Best Ethical Beauty Products of 2019 - Top Face Skincare Picks *

A few weeks ago, at the very start of the month, I announced my plans to round up the best ethical beauty products of 2019 and kicked things off with my top makeup picks.  Since then I created guides on bath, body, home, and hygiene goodies too - and now it is time to round off the series and wrap things up with a category I know many of you have been impatiently waiting for...

This week's category??  Facial products!

Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Facial Products

This is probably the one I review most often here on The ecoLogical, as I find skincare for the face extra special while also proving extra difficult to navigate!  The face is such a sensitive area, and can be so fussy, needing one thing one day and a completely other the next -- but it is because of this tricky status I find it so rewarding to discover the perfect products.

Of course I'll be following the same guidelines I set myself for the other parts of this series - only products I thoroughly tested and used in 2019, no BSA entries, and not many products that I got in the final bit of the year as I just haven't had time to fully play with them yet.

So, without further ado...

FACE SKINCARE PICKS

What do I look for in facial skincare?  Gentle ingredients, results driven, no coconut oil as my congestion prone skin really rejects it, no phenoxyethonal as my face burns from it and becomes more sensitized, and aromatic qualities that are beneficial for wellbeing.  I like lightweight products generally, and opt for high quality formulas that target multiple skin problems usually.  I also tend to go for organic more often with facial treatments.

While nearly all of my top picks are vegan friendly (and all are clean and cruelty free of course!), I want to signpost that there is one product that contains bee-derived ingredients (beeswax). This has been noted (see ^) and my thoughts on the use of such ingredients is coming soon as I have been doing a lot of research to inform myself and have a lot to say!


In the meantime, I really hope you find this roundup helpful, and I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments below or on social media. Let me know what you think about my selections, what products you loved in 2019, and if you know someone who might benefit from this guide, do share it with them! :)

Transparency Key:
* This post contains affiliate links
^ product noted is not vegan

No matter how I have received a product, whether it has been purchased with my own money, gifted by a brand, been subsidized by a brand, won, gifted by friends/family, or purchased with a gift voucher, my approach is always the same -- honesty, integrity, and highlighting both the good and the bad.  You can find more information on Disclosures and Privacy here.




Cleansers

Gel: Oilixia Australian Kakadu Plum Gummy Facial Cleanser / The Body Deli Sage & Grapefruit Cleanser
Two exceptional gel cleansers from 2019 that I used are the Gummy Facial Cleanser from Oilixia and the detoxifying Sage & Grapefruit Cleanser from The Body Deli.  Oilixia's formula is unlike anything else I have tried, with a totally unique consistency that is viscous, thick, and sticky until it transforms into a milky substance when activated with water.  Perfect for my morning routine, the calming scent sets the mood for the day and helps refresh me first thing.  Plus, the tacky texture creates a suction sensation that acts as a mini facial massage as you apply the product.  Great for stimulating the cells!  It is so different, and definitely a one of a kind experience.  The Body Deli cleanser is much more in line with a traditional gel cleanser, with a lightweight formula that glides across the skin and feels super fresh.  The aroma is energizing, and I find this product great for clarifying my face, balancing oils, and reducing blemishes.  The lovely green shade hints at the healing qualities and potent ingredients, and just treats the skin so kindly - a fab product!


Cream: Antipodes Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser
I'll admit, creams are not my go to for cleansers.  I find gels, oils, and clays tend to be better suited for my congestion prone skin, and so I don't often pick up cream formulas.  However, there has been at least one creation that caught my attention and won my approval in 2019, and that is the Grace Gentle Cream Cleanser from Antipodes.  Primarily plastic free (has a plastic cap, so not fully there yet!) and one of the few cream formulas that has proven suitable for my congestion prone skin, this nutrient rich and anti-inflammatory creation is a great pick for those craving a cream.  I love how rich and luxurious it feels, and the smell (light vanilla and almond with a hint of something faintly floral) is really unique and grows on you quickly.


Oil: Inner Senses Greenhouse Renewing Oil Cleanser / Mallow + White Soothe Cleansing Oil
I love a good oil cleanser, and you can't get any better than Inner Senses Greenhouse or Mallow + White Soothe!  I've waxed poetic on Greenhouse several times, as this cleansing oil is so special, so it's no surprise it wins top spot for this category in 2019.  This is a formula like no other when it comes to scent profiles, and when the oils first hit your nose it is a totally unexpected experience.  It's like tilled earth after a rainstorm on a hot day: fresh, vegetable, and so familiar.  The oil fully removes makeup, and leaves your skin more radiant, soft, and nourished - it's wonderful!  And Mallow + White offers the perfect solution to sensitive skin with its fragrance free formula.  This product smells juicy, clean, and bright, like sweet crunchy cucumbers, and it helps add some cheer to your day.  This is super gentle but effective, and I find it melts away the day with ease.  It leaves your face instantly relieved, refreshed, and revitalized, and I couldn't ask for more.


Balm: Love Absolute Amoral Calm Blue Cleansing Balm / Dafnas Recovery Cleanser
While I did come across a few budget brands that made a lovely balm cleanser, my top picks for the best of the best of balms has to go to Love Absolute and Dafnas Skincare.  These both are the epitome of luxury while also being entirely sensible and effective.  The Amoral Blue Cleansing Balm has a loose, almost gel-like texture for a balm, but as you apply to skin you can feel the nourishing properties you associate with traditional balms - and once you activate with water it transforms into a silky, milky froth that rinses away all the grime, dirt, and makeup.  It's truly stunning in every way.  For those looking for more intensive moisture in a cleansing balm, Dafnas Recovery Cleanser is a great pick.  For me, this can actually double as a moisturizer as it is so rich, but I love that it doesn't clog pores so it actually suits my congestion prone skin.  The velvety nectar inside is a fusion of calendula, moringa, bamboo, sage, along with uplifting essential oils, and has such an eye catching ochre colour that evokes the hearty qualities of the ingredients within - it really draws you in!

I also want to do a special shout out to Happi Body Co, as their Face Cleansing Melt was extraordinary - I loved how gentle it was on my skin, how it uplifted my senses every time I used it in my evening routine, and how it left my skin feeling silky soft and clear.  Gutted this is no longer offered, but wishing Lisa all the very best!


Powder: Lani Blue Mint Facial Cleanser / Leahlani Kalima Coconut Cream Cleansing Powder
For those searching for plastic free products, powder cleansers are a great bet as these are the types of formulations that most often focus on minimizing waste in production, packaging, and actual product.  These waterless creations are fab for traveling as you don't have to worry about liquid allowances, plus I find they keep fresh for longer overall.  Two of the best I have come across are Lani's Blue Mint and Leahlani's Kalima, both of which take inspiration from island living and have major tropical vibes.  I adore the minty freshness from Lani, and the foam that is developed when mixed with water is so luscious - almost in between a gel and a milk, impossibly smooth, and such a wonderful colour!  On the other side of the spectrum, Leahlani's powder cleanser brings a silky sensation that is super soothing for the senses and skin, with a sweet and creamy scent that is truly delectable.  This product softens and refreshes the face, and I love the frothy texture.


Bar: Sknfed Organic Chocolate Bar Face Soap
While I love the idea of bar cleansers, I do find they are the ones I reach for least often.  However, I am still enjoying the Organic Chocolate Bar Face Soap from Sknfed, and if you are looking to go for a solid cleanser, this is definitely a great pick!  This face soap is every chocolate lovers dream come true - shaped like a chocolate bar, it includes aloe, shea, cacao, coconut, cocoa, and vanilla which give the cleanser a lovely rich aroma.  I was worried Sknfed's Organic Chocolate Bar Face Soap would leave my skin feeling a bit stripped, as the majority of other face 'soaps' have left my face tight and a bit uncomfortable, but that wasn't the case at all.  My skin just feels clean and smooth thanks to the gentle exfoliating power.  I love that this product is plastic free, but another perk is that each square actually lasts a few uses, so this is a super cost effective product.


Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Cleansers: Oilixia Lani Inner Senses Mallow + White Love Absolute Dafnas

Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Cleansers: Sknfed Antipodes



Exfoliaton

Physical: Niskama Gentle Smoothing Face Polish
I don't usually go for physical exfoliators as I often find they irritate my skin or increase sensitivity.  However, Niskama is a special exception - their face polish is mild enough for even my fussy skin!  I discovered this beauty in an edit from The Natural Beauty Box, and I savored every moment of it.  Fresh, floral, and minty, it calms and uplifts the spirits while also pampering your skin.  The texture looks like a fine grain scrub but feels like a luxurious melt, and it helps revive you as the peppermint oil works its magic and leaves your face with a light tingling sensation -- nothing irritating or overpowering, but awakening and the perfect way to finish while rinsing off.  Perfection!


Chemical: Earth Harbor Glow Juice Refining Enzyme Mask
Technically a face mask, but one that provides a much needed reset for the skin.  This AHA/BHA treatment is so eye catching with its lilac jelly texture, and it offers a cool, fresh experience that is surprisingly gentle.  Fruit enzymes work to revitalize dull skin, while red seaweed firms the face, and white willow bark and aloe leaf juice help improve texture, clarity, and redness.  It smells quite tropical, making you feel like you are on a beach in the warmth of summer, and I find my face always looks so glowy after use - what more could I ask for??


Mechanical: Foreo Luna 2
Pricey, but so effective, the Foreo Luna 2 is the ultimate cleansing brush - I love how gentle the silicone bristles are on my skin, and I feel it gives a much deeper cleanse while also exfoliating my skin to keep it fresh and glowing.  Also, it dramatically cuts my routine down as the whole process only takes three minutes!  The machine is easy to use, rechargeable (and the battery life is impressive! I charge mine about 1-2 times per year I think!), and the design allows for it to hit even those harder to reach spots.  Plus, it has that added feature where you can massage your moisturizer/oil in after cleansing to help with anti-aging.


Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Exfoliation: Foreo Niskama Earth Harbor



Hydration

Toner: Alteya White Rose Water / Bodhi & Birch Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic
I am all about a facial mist, and there were three that bring home the gold in my mind for 2019...  Sweet and delicate, Alteya's use of one of the rarest oil-bearing roses has led to a hydrolat that is incredibly bright and clean.  It still offers that sense of calm you get from rose, but it also brings an energy that I've not experienced with any other rose water.  This is so restorative and invigorating, and the smell helps my mind find a great balance that readies me for anything the day has to throw at me.  On the other hand, there is Bodhi & Birch's Lemon Water Hydrosol Tonic which is super fresh, with lemon, bergamot, neroli, pomegranate, pea, and cucumber (plus is infused with healing properties of clear crystal quartz!).  This tonic is a brilliant boost for skin, offering an increase in elasticity and hydration plus working to lock in moisture and even skin tone. It's no wonder it won Best New Skincare Launch in 2019's BSL Awards!

Also, a special nod to Belenos Skin Botaniques Floral Toner, an ultra-fine uplifting mist that revitalizes the skin with neroli, jasmine, and rose, and to Pure Anada Garden Facial Mist which feels delightful and refreshing, smells divine, and helps calm the skin.  I adore both of these products, and they were fast favourites for 2019!


Serum: Elan Dream Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum / Earthwise Beauty Nap in the Meadow
Hydration is essential for healthy skin, and both Elan and Earthwise Beauty help maintain this essential quality with their creations.  Dream Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum contains a 3% concentration of HA, and it delivers a deeply penetrating and intensive hydration boost that helps skin look and feel smoother, firmer, and more toned.  I love how easy this is to incorporate into my routine, as I can use it with any of my oil based products, plus the consistency is so delicate, leaving no sticky feeling on my face!  Nap in the Meadow offers an alternative to HA, turning instead to the hydration powers of aloe vera to work its magic.  This green liquid contains a blend of healing and revitalizing ingredients that help replenish your face, improve hydration, protect against environmental damage, and reduce blemishes.  It's a delight to use, and it really does help soothe and restore my skin.

Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Hydration: Alteya Elan Earthwise Beauty Bodhi & Birch



Acne

Spot Treatment: LUE by Jean Seo Clear (Step 3)
Don't let the small stature mislead you - this is a BIG solution for acne prone skin and breakouts!  Lue by Jean Seo is a three step skincare system, but to me their Clear blend is by far the star of the show.  This is a liquid creation that is applied directly to the problem area with the treatment wand, and it works to deliver twelve potent anti-acne herbs that will zap the spot and quickly resolve the irritation.  I find this works so fast and really helps minimize acne - anytime I noticed a blemish forming, I hold this on for thirty seconds in the morning and in the evening, and within just a few days it is completely gone!  I can't celebrate this treatment enough, and highly recommend!


Facial Treatment: Okoko Cosmetiques L’Élixir de Manuka
This is one of the most transformative formulas I have ever come across, and my skin is always at its best when using this in my routine.  Okoko Cosmetiques' oil serum contains intensive healing ingredients that combat blemishes while also providing a potent moisture boost, like manuka active concentrate, bakuchiol, and white willow bark extract.  Rich, but not heavy, this amber coloured oil glides across the skin, making skin feel so soft and smooth as the deeply nourishing yet clarifying treatment is applied.  L’Élixir de Manuka leads to more radiance, less redness, and a clear complexion that helps boost my confidence - it's a real hero product!


Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Acne Treatments: Okoko Cosmetiques Lue



Moisture

Facial Oil: Inner Senses Deep Blue C / Lena Wild Harmony Bloom Oil
I really really struggled to select just two products for this category, as I tried so many amazing creations in 2019.  However, there were two products I found myself really focusing on, so those are the ones I chose to feature!  While I love all Inner Senses oils, Deep Blue C was most definitely a skin savior for me in 2019 - this formula contains a trio of blue healing ingredients that work to bring balance.  Blue tansy, blue chamomile, and blue yarrow help calm irritation and provide much needed anti-inflammatory properties that are real heroes for blemish prone and sensitive skin.  I love how this works as a preventative measure against acne, as it maintains order and fights to manage congestion - when I use this regularly, my face is smoother, clearer, and much more even in terms of my complexion.  Plus, it helps moisturize my skin and leaves it feeling less tight!  As for Lena Wild, well this golden nectar is harmony, sunshine, and happiness in a bottle.  This super nourishing treatment is surprisingly lightweight and helps restore a lovely glow to your complexion.   Working to balance, rejuvenate, and moisturize, this indulges skin and uplifts your senses, and the silky, brightening, and pure plant powered goodness is perfect for anyone looking to get a dewy summer glow while also reducing pesky blemishes and giving new life to dehydrated skin.

Special shout outs to some of my other top oils of 2019, including Moksa Chandra Midnight Oil (perfect for a restorative and aromatherapeutic PM routine), Okoko Cosmetiques Les 16 Precieux (ultra nourishing with blemish fighting properties), Skin Alchemists Sesenne Facial Elixir (a sensorial treat that helps revitalize dull complexions), Mila's Apothecary Hedgerow Drops (juicy, sumptuous, and gentle), and Awareness Organics Rejuvenating Radiant Serum (ideal for getting back that summer glow!).


Facial Treatment: Okoko Cosmetiques L'Élixir de Pureté
This product defies expectations from the start, coming out as a liquid elixir that feels so lightweight you would not believe at first that it is super charged with powerful restorative ingredients.  Dragons blood works to firm, plump, and replenish the skin while simultaneously soothing sensitivities - and all is carried out in an oil-free formulation!  The consistency is almost watery, and it absorbs instantly into your face so you are not left feeling any stickiness or residue - it's perfect for those needing an ultra-light non-clogging routine.  I find this helps refresh my complexion and leads to glowing, clear skin that looks and feels so much healthier!


Moisturizer: Kri Endless Moisture Squalane Face Cream
This remains a category that often causes me difficulty, as so many cream formulas end up breaking me out.  Not the case with Kri Skincare - both of their vegan friendly moisturizing formulas are fab, but I find Endless the most ideal for my skin.  With hyaluronic acid for a super boost of hydration, squalane to replenish and soften, and jojoba oil which moisturizes even further, this formula may look simple but it is oh so effective and well thought out.  My skin feels nourished but not weighed down when I incorporate this moisture face cream into my skincare routine, and since it's so gentle I can use it even when my face is feeling extra fussy.  Perfect!


Balm: Meadow Skincare Hydration Boost Moisturising Face Balm / Awake Organics Frankin-Sense Divine Skin Concentrate ^ / Earthwise Beauty Tigress Face Balm
2019 proved to be the year of the balms for me.  In the last Best Of series, I admitted to struggling with this type of product, but something finally clicked for me and I've discovered quite a few options that work with my fussy congestion prone skin!  Meadow was the first of these discoveries, and despite being rich and super nourishing, it did not clog my pores at all.  A tiny amount left me with a protective barrier that smoothed, luminized, and revitalized my skin, plus it helped calm my mind with its soothing scent.  Next up in my balm awakening was Earthwise Beauty, and I found a real winner with both of their healing creations.  I particularly was drawn to Tigress, a super lightweight product that has acne reducing ingredients as well as potent healing properties.  I adore the rounded nutty aroma, and was impressed by how calm my skin was while using this gorgeous product.  Last, but certainly not least, is Awake Organics, a brand I have been loving for a long time now.  I was able to test their Frankin-Sense Divine Skin Concentrate, and after learning a little goes a long way I finally found the perfect way to incorporate this golden hued formula into my facial routine.  I love how this plumps up my skin and leaves it feeling super smooth, and I was pleased to find a renewed radiance in my dull winter skin!


Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Moisture Treatments: Okoko Cosmetiques Inner Senses Lena Wild

Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Moisture Treatments: Awake Organics Meadow Skincare Earthwise Beauty Kri Skincare



Eyes

I have yet to find my ultimate eye treatment to be totally honest, and I'm okay with that for now.  At the moment, I get on just fine multi-tasking with appropriate oils.  However, there is one in particular that has been a must have for Tim - the Madara Smart Antioxidants Anti-Fatigue Eye Rescue Cream.  This does a world of good for him, and he frequently asks for a treatment in the morning or evening to help rejuvenate his under eyes, plump up the area, and firm the skin.  It leaves him looking more awake and restored, and it truly is a powerhouse.



Mask

Powder: Inner Senses Vibrant Earth / Lani Tropical Cacao Detox Mask / Mono Radiance Luxury Facial Mask
There were three powder masks that really stood out to me in 2019: Vibrant Earth, Tropical Cacao Detox, and Radiance.  Inner Senses Revitalising Detox Powder Mask is a potent, fast acting facial treatment that detoxifies, exfoliates, and renews the skin with the help of cacao, clay, micro algae, spirulina, and other supercharged ingredients.  Instantly softening and smoothing, I find Vibrant Earth totally resets your complexion and helps keep it clear and glowing.  It's so special, and is a staple in my skincare routine.  Lani offers an indulgent touch to masking with their chocolate mousse creation - from powder to fluffy foam, this is an experience like no other.  Stunning in every way, from the amazing chocolate notes to the striking shade, Tropical Cacao Detox Mask makes my skin look and feel so good with added radiance, hydration, and even tone.  As for Mono, you know how much I love this range, and Radiance is a truly rounded blend, with antioxidant rich ginkgo, red maca, cacao, milk thistle and more!  It's gentle, meaning I can use it even when my skin is playing up, and after rinsing my skin feels super soft and has a restored luminous glow that makes me feel confident and ready to take on the week.  This is a mask for those wanting a glow up but who also want the delicate touch of healing nature based goodness.


Balm/Oil: Love Absolute Mask and Balm - Soulful Spice and Rose Glow
Love Absolute's Mask and Balm creations are absolute perfection.  I was incredibly impressed by the samples I tried, and in fact, these were some of my highlights of 2019!  Both masks begin as a gel-like balm but then undergo a dramatic change in texture when activated.  It begins to melt away once wet, transforming into a lightweight lotion that surprises you with how gentle it feels.  By turning into a cleanser after the masking process is complete, the product is able to easily emulsify any remaining dirt and guarantee the skin is left clean and glowing, but also not weighed down by too many oils.  These are magical, and I adore both so much I will be saving up to get the full sizes in 2020 (and of course will do a more in depth review!).


Activated: Maison Meunier Purifying Face Mask
I can't express how much I appreciate Maison Meunier's Purify Face Mask, as this rich, velvety smooth treatment feels simultaneously hydrating and nourishing yet does not break me out as long as I fully rinse it off.  It feels so soothing on my face, and I love how soft it is - it's such an interesting texture, smells gorgeous (floral and sweet), and makes my skin look totally refreshed.  Hyaluronic acid, cacao seed butter, dead sea mud... All work together to provide a well rounded treatment, drawing out toxins without drying out the skin.  And as the aroma washes over you and soothes your spirit, well, you'll really begin to understand the luxury offered by brilliant formulations.


Best of Ethical Skincare 2019 - Face Masks: Maison Meunier Love Absolute Inner Senses Lani Mono



That's a wrap!  It was so fun (and challenging!) rounding up my choices for best ethical facial treatments in 2019.  Each of these cruelty free, natural, organic, and vegan beauty products I think deserve recognition as the best for the skincare category, as they offered real results, were gentle on my fussy, congestion prone face, and smelled amazing.  I definitely was spoiled for choice over the last twelve months, discovered some AMAZING formulas, and continued to figure out what I'm looking for in a 'perfect' product.  It was overall a pretty great year for skincare!

Do you have any other products you think should have made my list?  I would love to know, as there is a chance I didn't even try them!  Or maybe I did, and they are some of my runners up for best products -- because trust me, this list doesn't even come close to representing *all* the amazing beauty treats I tested last year.  I would really enjoy hearing what your top bath and body products of 2019 were, and who knows, maybe they will make my next Top Ethical Face Skincare Picks roundup!

Can't believe my Best Ethical Beauty Products of 2019 mini-series is finally complete! This was a long process and very difficult in terms of some of the choices I had to make, but it was so worth it.  The comments and messages I have been getting from you lovelies has been fantastic, and I am so happy I can help guide you towards the best of the best when it comes to ethical beauty.  Remember, I'm always here if you have any questions! xx

4 comments

  1. I have a few different Foreo devices, I am that much of a fan and you are right, they can be pricey but they are definitely work it x

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    Replies
    1. so true! I find them the gentlest cleansing brush I've tried - so good :)

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  2. Wow so many products! I must admit I have never heard of any of these brands, but I'll have to keep an eye out!

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