Mindfulness workshops in London cleanse body and soul with strategies like meditation. A day-long workshop starts at £165.

CREATE A NON-TOXIC SLEEP SANCTUARY: You’ll sleep better if you transform your bedroom into a chemical free sanctuary. Keep your windows ajar, move your perfumes to the bathroom, and don’t use room fragrances. ‘A lot of air fresheners contain nerve-deadening agents to stop you detecting smells, or they use chemical fragrances’, says Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women (£16.99, Duncan Baird) and founder of

BEST DEFENCE: Burn essential oils or buy natural room fragrances that don’t release toxic fumes. Try Neal’s Yard essential oils, from £4.20, Ila’s Incense for an Aroma of Purity and Peace, £12, and ESPA scented candles, £22.50

ila, Day Cream for Glowing Skin

AVOID HEAVY METALS: In excess, heavy metals such as mercury can be poisonous because they can’t be destroyed in the body, and often settle in our vital organs such as kidneys, liver, brain, as well as our bones, hair and nails. Dr Marina Silvia Castiglioni, of Palace Merano in Italy, explains: ‘fish absorb toxic chemicals from decades of metal being dumped into the water, and the chemicals become more concentrated as they move up the food chain. The big fish varieties (such as tuna and salmon) eat the smaller fish and therefore have higher levels of heavy metals [in their systems].’

BEST DEFENCE: Make sure you eat plenty of natural chelators – substances to trap, grab and transport the metals out of the body. Deborah Mitchell says, ‘coriander is the best natural chelator around. Add significant amounts to your diet for two to three weeks.’

Dr. Hauschka, Rose Deodorant

CUT OUT CHEMICAL CLEANERS: Air can be up to five times more polluted inside than outside, even in urban areas, due to cleaning products, Berkley professor Dr William W Narzaroff has found that domestic floor cleaners react with the ground level ozone to create formaldehyde air pollutants, which are pretty toxic and can cause short breath, stinging eyes and headaches. Keep your home well ventilated by opening the window or invest in an air filter like Vax HEPA Type 1 Purifier, £99.99.

BEST DEFENCE: Eco-conscious stars Stella McCartney and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans of Method – a range of non-toxic cleaning products made from naturally derived ingredients.

REN, Oat and Bay Shampoo and Pro-Vitamin Conditioner

CHOOSE A WOODLAND WORKOUT: ‘Our bodies are made to exercise but not in a polluted city,’ says James Duigan, founder of Bodyism and personal trainer to the stars. ‘The health danger of air pollution increases if you are performing any heavy aerobic activity. If you run or cycle to work, don’t use main roads and avoid rush hour, as air quality is worse then,’ he adds. 

BEST DEFENCE: Duigan recommends training in a park, as ‘the trees act like a filter, absorbing the bad gases’. Or wear a Respro Ultralight Mask, £42.99

PURIFY YOUR HAIR REGIME: Finding a shampoo that lathers well and leaves hair fresh, without chemical foaming agents like sulphates, used to be incredibly difficult. Pureology’s range of shampoos and conditioners, from £12, do just that and are a hit with industry insiders. King of colour Daniel Galvin also suggests detoxing your locks once a month. ‘Cuticles are transparent, like scales on a fish’s back,’ he says. ‘If hair is blighted by pollutants, particularly from living in the city, your colour will look dull.’

BEST DEFENCE: Louise Galvin’s Sacred Locks Vitox, £25.60, is a natural, pure vitamin C based solution that dissolves chemicals under the cuticles. Hair is left looking as though it’s been freshly coloured. Lather your hair with REN’s Oat and Bay Conditioning Shampoo, £6.50 and their Pro-Vitamin Hair Conditioner, £18 to naturally cleanse your locks for a silky smooth finish. For curly hair we love Aveda’s Be Curly Intensive Detangling Masque, £17.50

AVEDA, be curly intensive detangling masque

DITCH THE PLASTIC: Plastic is a big toxic offender that can leak into water. ‘Research on a plastic softening chemical called phthalate indicates it acts like a hormone in the body and has been linked to infertility,’ says naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib. According to a US study, the safest plastic bottles are numbered one, two and four on the bottom, and we should avoid any with the number seven.

BEST DEFENCE: Health guru Deborah Morgan recommends investing in a good water filter. Use a Bobble bottle, from £8.99, when you’re on the go.

EAT RIGHT: ‘Stimulate, boost and protect your kidneys and liver – the two main glands of detoxification,’ says Kim Pearson, clinical nutritionist at EF Medispa.

BEST DEFENCE: ‘Increase your intake of grapefruit, artichoke, garlic, leafy green and cruciferous vegetables, apples lemons, limes and turmeric,’ she says.

pai, Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil

COMBAT PESTICIDES: ‘Pesticides on fruit and vegetables can interfere with the thyroid, which regulates your metabolism,’ explains nutritionist to the stars Vicki Edgson. ‘This means it becomes difficult to lose weight, or you could gain weight unexpectedly.’

BEST DEFENCE: Try to eat organically, always peel fruit or buy from Good Natured Fruit, which is pesticide residue free and available at Asda and Morrisons.

LEARN TO LOVE FIBRE: The fastest way to remove toxins from the gut is by drinking plenty of water and eating a diet rich in soluble fibre, such as fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses. ‘They bind to toxins and are removed from the body, rather than flooding our system,’ says Victoria Cooper, head of colonics at EF Medispa. 

BEST DEFENCE: Try Purifyne Green Cleanse, from £240, which purifies and detoxifies the system, or WelleCo’s The Super Elixir, from £39.

GET AWAY FROM IT ALL: Book an annual detox break and discover cheekbones you never thought you had. ‘A year of stress, stagnation and city smog can lead to toxic build up, causing problems ranging from digestive to gynaecological,’ says Dr Marina Silvia Castiglioni. ‘It’s about clearing your mind and throwing out your emotional waste too’.

BEST DEFENCE: Henri Chenot has been hailed as the king of Italian detoxing and his medical centre at Palace Merano has an almost evangelical following. Depending on your medical assessment, a week there includes allergy and blood tests, vitamin drips and treatments prescribed by a doctor. You can also find out just how stressed you are. Pamper yourself with hydrotherapy baths, mud wraps and massage and you’ll leave feeling energised and with a much flatter tummy. Rooms start from €250 a night and a week long detox programme costs around €2,650. To book a break there, visit

Lisa Oxenham

An award-winning health and beauty writer, stylist and creative director, Lisa Oxenham is one of the UK’s top beauty editors and the Beauty and Style Director at Marie Claire UK. With 20 years of editorial experience Lisa is a brand partnership expert, and a popular speaker, panelist and interviewer on a range of topics from sustainability to the future of beauty in the digital world. She recently spoke at Cognition X and Beauty Tech Live and is on the Advisory Board for the British Beauty Council’s Sustainable Beauty Coalition.

A well-respected creative director she works on celebrity, model and influencer shoots with the highest calibre of photographers, filmmakers, make-up artists and hairstylists to create timeless images, attention-grabbing videos, digital events and masterclasses. Most recently Lisa has directed covers such as Lily Cole and Jameela Jamil, films such as Save The Arts featuring Francesca Hayward and sustainable fashion shoots such as Be The Change. Supporting the beauty industry over the pandemic has been a top focus, directing the British Beauty Council’s six inspirational short biographical films for their Bring Back Beauty campaign.

Lisa is a wellbeing and beauty influencer with a focus on mental health and a large and engaged audience on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.