WOMEN WE LOVE: Sarah Brown, Pai Organic Skincare

sarah brown pai skincare

Continuing our celebration of the brilliant (often, but not always, British!) women blazing a trail in the beauty market, we chat with Sarah Brown, founder of Pai Skincare, the only organic certified brand that focuses solely on sensitive skin.

(Side note: If I had a £1 for every question I get asked about which products work best for stressed, sensitive skin and conditions like rosacea, I’d be living in a villa on a Greek island by now.)

Flowers (1)

Clean, green and fuelled by phyto-power, Pai’s ingredients labels are all about intelligent-meets-natural

Pai is one of the few brands to consistently win Beauty Shortlist Awards year in, year out, and all I can say is, if you know anyone dealing with sensitive skin issues, send them to Paiskincare.co.uk.  I’ve watched this beautifully clean, gentle and plant-based Soil Association-certified skincare brand flourish in the last few years and it makes you proud to be British.  The team work extremely hard and Sarah really knows skin outside-in.

I asked her about all the greenwashing that still goes on (products with misleading “organic” – NOT! – labels) and how she juggles being a new mum and the founder of a British success story.  Here’s what she had to say…

pai handcream

Sea Buckthorn, which grows wild along Britain’s coastline (with bright little orange berries) is rich in Omega 7, so a hand cream like this can help calm eczema and chapped, chronically dry skin – plus it’s got shea butter, macadamia, avocado  and more  in it!


BSL: How did you get into beauty Sarah?

I got into beauty by accident after years of battling difficult skin.

I developed a condition called urticaria in my mid-twenties. It’s an odd skin allergy, very hereditary and, for me, exacerbated by stress, certain foods and topical cosmetic ingredients.

I cleansed my diet and turned to ‘organic’ products for help, assuming they’d be more gentle. I tried so many products but couldn’t find anything my hyper sensitive skin could tolerate.

My organic beauty shopping experience made me very disillusioned! Too often I’d get products home to discover they contained a heap of irritating synthetics. Product labelling was, at best, misleading and, at worst, plain dishonest.

With Pai I wanted to create a range both sensitive skin sufferers and organic beauty lovers could not only trust but also fall in love with.


BSL: Will Pai’s focus will always be sensitive skin? 

Absolutely, we’re the only certified organic brand that focuses solely on sensitive skin.

My sole aim is to give women with unpredictable skin their confidence back. Part of that is through products that won’t irritate them, but another is by helping them understand why their skin behaves the way it does through my blog and advice sessions.


One of Pai’s award-winners, the Camelia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser £25/100ml

Skin Type: Sensitive, Anti-Redness, Dry, Combination
Rosacea Friendly: Free from Alcohol (denat.), Witch Hazel, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Menthol and other common triggers


BSL: Pai formulates and manufactures their own products in-house, this is quite rare in the beauty industry. Why did you decide to do this? 

It is very unusual but I don’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to do the same! The majority of companies outsource their product development and manufacture, often to the same formulators and factories – it’s led to a lot of boring uniformity in the industry.

By keeping all of our formulation in-house we’re able to control every aspect of production, as well as innovate. The (wo)man hours that go into the development of our products is phenomenal – every one contains our heart and soul.

Try Pai

Great way to try Pai for 3-4 days – you get 6 x mini samples for £8 in Pai’s Organic Sample Pack


BSL: You’ve been quite outspoken about your thoughts on labeling legislation within the beauty industry, why is this so important to you?

I think it’s wrong that customers are being duped into paying a premium for ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ products which may contain as little as 1% natural ingredients.

There is currently no labeling legislation controlling the use of these terms which is why I always urge people to look for true organic certification labels – it is the only way to know you’re getting the real deal.

Pai products are certified by the Soil Association (UK organic trade body), their standards are very strict so they do all the hard scrutiny for you!



The real £20 deal: Pai’s pure Rosehip Oil  has become a beauty ed’s fave rave (and one of Pai’s hero products)


BSL:You’re a new mum – how do you juggle a baby and a business? 

With extreme difficulty! My trick is to stay home with my son every Wednesday so that he still gets quality time with me every few days. I usually work late in the evenings when bub is asleep and weekends to fit everything in.

I’m the type of person that finds it very hard to switch off and focus on just being present. My perfect evening is to have phone and laptop switched off, music turned on, feet up and a large glass of red wine in hand.


BSL: What’s in the pipeline for Pai in 2014?

2014 is already proving a great year – we’ve had some amazing award wins already – most notably for our Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. 

We also have some exciting new product launches in the pipeline, which we’ve been working on for a very long time. I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait and see… but they’ll be worth the wait I promise.



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