Best of the Best: My Favorite Natural Body Products of 2016!

Phew! 2016 has been a rough one overall, and finally, thankfully, we’ve arrived at its final hours. What a year.

To close out 2016 on a positive note, let’s focus on pure awesomeness. Today, I want to showcase my favorite products, my “Best of the Best,” if you will, because I know how overwhelming it can feel for newcomers who want to switch to better, cleaner, more natural products, yet have no idea what to choose.

If you’re familiar with my work here at a.healthier.happy, you know I’m very vocal about “everyday” products (the Big Name Brand ones) being chock-full of chemicals and hidden nasties that are all-around terrible for your health. (I’m a bit of a broken record, I know!)

In every category, there’s a way better choice just waiting to be made! That, of course, is why I’m here, doing what I do, to help guide your transition into safer products!

These are the products that I literally use day in and day out, which have proven themselves worthy of my beauty regimen. Their ingredients rock, but they also work!

Ready? Let’s check ’em out!


 Shampoo

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My go-to shampoo brand is Shea Moisture, and these two gems are my absolute faves. The pink bottle is their Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Renewal Shampoo, and the brown bottle is their African Black Soap Deep Cleansing Shampoo.  {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

Sound familiar? I did a whole post dedicated to my adventures in choosing healthier shampoo, and this brand had a starring role! If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out!

FYI: Don’t confuse the ABS Deep Cleansing Shampoo with the ABS Dandruff Control Shampoo – though they look very similar, they’re quite different ingredient-wise. Unfortunately, I can’t give my stamp of approval to the ingredients in the ABS Dandruff Control Shampoo.

Most importantly, these shampoos are sulfate-free! This means they don’t contain the harshest types of cleansers, which strip moisture and irritate the scalp. (Check out my post for tips on going sulfate-free!)

Not only are these shampoos great because they lack all the toxic chemicals and harsh cleansers, but they’re also amazing for the nutrients and moisturizers they contain too: tea tree oil, shea butter, aloe leaf juice, and jojoba oil, to name a few.

I actually use them together, about a 60/40 ratio (heavier on the pink one). The cleansing shampoo helps give just a tad more cleaning power, which is important because I’ve always battled greasy hair. Though now that I’ve gone sulfate-free, my greasies are at the lowest levels they’ve ever been. My second-day hair is actually quite respectable! (Also, I only shampoo every other day, which helps.)

Shea Moisture has tons of great shampoo lines for whatever your hair type – check it out here! There’s truly something for everyone!

 
WANT IT? The 10-in-1 Superfruit Shampoo is pretty easy to find, and you should be able to snag it at one of the stores that typically stock Shea Moisture (Ulta, CVS, Walgreen’s, Walmart [some], Bed Bath & Beyond [some], Target, or target.com).

The ABS Deep Cleansing Shampoo, however, has vanished from all those stores (to my extreme frustration) and is currently now only available via Shea Moisture’s website. This is a huge bummer, I know, but I hope you’ll still consider trying it! (I’ve reached out to S.M. and they say it’s not being discontinued, at least.)


Conditioner

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Now, don’t get me wrong, for shampoo I’m a total Shea Moisture gal, but I absolutely cannot get enough of Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

Desert Essence has many lines to choice from based on your needs, made of different ingredients and with different scents, but I picked this one because I’m all about the power of coconut oil! This line is toted as being for dry hair, but it’s great for anyone!  I don’t have dry hair (and the Shea Moisture 10-in-1 Shampoo does a great job at keeping me soft) but I occasionally like to deep condition my ends. This conditioner does such a great job providing deep moisturizing, and smells simply amazing to boot!

 
WANT IT? Most natural grocers and health stores, including GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe, should carry it, or you can buy directly from desertessence.com. I’ve found the absolute best prices at vitacost.com though, especially with coupon codes too!


Body Soap

All soaps are not created equal, and I seriously can’t decide between these two awesome products – they’ll just have to share the title! My picks are Coconut Mango Honey Soap by Honeybee Gardens and the Charcoal Bar by Sunny Cabana Farms{CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

If you buy the junk by the Big Name Brands, which commonly comes in attractively cheap multi-packs, you’re unknowingly bringing home a host of artificial ingredients and chemical preservatives. You don’t need all of that to get clean, trust me.

These two companies on the other hand, use no: artificial colors/scents, petroleum by-products, formaldehyde, or preservatives (including parabens). You can feel great knowing that your soap was handmade with care, using only the highest quality ingredients.

Both soap bars bring a lot to the table shower, and certainly have no trouble out-doing the low-quality, artificially-scented Big Name Brand bars in scent and performance. And, they last! (Tip: Store your bars in those plastic soap travel containers, not on a ledge in your shower, to reduce loss from water hitting it when not in use.)

I’m a huge fan of both of these companies, truly. You can read my full review of the Charcoal Bar (plus other Sunny Cabana Farms items) here. Plus, check out my past cleaner makeup post, where I feature Honeybee Gardens as my eye makeup brand of choice!

 
WANT IT? Head here to get Honeybee Gardens soap, or here to snag yourself some Sunny Cabana Farms love. Soaps away!


Shaving Cream

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This Kiss My Face 4-in-1 Moisture Shave shaving cream really does cover all your bases: soften skin, provide a smooth shave, soothe irritation, and moisturize. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

I’ve always been a person to get wicked razor burn, and I’ve tried all the “sensitive” formulas produced by the usual suspects, with no success.

Enter Moisture Shave. Not only is my razor burn a thing of the past, but I no longer get breakouts on my upper thighs days after shaving. Score! It’s wonderful to get the best shave I’ve ever achieved, plus know I’m not lathering up in toxins just to do so.

The first time you use it, you’ll notice there’s none of the marshmallow-y chemical foam you’re used to, but after one shave with this, you’ll never look back. Buh-bye foam!

Unlike everyday shave gels, this product contains no parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrance, triethanolamine, sodium lauryl sulfate, isobutane, or propane. Instead, it’s chock-full of skin-enhancing goodies like coconut, olive, and eucalyptus oils, plus aloe vera juice and vitamin E. And, it’s available in six scents, plus unscented.

 
WANT IT?  You can find KMF products in Walgreens, Publix, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Safeway nationwide, as well as natural grocers like Whole Foods. Don’t forget about online retailers – I always stock up from vitacost.com when I’ve got coupon codes!

Honorable Mention: I have to say, that a very, very close second is an amazing shave bar that I tried out by Sunny Cabana Farms. It’s really über moisturizing, and also produces a flawless shave. Check out my review here.


Deodorant

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Stink control of choice: Fat and the Moon Deodorant Cream! {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

This one is going to sound really familiar too, as I posted Product Review: Fat and the Moon Deodorant Cream back during the summer!

You can check out that post for more details (including my highly unscientific testing/review process), but I can definitely say that this product quickly became a shining star in my arsenal.

Quick recap: This deodorant cream is aluminum-free, made with stellar ingredients, comes in a cute-as-can-be container, smells great, applies smoothly, and truly works. Boo-yah!

 
WANT IT? Find it here on the FATM website, or here on Etsy. Or, if you’re looking for brick-and-mortar stockists, check here for stores that carry FATM products.

Honorable Mention: I also did a review of Kiss My Face deodorant sprays in 2016, and definitely was impressed! These are another great choice for ditching aluminum, so don’t hesitate to give ’em a shot!


Facial Cleanser

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Hands-down, my favorite face wash is Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

This one is super important to me, because I struggled with acne in my pre-teens and teens, and at one point or another have used every face wash known to man. (Well, the ones by the Big Name Brands, that is. That was my first mistake.)

As an adult, I still consider myself very mildly acne-prone, though mostly I just have a bit oilier skin than I’d like, and a little bit of blackheads and whiteheads.

After using this almost a year now, my skin has never been more balanced and clear. Scout’s honor! Likewise, my blackheads are greatly reduced in size and number, and any I do get will easily come out, since the face wash dries them up.

It’s truly amazing what a difference it makes to use a product full of natural, beneficial ingredients, not cheap synthetic chemicals! Check out this ingredient list:

  • Castille Soap [Water (Aqua), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Tall Oil, Potassium Hydroxide]
  • Glycerin
  • Eco-Harvest® Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract
  • Hydrastis Canadensis (GoldenSeal) Root Extract
  • Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract (Awapuhi)
  • Fucus Vesiculosus Extract (Bladderwrack)
  • Cymbopogon Martini Oil (Palmarosa)
  • Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil
  • Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
  • Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Oil
  • Calendula Officinalis Flower Oil
  • Callitris Introtropica Wood Oil (Blue Cypress)

 
WANT IT? Most natural grocers and health stores, including GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe, should carry it, or buy directly from desertessence.com.

HINT! After buying two initial 8.5 oz. dispenser bottles of this (one for the sink and the shower), I started buying the giant 32 oz refill bottles from vitacost.com for only $11 (plus I usually have promo codes). It makes it unbelievably cheaper! I even did a whole post on that money-saving trick – check it out!


Facial Moisturizer

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Oh Acure, how I love thee. My moisturizer pick is Acure Organics Oil Control Facial Moisturizer, without a doubt. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

If you’re new to Acure products, get ready to fall in love. They have an absolutely fantastic reputation, and I cannot wait to try out some of their other items.

I’ve always been really hesitant about moisturizers because I tend toward the oilier end of the skin spectrum. However, the more you learn about skincare, the more you realize that properly moisturizing can actually reduce oil production (and, likewise, using products that are too drying will cause extra oil production as your skin tries to overcompensate).

That being said, I personally don’t moisturize more than once or twice a week. I live in a warm climate now, so winter dry-out is luckily a thing of the past. (Those of you who do have cold winters, you definitely need to moisturize more.) It also helps that my skin is more balanced now than it’s ever been, thanks to the face wash you read about above!

Now, this moisturizer is specifically designed to control oil, so you can use it for day or night. I personally prefer to do my moisturizing before bed, following a wash and a nice exfoliation, so the fact that it’s oil controlling doesn’t really matter since I’m sleeping.

However, the fact that it’s for breakout-prone skin does matter! Unlike with other moisturizers, I don’t experience any breakouts from using this. I’ve used others that have caused a sea of blackheads to crop up, and I’m so glad that this one doesn’t do that!

It’s obvious when you use this that it’s formulated specifically to be light-weight and quick-absorbing. Your skin doesn’t feel “heavier” after using it, and you’re left with a fresh, rejuvenated feel. Plus, the scent is very fresh and clean (and a tad earthy, making it simply divine, in my opinion).

When it comes to skincare, it’s so important to be using quality, non-toxic products. The horrific chemicals in typical products (even the expensive department store ones) are just going to age your skin faster, and put dangerous chemicals in your body to boot. A moisturizer like this one, though, will give you plenty of real, beneficial ingredients, like:

  • aloe barbadensis leaf juice
  • euterpe oleracea (acai) fruit extract*
  • rubus fruticosus (blackberry) fruit extract*
  • rosa canina (rosehips) fruit extract*
  • punica granatum (pomegranate) fruit extract*
  • calendula officinalis (calendula) flower extract*
  • matricaria recutita (chamomile) flower extract*
  • aspalathus linearis (rooibos) leaf extract*
  • cathamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil
  • theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter
  • helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil
  • oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil
  • chlorella vulgaris extract
  • argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil*
  • salvia officinalis leaf extract
  • lavandula officinalis (lavender) flower oil
  • mentha spicata (spearmint) leaf extract
  • syringa vulgaris (lilac) leaf cell culture extract

* denotes organic

How ’bout that?! I’d like to see some of the Big Name Brands do that. Seriously.

 
WANT IT? Most natural grocers and health stores, including The Vitamin Shoppe, should carry it, but be forewarned that you’ll likely pay a lot more that way. I’ve seen it retail as high as $18, but if you buy from vitacost.com you’ll pay only $13.92 (or less if you’ve got coupon codes). Note that Target and target.com have begun carrying other Acure items (kudos, Target!) but not this particular product yet.


Toothpaste

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Get those chompers sparkling clean, the healthy way! I simply adore Nature’s Gate Crème de Mint Toothpaste. I’ve tried a few other natural options, but this one is totally beyond fab. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

Not only does it leave my mouth legitimately just-got-a-cleaning fresh, the taste is great. What’s even crazier is that this toothpaste is:

  • Free of fluoride, sulfates, gluten, soy, carageenan, and artificial flavors/sweeteners!
  • Cruelty-free, vegan, and non-GMO!

Another super cool thing about using natural toothpaste? If you eat or drink shortly after using, you don’t get that weird chemical aftertaste. You know the one – we’ve all regretted drinking orange juice too soon after brushing. Have no fear, those worries are gone!

 
WANT IT? Most natural grocers and health stores, including GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe, should carry it, but be forewarned that you’ll pay a lot more that way. I always buy from vitacost.com, where it’s right around $3.50 for a tube (plus I stock up when I have discount codes).


Face Mask

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My favorite “spoil myself” treat (for seriously a couple years now) is to use a Fresh Face Mask by Lush Cosmetics, and after trying a bunch, my reigning favorite is Brazened Honey{CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

No joke, I literally almost always have a jar of this in my fridge at all times.

Lush was one of the first companies I noticed when I started getting into more natural products. With that said, though, I have to offer one word of warning: not all of their products are paraben-free. These masks are, which is why I use them. It’s a personal choice of mine to avoid anything containing parabens though, so I’m pretty picky about what I’ll use from Lush. (Read more on parabens here.)

Anyways! So, the mask is paraben-free (hooray!) and better yet, loaded with skin-boosting ingredients. This one in particular is full of goodies like honey, ginger, turmeric, sage, rosemary, and clove. It’s also got little pieces of almond in it, so as you wash it off and rub in small circles, you get a gentle exfoliation.

I do my masks before bed, immediately after washing my face, and then hit the hay. My skin seriously just has a “glowy” look the next morning – it’s awesome!

*SUPER COOL BONUS* Lush offers a free face mask when you bring back five empty pots. I love re-using/recycling, so this is the perfect way to get a little treat for doing the eco-friendly thing! Kudos, Lush!

  
WANT IT? Sold only in Lush stores. Click here to search for a Lush near you! Just remember that you’ll need to get it home and into the fridge within a couple hours of purchase (if it’s kept at room temp in the meantime).


Body Lotion & Hand Cream

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For staying nice and moisturized all over, I’ve got two awesome go-to homemade products: Sunny Cabana Farms Milk Lotion and Jorgensen’s Apiary Unscented Beeswax Hand Cream. {CLICK ARROW TO OPEN & READ MORE}

Sunny Cabana Farms’ products are handmade, literally from the milk of the owner’s own goats, who are fed non-GMO, corn- and soy-free diets! SCF describes itself as a “beyond-organic, small family farm and micro-dairy” – pretty much the stuff dreams are made of. They’re truly the epitome of farmaceutical-grade skincare.

Why goat milk? Well, it’s great for our skin because the pH is so very similar to human skin! It’s very gentle, and has some really remarkable healing properties. It’s known to be awesome for people with sensitive skin, including eczema and psoriasis. This makes it great for babies and dogs too! (My dog gets sores on her belly, and one application of goat milk lotion clears it right up.)

[Bonus tip for inked readers: Request this made “unscented” to use when you get to the lotioning stage of healing new tattoos! Any time my husband or I get new ink, we always use goat milk lotion!]

This lotion is seriously such a better choice – commercial lotions from the Big Name Brands are so, so toxic, my friends! Avoid them at all costs unless they’re organic!

It’s available in a 4 oz. aluminum bottle for $12.00, or in an 8 oz. aluminum bottle or glass jar for $20.00.

Sunny Cabana Farms has a bunch of other great products, including soaps and lip balms, which you can check out my review of here.


Another staple for me is Jorgensen’s Apiary Unscented Hand Cream. Jorgensen’s is a Northeast Ohio small business, from right outside my home town. (Fun fact: This is where it literally all began for me, where I learned about pollen! Read more on that.)

They have several other scents available, including Butt Naked, which is a great scent! However, I started buying unscented just to be cleaner and free from artificial fragrance. I know, I know, I’m such a party pooper.

This is simply made – just beeswax (from their bee hives) and apricot kernel oil! How awesome is that? Plus, a little goes a long way. One $6 jar lasts me literally like a year, usually applying before bed so it can sink in while I sleep.

 
WANT IT? For Sunny Cabana Farms’ lotion, head to the Etsy shop! For Jorgensen’s products, use this link, and if you have any questions, reach out to them at (440) 935-8538 for assistance.


There you have it! My Best of the Best of 2016 – what a beautiful list, isn’t it? If you have any questions, let me know!

Thank you to everyone who’s been with me and reading my work in 2016, and rest assured I’ve got some good stuff planned for the coming year. Stay tuned!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year – cheers to 2017! May it be a year filled with love, laughter, happiness, and health!

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