Best of Lists

Best natural face moisturizer for dry skin

If you’re looking for the best natural face moisturizer for dry skin, you’ve probably browsed tons of webpages.

Here, I’ve created a quick guide with simple descriptions that you can filter according to what’s important to you:

  • GMO Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Cruelty Free
  • Some Ingredients Restricted
  • Certified Organic/Natural
  • Vegan

I only listed products that had the following criteria:

  • All products needed to restrict some ingredients that were linked to health issues such as parabens, phthalates, sulfates, lead, mercury and hydroquinone. Many go on to restrict even more.
  • All products needed to make an effort to source natural or organic with brands either labeling percentage of natural ingredients or being certified organic.
  • All had to come from brands that made the public commitment to be healthier and more natural. More information on brands can be found in brand reviews, if you want to dig deeper.

In case you want to know a little bit more about the best ingredients for dry skin and what science says about it, head off to this article.

Anyway, I hope this quick guide helps you get started finding the best natural moisturizer for your skin, and that it saves you time and trouble.

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Christina Moss Naturals Products grouped together
Brand Reviews

Christina Moss | Reviews, Small Mysteries, and a Supermom

Christina Moss Table of Contents

Cristina Moss Quick Facts | Commitment to Ingredients, the Environment, Ethics, and its EWG and the Good Guide

Christina Moss is a Supermom | A Popular Skincare Line comes out of nowhere

Simple Beginnings | Started in a garage and quickly grown

Small Mysteries | Some things I’d like to know about them but cannot figure out

Just a Few Thoughts| A generally good line

Cristina Moss Reviews| Products

Cristina Moss Quick Facts

Ingredients | Free from parabens, SLS or SLES, PG or PG derivatives, fragrances, preservatives, or any other harmful chemical

Eco-Friendly |  Public commitment but nothing definite written on their website

Ethical | Cruelty Free

The Good Guide | Not Rated

EWG | Not Rated

Christina Moss is a Supermom

Cristina Moss has built a successful personal care line while simultaneously being an author and mom. Cartoon picture of a superhero lady.
Cristina Moss has built a successful personal care line while simultaneously being an author and mom.

We all know moms have superpowers, but Christina Moss is in a league of her own.

First, we have all suddenly become aware of her Cristina Moss Naturals line.

Two of her products are outstandingly popular on Amazon, with thousands of highly rated reviews. Her Organic Facial Moisturizer is 4.5 stars with over 4,000 reviews. Meanwhile, her Organic Facial Wash is also 4.5 stars and has over 1,600 reviews. Both are Amazon Choice products.

Not bad for a stay at home mom who started her business in her garage.

Cristina Moss Naturals started from a garage. A picture of a garage with a white garage door and blue wood shingles on the exterior.
Cristina Moss Naturals started from a garage.

And surprisingly, she’s done this without a lot of fanfare. There isn’t a lot of discussion in the beauty mags about her products. There are also very few interviews she’s given – mostly, she and her company seem to be efficiently taking over our bathroom counters quietly.

Oh, and she’s also a successful author of 4 young adult books, one of which reached Amazon #1 for Science Fiction Adventure.

Makes me wish I had superpowers too.

Simple Beginnings

Christina Moss started her business because she wanted her family to have products without petrochemicals.

Petrochemicals are derived from petroleum and are widely used in personal care products. Some examples are toulene, Ethylene glycol and Ammonia, but there are hundreds and they are in everything.

She wanted to avoid harmful ingredients and so she decided to make them on her own.

In the early days, it was difficult.

She was homeschooling her children and taking college classes on the weekends. She spent a lot of time creating and filling orders and even more researching.

Friends and family ordered from her and before she knew it, she had a small but thriving business. Lost Angeles health food stores started ordering from her and health clinics made her products available to her patients.

A Yahoo store and website followed, which introduced the range across the United States.

Along the way, she partnered with Kenny Davies. He became CEO whom she credits with helping make their line successful.

Small Mysteries

Any kitchen chemist knows that products need to be properly preserved to ensure safety. A kitchen counter with equipment.
Any kitchen chemist knows that products need to be properly preserved to ensure safety.

Honestly, I have some difficulty understanding how purely natural products function without preservatives. As any kitchen chemist knows, a truly all-natural line will often go bad in a matter of days.

However, I am not a chemist, and perhaps there are combinations of natural ingredients that would work to preserve products.

Christina does discuss how formulations are created and tested, perhaps to help those who would like to understand.

First, she’ll go through the conventional formulation to understand the role of each ingredient. Then she substitutes each with a natural ingredient that performs the same function.

Afterwards, it is run through a chemist to test for microbes. A small focus group reviews it and then – if all goes well – labels, packaging and marketing are created to finally offer it to the public.

Products are run through a chemist and then a small group of testers. People sitting around a table discussing items.
Products are run through a chemist and then a small group of testers.

In addition to testing with a chemist, Christina blogs about some favorite natural preservatives that she uses such as Vitamin E, Organic Alcohol and Rosemary.

Vitamin E prolongs shelf life as it is an antioxidant. It stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when oils undergo oxidation. By doing so, it delays the onset of rancidity. It’s much the same benefit that it provides the skin. Rosemary extract works the same way.

However, it is not just rancidity that cosmetics formulas have to protect against. A formula also has to defend against yeast, mold and bacteria.

Alcohols like ethanol at 20-25% create a self-preserving formula, but at that point lotions become drying. Other alcohols can act as preservatives, but might require certain conditions to be effective.

To be honest, this questions about preservative systems could be said about other natural brands – but I would still like to know.

In addition, I would also like to know who certified Cristina Moss Naturals organic. The process for certification is often difficult and time-consuming, and brands usually identify their certifying body to give added credence to their claim.

Different certifying bodies have different standards as well – it would be good to know what they follow.

Just a Few Thoughts

A grocery store aisle with cosmetics. Safer cosmetics with less irritating and questionable ingredients are important.
Yes, I want safer cosmetics but I also want things like preservative systems and scientific advances in my stuff.

Like a lot of people, I want safer cosmetics.

What that means to me is less irritating ingredients and those with dubious safety claims removed from my products.

This may not necessarily mean all-natural or organic, although I’ll admit that I favor organic products.

As far as I can tell from the products that I’ve looked at, Christina Moss contains mainly natural oils, essential oils and botanical extracts. If their ingredient list is complete, then the company checks all the boxes.

I'd love to have a few questions of mine answered regarding preservatives and their certifying body. Question balloons of different colors.
I’d love to have a few questions of mine answered regarding preservatives and their certifying body.

However, I would dearly love to know how their preservatives work and who their certifying body is. I cannot quite figure it out from what’s listed.

These are insanely popular products and make very big claims so they have a lot to live up to.

When I hear from people as to their experience with the brand, I come across so many people who love it. There are people who talk about how it solved their skin care woes. Others love the skin feel and the fragrance. Some love the price point.

So, despite the small mysteries, they are definitely making people happy by making products that work.

Cristina Moss Reviews | Products

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Wall lined with Naturopathica Products
Brand Reviews

Best Naturopathica Products | How Naturpathica’s Wellness Perspective Began and My Favorite Products

Naturopathica Table of Contents

Naturopathica Quick Facts | Naturopathica’s commitment regarding ingredients, the environment, ethics, and EWG and Good Guide Standing

I’ve just come from the Spa | How Naturopathica was Part of the Wellness Movement

Naturopathica Starts Simply | How Barbara Close Started Naturopathica

There’s Value in the Traditional, Too | How Traditional Remedies and Modern Medicine Compliment Each Other

Nature Plus Science | Science Still has a Place in Naturopathica’s Modern Formulations

Best Naturopathica Products | Products and Reviews

Naturopathica Quick Facts

Ingredients | Ecocert certified with 50% minimum natural ingredients; Free from Petroleum-derived products; Free from Synthetic polymers sunscreens, fragrances, colors; Free from Aluminum Zirconium and Silicone; Quaternary Ammonium Compounds and Hydroquinone; Free from Parabens, Phenoxyethanol, DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, BHA, BHT; Free from SLS, SLES, ALES, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Octoxynols; Free from 1,4-dioxane, Ethoxylated compounds, Nitrosamines, Animal Ingredients

Eco-Friendly | Glass bottles, 70% post-consumer recycled plastic, 100% post-consumer recycled boxes

Ethical | Leaping Bunny Certified Cruelty Free, American Botanical Council, the Green Spa and other non-profits in their area

The Good Guide | Not rated

EWG | 1-5


I’ve just come from the spa

Spa towels with lighted candles.
Barbara founded her East Hampton spa with the belief that holistic medicine or wellness should be part of our daily lives.


Naturopathica’s founder Barbara Close was well ahead of the current mainstream trend of holistic living when she founded her East Hampton spa in 1995.

Wellness and natural then was ‘sort of nut-and-granola back then’, she says, of the slightly hippie connotations that went with healthy living.

Still, the former social worker turned aromatherapist aesthetician persevered.

She founded Naturopathica’s East Hampton spa and lined the shelves with herbal tinctures and balms.

Not everybody got it.

People would try the herbal tinctures and say, “Ooh, these taste bitter,” and that would be the end of that.

Empty apothecary bottles used for holding tinctures and infusions.
Barbara Close lined the walls of her East Hampton spa with tinctures, infusions and herbal remedies.

But for every person who didn’t understand it, there were others who did.

Heidi Klum and Betsy Johnson became fans. Cousin and actress Glenn Close enjoys Ylang Ylang’s calming Bath Oil.

And in 1995, Martha Stewart booked a treatment out of the blue. Close and three assistants prepped frantically, tidying up and spraying the rooms to “make sure they smelled good”. It worked. She liked it so much that carried their $65 travel kit in her catalogue.

Today, Naturopathica’s an established brand carried in over 300 sites. In addition, they have a pretty solid reputation and people rate their products highly.

Naturopathica Starts Simply

Naturopathica Founder Barbara Close
Naturopathica Founder Barbara Close


Close hadn’t always wanted to be in the homeopathic business.

As the daughter of a D.C. estate lawyer and a home maker, she initially went into social work.

However, she soon found social work draining.

“It was hard not to feel depleted at the end of the day,” she says. She found stress relief in massages and she eventually decided to make it her career.

To ensure she had the right tools, she went back to school. She studied meditation, herbal medicine, aromatherapy and massage at the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts.

Wellness isn’t a trend for Naturopathica. It’s an empowered approach to self-care.

Barbara Close

Eventually, she set up shop in Manhattan in 1991. Her spa followed four years later and she created the Naturopathica product line with $75,000 in capital and two investors.

A field of sunflowers grown at a farm. Barbara Close grew some herbs for her products at her family's Virginia farm.
Some of the herbs Naturopathica used were grown at her family’s 550 acre farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Originally, some herbs for the products were grown at her family’s 550 acre farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains. Products were blended at a former auto-body shop. People used stop by asking for an oil change before they realized that the oil being sold was a different type altogether.

Soon, the Naturopathica line expanded to other spas across the country. It is now widely available and is online, in spas, and in several high-end stores.

And recently, going back to her roots, Close opened a new Naturopathica spa in NY’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Juice smoothie with two open kiwis against the glass. One wall of her new NY Chelsea location is a vitality bar lined with tonics and juice blends.
One wall of her new NY Chelsea location is a vitality bar lined with tonics and juice blends.

While it has 6 treatment and massage rooms, it also incorporates other areas that reflect Close’s perspective on total health. One wall has an herbal remedy section with botanical cures and essential oils. Another has a vitality bar with health smoothies. And of course, the best Naturopathica products are everywhere.

It’s a place for total health, which is exactly how Close thinks about what she does.

Our spa was never about beauty and pampering. My real passion is the wellness industry. My real inspiration for the Naturopathica spa was the old European apothecary, where people come in and learn to blend treatments and that whole aspect of curing yourself with natural therapies.

Barbara Close

There’s Value in the Traditional, Too

Barbara believes their value in old-time remedies. The inside of a traditional drugstore or apothecary with walls lines with jars.
Barbara believes their value in old-time remedies.


Close believes that we need to bring back the kitchen apothecary.

The kitchen used to be the apothecary. In the home, there used to be a sense of nurturing. We need to bring back and embrace that.

Barbara Close

There are a lot of traditional cures that have fallen by the wayside in modern life. For centuries, people used natural methods to relieve common complaints and address health issues. They were forgotten for many years, but Naturopathica believes they can be used alongside Western medicine.

Traditional medicine bottles with herbs and plant based cures.
Close believes that traditional medicine should be used in addition to modern medicine.

In America, we have lost that whole ancestral knowledge of how to use these ancient healing arts because of the rise of antibiotics and quick fixes.

Barbara Close

However, she doesn’t eschew modern medicine and science. She will go to a doctor when she is sick and she understands what medicine has to offer.

It is just that she believes that there is value in the old remedies that were used for centuries. Cures that were handed down in a family for common aches and pains can help, and preventive care and maintenance in between doctor’s visits is also important.

Nature Plus Science

Naturopathica serum beside a beaker with a flower, symbolizing how Naturopathica takes the best of science and nature.
Naturopathica takes the best of science and nature.


I started in the natural space because I believe in clean beauty. I was looking for safer, less irritating ingredients and gentler alternatives.

What I don’t mean is to throw out the scientific cupboard.

I firmly believe science should be incorporated in every product. We’ve got to find things that work and are safer for us, and that’s what Naturopathica tries to do.

New-ingredient technology is constantly emerging, allowing us to push the envelope with formulas that have more powerful ingredients, such as peptides, stem cells, and retinols, but in clean, non-toxic formulas.

Barbara Close

It’s definitely got the organic credentials though. Certified by Ecocert, several products have gone through rigorous assessment to ensure providence.


And the EWG ratings speak to a generally safe ingredient selection. I’m generally seeing a group of ingredients that are in the 1-2 range. Ingredients that rank higher are retinol and botanical extracts.

Naturopathica believes in a balanced scientific and natural approach and uses scientific research to create their formulations.
Naturopathica believes in a balanced scientific and natural approach.

Also, the formulations stick to things that work. You’ve got xylitol and glycerin tackling skin dryness in the Aloe Cleansing Gel. You’ve got Vitamin E and Vitamin C working together in the Vitamin C Revitalizing Lotion, which is great. Vitamin A and E reinforce each other and help ingredients penetrate into skin.

I do have a few complaints. I’m firmly against jar packaging and even fragrances from essential oils, and would love to see less of each in the Naturopathica line.

However, Naturopathica is a great line. It’s got a very balanced approach to skincare by taking scientific knowledge and laboratory ingredients and pairing them with really lovely natural items.

Best of Naturopathica | Products and Reviews

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Science Stuff

Best Ingredients for Dry Skin | The Science Behind the Effectiveness of Moisturizer Ingredients

Dry Skin

If you have dry skin and have wondered what science has to say about what the best ingredients for dry skin really are, this post is for you. I’m posting this as general information and have no affiliate links here; this is for people like you, F.

Dry Skin Basics

What dry skin is and its symptoms and causes.

For you dry skin sufferers, dry skin is obvious.

  • It’s scaly, flaky, tight and greyish.
  • It may have fine lines and cracks.
  • It may bleed.

You also know that there are some common-sense things that you can do to help your skin:

A white bathtub with a towel draped on it.
Frequent baths dry out the skin
  • Take infrequent shorter baths in cool water
  • Avoid rough clothing or anything abrasive
  • Avoid cigarette smoke
  • Don’t use harsh soap, detergents or solvents. [1]

The causes of dry skin are often things you cannot control such as genetics, hormones, medication or arid and very cold or hot weather.

A snow capped mountain during winter.
Arid weather and extreme temperatures such as those found in winter can cause dry skin.

Still, it’s possible to help dry skin by picking the right moisturizer or medication. Medications are best discussed with your doctor, but its moisturizers that we tackle here.


Do Moisturizers Really Help the Skin?

Yes, You Dry Skin Skeptic, Moisturizers Really Can Help

Lotion being applied to dry skin
Lotion being applied to dry skin

You’ve probably tried everything.

And you’ve probably given up on moisturizers because you can’t seem to find the right one.

But let’s take a look at what dermatologists and science really has to say about moisturizers.

  • By explaining moisturizer use to patients, dermatologist nurses increased moisturizer use by 800% and reduced eczema severity by 89%. [2]
  • Long-term moisturizer use can actually improve skin barrier function by regularizing keratinocyte differentiation. This means the correct type and amount of different skin cells are produced. Dry skin usually occurs because of irregularities in these factors. [3]
  • Regular use is important so that there is enough time for the moisturizer to work.
  • Preventive use while skin is under control is also important. [4]
  • Even if skin doesn’t appear dry, this doesn’t necessarily mean that impaired skin barrier function was improved. The amount of water the body continued to lose actually remained the same. [5]


How Moisturizers Help the Skin

Water Loss (TEWL or Transepdermal Water loss) is marked by a reduction in lipids and natural moisturizing factors in the skin. Epidermal differentiation is crucial in producing the right levels of each.

To understand how the best ingredients for dry skin work, there’s a little bit of skin science that might be useful.

The 4 layers of the skin.
The 4 main layers of the skin work produce different kinds of cells in a process called keratinocyte differentiation.
  • The outermost layer of the skin and the one most important in skin hydration is called the stratum corneum.
  • The stratum corneum is made up of corneocytes or dead keratinocytes that are flattened and filled with keratin.
  • The process that produces these corneocytes is called epidermal differentiation which also creates different keratins, proteins, and lipids.
  • Corneocytes are held together by lipid bilayers which are made of non-polar lipids such as ceramides, free fatty acids and cholesterol. They help retain water.
  • Corneocytes also contain natural moisturizing factors (NMF) or humectants that attract water. Some NMFs are amino acids, lactate, PCA and urea.

NMFs are 15-20% of the stratum corneum by weight.

  • Incorrect epidermal differentiation leads to the wrong amount and type of skin cells produced. Lower levels of skin lipids and NMF can increase the water lost from the body (TransEpidermal Water Loss or TEWL).

The Science behind Moisturizer Ingredients and What They Try To Do

Water is a main ingredient of moisturizers because it allows humectants like glycerin to work properly.
Water is a main ingredient of moisturizers because it allows humectants like glycerin to work properly.

As you’ve probably guessed, dry skin can be caused by not being able to regulate the amount of water lost.

Water lost from the body is called Trans Epidermal Water Loss or TEWL.

But why the body can’t regulate water can be tough to figure out.

Like any organ, the skin is a system.

When one thing goes out of whack – the amount of NMF, irregularities in the corneocytes, or repeated assaults on the skin barrier from ingredients – dry skin results.

Moisturizers are made of several ingredients:

Ingredient Function
Water Moisturizers are mostly made of water. Water helps humectants work effectively.
For instance, undiluted glycerol can actually dry out the skin.
Oil Oils can help retain water by either creating an occlusive barrier or by increasing levels of naturally occurring oils such as ceramide.
Emulsifiers Binds water and oil together and stabilizes the mixture.
Preservatives Protects the mix from spoilage.
Humectants Humectants draw water from its surroundings and help in hydration.
Silicones Imparts slip, emollience, and improves skin feel.
Botanical Extracts May have some benefit but often these are not clearly proven.
Fragrances Provides scent for customer acceptance.
Chelating Agents React with metal ions to remove their interference in the formula.
Antioxidants May have some benefit. Some such as tocopherol are used as preservatives.


Ingredient 1 Ceramides

Ceramides are a naturally occurring fat in the skin that has structural and cell signaling functions. Its been shown to decrease TEWL.

A jar of petroleum jelly. While a common ingredient, it may not be one of the best ingredients for dry skin as it doesn't provide the benefits of physiological lipids like ceramide.
Petrolum jelly is a common ingredient to keep water in. But unlike ceramides, it doesn’t penetrate into the skin nor does it help regulate cell signaling. Image by Ishikawa Ken via Flicker CC BY 2.0
  • Ceramides are naturally occurring lipids of the skin that are part of the physical structure of the skin.
  • Ceramides also function as signal transductors and help regulate epidermal cell differentiation and proliferation.
  • Other types of lipids such as petrolatum keep water in by trapping it under a film, but cannot penetrate the skin or help cell differentiation the way ceramides can.
  • In an open label, double-blind study, a ceramide lipid mix decreased water loss. [6]

Ingredient 2 Glycerol or Glycerin

Glycerin is one of the best ingredients for dry skin because it is a humectant, which means that it attracts water from its surroundings. Here, glycerin cubes are being incorporated into a skincare product.
Glycerin is one of the best ingredients for dry skin because it is a humectant, which means that it attracts water from its surroundings. Image courtesy of April Younglove via Flicker CC BY 2.0.

Glycerol is a naturally occurring chemical found in all triglycerides and in human skin. It is a humectant, meaning it attracts water from its surroundings. It has several well-studied benefits.

  • Glycerol is naturally found in the skin and is used for elasticity and barrier functions.
  • Its benefits include improved hydration, skin barrier function, irritant protection, accelerated wound healing and is an antimicrobial.

It’s so absorbent that it can absorb its own weight in water in 3 days.

  • Glycerol is a better humectant than others not just because it absorbs water but because it penetrates into the skin and creates a reservoir without disrupting the skin.
  • Glycerol has no side effects but high concentration can feel sticky and unpleasant on the skin.
  • It has a proven record of effectivity for the skin. It can address abnormalities in elasticity and barrier function not always caused by lipid loss. [7]

Ingredient 3 Urea

Urea is a colorless compound that is a product of protein metabolism. Its benefits for the skin are proven but it can be irritating.

A lab with chemicals. Compressed CO2 and Ammonia reacts to form urea.
Compressed CO2 and Ammonia reacts to form urea.
  • Urea was found superior to glycerol in improving skin barrier function. However, urea was found by 20-40% patients to sting. [8]
  • A 10% Urea cream reduced water loss in ichthyotic patients and 5% was effective for atopic patients.
  • Repeated use also reduces sensitivity to sodium lauryl sulfate.

Ingredient 4 AHA

An AHA is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid that can exfoliate but also has hydration effects. Well-studied examples are lactic and glycolic acid.

Sugar cane fields. Sugar cane is a source of glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid is a common AHA that can be found in sugar cane.
  • AHA can also help relieve dry skin and can help decrease sensitivity to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.
  • Lactic, glycolic and tartaric acids are all examples of AHA.
  • AHA has buffering properties and binds water to increase hydration.

Ingredient 5 Panthenol and Dexpanthenol

Panthenol is an alcohol of pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) which is an emollient and moisturizer. It has been shown to reduce TEWL. Its synthetic derivative is Dexpanthenol.

  • Panthenol has been reported to penetrate into skin and convert into panthothenic acid.
  • It can help repair the skin barrier, increase hydration and decrease redness.
  • 1% and 5% panthenol moisturizers were shown to reduce water loss after 30 days. [9]
  • Dexpanthenol, a precursor to panthenol, is also effective for skin hydration and in maintaining elasticity.
  • It may also activate fibroblast proliferation which is a component of wound healing. [10]
  • It is not irritating to the skin and may defend against SLS irritation. [11]

Ingredient 5 Glycine

Glycine is one of the best ingredients for dry skin as it reduces histamine release so that the urge to scratch is stopped.
Glycine is one of the best ingredients for dry skin. It stops histamine release, which stops the itch.

Glycine is an amino acid which inhibits histamine release to reduce itching.

  • Histamines start a process that tries to remove an allergen from your system.
  • By blocking histamine release from mastocytes, Glycine helps stop the itching. [12]

Glycine is an antipruritic – or in layman’s terms an anti-itch compound.

Ingredient 6 Botanical extracts and herbs

Herbs have been used in creams for centuries but their use isn’t always supported by science.

  • Time of harvest, preparation and its stability have to be taken into consideration.
  • Additionally, the species must be taken into consideration. For instance, there are 300 varieties of Aloe Vera and they all have different chemical compositions. Studies on Aloe seldom report which species used.
A close up of the leaves of an Aloe Vera.
Many stories of Aloe Vera’s efficacy are anecdotal.

I’m Aloe Vera pro, though. I’ve known several people who’ve used Aloe Vera for years, and I’ve seen very good effects.

  • Plant-derived polyphenols or vitamins are often used as they may have antioxidants. Skin naturally contains ubiquinone, ascorbic acid, uric acid and vitamin E which may be helped by topical application.

Rose oil’s profile and chemical composition can be significantly affected by the time of harvest. [13]

Pink roses in full bloom.
Rose oil and extracts depend on factors such as time of harvest, variety, and method of preparation.

But it’s also the combination that matters

If it were that simple though, then most moisturizers would magically solve all your dry skin problems.

Unfortunately, its also the interaction between ingredients that make a moisturizer effective – and this can be pretty complicated.

  • Lipid rich cream without any humectant increased sensitivity to SLS but didn’t affect the skin barrier.
  • Emulsifiers help stablilize lotions. It is expected that non-ionic emulsifiers would be less irritating to the skin.
  • Cholesterol, ceramides and free fatty acids are structural lipids of the skin, and may be more effective than other lipids for treatment. Their ratio in the mix is also important.
  • Complete mixes of cholesterol, ceramides and free fatty acids helped skin barrier recovery, while mixes missing one were not effective. [14]
Red irritated and dry skin.
Some moisturizers can increase sensitivity to irritants such as SLS.
  • A dexpanthenol lotion with ceramides, cholesterol, glycerol and glycine was tested, with the ceramides and cholesterol as nanocolloids. It improved skin barrier function and decreased skin sensitivity. [15]
  • An incorrectly formulated moisturizer will actually delay skin barrier function recovery and increase water loss.
  • Some may even increase sensitivity to common irritants such as SLS.
  • Although several moisturizers might address dryness, they actually might not do anything for the underlying skin barrier issue and might even impair it.

The right kind of moisturizer can help

An open jar of moisturizing lotion.
Moisturizers really can help – but it depends on the ingredients.

The right kind of moisturizer can actually help. It can affect not just dryness, but the actual skin barrier function.

  • Moisturizers can help dry skin but it’s the right combination of the right ingredients that will actually help.
  • Moisturizers can be complex in action to address the differing causes of dry skin. Still, perhaps by realizing what ingredients actually work and how, you will be better informed and make better decisions.

Remember, even if it takes away the dryness, it might actually impair skin barrier function.

  • Ingredients such as SLS, fragrance and preservatives are well-known irritants. It’s possible these days to find moisturizers without fragrance and SLS, but preservatives are needed to protect the formula.
  • Don’t fall for the hype. Read the label, understand the ingredients and question everything.


  1. Lazar, AP & Lazar, P. 1991, ‘Dry skin, water and lubrication’ Dermatologic Clinics, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 45-51. Pubmed-NCBI Available from: [Accessed on: Jan 3, 2018]
  2. Cork MJ, Britton J, Butler L, Young S, Murphy R, Keohane SG. 2003, ‘Comparison of parent knowledge, therapy utilization and severity of atopic eczema before and after explanation and demonstration of topical therapies by a specialist dermatology nurse’, The British Journal of Dermatology, vol. 149, no. 3, pp. 582-9. Pubmed-NCBI Available from: [Accessed on: Jan 3, 2018]
  3. Buraczewska I, Berne B, Lindberg M, Lodén M, Törmä H. 2009, ‘Moisturizers change the mRNA expression of enzymes synthesizing skin barrier lipids’, Archives of Dermatological Research, 301, no. 8, pp. 587-94. Pubmed-NCBI Available from: [Accessed on: Jan 3, 2018]
  4. Holden C, English J, Hoare C, Jordan A, Kownacki S, Turnbull R, Staughton RC. 2002, ‘Advised best practice for the use of emollients in eczema and other dry skin conditions’, The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 13, no. 3, pp. 103-6. Pubmed-NCBI Available from: [Accessed on: Jan 3, 2018]
  5. Lodén M. 2005, ‘The clinical benefit of moisturizers’, Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, vol. 19, no. 6, pp. 672-88. Pubmed-NCBI Available from: [Accessed on: Jan 3, 2018]
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Herbivore Botanicals Pink Clay Group
Brand Reviews

Herbivore Botanicals is an Earnest Company with Truly All-Natural Products

Herbivore Botanicals Quick Facts

Ingredients | Free from Synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, petroleum; Natural; Vegan;

Eco-Friendly | Glass bottles

Ethical | Cruelty Free

The Good Guide | Not Rated

EWG | Not Rated

Herbivore Botanicals Table of Contents

A Husband Brings his Wife a Present | How Julia started it all from a simple soap making kit

Julia’s Soap and Alex’ Skin | How the brands natural focus came about

And it is Beautiful | Their beautiful packaging took some time to make

Herbivore Gets Really Big Really Fast and Alex and Julia Learn About Business | The founders learn about business

The Dynamic Duo Still Make Time for Each Other | Managing work and life and why I love Herbivore

 Best of Herbivore Botanicals | Products and Reviews

A Husband Brings his Wife a Present

Handmade soap with ingredients and bottles beside it.
Herbivore started from a handmade soap kit given by Alex to Julia.

I fall in love with brands.

I sometimes also fall in love with their products, but I always fall in love with the founders for their pluck, their fearlessness, and their sheer tenacity.

And I did the same with Herbivore Botanicals because they have a lovely story.

A husband brings home a soap making kit as a gift for his wife who promptly falls into the soap making lifestyle.

Incidentally, she’s also recently quit her job so she’s got lots of time to devote to her new hobby.

She makes soap. She makes so much soap that she starts to sell it on Etsy.

The Etsy shop explodes and soon they are everywhere.

It’s such a simple story but as anyone who has ever started a business knows, it’s never just that easy.

Julia’s Soap and Alex’ Skin

Herbivore Botanicals Founders Alex and Julia
Herbivore Botanicals Founders Alex and Julia

In the creation of a product line that marries tangible results to sensorial luxury, we hope to inspire women to appreciate the beauty of their own skin as well as the bounty of nature’s unparalleled remedies.

Herbivore Botanicals philosophy is mainly all natural because they believe that what worked for them will work for you.

Julia Wills – the wife in this story – produced her first bars of soap and tried them out on her husband.

Alex – the gift-bearing husband – had something like psoriasis or eczema that the doctors couldn’t figure out.

Julia’s product cleared it.

Their bars of soap are still handmade, only now it is Julia father who makes them all by hand.  In 2016, he made 50,000 bars of soap by himself.

From then on, the focus of the brand was set pretty much on natural ingredients. They have mainly stuck to that. They will occasionally add something to preserve or to make a product more useable, but this is really a very natural brand.

A picture of the Blue Tansy Flower in a field
A picture of the Blue Tansy Flower via Max Pixel

Case in point – Blue Tansy provides the beautiful blue hue of the Blue Tansy Mask while the powdered Indigo adds the purple to Moon Fruit.

No artificial color here at all.

Just a little segway – I know that many people are currently into the all-natural craze so as to avoid potentially toxic ingredients.

My personal stance is that all-natural products can’t hurt.

Still, I’d prefer not to throw out everything science has accomplished. There are some synthetics that are non-irritating and I think we should take the best of both.

What’s more important to me is that the products work and that the brand doesn’t mislead their customers, so that the customer always gets exactly what they’re looking for.

Herbivore is pretty straightforward in their philosophy and pretty true to it. I checked their ingredients for some of their products and they are pretty true to their message.

This is a pretty honest brand.

This I love.

And it is Beautiful

Herbivore Botanical Product Group Ultimate Skincare Collection with current packaging that took a year to refine.
Herbivore Botanical Product Group Ultimate Skincare Collection with current packaging that took a year to refine.

There are some aesthetics that take getting used to (hello Drunk Elephant, we’re good but your neon is a bit startling).

Herbivore’s is instantly ’grammable –  but it took a while to get there.

You might say, hey, it’s just a couple of lines and very plain font. Still, it took a year to fine tune.

It recalls vintage luxury purfumes with its glass bottles but manages to stay in the here and now with beautifully minimalist packaging.

Packaging Inspiration came from vintage perfume bottles.
Packaging Inspiration came from vintage perfume bottles.

As if they have just received a well curated treasure chest.

Alex Kummerow, on how people feel when they get their orders.

It wasn’t always that way.

In 2011, Herbivore Botanicals was lost among other makers on Etsy with an aesthetic that included twine, washi tape and craft paper.

But after being picked up by Urban Outfitters, they realized that they needed to reflect quality but still communicate their natural oriented focus.

And the packaging clearly does that.

The clean outside manages to echo the clean inside, and it makes people feel like they’ve just received a gift.

Herbivore Gets Really Big Really Fast and Alex and Julia Learn About Business

A picture of a Sephora store with the door open.
Big retailers including Sephora started knocking on their door.

A year after being sold online, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie decided to stock them on their shelves.

And a few years later, Sephora told them they’d love to stock it. Target also called.

But they couldn’t supply both. They were still a closely held and managed company. They had neither the people nor the infrastructure to serve such large volumes.

So, they postponed Target.

The company has grown really organically. If they can’t handle the volume they won’t. If they don’t have the capital then they are willing to grow the company a bit slower.

Cardboard Boxes ready for shipping in a warehouse with a skylight.
Cardboard Boxes Ready for Shipping via Max Pixel.

The founders had to learn a lot about running a business.

We started from nothing and the founders were not necessarily in business. I think the brand has been lucky, we overcame many challenges. We don’t have a laboratory, everything is handmade, we are a very small company and starting in the field of business is a challenge, it’s really not easy.

The first year was tough. They were managing and producing everything mostly themselves. They eventually hired two close friends to give themselves time to simply relax.

Still, they’ve managed to make it in over 500 doors. Urban Outfitters, Sephora, Credo and Goop all carry them and they’re looking at expanding into Europe.

The Dynamic Duo Still Make Time for Each Other

In addition to managing a business, they learned to adjust to each other as business partners.

This is where some husband and wife partnerships go up in flames (Remember Sonny and Cher?).

I like Alex’ advice.

Respect each other’s roles in the business and understand that you have built the business together and it needs the two of you equally. Take trips together when possible – it seems like that provides the best separation from work and I know it really allows Julia and me to forget we are business partners for a few days and just be happy in love.

I also really like this brand.

What comes across is its earnestness.

This is a brand that checks out.

A small herb garden against a red wooden wall.
Herbivore believes all-natural ingredients are the way to go.

Their philosophy makes it all the way down to their ingredients. (I’ve checked).

Their founders really do seem to believe in what they are doing.

There’s a lot of transparency and less marketing hyperbole going on – this seems to be a brand that’s pretty straight with you.

It’s clever, it’s cute, and it’s honest. I love.

Best of Herbivore Botanicals | Products and Reviews

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