5 Minutes with Sarah Brown, Founder of Pai Skincare

5 Minutes with Sarah Brown, Founder of Pai Skincare

After a very personal battle with challenging and perplexing skin issues, Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare, did something - rash. She put all of her know-how to work and went and created the solution herself. We’re so glad she did…aka, we’re obsessed and glowing. Plus, she started in a  garage…who doesn’t love scrappy?

5 things we really want to know. 

1. What inspired you to start Pai?
Sarah: My impetus for starting Pai was a bad rash! In my mid-twenties I developed a condition called chronic urticaria; it’s essentially extreme hives which came on overnight and sent my skin into meltdown. Numerous visits to hospital provided no long term solution and shopping for products my skin could tolerate was a minefield. There was so much mislabelling and many of the products claiming to be ‘natural’ weren’t. Even those that were, I couldn’t tolerate! The whole situation was baffling to me and I hit a brick wall.

After three years I took stock and started keeping a journal to determine what my triggers were and how to manage my skin better. What I learned from that exercise proved life changing. I knew there must be other people in the same boat - needing sane, consistent advice and products they could trust. The idea for Pai was born. I started formulating my own products from a converted garage. Twelve years later, here we are!

The mission has never changed. We produce organic skincare products specifically designed for sensitive skin, backed up by third party certification, and underpinned by a brilliant customer support service.

2. Sensitive skin has become a bit of a catch-all...How would you define it?
Sarah: There are two types of sensitive skin - what we call ‘core sensitive’ and ‘sensitised’.

While there are differences between them, in both instances the skin’s barrier function is impaired in some way which is the root of the irritation.

‘Core Sensitive’ skin is usually associated with a specific and diagnosed condition e.g. eczema, urticaria, rosacea. These are longer term conditions, sometimes hereditary, and closely linked to our immune system. They are often referred to as auto-immune conditions because of this. It’s not usually possible to eradicate this type of sensitive skin so it can be a case of managing it well.

‘Sensitised skin’ is the more common type of sensitivity (90%) and happily, much easier to address and even eliminate. It is when the barrier has been irritated by some form of environmental trigger or trauma. For instance an allergy to a skincare ingredient, sun damage, pollution, side effects of medication etc.

All of these factors can decrease our skin’s ability to hold on to moisture and prevent infection, which can make skin feel aggravated and uncomfortable. Depending on how much ‘trauma’ the skin has had to deal with, our skin has the ability to repair itself in around 6 weeks, once the trigger has been identified and then removed.

3. What does clean mean to you?
Sarah: ‘Clean’ beauty is a complex and misunderstood subject because the term carries no definition - so can mean one thing to one person and something completely different to another.

A lot of brands claiming to be ‘clean’ will highlight a handful of ingredients they choose to avoid. But I would argue why those specific ingredients and not others?

Clean skincare, for us, means an independently certified product that is free from sensitising ingredients that also are sustainably cultivated.

We’re major advocates of organic ingredients - both the age-old that have been used for centuries to soothe and repair skin, as well as the newer, more science led actives that have mind blowing remedial properties.

Synthetics in the form of harsh preservatives, detergents, artificial fragrance and even contamination from pesticides and solvents can be problematic for sensitive skin and the majority are not permitted under the leading certification standards.

An organic skincare product that has been externally verified by an organic trade body like COSMOS (in Europe) or USDA has that stamp of reassurance for a customer.  It acts as a kite-mark of authenticity, so customers can be sure every ingredient in their products is as clean as it claims to be. Also that the company is being properly audited.

4. What is your morning routine? 
Sarah: Mornings are chaotic in our house. I do insist we start the day on a decent breakfast as it invariably goes rapidly downhill from mid morning onwards. Especially during lockdown! I make a great granola packed with seeds and almonds which I'll have with blueberries, banana and kefir. I feel very virtuous eating it.

I keep my morning skincare routine very simple and invest more time in the evening. When you have sensitive skin, like mine, less is more. I rinse my face with water or do a super gentle cream cleanse with our Camellia & Rose Cleanser.

I then apply our Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream. It provides the perfect level of moisture for my skin while being a great non-greasy base for make-up.
Make-up is light and low maintenance these days but I like the Lily Lolo Mineral Powder (Blondie shade), Kjaer Weis Cream Blush and Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara. They’re my staples.

5. What's your desert island product?
Sarah: Our Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. I love its simplicity and purity. We use both the seed and flesh from the rosehip which makes ours super concentrated. We don’t dilute with other carrier oils or fragrance – we just let all those carotenoids and Essential Fatty Acids sing on the skin!

You can also smooth a few drops into the ends of your hair, or onto your cuticles to nourish brittle split ends and nails. It’s a multi-tasking skin-regenerating marvel and a little goes a long way. Everyone should have a bottle in their bathroom cabinet. Or on their desert island! 

Thank you Sarah!

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