It can be tough during the holiday season to find small gifts that aren’t either filled with toxic chemicals, made entirely of sugar or packaged in tons of wasteful plastic – or some combination of the three.
To help, we’ve curated a roundup of healthier gifts that are different from the small presents typically exchanged year after year. They all bear the EWG VERIFIED® mark, which means they’ve been vetted by our scientists and found to be free from the chemicals we find most worrisome, meeting our strictest standards for your health.
Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, consider giving one of the following healthy pampering items.
Scents of safety
Scented products are often filled with toxic chemicals. Seemingly pleasant smells can lead to allergic reactions, among other responses. That can even be true of fine fragrances.
But not Henry Rose, the first EWG VERIFIED fragrance line, which is made with 100 percent transparency. A fun gift would be the Henry Rose Discovery Set, with samples of all 12 Henry Rose fragrances, including the brand new Menace. Or take a look at other gift options, including the splurge anyone on your list would be thrilled to get – the Slumberparty, a set of all 12 fragrances in adorable 10 milliliter mini bottles.
Best of all, they’re “genderless” – “scents for you, not your gender.”
A cleaner cleanser
Who doesn’t love an exfoliant? It’s just that, if you’re like many of us, you sometimes forget to stock one at home (and then actually use it!). This Rice Powder Cleanser contains a gentle plant-based exfoliant that won’t damage the skin. It’s from the newish brand Humanrace, Pharrell Williams’ line of skincare and body care, developed with the help of his long-standing dermatologist.
And it’s a powder, so it travels well and won’t make a mess when stashed in your carry-on.
For your face
There are few places in the U.S. where the central heat isn’t turned on in the colder months. That warm, dry air can turn a person’s skin into a pretty arid zone.
Cue a good moisturizing face mask. The problem is facial masks can be filled with toxic chemicals. That’s not true of wellness brand Shaklee’s Youth Hydrating Gel Mask, featuring hyaluronic acid and herbal extract moisturizers.
One alternative (or supplement) to a hydrating face mask is face oil. Made with an algae extract and argan and grapeseed oil, the Oceanly Phyto-Oil Face Oil is good for use morning and night if you’re super-dry, or only at night for a less intense treatment. Best of all, it’s truly plastic-free – it comes in a biodegradable cardboard push-up tube.
Attitude products are highly sustainable – products include a note about the environmental impact of their packaging. And more than 200 Attitude products are EWG VERIFIED® .
What’s the point of using all those rich skincare products if you’re just going to head outdoors without protecting your face from the sun? Many people forgo sunscreen during colder months, thinking it’s just not necessary. But it’s every bit as crucial, to fend off skin cancer and to protect the face from the signs of aging.
Still, let’s be honest, no one wants to sport a mask of chalky white. Today’s sunscreens are far less obvious – and they’re even more important than ever, especially for anyone spending time outdoors during the winter months.
Here are two great options to give as a gift (or try for yourself). First up is Solara’s “dewy” Suncare Time Traveler Ageless Daily Face Sunscreen, Unscented, SPF 30, a mineral sunscreen especially formulated for sensitive skin.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider something a little different in the sunscreen space: a balm. Reef-Safe Sunscreen Balm, from a global ocean cleanup company, 4Ocean, is a favorite among ocean conservationists.
Turmeric Invigorating Body Scrub (Kora Organics)
It’s no secret our skin can start looking – how shall we say it? – dull, flaky and rough during the cooler months, especially since in many parts of the country, indoor heat has a drying effect. If you find your moisturizers are not performing as well as you’d like, you can try using a body scrub before you slather on a hydrating cream or lotion. Enter Kora Organic’s Tumeric Invigorating Body Scrub body scrub, which can polish away dead skin, thanks to the turmeric it contains, leaving you all tingly-fresh and smooth.
The air holds less moisture this time of year, which affects how quickly our skin loses moisture. Count it as one more reason to help the lucky people on your gift list stock up on presents that moisturize.
The Honest Company’s Face + Body Lotion, made with a blend of plant-based ingredients, is an excellent candidate for your go-to moisturizer. Because who doesn’t love to cover themselves in a yummy-smelling lotion without harmful chemicals? This lotion comes in four scents – Refresh: Citrus Vanilla, Calm: Lavender and Nourish: Sweet Almond – plus a fragrance-free option.
A highlighter is one of those nice-to-have beauty products, which makes it a perfect gift, something the recipient might not already have.
It’s used to draw attention to the parts of the face you’d like to, well, highlight – cheekbones, brow bones, wherever you want a little extra shimmer.
But the shimmer in this type of product often comes from mica, an ingredient frequently sourced through the labor of kids, some as young as 4. (Check out Beautycounter’s short documentary, and you’ll never look at shimmer the same way again.)
By contrast, the mica in Beautycounter’s Cheeky Clean Highlighting Balm is responsibly sourced. Plus, it comes in multiple colors, in a refillable container. That’s three reasons to feel good about looking good.
Beautycounter has more than 100 other EWG VERIFIED products, plus gift sets, including this super-tempting, adorably packaged Keep Cool Radiance Duo. (You might want to grab one for yourself – could come in handy after a late night.)
A lip balm is pretty much the perfect gift, because you can never have too many. After all, you need one everywhere – nightstand, desk, kitchen, car, purse, etc. This balm from True Botanicals Moisture Lock Glossy Balm, in a sheer, pretty pink, has a subtle vanilla rose scent. Really, what more could you ask for?
One of the most classic gifts is something bath-related. This “bath gem” checks that box. Not only will it soothe your mind, it will also address the aches and pains the lucky recipient might experience after some strenuous activity, like last-minute shopping or party-hopping. Packed with arnica and magnesium, it will promote feeling relaxed and restored.
Products for men (Jackfir and Talent)
Men evidently love their personal care products: Our recent survey of personal care product use showed men use these products today nearly twice as much as they did almost 20 years ago.
The guys on your gift list would also probably love being pampered. Choose any one of Jackfir’s four EWG VERIFIED products – cleanser, shaving cream, moisturizer or eye cream – or splurge on all four of them.
You can also consider a gift set from the genderless skincare line Talent – four products that work together, setting up the lucky recipient with an entire skincare routine. Or take a look at Talent’s Starter Set, perfect for the skincare newbie.
If you need even more ideas, you can search EWG’s Skin Deep® database.
And don’t forget to check out our Guide to Healthy Cleaning, which you can consult to get your home ready for entertaining and celebrating during the holidays.