Our favourite clean, plant-based beauty brands that deliver mega results

The need to treat each other and the planet with kindness is now. It’s time to consider a beauty routine detox: Whether you’re a full-on green queen or just looking to make one cleaner swap, discover these natural skin, body and haircare brands that leave a lighter footprint on the planet and deserve a place in your routine. Your face (and conscience) are about to feel really, really good … and Mother Nature will thank you!

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Our top skincare pick: REN

It can seem impossible to know the right thing to do for your skin with brands throwing around words like ‘clean’, ‘green’ and ‘natural’ – not to mention the countless kinds of skincare products available on the market. While these labels all have notoriously hazy definitions, with more knowledge comes wiser choices. REN is an advocate for transparency in skincare and has met our clean beauty requirements and stood out in your hearts, minds and cabinets in 2020.

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There are a handful of REN products we recommend you stock up on. We’re a huge fan of the Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic (R610 for 250ml or R920 for 500ml), an effective skin-resurfacing toner that stimulates the skin to naturally exfoliate. This isn’t a harsh exfoliator, despite the formula that contains lactic acid, willow bark and azelaic acid. In fact, this peachy-pink liquid leaves skin feeling soothed and refreshed with zero tightness or redness. The gentle blend is suitable for both teenagers and adults with sensitive skin. Other firm favourites suitable for all skin types are Flash Defence Anti-Pollution Mist (R560), a must for the city which you can use to give yourself a much-needed spritz whenever you feel the urge to hit refresh (metaphorically or physically), as well as the Flash Hydro-Boost (R840) – a water-charging hydration booster that’s the skincare equivalent of spiking your smoothie with a scoop of garlic-cayenne invincibility. We’re also over the moon for the Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash (R380) and Moroccan Rose Otto Firming Creme Riche (R635) that coddle, smooth and protect every last inch of your skin.

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REN also makes sensitive-skin savers that have made the cut and earned our ultimate seal of approval. For touchy types and fragile, easily irritated complexions, we recommend the Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream (R625). Formulated for people with sensitive, borderline-explosive skin that reacts to anything and everything, this cream allows even the most delicate flowers among us to hydrate, soothe and protect with impunity. Then there’s the Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm (R950), AKA the best sleep mask to slather on this season. Before you doze off, glop on this unique balm-to-oil nighttime treatment that targets sensitivity, dryness and inflammation, while replenishing the skin’s barrier and deeply moisturising. The pillow-friendly formula that’s never oily, greasy or heavy absorbs into skin almost immediately, and you’ll wake up to a gorgeous, supermodel glow. We enjoy using it with the & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray (R410) – our favourite sleepy-time scent that blends floral notes of lavender with deeply restful frankincense to help you relax, chill out and sleep better.

Available from www.renskincare.co.za and Woolworths 

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Skin Creamery

Natural and organic ingredients meet luxury skincare in the Oil-Milk Cleanser (R413). For starters, the pretty glass bottle will instantly dress up your bathroom counter. But one wash with the fancy oil-based cleanser and you’ll understand what makes it worthy of a spot in your starting lineup. Laced with sesame oil, it works up to a satisfying, milky lather that melts away every speck of oil, grime and makeup, turning your twice-daily face-washing experience a bit more spa-like. Follow with the two-phase Skin Tonic (R358) that contains malachite, baobab fruit powder and organic rose water with an omega-rich oil layer. Not only will your skin feel hydrated and restored after using it, you’ll also get that dewy look that so many of us are constantly chasing. It’s ideal for men to use after shaving. We also adore The Everyday Cream (R358), a sweet-smelling cream made with coconut oil that’s light enough to use on your face and rich enough to use all over your body. The formula in this glass bottle looks like it was scooped right from a coconut and makes an effective moisturiser – it calms, soothes and conditions just about anything, including our calloused heels in three nights flat.

Available from www.skincreamery.co.za, Wellness Warehouse, Woolworths, Poetry and other selected stockists 

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We thought there was nothing we could love more than the fast-absorbing THE ONE Super Moisturiser with hyaluronic acid, ceramides and omega oils – that is, until we came across the Basic 4 NORMAL Starter Kit (R699). Containing four ‘minipots’ for normal skin including our favourite moisturiser, the kit provides you with the essentials to maintain a balanced, healthy glow. If you’re looking for a reason to be more diligent about your nightly pre-bed face cleanse, the GEL-TO-MILK Cleanser + Makeup Remover will give you something to look forward to – morning and night. The GLOWDROPS Dewy Look Concentrate, a lightweight formula that mixes well with other skincare and foundation, provides a solution for fine lines, uneven skin tone, discolouration and loss of firmness and elasticity. Lastly, there’s the RUBY MARINE Overnight Hydrating Mask, which puts a whole new meaning to sleeping beauty: It’s packed with hyaluronic acid and marine actives to soothe and plump while you sleep. We also recommend you add a soft, feminine BAMBOO MUSLIN Facecloth (R85) to your order – it’s the perfect companion for your cleanser.

Available from www.skoonskin.co.zawww.faithful-to-nature.co.za and Wellness Warehouse 

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Our top hair care pick: be.bare

be.bare is raising the bar when it comes to eco-friendly haircare options. Their shampoo and conditioner bars are exactly what they sound like – no bottle, all bar – and can last up to 80 washes, meaning they outlast two to three bottles of your favourite shampoo. That’s the beauty of the bar: It’s an eco-friendly alternative to the plastic bottles and tubs of lotions and potions we rely on on a daily basis. An extra perk is that these products boast all-natural ingredients with no chemicals or scary additives that damage locks.

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All free of silicones, mineral oils, parabens and synthetic fragrance, our favourite shampoo bar is the Tame That Mane Shampoo Bar (R130), packed full of scalp-nourishing organic raw cacao butter, virgin coconut oil and Mozambican coconut butter. Not only does this chunky bar smell deliciously decadent – think a chocolate and whipped coconut cream dessert – it also helps ease the itchiness and flakiness that go hand-in-hand with dandruff attacks and other inflammatory scalp conditions, as well as helps tame frizz, repair damage and replenish moisture. We also love The Crowd-Pleaser Shampoo Bar (R130), which is as gentle as they come and has a delicate, soft scent that reminds us of rose Turkish delight. Containing the sweet note of rose geranium, a hint of zesty citrus oils plus the purifying properties of both grapefruit and lime, this shampoo bar lathers up like those that are pumped out of a bottle. It’s also made with plant-based butters and moisturising castor oil that will soften and hydrate your hair from roots to ends.

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We’re keeping the conditioner bars, which are also pH-balanced, safe for colour-treated hair and scented with organic and wildcrafted essential oils, on repeat. Our go-to is the Genie in a Bar Conditioner Bar (R130) with calming lavender and a hint of patchouli to relax the senses and transport you to a field of purple blooms in Provence. This bar is perfect for addressing dryness and will also make your detangling woes a distant memory. Use it regularly for soft, shiny hair that’s better able to fend for itself in the face of harsh weather and heat damage. Also try the Easy Tiger Conditioner Bar (R130): This volumising, shine-boosting bar is infused with moisturising plant derivatives and pro-vitamin B5 to nourish thirsty locks and has a delightfully zesty and tangy scent with a warm, woody base note. As a bonus, you can also use the conditioner bars on your body as a highly effective in-shower moisturiser. Not forgetting the unisex Top to Toe Shampoo & Shaving Bar (R130), this bar for guys and girls contains soothing kaolin clay and works beautifully as both a shampoo and shaving bar.

Available from www.bebarelife.com, Wellness Warehouse and selected health stores 

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Cake Beauty

Cake Beauty’s deliciously scented products that smell like baked goods – think cake, cookies and frosting – will instantly put you in a festive mood. The Curl Friend (R159.99) is one of those products that has changed the game for good. It really is your curly hair’s best friend. Made with avocado and soybean oils and shea butter, it’s a light and airy cream with a great consistency that gives curls the moisture and definition they need to look their best. The Curl Whip (R159.99) is a hair mousse aimed specifically at curls in need of some love – and by love, we mean the moisture, smoothness and strength that comes from the way it wraps around every strand. It’s one of the only hair mousses out there that won’t make your hair too oily, too crunchy or weigh it down. No matter your hair type, The Mane Manager (R159.99) is a boon. In addition to smoothing flyaways, this leave-in conditioner detangles and makes dry ends look like new. We’ve also been metaphorically devouring The Gloss Boss (R159.99) – a lightweight dry styling oil with no sticky residue that gives hair a beautiful, glossy look, transforms thirsty, dull strands and hides damage.

Available from Clicks

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Davines

Our number-one product that will save you a trip to the blow-dry bar is the Oi All In One Milk (R400). This does-everything conditioning treatment post-shower is the best insurance policy against frizz. It’s brimming with provitamin B5 – renowned for its phenomenal, deep moisturising action – alongside roucou oil – a ‘secret’ ingredient beloved by native inhabitants of the Amazon rainforest, which prevents hair ageing and has strong antioxidant action. Simply spritz onto wet hair to detangle, and enjoy the added benefits of hydration, protection, shine and frizz control. We also recommend the LOVE Smoothing Shampoo (R300) and LOVE Smoothing Conditioner (R330). The shampoo is a pretty, creamy purple fluid that works up to a pleasant lather. Using olive oil and Indian fig extract, it gently cleanses hair of dirt, grime and styling products without roughing up an already frazzled cuticle. The richly moisturising conditioner takes care of your crown the way nature intended – even if you have long hair and battle a serious case of flyaways and frizz, your hair will be softer than it deserves to be after just one use. Both products also have a faintly sweet, slightly organic scent that’s so delicate, it’s hard to dislike.

Available from www.completehairdressingsupplies.co.za 

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Earthsap

Think of the Garden Carrot Face Wash (R76) as a wellness retreat for your face. Packed with a blend of real carrot oil, vitamin A, antioxidants and 100% natural, biodegradable ingredients, this juiced-up gel lifts away impurities and locks in moisture without stripping skin. If its gentle cleansing properties weren’t enough, this wash packs a refreshing scent just like your favourite juicery. The Wild Rose & Vanilla Body Wash (R94) is another one of our current shower favourites. It’s not your garden-variety body wash: Pure coconut oil and a luxurious rose scent transform skin into pure, all-over dewy perfection, while other natural botanical extracts turn stress into vapor. Every time you rub it into your skin, it’s almost like hitting the rewind button. Earthsap also makes the one all-natural, chemical-free roll-on that we reach for time and time again. The Wild Rose & Vanilla Roll-On Deodorant (R59) gets distinction. Formulated to keep you smelling great and feeling even better thanks to your newfound confidence, the rose-scented deo works by absorbing odour and wetness while real rose and vanilla oils in a base of coconut and soybean extract soften rough patches.

Available from www.faithful-to-nature.co.za and Wellness Warehouse

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Lanolab

If you adore the fruity smell of papaya, look no further because the minute you unscrew the lid on this indulgent Skin Repair Cream (R95), it feels as if you were sent straight to a tropical island. Once you fall for it, you’ll find it somehow fixes everything – chapped lips, calloused hands, sunburnt skin, dry cuticles, post-run chafing, cracked heels and much more. When it comes down to it, though, this product is beneficial to have on hand whether you have a condition or not because it has so many different uses. The tiny tube is packed with lanolin, an excellent moisturiser that cushions and plumps the skin, as well as papaya enzyme, which has many benefits – from exfoliating and hydrating the skin, to speeding up the healing process for cuts and minor rashes. Our top use for this product is for pillowy-soft lips with a healthy-looking (not gooey) sheen. We also love using it to shape our eyebrows, smooth down flyaway hairs and add extra sheen to our cheekbones like a makeshift highlighter. Another reason why we carry a tube with us at all times is because it happens to look as cute as it is effective in a millennial-friendly, Creamsicle-coloured tube.

Available from www.lanolab.co.za

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