“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
Awww, look how far we’ve come together. This is our FIFTH annual Top 5 Staff Picks blog post, and not only am I not stressed about choosing my top five products this year, I’ve actually been looking forward to it!
I know many of you probably think that the “most wonderful time of the year” started two months ago, as we began the holiday season, but I have to disagree. I love the start of something new. I love new years, new months, new chances. Pristine notebooks and fresh pens, unspoiled snow, the first swipe of a new tube of lipstick– new beginnings are so much fun. To quote the great Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery): “[…] isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
As we start 2023 off fresh, full of hope and as-yet unblemished by reality, I love the chance to look back and see what we loved about 2022; to identify the best of it to bring with us into a new year. If you’re looking for something that is both new and, at the same time, tried-and-true, selected by experts, loved by the people who’ve tried everything, then you’ve come to the right place. It is time for Integrity Botanicals’ Annual Top Five Best Of Staff Picks.
In case you’re new to this, every January, we, the staff of Integrity Botanicals, choose and share a few of the things we LOVED in the previous year. They can be products that were launched new in that year, or simply new to us. Or they can be things we’ve used for many years and just want to honor as a “best of” this past year. There are no rules!!! Just kidding, there are rules– the hardest of which for me to keep are the rules that limit us from choosing 100 favorite products each! It is SO hard to narrow down!
If you want to go back and review, we started this tradition with the Best of 2018. For the Best of 2019, we were still supposed to be choosing only our top THREE products, a task which I found literally impossible. (I have historically come up with very creative ways to cheat/get around these limits, like selecting entire brands as my “favorite product,” or including honorable mentions!). For the Best of 2020, I did all of the above, selecting Tata Harper’s and Organic Bath Co.’s entire lines, including all kinds of Josh Rosebrook honorable mentions, and mentioning multiple Maya Chia products as I pretended to pick only one. I name-dropped as many extra products into my explanations as possible. I was shameless!
Luckily, last year’s Best of 2021 round up brought about a rule change, and everyone FINALLY got to pick FIVE favorites instead of THREE! Not that I ever had a problem breaking the rules, but it was nice to at least pretend to color inside the lines! I’m still lobbying for ten products each, but, then again, even I can admit that would make for one epically long blog post, and who needs that?!
So, here they are, folks, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the top five product picks of 2022 from each of our Integrity Botanicals Team Members. (I always let everyone else go first, like ordering at a restaurant, when I like to order last and hear everyone else’s choices, to both give myself the most time and also to see if I’m going to have FOMO from their choices so I can change mine.)
This year I tried to pick things that no one else had chosen … let’s see how we all did!
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Normal/Dry/Sensitive
1.) RUA Refine Sculpting Eye Wand – I can’t live without this product! It’s been in my everyday morning routine for months and does not go missed! It has such a cooling effect on the eyes – my under eyes tend to get puffy so this provides some relief. I feel like it smooths them out and make me look a little more refreshed and awake before getting into my skincare routine.
2.) HAN Multi-Stick in ’Toasted Nutmeg’ – I have been loving this product for Summer and Winter. It adds a pretty brown, warmth to my pale skin in Winter and is so blendable. I’ll use it on lips too if I’m in a rush to get out the door. In the Summer, it’s the most beautiful brown that you can build up to get a more sun-kissed, ‘bronzy’ look.
3.) Agent Nateur Hair (silk) Peptides Soft Hydrating Hair – I’ve gone through 3 bottles since this product launched less than a year ago. It has the most gorgeous scent, which is a little hard to describe. It’s very complex – sophisticated, sultry, warm and sexy. I wish Jenna would make this into a perfume! Anytime I have it my hair and I get close to someone they ask me what that I’m wearing. It makes hair so silky and soft.
4.) EVOLVh Superfinish Polishing Balm – I’m so glad I finally found a product that helps with frizzy hair and makes it smooth but not greasy, like some hair oils can do. I can apply this all over my hair as the last step in my haircare routine for a smooth, polished look.
5.) Rahua Enchanted Island Shampoo – This product is different than any other shampoo I’ve tried. First off, the scent is like a vacation in a bottle but more importantly it makes my hair so incredibly soft. And shiny!
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Combination/Oily/Acne Prone
1.) Meow Meow Tweet Coffee Cardamom Body Scrub Bar – A few years back, Meow Meow Tweet discontinued their Coffee Cinnamon soap and I was so bummed about it. A body scrub and soap all-in-one, smelled great, super exfoliating and much less messy than a typical coffee body and different leave the shower super slick the way some body scrub can. Needless to say, I was super excited when this soap launched. It’s as good as I remember.
2.) Lanshin Massager by Acera – This new massager from Lanshin is pretty amazing. You fill it with hot water and it is like getting a hot stone massage at home. The first time I tried it, I used it on a nagging shoulder injury and it really did the trick. It is great for sore muscles and it very soothing.
3.) Henné Illumine Face Oil – Color me impressed! Face oil is a tough category in the green beauty space as pretty much every skincare brand has one(or multiple) and the competition for recognition is intense. I think Henné really knocked it out of the park with the release of the first face oil. I really love everything about this product, from the sleek, high end packaging, to the formulation, to the scent, to the way it glides on skin, to the perfect amount of moisture it provides, not to mention the finish. Kudos to Laura and the Henné team.
4.) Evolve Organic Beauty Daily Defense Moisture Mist – This mist from Evolve has become a new favorite. Formulated with Prickly Pear and Hyaluronic Acid, it is calming and hydrating and is a great prep before applying my serums and face oil. Top marks for the atomizer which provides the perfect fine mist.
5.) Routine Reuben & The Desert Cream Deodorant – This is super creamy, applies easily and smells fantastic. It lasts all day and have been a constant user for almost 5 years now, which says a lot. This is my favorite scent from the line. You really can’t go wrong with any of the scents. SuperStar is my second favorite.
Lives in Florida. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
1.) RMS ReEvolve Foundation – When it comes to foundation, I am an RMS girl. Their 2022 foundation was no exception! Lightweight, medium coverage that looks like skin every. dang. time.
2.) Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum – This was one that crept up on me! It was only when I turned the bottle over to get every last drop out at the tail end of 2022 where I was like…wait a second…I am REALLY going to miss this one! The most easy, lightweight step to keep the skin hydrated and supple before going in with your moisturizer of choice.
3.) Agent Nateur Hair (silk) Peptides Soft Hydrating Hair – This is my favorite hair serum, EVER, never mind for the year of 2022. It smells divine, adds just the right amount of shine and hydration without weighing down my fine long hair.
4.) HAN Cosmetics Bronzer in ‘Malibu’ – 2022 was the year of bronzer on my cheeks and my eyes and this was the perfect product to do both. Ultra soft matte formulation that is easy to blend and isn’t too warm – perfect for a “brontour” which I am such a big fan of.
5.) Antonym Eye Liner in Brown – I had to mention this because this just might be my most used makeup product of all time. I had a stint playing with other colors and formulations from different brands and in 2022 we were reunited. The richest, creamiest, dark brown out there that I use quite literally every time I put on makeup.
Lives in Arkansas. Skin type: Normal/Sensitive
1.) Agent Nateur Hair (silk) Peptides Soft Hydrating Hair – The scent alone will make you fall in love with this product. This is such a lovely hair oil and the incredible benefits make it that much more enjoyable to use. I add a bit in while my hair is damp and oftentimes after styling as well!
2.) TOK Beauty Mascara – I am continually impressed with this mascara with each use. The brush/bristles make it perfect for use on my bottom lashes. It really helps to separate and lengthen my top lashes as well. It will continue to be one of my go-to mascaras!
3.) Evolve Organic Beauty Miracle Facial Oil – I love the lightweight feel of this. It makes it great for both morning and night. I especially love that it is formulated with a natural retinol, giving my skin an extra dose of goodness – keeping it plump and hydrated. You can’t go wrong with this oil!
4.) Rituel de Fille Ash & Ember Eye Soot – I think this product has made my list a time or two because it is such an awesome eye product. It blends beautifully and whether I wear it on its own or use it as a base for other eye makeup, it never disappoints! Love the shade ‘Anima’.
5.) Ouli’s All Purpose Beauty Balm – This balm is a skin savior during cold weather! I use it to lock in other products during my nighttime skincare routine and I love using it on my lips and cuticles to keep them ultra-hydrated.
Lives in New Jersey. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
1.) Ursa Major Mountain Glow serum – This (for me) is an all-in-one product. I first tried it over the summer, and was surprised that it was hydrating enough to use on its own. In colder months it layers perfectly with a face oil or balm. It plumps and gives your skin a dewy glow.
2.) EVOLVh SmartCurl Hydrating Wash – This shampoo is perfection for my hair type that needs a little extra coaxing to pump up my curls. Only a small amount is needed for a good cleanse and it actually lathers, which is not always the case with natural shampoos.
3.) EVOLVh InstaVolume Elixir (Step 2) – I have never been one to use a traditional conditioner after washing my hair – only leave-in. This used in combination with the EVOLVh SmartCurl Hydrating Wash is the perfect combo, detangling while still creating volume and defined waves.
4.) Free + True Body Prophet – Love this body serum that is lighter than a body oil but more than a lotion. The texture is silky and the scent is spa-like and refreshing.
5.) MARA Sea Silk Lip Balm – Definitely not your average lip balm, this formula is so luxe and thick (but not sticky). I am a true lip balm junkie, have tried them all and this is the first new lip product that has impressed me in a long time.
Lives in Los Angeles, California. Skin Type: Normal/Dry
As I mentioned above, this year I tried to pick five products that no other Integrity Botanicals Team Members had picked in their top five, just to give as many products the spotlight as possible. This was hard, because, like Jen, I loved the Ursa Major Mountain Glow serum, and like Terri I adore the HAN Multi-Stick and the EVOLVh Superfinish Polishing Balm. Like Ashley S., I love TOK Beauty Mascara, but I picked it for my list last year, so that was easy to avoid duplicating this year even though I still use it! Like Marc, I use Routine Cream deodorant, though I prefer the Superstar formula, and like Ashley B., I am an RMS girl, and also like the new foundation so much. And I [d’]Still love d’Still’s Face Cleansing Balm, but I picked it last year, so you already know I love it.
So, all of that aside, here are my five original picks (OKAY, there are SEVEN, I can’t help it!)!
1.) Josh Rosebrook C Body Cream – It was a tight race between this Cream and the brand’s new Ultra Peptide Cream, because the brand has put out a lot of terrific newness lately. In fact, by choosing the C Body Cream, I’m really endorsing all three of Josh Rosebrook’s new-ish body care line.
2.) Leahlani Skincare Aqua A Retinoid Renewing Serum – Retinol Serum that smells like Hawaii?! Yes, please! This serum isn’t irritating or harsh, and I love to pair it with a layer of Leahlani’s Bless Balm for the full experience.
3.) Axiology Tinted Dew Multistick in Peace – I have loved Axiology from the very beginning, and I am in awe of the fact that they’ve gone 100% plastic free without compromising ANYTHING. They still make the best lipsticks and multi-sticks, and do it without plastic and excess waste. It’s truly amazing. I singled out this nude color, but honestly, they’re all great.
3.) Fitglow Lip and Lash Discovery Kit – This is my favorite kind of “cheat” in these lists because I get to shout out my love for Fitglow’s Vegan Good Lash+ Mascara AND for their cult-status Lip Color Serums, and call it one product. Plus, the Lip Serums are minis, and they’re the cutest, and I like to keep one in every bag/car/drawer/nightstand/etc in my life. Plus, though these products aren’t new, the kit is, so I get to cheat twice!
4.) Maya Chia Super Naked Face Oil – I’ve never made a Top-3 or Top-5 or Top-anything list without including Maya Chia, and for good reason. The brand consistently creates products that a) WORK, b) smell great, and c) fill gaps in the market. Here’s a gap that I know was waiting to be filled for many friends: the same efficacy we’ve come to expect from Maya Chia, but without essential oils, and plus a plant sugar-derived squalane. <Chef’s Kiss> Perfection!
5.) RMS Beauty Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow – I’ve always loved RMS’ eye shadows and was devastated when I heard they were discontinuing the original cream pots of shadows. But I needn’t have worried! This re-formulation/recreation of RMS eyeshadows improved what I already thought was perfect! Similar great shades, new no-crease, long-lasting formula. They’re truly fantastic.
Plus, two more.;) Bonus!
FāTH Resurfacing Botanical Cleanser – I love a good scrub, but they can be harsh on skin, even skin like mine that’s not particularly sensitive! But this cleanser, despite having both chemical (pomegranate enzymes) and physical (bamboo fibers) exfoliating mechanisms, remains super gentle. I can use it daily without any irritation. It removes makeup and sunscreen and grime and still leaves my skin so soft and plump.
14e Aloe Nourish Foundation SPF 23 – This is a wonderful tinted SPF moisturizer, special because it goes on without too much shine, and offers the perfect amount of coverage. A+, no notes.
Once again, we’ve managed to cover a ton of wonderful, clean beauty picks, and yet, there are still HUNDREDS we couldn’t pick! Why is this so hard? Because there are so many great options, and THAT is a good thing. When I started writing about clean beauty in 2010, there were… not as many great options, so I am truly grateful every day.
Happy 2023 to everyone. I hope you can enjoy and appreciate all the myriad of fantastic options we carry at Integrity Botanicals. As always, I’m leaving you with my best advice for the coming year: Wear sunscreen on your face! (Yes, every day, even in the winter, regardless of where you live, and you’re welcome!)