Mascara(Photo: Courtesy of Good Housekeeping)

MASCARAS

OUR MISSION: Natural mascaras are notorious for their so-so performance (flaking and smudging) and steep price tags. So GHRI set out to find the best of the bunch on store shelves — for $20 or less.

HOW WE SCREENED: Our scientists first performed a lengthy evaluation of the ingredients in mascaras claiming to be natural. Any containing triethanolamine (an emulsifier), added parabens, or synthetic dyes, waxes, or fragrances were eliminated.

THE WINNER: In a close race, Lavera Volume Mascara ($20, lavera.com) came in first. It oomphed up lashes without flaking, smudging, or eye irritation, reported testers. "It was easy to apply and didn't clump on the brush," said one.

HONORABLE MENTION: Second-place finisher 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara ($18, 100percentpure.com) scored for its pleasant scent. While it ranked a smidge behind Lavera in flaking and smudging, testers liked how it made their lashes look. "It added just a touch of darkness without being thick or goopy," noted one.

FACE MOISTURIZERS

OUR MISSION: There's no shortage of "natural" face moisturizers on the market. But which ones are free of controversial synthetics, feel good on your skin, and cost $20 or less?

HOW WE SCREENED: After poring over labels, the lab cut any contenders containing added parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances, or petrochemical-derived waxes or oils. Those remaining were each sent to 20 women, who rated qualities from scent to texture.

THE WINNER: Women loved Nature's Gate Rice Bran Moisturizer ($15, natures-gate.com), noting that the "very light and nongreasy texture" delivered immediate hydration and was absorbed quickly. "Several hours later, my skin still felt smooth," said one volunteer.

HONORABLE MENTION: Acing second: Weleda Iris Hydrating Facial Lotion ($20, usa.weleda.com). While Nature's Gate won kudos from testers for being fragrance-free, the two tied for going on smoothly and not irritating skin. Some volunteers preferred this heftier option: "It felt very rich and made my skin feel soft," said one.

TINTED LIP BALMS

OUR MISSION: For women who want subtle lip color minus synthetics, natural tinted balms are a good option. To find out which performed best, our team evaluated the most affordable options — each $7 or less.

HOW WE SCREENED: Our lab excluded any tinted balms containing added parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrances, or petrochemical-derived waxes or oils. The ones that made the cut were sent to testers, who weighed in on their feel, color, and moisturizing power.

THE WINNER: It was a clean sweep: Burt's Bees Tinted Lip Balm ($7, burtsbees.com) outperformed the competition in all categories, including leaving lips hydrated. "I really like the texture. It was neither too thick nor too thin, and it didn't feel gooey — just comfortable," said one volunteer.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kiss My Face Sheer Organic Shimmer ($5, kissmyface.com) garnered good scores for its soft — yet still noticeable — shimmery hue and a refreshing smell. "It has not only a nice color, but a nice peppermint scent as well," reported a tester.