Sarah talks skincare, beauty and gives us her top tips on how to soothe sensitive skin and ensure a healthy skincare routine without flare-ups. Launched only five years ago, Pai is the the cleanest plant-based skincare on the market formulated with a range of products for people with sensitive skin and allergy-prone skin.
What was the inspiration behind Pai?
I founded Pai after years of battling a bad skin allergy. I couldn’t find any products on the market that my skin could tolerate, so set about creating my own. Like many people I initially turned to organic products for help, but the more I searched, the more disillusioned I became. I couldn’t believe the number of beauty products claiming to be ‘organic’ that weren’t certified and still contained a long list of harsh chemicals and irritants.
How did you come up with the name Pai?
‘Pai’ means goodness in Maori, reflecting the beautifully clean and high-grade botanicals that are at the heart of our products. My Mum’s from New Zealand, so it’s a little tribute to her.
You have developed a unique organic formula for sensitive skin, when did you first become interested in beauty?
Before Pai I was your average beauty consumer, chopping and changing products with little consideration for what they contained. When I developed urticaria my attitude changed forever. My skin issues triggered a real obsession with cosmetic ingredients and a fascination with how the skin worked as an organ.
What is the most common trigger for aggravating sensitive skin?
Phenoxyethanol would be one. Many manufacturers use this preservative as an alternative to Parabens and you find it in a lot of natural products as a result. Phenoxyethanol is a bad irritant that most sensitive skin can’t tolerate. It’s now being disallowed under new organic certification standards in Europe. Another is alcohol – often written on ingredient lists as ‘alcohol denat’. It is sensitising, drying and strips the skin of its natural oils. Happy and healthy skin needs to have a good pH and oil balance in which alcohol upsets both, so it is a big no-no in my book.
What advice would you give to our readers who want to set up their own business?
Stick to your principles and keep innovating. There is nothing more profoundly rewarding then creating something meaningful from nothing but your own hard work. Finally, it’s not for the fainthearted, be prepared for an almighty slog.
Can you clue StyleNest readers on any exciting projects you might be working on?
We have two fabulous new product launches planned for September and November this year. The first is for pregnant ladies, can’t say more than that. The other is a facial product and is so super-special it’s TOP secret. Sorry, you’ll have to wait and see.
What is your everyday skincare routine?
I cleanse with our Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser and purifying Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Toner every night and follow up with a few drops of our Rosehip BioRegenerate oil three times a week. I also apply our Echium Rejuvenating Eye Cream 2-3 evenings a week. On the nights when I don’t use the Rosehip Oil, I leave my skin to breathe and regenerate itself naturally. In the morning I moisturise with our Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream.
Going into winter, will you be adjusting your skincare regime?
I have a classic combination complexion, so I use the Geranium & Thistle Moisturiser the majority of the year. In mid winter I upgrade to our Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream, which contains more nourishing oils and soothing extracts. My urticaria tends to be worse in the cooler months, making me more prone to itchy flare-ups.
When you’re not working, how do you relax?
I have experienced first hand the negative effects of stress on my skin and health in general. Hitting the sack early with my kindle always calms me down after a stressful day. I also love live music so try and fit in a gig when I need to completely switch off.
Other than Pai what are your top hero products you swear by?
Savon De Marseille Olive Oil Soap. It produces a wonderful natural lather and is so natural it never dries out my skin – unlike other harsher soaps and shower gels. Mineral Make-up has changed my life. I like the Lily Lolo and Inika powder foundations which give a nice natural coverage. They’re best applied with a Kubuki brush. I love beautiful, feminine scents but for years had to forgo perfumes because of my allergy. I love Strange Invisible Perfumes which are wonderful natural fragrances. I spray them on my clothes rather than directly on my skin.
Describe in a few sentences a day in the life of Sarah Brown at Pai?
There is no such thing as an average day. My office day starts with breakfast at my desk while I follow up on emails and tweets from the evening before. I often will meet in the morning with our formulation and manufacturing team to discuss production priorities or to test any new product trials. It’s always the most exciting part of the job. The rest of the day could be spent on marketing plans, reviewing packaging designs or finalising new international distribution deals.
Any top tips for our readers on how to look fabulous in just five minutes?
Always ensure your skin is prepped before you apply make-up. I like to do a gentle polish with our Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator. Make-up will always look and feel better if the skin underneath is soft, smooth and hydrated.
Women often neglect their skin after a night out. What is the quickest most effective way to remove make-up fast and cleanse efficiently?
As tempting as they may be – disposable wipes are NOT the answer. To keep all those moist layers of tissue mould and bacteria free for years at a time they require an amazing amount of alcohol and other preservatives which aren’t good for the skin. A quick cleanse with a detergent-free cream cleanser and muslin cloth takes 30 seconds longer but is a hundred times better for your skin balance and health. Your skin will love you for it in the morning.
What is your top beauty secret?
As far as sensitive and problem skin is concerned, few people really appreciate the importance of diet. Pure, gentle and high performance skincare is essential, but truly healthy skin comes from within. I am a big advocate of essential fatty acid (omega) supplements as they keep the skin calm and conditioned from the inside. I also recommend a slightly alkaline diet for customers with uncooperative skin – Ragner Berg’s research in the 1930s showed acidic foods to have an aggravating effect on reactive skin.
What do you think is real beauty?
Confident and content women radiate real beauty. Embrace those laughter lines and minor imperfections – they’re your souvenirs of a happy life and make you, well you! We’re continually bombarded with airbrushed images we can’t live up to and the message that ‘youth = beauty’. It’s soulless and negative marketing. You can be truly beautiful at any age.
What fashion brands do you love?
Anthropologie – I blew a lot of my hard earned cash in this store when I worked in the US. My all-time favourite dress comes from here – it’s a 1950s vintage style with bateau neckline and full layered skirt. It always gets ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ when I roll it out! I’m not a fashion hound and don’t religiously follow the latest trends. Quite the opposite, I know what I like and what suits me. I far prefer investing in a few unique gems than bundles of high street clothes.