I never thought I’d willingly apply a green mask in public. In a grocery store. In broad daylight.

But Elphaba green I was, sitting at a table in the Whole Foods health and beauty section smearing Acure Organics Cell Stimulating Facial Mask ($16) all over my face as I listened to Shellie Daly, Acure’s educator, talk us through the ingredients.

I had already been using some of Acure Organics’ products and was impressed: the Pure Mint & Echinacea Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner ($11 each) really did add body to hair, an effect noticeable even when wet. The Lavender & Lotus Flower body lotion ($10) sank in immediately; no wait time needed in my rush to the bus.

I had purchased these products on sale, and at such reasonable prices I didn’t have high expectations for their efficacy. But after having those expectations surpassed, I was curious to try more, so I signed up for the Acure demo session. After having been introduced to argan oil in the Kahina Facial Lotion ($62) and hearing about the extensive process of extracting it, and the many ways in which inferior oil can end up in products flooding the market, I specifically wanted to know just how Acure could offer seemingly great-sounding ingredients at such a low price point.

Were Acure Organic products effective or just natural?

Shellie started off with explanations of the key actives in Acure products. In keeping with its mission: the list of what is NOT in the products is much longer than what is included. The base of all cream-based products in the Acure line is Curoxidant, a proprietary blend of five certified-organic ingredients known for high-antioxidant protection: acai, pomegranate, blackberry, rosehip and rooibos. Antioxidants are common in products these days, so I was still waiting to hear what separated Acure from the rest.

Next, we could try a product: I elected to wash my face with the Acure Facial Cleansing Crème ($15). It took every speck of makeup off my face – even the hard-core concealer I thought wouldn’t budge. When I expressed surprise, Shellie laughed and said: “Kristy [Guerra, one of the founders] put our cleansers through a lot of testing to get it to do that.”

Shellie then provided details on other ingredients central to Acure’s line: chlorella, argan oil, and its skin-immune complex. What caught my attention was the chlorella growth factor (CGF), a single-cell green algae ingredient made up of RNA and DNA, nucleic acids crucial for growth. Apparently CGF is clinically proven to increase collagen expression when used at 1% concentration. Acure uses a 1% to 5% concentration in its products – and produces it in house along with a third-party purity certification. Clinical trials on natural ingredients with proven results to de-age the skin? Now we’re talking!

This point was underscored during my conversation with Amy Halman, Acure’s VP of product development, who graciously agreed to answer additional questions I had. She informed me that Jon Guerra, Kristy’s husband and the other cofounder, has extensive experience in the industry and has purposely based his formulations on science and clinical studies – not simply natural ingredients. For example, argan fruit stem cells, a key ingredient in several of the facial products and many of the hair products, is the only clinically proven plant stem cell to penetrate the inner follicular matrix and stimulate our own stem cell growth. Acure products also include other active plant stem cells: lilac, gardenia and gotu kola.

And the argan oil at the heart of most Acure products? Was it truly high quality at an amazing price? I was assured of a “yes.” Acure argan oil is pure and unrefined to maintain a high concentration of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Acure believes in “democratizing skincare” by having no product over $30. Acure has found a way to make a profit and support communities with significant portions of product sales going to support worthy organizations.

So am I now a full Acure convert?

Not yet, but I’m willing to keep trying Acure products. I bought the argan oil after seeing Shellie’s demo of “cocktailing” the night cream and argan oil together on her hand and then applying it. This has been a nice addition to my evening routine – knowing argan oil is good for my occasional acne is a relief too.

What I know now is that good products can also do good things – for me, for our communities, and for our planet. All without breaking the bank.