“Creating Pai was my way of taking back control,” says Sarah Brown, founder of London-based skincare brand Pai, which is specially developed for sensitive and allergy-prone skin.

It’s easy to look at the beauty industry and become overwhelmed. It’s overcrowded, filled with fear-mongering marketing tactics, and often difficult to find what speaks to you and your skin. “I’d reached a dead-end,” says Sarah of her experience battling skin flare-ups. She could no longer rely on her medicine cabinet filled with products claiming to be “hypoallergenic” and “organic.” Even the so-called “clean” formulas were filled with synthetics and irritants which caused her painful breakouts and rashes.

SEE ALSO: It’s time to normalize skin texture

In 2006, Sarah started formulating Pai’s first six products out of a converted garage in London. Pai’s mission statement, “To do the right thing for you and your skin,” creates a solid foundation for which Sarah has built upon over the last 15 years. It’s one of only a handful of brands that takes care of formulating and manufacturing in-house. They don’t see outsourcing as an option. They want their consumers to have trust in their products.

You might recognize their best-selling Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($44), sold on the shelves of many retailers including Credo, Free People, and Follain. The universal facial oil can be considered their hero product, perfect for all skin types, and has a long list of benefits. It can take on blemishes, hyperpigmentation, calm redness, and nourish dry, parched skin.

Pai strives to be innovative while also getting down to business when it comes to understanding skin. Formulating botanical skincare isn’t easy, especially when trying to make it effective for many common skin concerns. The choice to manufacture products in-house and rejecting outsourcing is a bold business strategy but proves to consumers the brand isn’t willing to compromise on standards and ingredients. By taking this initiative, Pai holds fellow botanical skincare brands accountable. Their high standards force brands in the clean beauty space to do better and strive for transparency. Pai certainly isn’t cutting any corners.

Sarah says building Pai taught her to be stubborn and to push for all the answers before automatically giving in. “Create something authentic and never deviate,” she says.

The backstory

Sarah believes Pai is an unlikely success story. She had zero experience in cosmetic chemistry or dermatology but rather a background in PR working for brands like Andrex, Nike, and Gallo Wines. Beauty was never on her radar as an industry to become involved in. But like all good startup stories, they often start with a problem longing to be solved.

Developing a chronic skin condition practically overnight in her 20s was a turning point for her. Advice from derms wasn’t providing any relief and her skincare regimen certainly wasn’t helping.

“Numerous visits to hospitals and derm clinics provided no real solution. The slow, painstaking process of understanding my condition taught me so much about skin, in all its complexity, and the best botanical ingredients to care for it,” she says. At that point, Sarah knew it was time for an overhaul and she dove into researching everything skincare.

The brand

Helping people take control of their skin and developing skin confidence is extremely important to Pai. They’re dedicated to teaching people how their skin works, you can even book a free consultation to get started in the right direction. It takes just ten minutes to learn about your skin at a glance or 30 minutes to take a deep dive, exploring themes in your life and how your skin makes you feel from a confidence standpoint.

Pai is eager to help individuals understand their skin better and uncover skincare misconceptions while tackling themes like skin nourishment and healing through oils. Consumers are able to view the ingredients Pai avoids in their formulas and the reasons why.

Sarah is continually inspired by many brands and their persevering founders. In particular, she’s inspired by Dame Anita Roddick, who founded The Body Shop. Anna fought for ethical consumerism and was the first to bring fair trade to the beauty industry. Sarah also names Caroline Hirons, a beauty industry veteran and trained aesthetician, who fought for indie beauty salons during the pandemic earlier this year through her “Beauty Backed” campaign. Both of these women and Sarah share the same core values as they fight for a better beauty industry and continue pushing for ethical practices, transparency, and support.

The products

Rosehip is a staple in Pai’s list of ingredients. “It’s packed full of omegas and beta-carotene, which makes it highly regenerative as an ingredient. It can be used on all manner of skin aggravations, from dry skin in need of a boost to blemishes, scars, sun damage,” Sarah says as she boasts about their BioRegenerate Oil.

Sarah isn’t a fan of the word “clean” as it relates to beauty. The word is often construed and consumers don’t find it very definitive of a product or brand. There still isn’t a framework of what it means. “It lacks legal definition. There is a lot of green and clean washing that is misleading to customers,” she says.

Pai believes that certifications are more powerful than “clean.”

“Certifications are crucial to back up brand claims, whether they be organic, natural, vegan, or cruelty-free,” says Sarah. Currently, Pai is Leaping Bunny Certified (cruelty-free) and 100% vegan as named by The Vegan Society. They have also partnered with The Social Association to be recognized as 100% organic and hold COSMOS Natural Certifications as well.

TLDR;

Pai is a vegan, organic skincare brand specially developed for sensitive and allergy-prone skin

– The brand is dedicated to sustainability and ingredient transparency

– Pai takes care of all formulating and manufacturing in-house

– Their bestselling Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is a must-have, no matter your skin type or goals

Check out Pai on Instagram to keep up with ingredient education and their skin-supporting community. To buy, head to their website and look into booking a free skin consult.

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