As someone who could spend an eternity ogling produce, I frequently find myself entranced by, say, those artful tumbles of tomatillos at Whole Foods. As someone who has spent an eternity covering the beauty industry, I just as often find myself in the stores' Whole Body aisles. There — among the soaps, scrubs, and salves — I sniff a ridiculous amount of product. (The way to a beauty editor's heart is through her nose, I'm pretty sure.)
Of course, no matter how great a product smells, it has to work, too. And once you apply both criteria, clear must-haves start to emerge. Yes, this list is totally subjective and ever-changing — because who knows what's going to hit shelves tomorrow?
For now, however, here's the number-one thing I'm obsessed with.
The best non-food item to buy at Whole Foods is 365 by Whole Foods Market Lavender Shower Gel ($8 for 32 ounces).
Lavender is one of the hardest scents to get right. Done well, it's somehow squeaky-clean and intoxicating all at once. Err even the tiniest bit on either side of that divide, and the spell is broken. The result is too clinical, too perfume-y — or otherwise off.
So a shower gel that strikes the perfect balance seems a minor miracle. This stuff is basically Provence in a bottle (a 50 precent recycled bottle, at that!).
Beyond the sublime scent, there are the gentle sudsing agents, the natural skin conditioners (argan and coconut oils), and the lather that stands in for a shaving foam.
Seriously, if you're going to buy only one thing at Whole Foods, bypass even the most beautiful produce in favor of this body wash.
And should you feel like browsing the rest of the beauty aisle, here are four more buys I love.
4 More Beauty Buys from Whole Foods
- Weleda Skin Food: Celebs — and celeb makeup artists — stockpile this stuff the way other people stockpile batteries and water bottles. Here's why: It's an all-natural, do-everything treatment, whose powers include extreme moisturizing; soothing chapped lips; softening scary elbows, heels, and cuticles; and—in a pinch—taming frizz. As for scent, you'll get the faintest hit of herbal-citrus goodness, then a gradual dissipation.
- Whole Foods 85% Organic Triple French Milled Soap in Lemon Verbena: In soap making, as in cooking, the more go-rounds through a mill, the finer your ingredients become. And in French soap making, three times through is the traditional gold standard — the point at which you'll get the richest, creamiest lather and the most even dispersal of scent, among other elements. Not that you'll care about those other elements once you smell this bar: It's all about the verbena.
- Eos Lip Balms: If you loved Bonne Bell Lip Smackers as a kid (hello, nostalgia!), these pods are for you. Even stripped of such associations, the delicious orbs are, um, the balm. (Get it?) Doubling as breath freshener (in the case of this mint) or dessert (in the case of everything else), they also pack skin-healthy helpings of shea butter, jojoba oil, and antioxidants.
- Acure Brightening Facial Scrub: A doppelganger for green juice, this scrub is packed not with kale but with clay — of the French green variety (great at extracting anything you don't want in your skin). Other healthy greens include antioxidant-rich chlorella and chlorophyll, and soothing aloe. Oh, and the lemon peel twist is there for its brightening and sloughing abilities.
What Whole Foods beauty products do you swear by?