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The ultimate guide to natural beauty for your hair, body and face

29 Mar 2023 • 6 min read


This guide will help you navigate the world of natural beauty, with information about what ingredients are ‘natural’ and what their benefits are, as well as the ingredients you may want to avoid.

You will also find recommendations for natural makeup, skincare, hair and nail products from our carefully curated natural beauty range here at H&B.

What is natural beauty?

Natural beauty means something different for everybody – and that in itself is beautiful.

For some, natural beauty may mean going back to basics and focussing on nourishing their hair, skin and nails with a healthy diet and carefully selected supplements and beauty products.

For others, natural beauty may still look like a full-face of makeup and styled hair, but with a focus on products that use natural ingredients as their inspiration.

Whatever your reason for wanting to delve into the world of natural beauty, we can give you all the information you need to help you understand what it could do for you.


  • Natural beauty means something different for everyone, but it tends to focus on naturally-derived ingredients

What are clean beauty products?

Clean beauty and natural beauty share many of the same values, but clean beauty has its own niche focus points.

For a beauty product to be classed as ‘clean’, it will usually be:

  • Made from ingredients with a natural origin, not a synthetic one
  • Kinder to the environment, e.g. zero waste, waterless, vegan and sustainably packaged

What are common natural beauty ingredients?

Here’s an A-Z of the most common natural beauty ingredients and what they’re used for:

Argan oil

A natural plant-based emollient rich in vitamin E.

  • Helps rehydrate dry skin and hair

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

A powerful antioxidant.

  • Helps to plump skin
  • Helps to protect skin from negative effects of free radicals
  • Helps to
  • even skin tone


A substance bees product to make their hives.

  • Helps condition, hydrate, soothe and calm the skin (including lips)

Cocoa butter

An oil extracted from the cocoa bean (also used to make chocolate).

  • Helps moisturise and protect hair and skin
  • Particularly helpful for thick, curly hair


A natural protein found in the human body and other animals/fish.

  • Can help plump skin
  • Can help give skin a glowing appearance

Vitamin E

A powerful antioxidant. 

  • Helps to protect skin
  • Supports skin hydration
  • Helps to retain moisture

Flaxseed oil

A natural oil made from flaxseeds.

  • Promotes an even complexion
  • Helps to reduce blemishes
  • Moisturises the skin


A natural skin humectant. 

  • Helps 'trap' moisture in skin
  • Helps protect skin from negative effects of free radicals

Hyaluronic acid

A natural agent already found in our skin.

  • Replenishes hyaluronic acid in skin (production slows down as we age)

Jojoba oil

A natural oil that is similar to sebum (skin oil).

  • Helps regulate skin balance
  • Suitable for oily/blemish-prone skin
  • Provides natural oils with essential vitamins
  • Moisturises hair and scalp

Lactic acid

A water-soluble acid made from sugary fruits.

  • Naturally high-quality exfoliator
  • Suitable for oily and dry skin

Manuka honey

A specialist, high-quality honey from New Zealand.

  • Has cleansing properties
  • Helps to cleanse skin
  • Can nourish and soften skin

Mint (menthol)

A common herb.

  • Helps soothe and cool skin
  • Has a cleansing and cooling effect 


A beauty version of your morning porridge.

  • Soothes and hydrates skin
  • Full of amino acids


Short-chain amino acids.

  • You'll find them in lots of anti-ageing products
  • Help to deliver other ingredients into your skin due to their ability to penetrate the barrier and their small size

Retinol (vitamin A)

An essential vitamin.

  • Commonly used as an anti-ageing ingredient
  • Helps new skin to appear
  • Rich in antioxidants to help protect your skin from negative effects of oxidative stress


A naturally occurring humectant.

  • One of the most moisturising natural ingredients
  • Helps to keep even very dry skin hydrated and moisturised

Witch hazel

A natural astringent.

  • Can decrease excess oil on the skin
  • Helps to decrease puffy eyes
  • Refreshes the skin

Ylang ylang

Essential oil used as a fragrance.

  • Smells beautiful and uplifting
  • Helps keep the skin moisturised


One of the most important minerals for humans.

  • Helps protect skin
  • Often found in sunscreen products (does not replace SPF)

Some of the lesser-known natural beauty ingredients include:

This acid can be found in sugarcane, sugar beet, pineapple, melon and grape plants. It’s commonly used as an exfoliator – especially chemical peels.

  • Inositol

 Inositol has a similar structure to B vitamins and is vital for hydrated hair and skin.

  • Kaolin

Kaolin is a clay normally used in face masks to draw out excess oil in the skin while soothing it.

  • Kiwi seed oil

 A poly-unsaturated fat that helps moisturise skin and hair.

Marula oil is extracted from marula tree nuts. Used in skin and hair products due to its hydrating and protective properties.

This natural plant hormone is usually sourced from things like willow bark. It’s amazing at penetrating through your skin.

  • Sea Buckthorn oil

A rich source of fatty acids that can help to keep skin and hair moisturised, nourished and protected.

  • Niacinamide

Helps regulate your skin barrier to keep it protected and hydrated. Commonly used in anti-ageing products.

A plant pigment (flavonoid), which is a natural antioxidant.

This water-soluble acid is made from sugary fruits and can help to cleanse your skin of excess oils and dirt. It’s also an excellent exfoliator.

Produced in our bodies as a lipid, but production declines over time (like collagen). Estimated to make up 10-12% of our skin’s natural oil. Can hydrate, cleanse and help protect your skin from negative effects of free radical damage. Can also make hair more shiny, strong-looking and moisturised.

  • Sweet orange oil

 An essential oil derived from orange rind with an uplifting natural fragrance.

This essential fatty acid can help support skin and nails. It can’t be made in the body, so it must be obtained from food or supplements.

  • Xanthophyll (lutein)

An antioxidant found in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. Used to hydrate skin and support skin.


  • Lots of different natural ingredients and extracts are used in beauty for their many different benefits

What are the benefits of natural beauty? 8 top benefits

When it comes to most parts of our lives, the general consensus is that natural is best, and your beauty regime is no exception. Here are some of the benefits of switching to natural beauty products:

  1. Can be better for sensitive skin

Some chemicals, fillers and artificial colours / fragrances can irritate skin, especially if you have sensitive skin / a sensitive scalp to begin with.

Making the swap to natural beauty products could cause less irritation and help you see better results as they are often a lot gentler.

  1. They smell so good!

One of the best things about using natural ingredients and fragrances is that they smell divine.

Forget strong, offensive fake smells that are used to mask the smell of other chemicals in products and go au naturel if you want to be kind to your nose.

Extra brownie points if you opt for beauty products containing natural essential oils! They have the potential to provide you with a little aromatherapy too, so take your time rubbing it into your skin or hair.

  1. They contain natural preservatives

Most beauty products contain some sort of preservative to extend their shelf life, with the most popular being parabens.

While there is nothing wrong with making sure your face creams, shampoos, serums and more get from the shelf without ‘going off’, some people prefer to use more natural preservatives.

Thankfully, there are natural preservatives like grapefruit seed extract, salicylic acid, sorbic acid, benzyl alcohol, and more.

  1. You can make them yourself

Unlike conventional beauty products where you would need a lab and a fair few test tubes, some natural beauty products can be made at home.

  1. They tend to be cruelty-free / vegan

A lot of natural beauty products don’t contain animal products – especially those pesky animal-containing E numbers that tend to pop up in ingredient lists.

Most natural beauty brands don't test their products on animals. It’s not like they are coming up with some fancy new chemical after all, so why would they?

Handpicked content: The ultimate guide to vegan beauty

  1. Organic ingredients are more common

With the focus on natural ingredients, a lot of natural beauty brands will take this one step further and go organic.

Some people opt for organic skincare and other products as they are grown without the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and more.1

  1. Naturally good for you

A lot of natural ingredients have been used for centuries to care for people’s hair and skin, just like Cleopatra with her famous milk and honey

Some have an advanced ability to soften, nourish and hydrate your skin and hair, especially if they are combined with other complementing ingredients.

  1. Better for the environment

Why try and re-create what nature has already supplied for us? Especially if doing so could hurt it.

The manufacturing process of some conventionally produced ingredients can have a harmful impact on the environment.

Think about it, when you apply un-natural products to your skin, they can easily seep into the environment and the water system. For example, when you’re in the shower using body wash, shampoo, conditioner, it all goes down the drain in the end. And while they may not hurt you / your skin / your hair, they could pose a threat to our delicate eco-system.

Using eco-friendly skin care that contains natural ingredients and avoids known contaminants like microbeads (those little bits of plastic found in face masks, etc) is better for the planet. This is because they use fewer unnatural and potentially harmful chemicals that would otherwise get released into the environment.


  • There are many reasons people opt for natural beauty, including having sensitive skin, being eco-conscious, being vegan, and preferring organic ingredients

What ingredients aren’t ‘natural’? + their natural swaps

  1. SLS

On the label: Sodium lauryl sulphate


  • Used to make products like face washes and shampoos foam up
  • Reduces the surface tension between oil and water ingredients in a product

Potential downsides

  • very strong and can have a drying effect on the skin
  • strips away the skin’s natural protective oils

Natural swap

SLS is commonly made from petroleum, but you can find versions made with palm oil or coconut oil (SCS).

However, even these more natural versions are usually reacted with sulfuric acid to create sulphate – so it is not usually considered natural.

  1. Mineral oils

On the label: Paraffinium liquidum, cera microcrystalline, petrolatum, mineral oil or paraffin waxes


  • Used as emollients – they sit on the surface of the hair or skin to help keep moisture inside

Potential downsides

  • Can be harmful if absorbed into the body

Natural swap

Vegetable carrier oils like olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, pumpkin seed oil and more.

  1. Synethic fragrances


  • To fragrance beauty products

Potential downsides

  • May irritate sensitive skin

Natural swap

Natural and gentle essential oils. 

  1. Parabens

On the label: Ethylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben


  • To preserve beauty products and give them a longer shelf life

Handpicked content: What are parabens and are they bad for you?

Potential downsides

  • Some people do not want them in their products

Natural swap

Natural preservatives include grapefruit seed extract, salicylic acid, sorbic acid, benzyl alcohol, and more.

What are parabens and are they bad for you?

Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in cosmetics like shampoo, conditioner, as well as food products. But are they bad for you? 

  1. Microbeads


  • To exfoliate the skin and remove dead bits

Potential downsides

  • Get washed down the drain and into the water system
  • Pose a threat to aquatic life

Natural swap

Natural exfoliants include sea salt, salicylic acid, oats and more.

  1. Silicones

On the label: Dimethicone, trimethicone, amodimethicone, cyclopentsiloxane


  • To reduce greasiness
  • Create a uniquely dry and powdery skin feeling
  • Help make hair shiny

Potential downsides

  • Don’t biodegrade, so can accumulate in nature
  • They can provide superficial benefits for the hair and skin, but don’t actually nourish them

Natural swap

Natural emollients like squalene and olive oil.

Where can I buy natural beauty products?

There are a lot of shops online and offline that specialise in natural beauty products. You can also probably find them in your regular go-to beauty destination – just get good at reading labels!

Where can I buy skin care products online?

We specialise in clean and conscious natural beauty products here at H&B; you don’t have to do all the digging and the research; we’ve already done that for you.

The best natural beauty products

If you want to trust in nature to help you feel your most beautiful, here are X of the best natural beauty products we sell here at H&B.

Natural face care

Putting our best face forward sure is a lot easier if we nourish it with natural ingredients!

Whether you like to keep it simple with a moisturiser or like to go the whole shebang with a full-face natural skin care routine, there are lots of nature-inspired products that can help. Here’s just a few of our favourites:

Face cream

Vitaskin Vitamin C Anti-Pollution Glow Day Cream

This hydrating anti-pollution day cream is packed with:

- Kiwi Seed Oil

- Sea Buckthorn Oil

- Sweet Orange Oil

These ingredients contain very high levels of Vitamin C and Omega Oils to hydrate your skin, prevent pollutants penetrating your pores and keeping your skin glowing and soft throughout the day. It’s also 100% vegan.

What our customers think:

JanMc – Awesome! – 5/5 stars

“Awesome product - light but incredibly moisturizing with a subtle & pleasing aroma. Highly recommend!!”

Face scrub

Ethique Gingersnap Face Scrub

Scrub away the day with a little help from nature.

This gingersnap face scrub gently buffs away dead skin cells leaves a light layer of moisturiser behind for natural glowing skin. It contains:

- Fair Trade brown sugar

- Ginger

- Cinnamon

Each bar prevents 3 plastic bottles from being made (and disposed of) as well as saving 1.2 litres of water.

What our customers think:

Fabulous, highly recommended! – 5/5 stars

“Brilliant product; will be buying again! Great for my problematic combination skin, and also good for the planet. Win win!”

JanMc – Awesome! – 5/5 stars

“Awesome product - light but incredibly moisturizing with a subtle & pleasing aroma. Highly recommend!!”

Face serum 

Q+A Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum

This serum contains skin-hero hyaluronic acid, which can help hydrate even the thirstiest of skin.

Pair this with biosaccharide gum and betaine for even more moisturising goodness in a non-sticky formula.

What our customers think:

AnnieT190 – Wow! – 5/5 stars

“I was slightly sceptical about getting something like this.... But lockdown made me do it and I’m so glad I did. I can really notice a difference in my skin. I don’t just use it on my face, but my elbows and knees as well which can get particularly dry. I highly recommend, I just wish it came in a bigger bottle.”

JanMc – Awesome! – 5/5 stars

“Awesome product - light but incredibly moisturizing with a subtle & pleasing aroma. Highly recommend!!”

Best natural makeup products

You can still enjoy natural beauty if you like to use makeup! The following natural cosmetics will give you the made-up look you love, while nourishing your skin with natural ingredients.


Burt’s Bees Nude Mist Glossy Lipstick

Here to give your lips some love + the colour you crave.

This glossy lipstick harnesses the power of:

  • Beeswax
  • Red raspberry oil
  • Moringa oil
  • Meadowfoam seed oil

With absolutely no synthetic fragrances

What our customers think:

Irenedreaming – The perfect glossy lipstick – 5/5 stars

“I love this lipstick it is my new go to and is quite simply stunning. The colours are amazing I use the Blush Ripple which gives me the best natural/nude/rose shade which is fabulous. The lipstick is so moisturising and makes my lips feel smooth and hydrated. Can’t recommend these lippies enough.”


PHB Ethical Beauty Mesmerise Mascara – Black

Looking for nature-inspired makeup that works? This vegan-friendly mascara not only lengthens, thickens and volumises lashes, it’s also enriched with a lash-boosting botanical blend.

Quinoa, growth-stimulating vitamins (B7) and conditioning argan oil are all included to help keep your lashes fuller and healthier looking with regular use. It’s also pH balanced for very sensitive eyes.

What our customers think:

Juki – Gentle and long-lasting – 5/5 stars

“Very fluid and easy to use. Long lasting and doesn’t irritate my eyes. Will buy again when this runs out.”

Best natural skincare brands

Like to keep your skincare natural? Whether it’s because you have sensitive skin or just want to embrace what nature provides, here’s a few of our favourite skin care natural products for you to try.


Faith in Nature Dragon Fruit Body Wash

Faith in Nature believe in harnessing the power or nature without harming it in the process.

This body wash is made with high-quality 99% natural-origin ingredients, including its exotic dragon fruit fragrance.

It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, with absolutely no animal products (100% vegan).

What our customers think:

Orla K – Great products – 5/5 stars

“Lovely fragrance and magnificent ingredients with recyclable bottles.”

Body cream

Weleda Skin Food

Feed your skin with what it needs to thrive with Weleda Skin Food.

One of the best natural products for skin, this rich, intensive cream is packed with nourishing plant extracts and essential oils like:

- Organic sunflower seed oil

- Wild pansy

- Chamomile

- Calendula

- Rosemary

- Sweet orange oil

Use it to moisturise, soothe and calm dry skin on both the face and body, particularly over the winter months.

What our customers think:

Laurakeeley – A gem! – 5/5 stars

“Love this cream! I have always had dry skin and this cream has massively improved how my skin feels. I aim to always have one in my bag!”

Natural hair care products

Your hair naturally deserves a treat, too! The following products are full of natural ingredients ready to nourish your locks.


Clean Me Sweet Orange Shampoo

This shampoo combines the uplifting and zesty-ness of orange oil with argan oil and other natural extracts to leave your scalp feeling cleansed, fresh, and healthy.

It’s vegan-friendly and full of natural goodness.

What our customers think:

Emily-Foodie – Smells amazing! – 5/5 stars

“Smells good enough to eat and great value for money too.”


Ethique Wonderbar Conditioner Bar for Oily to Normal Hair

As the name suggests, this Wonderbar is truly wonderful!

This bar prevents 5 plastic bottles from being made, saves 5.1L of water, and is made from:

- Fair trade coconut oil

- Cocoa butter

- Vitamin B5

It leaves hair tangle-free, soft and gorgeous smelling, and can also be used as a shaving bar and an in-shower moisturiser for those with sensitive skin.

Coloured hair? No problem: this hair conditioner bar is pH balanced and suitable for colour treated hair.

What our customers think:

Kcool – Great introduction to use of conditioner bars – 5/5 stars

“I have very thick, curly hair and usually use lots of conditioner. I bought this to reduce the amount of plastic I was buying, and it works so well. The bar lasts for so long and it has made my hair feel amazing after each use.”

Last updated: 19 March 2021



Author: Doaa Al MosawiInternational Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Mar 2019

BSc (Hons) in Biomedical Science

After completing her BSc in Biomedical Science, Doaa worked in Research and laboratory for 3 years. Doaa was also a member of a product development team in a manufacturing company specialising in sun care and personal care products, researching and providing regulatory advice regarding international regulations.

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