Each month, model, art director and clean beauty buff Braina Laviena will be sharing her musings on skincare, ingredients, and everything in between. So far, she shared her non-toxic makeup favorites and products she's used to the very last drop. This month, she's sharing the clean, effective moisturizers that save her sensitive skin during the frigid winter months.
We all know the winter months can be incredibly harsh on our skin. When the temperatures drop and our skin gets drier, your first impulse might be to reach for the heaviest moisturizer within our near vicinity— but it might benefit your skin to take pause. A lot of mainstream moisturizers offer that thick, comforting, balm-y texture you want to slather all over our face, but a closer look at the ingredients list reveals reveals preservatives, fillers, and even toxic ingredients that do anything but hydrate your skin. As someone who struggles with dry skin all year long, I’ve tried my share of lotions, creams, and balms. I need my lotions to not just to feel good and work in the moment, but also to contribute to my skin’s ongoing health with natural, clean ingredients that are responsibly sourced. I’m highly demanding when it comes to moisturizers, which is why I wanted to share my favorites ahead. (Not included in this list but always a favorite is Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisturizer, which I wrote about in my last article about skincare products I use to the last drop.)
How do I even begin to explain the miracle balm with a cult following that is Yay for Earth? Let’s start with its uses. Personally, I use it on my face, lips, body, dry hands or feet, dry nose, and—stay with me here—inside my eye. Let me explain: I have very dry eyes and my doctor prescribed a petroleum-based goop to put in my eye. I looked for natural alternatives and found none until Yay for Earth—and I’ve never looked back. The most amazing thing about it is its simplicity: just four hardworking natural ingredients that make it safe to put anywhere—even on pets! If you’ve ever wondered if you could use just one product for your entire body, look no further.
Sonya Dakar needs no introduction; she’s a skincare legend with over 30 years of experience blending botanical oils with cutting-edge science. Her newest product, Blue Butterfly Balm, is powered by the extract of the flower by the same name, which happens to be rich in ingredients that fight free radicals and antioxidants that can increase collagen production and prevent wrinkles. Not just that though— it contains about 20 more botanicals, each with a specific purpose. Not to mention, it feels incredible with a cushion-y, whipped balm texture and its calming properties get to work right away to calm redness and irritation. I keep mine in the fridge and massage it on in the mornings as an additional way to depuff.
I’m a fan of LOLI, not only because they’re a zero waste company producing skincare responsibly, but because all of their products truly deliver results. This super smooth, buttery, food grade, multi-use balm is powered by seeds and packed with omega-3s from chia seed oil, carrot seed oil and sea buckthorn oil. The “brûlée” gives you an instant glow with its beautiful, all-natural color. Plus, you can use it all over your body, or even as a cream cleanser for hard-to-remove makeup.
This lotion feels pretty much like a whipped cloud—it’s that soft. It’s also regenerative, powered by chamomile, sage and St. John’s Wort flowers carried in rosehip oil to be gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. It’s simultaneously thick, yet lightweight, so a little goes a long way, I love to use it as a primer under makeup because it just makes your skin so soft and silky.
Formulated by makeup artist Gloria Noto, NOTO’s motto is “Define the best, eliminate the rest.” This comes through clearly in her simple-yet-effective natural products, like this Moisture Riser cream— a super silky, decadent moisturizer with a calming scent. Perfect for your nightly beauty routine, it’s powered by hyaluronic acid for deep hydration, clary sage to regulate sebum, tone, and reduce inflammation, and blue green algae (which is full of minerals and B vitamins). Other hero botanicals include marula oil, blue tansy, rose geranium and carrot seed oil.
This super luxurious balm melts into a serum that is totally absorbed into your skin, leaving no stickiness behind. Powered by marula oil, it repairs damage to your skin from stress and environmental pollution; with repeated use, it can increase the firmness of skin over time. But my favorite thing about it is the wonderful scent of jasmine, damask rose and bergamot—I like to apply to my pressure points as an alternative to perfume.
Photography and art direction by Braina Laviena