"Pure palm oil is very moisturizing," says Lisa Yuan, director of the Botanica Spa at the Westcliff hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa. "But it's so rich, you may sometimes want a lighter-blended product." The question of which product is a tricky one, however: Palm oil cultivation is one of the world's worst causes of deforestation and habitat destruction, but several companies are making serious efforts to reverse the trend and source the crop sustainably. Though the Rainforest Alliance just certified its first palm plantation, the industry still has a long way to go, so in the meantime, look for brands that make specific sustainability statements:
(1) Avon ANEW Ultimate Age Repair Cream Cleanser gets its rich feel from palm oil that's sourced through GreenPalm, a program that supports demonstrably sustainable palm growers. (avon.com)
(2) Alaffia Red Palm and Shea Nurturing Body Soap sources its hand-pressed red palm oil from small, sustainable organic farms in Togo, and forgoes any refining. (alaffia.com)
(3) Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment Plus uses a different kind -- but similarly hydrating -- of palm oil: sustainably harvested, Central American Ojon oil, whose ability to resurrect hair is legendary. (ojon.com)
Beyond its role in brightening blond hair, chamomile "is one of the gentlest, most calming ingredients nature has provided," says Yuan. The extract has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal remedy for red, irritated, or simply dehydrated skin.
(4) Weleda Iris Hydrating Night Cream combines suppleness-boosting iris root extract with moisturizing shea butter and soothing chamomile. (usa.weleda.com)
(5) Logona Color Care Chamomile Shampoo blends its marquee blonding ingredient with silk protein for softness, wheat for strength, and other botanical boosters. (amazon.com)
(6) Dr. Hauschka Eye Solace depuffs with black tea and soothes with chamomile and other botanicals. (drhauschka.com)
Hawaii's official state tree, the kukui, is also the island group's unofficial beauty ambassador. The nut yields an oil that "supplies skin and hair with rich nourishment," says Yuan. But rich isn't synonymous with greasy: The oil is light, fast-absorbing, and is found in many popular beauty treatments.
(7) PhytoSpecific Intense Nutrition Shampoo supplements its kukui content with macadamia oil and mimosa wax for maximum moisturization. (amazon.com)
(8) Alba Botanica Hawaiian Kukui Nut Body Cream packs shea and cocoa butters in addition to its namesake ingredient to remedy the driest of skin. (albabotanica.com)
(9) Hawaiian Bath & Body Lavender Kukui Oil contains lavender, so it's as soothing as it is moisturizing. (hawaiianbathbody.com)
An ancient beauty remedy the world over, honey is revered in Russia as well. Slathering honey straight onto your face -- and allowing 5 or 10 minutes absorption time -- should help hydrate and purify the skin, says Yuan. No time to treat yourself to a mask? Try one of these honey-rich products instead:
(10) Nahla Wildflower Honey Vitamin Mask is extremely concentrated; the anti-inflammatory calendula and geranium help fight blemishes. (nahlabeauty.com)
(11) Apivita Queen Bee Firming and Restoring Face Cream moisturizes and fights signs of aging with honey, myrrh essential oil, royal jelly, and seaweed. (apivita.com)
(12) Burt's Bees Honey & Shea Sugar Scrub blends honey with sugar and ground almonds to slough off the skin. (burtsbees.com)
Barley boosts your skin's barrier function -- "and a healthy barrier keeps moisture in and pollution and bacteria out," explains Yuan. So products containing the grain (which also goes by "hordeum" on ingredients lists) help ensure their hydrating, soothing, or anti-aging agents remain in your skin, while pollutants stay out.
(13) Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild foams but doesn't strip lipids, leaving the barrier intact. (amazon.com)
(14) Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator fights all manner of unevenness, from acne marks to redness, with antioxidant rice-bran extract and soothing licorice, among others. (esteelauder.com)
(15) Origins Starting Over Eye Cream with Mimosa employs a battery of botanicals (in addition to the barley and the headlining mimosa) to combat crepey lids and other local wrinkling. (origins.com)
"In mineral-rich waters, you'll find the same minerals as in our body, like magnesium, calcium, and sodium," says Yuan. "By drinking and soaking in them, you're raising the mineral content of your body, which boosts your health and glow." But if you don't happen to have hot springs around the corner, add any of these to your tub:
(16) EuroSpa Sea Salt is an all natural, mineral-rich blend that can be poured directly into your bath or mixed into a scrub. (seasalt.com)
(17) Lush Geo Phyzz Bath Bomb is dense with salt that's been covered in mineral-rich volcanic clay -- a concoction that adds effervescence (and a pine and cypress scent) to your bathwater. (lushusa.com)
(18) Pevonia Botanica Mystique Escape Bath Salts are mineralizing and contain uplifting grapefruit and mandarin essential oils. (shoppevonia.com)
© 2013 Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. All rights reserved.