The Story Behind Honest Beauty
Founded by actress Jessica Alba, The Honest Company started with household products and baby items with an emphasis on clean ingredients. The brand expanded in 2015 with the launch of Honest Beauty, a line of clean skincare, hair care, and cosmetic products.
Based on the brand’s history, it’s imperative that we thoroughly review the product details so that you’ll know which products are worth trying out and which ones to skip. And that’s exactly what we’ll cover in this Honest Beauty review.
We’ll discuss the best Honest Beauty skincare products and the formulation details, including the key ingredients and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skincare. We’ll also share some Honest Beauty reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
Is Honest Beauty Skincare Worth The Money?
A common question about this brand is if the products are worth the cost.
In our opinion, Honest beauty products deliver value for money, but take a look at other brands that don’t require you to sacrifice your precious money.
We recommend brands that are committed to developing clean yet effective products.
One brand is Carrot & Stick, a clean skincare brand that perfectly balances the gentle nurturing of plants with the powerful results of innovative science.
Carrot & Stick intro bundles deliver great value for money because you can bundle 3 full-size products worth up to
$240 for $88.
What’s Inside Honest Beauty Skin Care?
Like we mentioned above, formulating non-toxic products is a top priority for Honest Beauty, which is why the brand has created a NO List™ — a list of over 2,500 chemicals/materials they choose not to use in their products. The NO List™ is made up of category-specific lists because what causes a chemical/material to pose a risk is dependent on how and where it’s used.
So what about the ingredients that are included in Honest Beauty skincare products?
The brand combines naturally-derived ingredients — like seed oils, shea butter, and botanical extracts — with safe synthetics, such as vitamin C and retinoids. Both of these ingredients should be part of your skincare routine. Here’s why:
There’s no such thing as a miracle treatment when it comes to combating age, though vitamin C comes pretty close. It’s a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin from environmental free radical damage.
Vitamin C also helps fade dark spots, evens out skin tone, and increases radiance. As if that wasn’t enough, research suggests that when vitamin C is applied to the skin, it significantly reverses aging-related structural changes by influencing collagen and elastin synthesis.
It’s in Honest Beauty Vitamin C Serum.
But our favorite Vitamin C serum is Carrot & Stick The Defence Serum. It contains 3 distinct types of Vitamin C that work together to help fight free radical damage. We recommend using it every morning.
Retinoids are the go-to anti-aging ingredients recommended by dermatologists and skin experts. They are clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores.
The only downside? Retinoids can often lead to side effects like skin dryness, peeling, and irritation.
Honest Beauty’s Honestly Pure Retinyl Serum contains Retinyl Linoleate, a vitamin A derivative.
It’s best to use retinoids at night. We recommend this retinoid oil serum. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, an ingredient that provides similar benefits with less irritation.
There’s also a few unique ingredients used throughout the line, such as diglucosyl gallic acid (Brightenyl) in the Honest Beauty Vitamin C Radiance Serum and Mondo grass in the Honest Beauty Calm + Heal Melting Balm.
One thing to keep in mind is that many of the Honest Beauty skincare products contain fragrant essential oils, which can be a problem due to the potential to cause contact allergies, skin irritation, and even skin damage.
In fact, according to a 2016 publication in the scholarly journal Dermatitis, nearly 80 essential oils have caused contact allergy. This is because all fragrance ingredients (whether natural or synthetic) impart scent through a volatile reaction, and this natural reaction almost always causes a sensitizing reaction on skin.
Even if you don’t have a full blown reaction to the ingredient, the damage may still be occurring every day. Ultimately, this can cause mild problems for your skin in the short term and worse problems in the long term.
What Are The Top 10 Best Honest Beauty Skincare Products?
The Honest Beauty skincare collection includes cleansers, creams, mists, moisturizers, serums, facial oils, eye creams and gels, and masks. Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 best Honest Beauty skincare products.
Honest Beauty Magic Beauty Balm is a moisturizing balm housed in a portable compact for when you need to alleviate dry skin on the go. It’s designed to keep you moisturized from head to toe, and can be used on lips, cuticles, hair, elbows, or anywhere that feels dry.
The base of the formula is sunflower oil, and a few of the supporting key ingredients include olive oil, beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter. While these ingredients have their own unique compositions, they all function as emollients. An emollient helps to soften, soothe, and moisturize skin.
And it’s great that this balm is fragrance-free, so there’s minimal risk of skin sensitivity!
Bottom Line: A moisturizing balm with a base of sunflower oil and nourishing emollients to keep skin soft and moisturized.
We love a good facial oil. Applying a few drops before going to bed may leave you looking a tad greasy, but it’s totally worth it for the fresh, glowing skin in the morning.
Unfortunately, the Honest Beauty Facial Oil isn’t one we can recommend. While the formula contains a few nourishing oils, like olive and avocado oil, it’s also packed with fragrant essential oils, such as lavender, bergamot, clove, and many more.
These essential oils create a pleasant fragrance, but keep in mind that fragrance is not skincare! These ingredients have the potential to cause skin sensitivity reactions.
It’s definitely not worth exposing your skin to these sensitizing ingredients, especially since there are so many great facial oils on the market, like Formulyst Nourishing Oil, Maelove Pure Marula Oil, and The Ordinary 100% Squalane, just to name a few.
Bottom Line: Honest Beauty Facial Oil includes many fragrant essential oils, which could lead to skin sensitivity.
A 2019 Byrdie Skin Care Award Winner, the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream is one of the brand’s best-sellers due to its lightweight, bouncy texture that hydrates and cools on the application as it leaves a dewy finish.
The formula includes a high concentration of the emollient squalane. Squalane is super-light, non-greasy, and sinks into the skin fast, yet it helps the skin to instantly feel soft and moisturized.
This cream also contains two types of hyaluronic acid with different molecular weights designed to help bind and retain moisture in different layers of the skin.
Bottom Line: Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream is a lightweight, fast-absorbing facial cream that combines squalane and two types of hyaluronic acid to help soften and moisturize skin without feeling heavy or greasy.
The K-Beauty 10-step skincare routines were all the rage a couple years ago, but now it’s evident that consumers want simplicity. And that’s exactly what the Honest Beauty CC Cream will give you as it combines 3 products — sunscreen, moisturizer, and primer — into one formula.
This CC cream provides adequate sun protection with the mineral sunscreen ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which together provide broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection.
The formula includes plenty of silky emollients and silicones, as well as synthetic mica to diffuse the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, pores, and uneven skin tone for a smooth, radiant complexion.
Oh and did we mention it’s available in 9 shades? Ranging from deep to fair, these blendable, luminous shades are designed with 5% pigment to complement a wide range of skin tones and undertones. Plus, the tint means you don’t have to worry about a white cast from the mineral sunscreens!
Bottom Line: The Honest Beauty CC Cream is a multi-tasking product that provides SPF 30 protection while also color-correcting, moisturizing, and hiding imperfections.
Despite vitamin C being in the name of this product, the formula actually contains a very low concentration of vitamin C (less than 1%).
We know this because vitamin C is listed after xanthan gum on the ingredient list (which is in order of descending concentrations). Xanthan gum is a thickener that is generally used at a concentration of 1%, but as little as 0.1% can be used in many applications.
Vitamin C is an ingredient that can be used in pretty high concentrations in skin care. One product that comes to mind is The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension, which contains a whopping 30% vitamin C!
All of this is to say that the low concentration of vitamin C in Honest Beauty’s serum is pretty disappointing.
Fortunately, the brand has included one skin-brightening ingredient in this serum, and that’s diglucosyl gallic acid (trade name Brightenyl).
Diglucosyl gallic acid is a synthetic molecule that’s activated by the skin’s microbiome and functions as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and tyrosinase inhibitor. Tyrosinase is the key enzyme involved in the production of melanin (skin pigment). So by inhibiting this enzyme, diglucosyl gallic acid can help to reduce dark spots and promote a more even skin tone.
In a study published by the manufacturer, it was found that using 2% Brightenyl for 12 weeks controlled skin tone via the inhibition of melanin synthesis as well as the modulation of skin brightness, yellowness, and redness.
Bottom Line: While the Honest Beauty Vitamin C Serum contains a very low concentration of vitamin C, the inclusion of diglucosyl gallic acid may be able to help fade dark spots and promote a more even skin tone.
If you want to quickly add some color to your lips while also keeping them smooth and moisturized, Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm could be the perfect product for you. It’s a hybrid of creamy lipstick and lip balm, available in 7 shades from nude to deep red.
Infused with avocado oil and antioxidant-rich extracts like pomegranate and acai, this tinted lip balm glides smoothly onto your lips, helping them to instantly feel soft and nourished.
One problem we noticed with Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm is that the color fades and dries after just a few hours. But this isn’t a huge deal; just carry the product with you during the day so you can reapply when necessary.
Bottom Line: A nourishing tinted lip balm that helps lips feel smooth and moisturized, but you may need to reapply several times per day.
When it comes to gel cleansers, Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser doesn’t really stand out from the crowd. Like most cleansers, it contains surfactants as the key ingredients in order to attract dirt, oil, and impurities, and wash them away when you rinse your face.
The formula includes chamomile and calendula extracts to soothe the skin, but there are also fragrance ingredients in this cleanser, which may cause skin sensitivity.
Another problem with this cleanser is that it does not fully remove makeup and dirt in one wash. But this may not be a problem if you don’t wear makeup, or if you follow a double cleansing routine to remove excess sebum and oily makeup first.
Bottom Line: A basic gel cleanser that includes some soothing extracts, but also includes fragrance which could lead to skin sensitivity.
This clay-based moisturizing mask promises to nourish and replenish dull, tired skin with a combination of kaolin, black currant extract, shea butter, vitamin E, and superfruits.
All clay masks can help to absorb excess oil, reduce shine, and unclog pores. Plus, the clay helps to gently exfoliate the skin while you’re washing the mask off.
The shea butter in this mask helps to soften skin while the blend of black currant extract and superfruits like raspberry and pineapple provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Bottom Line: A moisturizing clay mask that should help to improve the look of dull, tired skin.
This is a rich facial cream that feels thick yet absorbs nicely without leaving any greasy residue, making it perfect for those with dry skin or anyone that prefers a rich moisturizer.
The formula includes a combination of humectants to draw in moisture, emollients to soften skin, and silicones to give this product a silky texture.
Unfortunately, this is another Honest Beauty product that contains fragrance, so we cannot recommend it.
Bottom Line: A rich face cream with standard ingredients (humectants, emollients, silicones) that feels nice on the skin, but the presence of fragrance may cause skin sensitivity.
This is an ultra-rich cream-to-balm that promises to heal dry skin, leaving it dewy and moisturized.
The active ingredient is 0.5% allantoin, a very gentle and effective moisturizing ingredient. Allantoin is also keratolytic, which means it has the ability to smooth skin through the exfoliation of the top layer of dead skin cells. Allantoin can help to increase skin smoothness, aid in wound healing, and promote cell proliferation and longevity.
There’s also plenty of emollients in this balm, such as sunflower seed oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, rice bran wax, and shea butter.
Lastly, this balm features Mondo grass, which has been shown to strengthen the skin barrier and increase skin hydration.
Bottom Line: A rich balm that melts upon application, soothing skin with a mixture of emollients, allantoin, and Mondo grass.
How Much Do Honest Beauty Skincare Products Cost?
Honest Beauty skincare products are pretty affordable, with the prices being comparable to higher-end drugstore brands such as Olay and Burt’s Bees. For example, the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream costs $19.99 for 1.7 oz, and the Tinted Lip Balm costs $8.99.
Where to Buy Honest Beauty Skincare Products?
Honest Beauty skincare products are sold on the brand’s website (honest.com), as well as several third-party online sellers including Target, Amazon, Ulta, and more.
What is The Honest Beauty Return Policy?
The Honest Beauty return policy states, “Returns are accepted within 90 days of your order date for orders placed on Honest.com and shipping within the contiguous United States. After we receive your returned items, we will process your refund onto your original form of payment. Original shipping and handling fees and ‘Duties & Taxes Reimbursements’ will not be refunded.”
Is Honest Beauty Cruelty-Free?
The Honest Company is certified cruelty-free by PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program. They do not test on animals during product development or production — or allow any third parties to do so with their products.
Is Honest Beauty Vegan?
While some Honest Beauty products are vegan, this is not a 100% vegan brand because animal-derived ingredients (like beeswax) are used in some products.
Honest Beauty Reviews
Honest Beauty reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive. One product that has received plenty of positive feedback is the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream, which has earned an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 300 customer reviews.
The positive reviews for the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream mention how well it moisturizes, cools, and soothes skin.
For example, one review says, “I have been using this cream for a little over a month now and I love it! I actually just purchased another bottle since they are having a great Spring sale right now. It’s creamy but lightweight and it just makes my face glow! It really does feel like you face is having a glass of water. Very cooling and soothing.”
And another 5-star review says, “I have dry sensitive skin with occasional breakouts/redness, and this cream is so hydrating and soothing. I would say it is on the heavier side, so it is more cream than gel but not too thick and I would use this in both summer and winter. It feels great going on my skin and I find I almost never have to reapply as I do with other creams. And magically it doesn’t leave my face greasy either.”
However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream that comment on the texture of the cream, mentioning that it’s watery, doesn’t spread easily, and doesn’t moisturize well.
For example, one review says, “Totally horrible! Honestly, it’s like you’re just putting on your face water & a cheap layer of lotion. It’s NOT moisturizing or hydrating at all my skin feels dry within 2 minutes & I don’t notice any difference or improvements with it. Won’t be buying again.
There are several more Honest Beauty reviews that have similar things to say about the Hydrogel Cream. For instance, “This was hard to work with, it does not glide on easily…..you shouldn’t have to work so hard for this to blend into your skin…… very very disappointed with this cream. I would not recommend this cream.”
Overall, we think that some Honest Beauty skincare products are better than others, and we’d recommend avoiding the products that contain fragrance.
- Products contain beneficial key ingredients (glycerin, shea butter, vitamin E, jojoba oil, etc)
- Many positive Honest Beauty reviews
- Honest Beauty is cruelty-free
- Some products contain fragrance
What Are Some Alternatives to Honest Beauty Skincare Products?
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that’s effective and safe.
If you’re looking for effective skincare products that skip harmful toxins, one brand we recommend is Carrot & Stick.
Carrot & Stick is committed to creating plant-derived formulas that deliver extraordinary results without relying on toxic chemicals or standard preservatives.
Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the gentle nurturing of plants with innovative science.