There are some beauty products that don’t beautify as much as they prevent a series of beauty misfortunes. We’re talking insect repellant, sunscreen, and deodorants that protect you (and others) from legs covered in mosquito bites, head-to-toe sunburn, and, well, a whiff of a just-completed summer workout.
To do their work, these products in particular can contain toxic ingredients found on the Environmental Working Group’s list of cosmetic chemicals to avoid—DEET in bug spray, oxybenzone in sunscreen, fragrance in deodorant, and parabens in everything.
Fortunately, if you look beyond the drug store aisle and the big chemical-laden brands that fill them, you can find natural versions of these summer must-haves.
Here are nine that we tested for effectiveness that are about to be your new summer staples… —Melisse Gelula
Keep bugs at bay during a picnic in the park with this herbal mist. It’s made by an indie brand in Brooklyn (complete with an arty-cool label), and it makes you smell nice (thanks to lavender water, citronella, lemongrass, and fir). Just not to gnats.
It revolutionized the bug-spray category by proving that people (like plants) didn’t need to be coated in insecticides to prevent bites. And it went one better with a blend of essential oils that’s cool enough to call a unisexy perfume—and it’s USDA organic certified.
Juice Beauty is known for loading its skin care with antioxidants from fruit, and this new zinc sunscreen is no different. It also clings to your skin (yay, wholesome plant oils) so it stays put when you’re in the water or in the park doing a yoga class.
This gorgeous grown-up multi-tasker can help smooth fine lines and nourish your skin while it protects you from sunburn (with zinc, green tea, and red raspberry oil) and primes before makeup. It also comes in a variety of tints to illuminate an array of skin tones.
Knowing that sunscreen shouldn’t be a bummer to wear, MyChelle’s feels just like a lotion. It uses ZincClear, so you get zinc’s UVA and UVB protection without a ghostly hue, and it’s loaded up with kukui and macadamia oils (skin soothers), plus red algae extract, which may have natural UVA filtering effects.
This is the first natural deodorant that’s USDA certified and looks like and glides on like a regular deodorant (thanks to coconut oil and beeswax). Corn starch helps absorb wetness and plant enzymes help absorb odor. It comes in five scents (for him and her), including unscented.
Made by a former ER doc-turned-artisanal soap maker, this all-natural cream contains 91 percent organic ingredients (to be exact). Its star ingredients are Fullers earth clay, which absorbs moisture (and can be good if you get discoloration under your arms). Essential oils help slow odor-producing bacteria. And we love how the tiny tin fits in your yoga bag or jacket pocket for stealth freshness.
The Brooklyn indie brand, Soapwalla, has a cult following for its effective cream deodorant. It uses veggie clays and powders that help absorb moisture, and a combination of antibacterial and antifungal essential oils that prevent odors (versus a fragrance that covers up body odor).
The baby-friendly brand Zoe Organics makes this organic bug spray that’s safe enough for wee ones. It contains essential oils (geranium, peppermint, and clove) that bugs find repugnant. And the gentle oil blend of sunflower, castor seed, and neem seed protect the actives from irritating sensitive skin.
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