When you think about the power of plants, what images does the concept conjure? Retro cartoons of Popeye downing a can of spinach? Ethanol-fueled cars? A tree’s roots punching through city concrete? The reality is that the vast biodiversity of plants — and our ever-growing knowledge on how to best utilize them — means that plant-powered products of all sorts are flooding every industry’s market, and beauty is chief among them. Plant-based beauty products are a faction rapidly gaining popularity, typically filed under the “clean beauty” tab (itself an amorphous, ever-changing term at best and an intentionally-misleading one at worst). The very best of plant-based beauty harness all sorts of unique berries, vegetables, flowers, succulents, and plant extracts to form everything from a mascara that owes its inky black color to carrots or the hair conditioner strengthening individual strands with beetroot.
“Our selection of plant-based ingredients is based on our understanding about skin biology as well as our current knowledge about the mechanism of action of these ingredients,” explains Dr. Joyce Teng, Head of Pediatric Dermatology at Stanford Medical School and Chief Scientific Officer of plant-powered line, Evereden. “Throughout history, many important modern medications we currently use are discovered in such manner: we also consider the material's stability, odor, texture, and compatibility with the formula during product development.” Teng says that while “clean beauty” typically means a lineup of all-natural ingredients, the standard for plant-based beauty is actually more carefully defined. “With plant-based, the claim can’t be made unless all the formula does not include any animal-derived products or byproducts,” she tells TZR.
With so many potent plant-powered products out there, it can be difficult to parse through it all. To make it just a bit easier, scroll through TZR’s easy-to-navigate guide to some of the best out there. Think of all the botanicals like nature’s own endless library of beauty boosters — if you have an issue, there’s almost certainly a plant for that.
Below, discover the best plant-based beauty products out there right now.
We at TZR only include products that have been independently selected by our editors. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
A favorite of eco-friendly celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Jonathan Van Ness, virtually all Biossance’s products are built around sugarcane-derived squalane but feature a huge host of botanical co-stars included to boost its hydrating benefits. The brand’s sensitive skin-friendly Jelly Cleanser, for instance, capitalizes on elderberry and its natural antioxidant-rich composition. Like most berries (think breakfast-friendly blueberries and raspberries), elderberries are chockful of antioxidants like resveratrol and vitamins A, B, and C, and elderberry is no exception. Many take elderberry extract as a supplement, but when used in skin care, it fortifies against pollution, extra UV damage, and light-induced free radicals.
Orvos Skin Science
Developed by a leading surgeon, the inspiration for Orvos’s science-focused philosophy was actually the founder’s own plant-based diet. A streamlined collection of three highly-researched products comprise the brand, but the leaf-green tube of Satin Eye Gel Cream might just be its breakout star. Along with classic eye cream powerhouse ingredients like puff-deflating green tea extract and line-smoothing bakuchiol, this formula features plum and fig extracts — together, they act as natural antioxidants that illuminate dark circles for a rested, refreshed appearance.
It’s no surprise that Herbivore Botanicals would grow to be one of the most beloved plant-powered beauty brands of all time based on its name alone. Every product in the Herbivore lineup is centered around a star plant, fruit, or flower, often including it right in the title. One of Herbivore’s best is equally pretty to look at too. The Orchid Antioxidant Beauty Oil, specifically designed for finicky combination skin, is a sunny yellow apothecary-style vial that houses a hydrating, radiance-igniting formula fueled by orchid extract, one of nature’s best humectants.
Developed by a team of Ivy League medical school professors (including Stanford School of Medicine’s own Dr. Joyce Teng), Evereden is a line of carefully-crafted, plant-based skin care formulated for both babies and adults with sensitive skin. Thanks to transparency, thorough explainers, and well-researched formulations, Evereden has carved out a place as the must-have brand for moms and kids — or anyone seeking baby-soft, smooth skin. One of their best-sellers, the Evereden Baby Face Cream, is a powerhouse moisturizer that utilizes cold-pressed sunflower seed oil and jojoba oil (itself rich in vitamins A, E, and D) for hydration, while calendula soothes irritation and keeps the face clear with its anti-bacterial properties.
RANAVAT, a fan-favorite luxury brand built around its founder’s personal background and experiences with Ayurvedic skin care and ingredients, is leading the botanical-based charge with its Renewing Bakuchi Crème. One of the best-selling products in the lineup with an ingredient list starring Bakuchi seed (which helps fight discoloration and hyperpigmentation) and lotus flower (its fatty acids fortify and hydrate), it can be used both day and night for a more youthful, dewy complexion.
Hair is famously considered to be one’s crowning glory — and Crown Affair’s slew of plant-powered products are all aimed at making yours more of a crown jewel. The Ritual shampoo-conditioner duo is filled with nourishing botanicals like Tsubaki seed oil (an impressive hydrator) and beetroot (a strand shaft strengthener), respectively. Specifically designed to be truly universal for every hair type, your strongest, shiniest hair could be just a few fruits away.
Another top-rated brand with the power of plants built right into the name (and ethos), Vegamour’s grown its reputation by producing highly effective hair care that utilizes ingredients you’d be just as likely to find in a garden as a Sephora. In the case of Vegamour’s Gro Serum, mung bean sprouts and red clover, full of antioxidant-packed vitamins (think A, B, C, and K), address the vitamin deficiencies that can trigger hair loss — and the result is full, vibrant hair with the clinical trials to back it up.
Fable & Mane
Inspired by traditional Indian beauty practices, it didn’t take long for Fable & Mane’s pre-wash hair oil to achieve cult status among beauty lovers. The formula’s secret to split-free, shiny hair is in an ingredient called Dashmool, a time-tested blend of 10 assorted roots that, when combined, act as an effective (yet gentle) scalp treatment. Filling out the roster is Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic evergreen shrub that stimulates scalp circulation which in turn encourages hair growth.
If your hair is at all suffering from heat or environment-induced damage, the key to restoring strands can be found in the power of blue tansy. A Mediterranean flower found in northern Morocco (and fun fact, it actually blooms yellow despite the name), blue tansy is often used to soothe, calm, and relieve inflammation and irritation in skin and hair care products. Adwoa Beauty, a truly multicultural brand designed to make effective beauty products for everyone, utilizes the plant to seal up individual hairs to form something of a shield against stressors while reducing the appearance of breakage-induced frizz and split ends.
Squalane is one of beauty’s hottest ingredients right now, and ILIA utilizes a plant-engineered edition that’s cruelty-free. Ultra-hydrating squalane has been used as an emollient moisturizer since at least the 1950s but traditionally, it was harvested from shark liver — and it can take up to 3,000 dead sharks to equal just one ton of the stuff. The newer, plant-based stuff, though — like the kind ILIA uses in its signature product, the Super Skin Serum — is cruelty-free. Pulled from crops like olive oil or sugarcane, no sea creatures were harmed in the making of the Super Skin Serum, which provides just enough tone-evening coverage while feeling deliciously lightweight on skin.
There’s no doubt about it — Tower 28 and its irreverent, youthful, everyone’s-invited aesthetic made it one of the most buzzed-about beauty brands of the past few years. The melts-in formulations and long-lasting pigment of the TikTok-favorite BeachPlease multi-use cream are in large part thanks to the ultra-hydrating infusion of aloe vera extracts. Keeping skin irritation-free, moisturized, and calm, the skin is allowed to simply shine.
From the moment Caliray and its fun, freewheeling packaging burst onto the scene, it found a home with both makeup minimalists and experimental artists alike. The brand’s lip-plumping gloss, in particular, immediately took off thanks to the solid color payoff, legitimate volume-amplifying properties, and smoothing finish — and that last quality is thanks to a cool-sounding flower you might not have even realized existed. Electric daisy — the plant, not the music festival — is remarkable for its wound-healing application. Here, it stimulates skin cells to step up collagen and elastin production to smooth lips for a fuller, more hydrated appearance.
Did anyone else’s parents tell them to always eat their carrots for strong eyes? Though they’re actually not wrong, Juice Beauty’s version of carrot-powered eyes is a lot more fun. The brand’s Phyto-Pigments mascara actually uses organic purple carrot to get the product’s inky black color — which makes lashes look fuller and thicker. It’s not the only plant on the ingredient list by a long shot, either. Aloe leaf juice keeps things irritation-free and hydrated while candelilla wax (a vegan beeswax alternative sourced from a desert shrub) adds captivating shine.
Since the earliest days of cosmetics, roses and their naturally moisturizing properties have been incorporated into creams, pastes, and salves for hydrated, dewy skin. Lancôme’s modern version of that age-old practice is fully realized with the Absolue Rich Cream, a deliciously thick, rejuvenating moisturizer that uses grand rose extracts to plump out fine lines, firm up skin, and swaddle it in hydration.
The Body Shop
For decades now, The Body Shop has reigned supreme as the mall-based home of top-tier body lotions, creams, and yogurts — and all at an accessible price point, too. Even in 2022, the brand is full of plant- and fruit-driven solutions to dryness, texture, and irritation, and the Satsuma Body Oil might be the best of the bunch, Satsuma (also known as citrus unshiu) is a cousin of oranges and tangerines rich in vitamin C, a top-tier antioxidant. When used on the body, it can encourage collagen for tighter, smoother skin while protecting against environmental stressors. Oh, and it makes you smell like a delicious Orange Julius — another mall classic.
It doesn’t get much more back-to-nature than Alpyn Beauty, which features ingredients hand-harvested from the botanical-rich foothills of Wyoming’s Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges. Based on the practice of “wildcrafting,” or personally gathering natural flora to make cosmetics, food, or medicine, each product in the range is centered around a team of plant-based ingredients. In the case of Alpyn’s new lip-plumping mask — which can be used as an overnight mask, a standalone gloss, or layered under lipstick — uses willow bark to instantly volumize lips.