A Clean Routine

Where to buy safe and natural skin-care products.
skin mask
Superfood Face Mask from Four Sigmatic

If you want to feel better about the products you apply to your body, with the fringe benefit of lightening your environmental impact, Refill Madness in midtown is a good place to start.

The small store, at 1828 29th St., sells biodegradable bath, beauty and household products in bulk. Customers bring in their own clean containers, which are weighed empty, then—to determine the cost— weighed again once the soap, shampoo or whatever has been added. There is no minimum requirement, making it an efficient and affordable way for people to try things out.

skin store
Refill Madness

Free, hospital-grade-sanitized containers usually are available for customers who have come to the store empty-handed. Generally, this “zero-waste” approach to shopping results in substantial (25 percent, say) savings from the same products if bought elsewhere in first-use containers.

“We did stay open during the whole (pandemic) shutdown,” co-owner Sloane Read said when restrictions eased regionally in mid-June. “We sell very essential items,” which she described as having “high-quality, clean ingredients.” Best-sellers are Copper Moon Apothecary lotions, Dr. Bronner’s soap and Griffin Remedy body lotion.

The Yisrael Family Urban Farm in south Oak Park makes seven handcrafted bar soaps that include Calendula + Lemongrass. “The scent is grassy-citrus, earthy and energizing, making it the perfect bar to greet you in the morning shower” is how it’s described. Made in small batches, it goes for $5.99 per 5-ounce bar and can be ordered online.

Yisrael Family Urban Farm
Yisrael Family Urban Farm

Nationally and globally, safe and natural skin-care products abound. Many can be purchased at Refill Madness, and the rest are sold at green-leaning retail stores (such as the Sacramento and Davis food co-ops, Whole Foods Markets and Sprouts) or online.

A few months ago, Cosmopolitan magazine posted “20 Best Organic Skincare Products and Brands to Try ASAP” with the cutesy sub-headline “Guys, this stuff really, really works.” The writer, Lauren Balsamo, maintains that third-party certification agencies have verified that all 20 products are organic and natural. They aren’t all certifiably affordable, however. For example, the 100-milliliter (not quite 3.4 ounces) Pure Radiance Oil from True Botanicals—“made with chia seed, kiwi seed and passion fruit oils to moisturize skin and smooth fine lines and dry patches”—costs $88.


Pangea Organics, based in Boulder, Colo., since 2001 has produced entirely plant-based facial cleansers and creams, body washes and lotions, hand soaps and lip balms, among other skin-care products. The line’s ingredients include adzuki beans, cranberries, goji berries, pomegranate seed oil and willow bark. Pangea’s website boasts that it “is the first company in the world to use 100 percent sugarcane bio-resin on all of our plastic tubes.”

A New York City-based website about fashion, beauty and lifestyles, The Zoe Report, last year published a story about edible skin-care products. Writer Jessica DeFino’s first sentence is “Yesterday, I ate my new favorite face mask.” She was referring to the Four Sigmatic Mushroom Face Mask and Tonic, which is vegan, organic and reportedly smells like chocolate cake.

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Face Mask and Tonic
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Face Mask and Tonic

That’s right. You can have your chocolate cake facial mask and eat it, too.