A Parisian beauty editor once told me she and her colleagues liken Whole Foods to Disneyland. They don’t have anything like it in France, and much like you’d be hard-pressed to find an American editor who won’t shut up about the wonders of Monoprix (myself included), French beauty fans love hitting up Whole Foods’ Whole Body section whenever they’re in the States to stock up on the best in niche organic and all-natural beauty. Of course, we tend to take what we have readily available for granted, and up to that point, I hadn’t really poked around in Whole Body too much. But it took a foreigner to make me realize I’d been largely ignoring a pretty killer beauty destination for way too long.
As much of a one-stop shop as Whole Body already is for natural, nontoxic products (many of which are relatively inexpensive and have cult followings), you’re only going to see it get better in the coming months—and you have Maren Giuliano, head of beauty and wellness at Whole Foods, to thank for that. It’s her responsibility to source and curate the products that appear on Whole Body’s shelves—an honor reserved for few qualifying brands. “Our goal is to carry the best natural skincare products on the market and we’re always looking to elevate our standards,” she says. “We have strict standards for what we allow in every aisle of our store, but that’s especially true for our beauty department.
Each time Giuliano and her team are considering a new product or brand, it goes through a rigorous vetting process that covers everything from formulation (“We screen for more than 400 ingredients, including parabens,” says Giuliano) to company conditions and the backstory behind a given brand. “It’s really important that a brand aligns with our company’s mission and that the brand uses their platform for good,” she says.
All of this has allowed Whole Body to stock an exclusive but illustrious array of brands, a number that is only growing exponentially with the rise of eco-friendly and organic beauty as a greater trend. Inexpensive essential oils and petroleum-free jellies share shelf space with luxe, organic skincare and makeup, making for a wonderful variety that’s all tied together by clean ingredients and reliability. Right now, popular brands range from Dr. Hauschka and Burt’s Bees to Weleda and Juice Beauty. Whole Body’s next major launch is from Whole Foods’ native brand: a salon-quality haircare line due in November. Giuliano notes they’re also starting to focus on indie and international brands.
Which brings me back to that Disneyland analogy. Aside from the excitement and fun of perusing Whole Body, it’s also sensory overload—you want to sniff, touch, and look at everything. So to save you a little time on your next visit, we asked Giuliano to handpick her must-have items—and threw in a few of our own, too. Click through below to see some of the best beauty products at Whole Foods.