Pai: the eco favourite taking the beauty world by storm

Pai Skincare
Pai has been bubbling under the radar for a while now, but with the launch of its new BioAffinity toner, it’s one brand about to hit the big time, says Ruth Styles

It’s funny how some of the best brands operate under the radar for 12 months or so before coming up with a product that really makes the world sit up and take notice. Despite her formidable reputation for serious beauty smarts, who had actually heard of Eve Lom – small band of devotees aside – before she launched her iconic cleanser; which, by the way, has since gone on to sell millions worldwide. Liz Earle, too, was virtually unknown until her Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser hit the shelves, while no-one can really say that Essie was their number one nail polish brand until the pale pink Ballet Slippers sent the world’s beauty editors into a tizzy. Right now, there are a couple of beauty brands that are simmering along nicely, just waiting for a hero product to bring them to the boil. Among them are Shiffa – the Dubai-based beauty brand, which hasn’t had anywhere near the credit it deserves for its wonderful herb-based goods – ultra-luxe pampering specialists, Bodhi, and Fairtrade skincare favourites, Love + Art. All are fabulous, all still relatively unknown. But one brand that has been bubbling under, beloved of beauty insiders (and Natalie Portman) but stopping short of the mainstream, might just be about to break through. That brand is Pai.

Launched in 2007, Pai Skincare is the brainchild of Sarah Brown (not the ex-PM’s wife), who like Tina Steadman of Suti, was unable to find a genuinely high performance natural brand that met her skin’s needs. ‘I struggled to find any skincare products that I could tolerate and became increasingly disillusioned with the number of beauty products claiming to be ‘organic’ that weren’t certified and still contained a raft of harsh chemicals and irritants,’ says Brown. ‘I came to the task of creating Pai with the mindset of a frustrated consumer and fixed all the things that bothered me about other products I’d tried on my sensitised skin and rejected.’ Given that more than two million Brits report sensitivity to one or more common skincare ingredients, that a brand hasn’t come along to fill that niche prior to Pai and co, looks like a serious oversight on the part of the big guns. And while more and more are producing organic, Fairtrade topical care for sensitive skin, few are doing it as well as Pai.

So what’s the breakthrough? Well that would be the new BioAffinity Toner, £30. Rarely does anyone get excited about toner, generally regarded as an optional follow up to cleanser, but they’re wrong. Not only do toners fulfil the undeniably useful function of mopping up any impurities you missed while cleansing, they also improve skin tone, tighten up pores and provide skin with an extra hit of vitamins. Granted, those benefits do depend to an extent on the toner you use. Teenage favourite Clean & Clear, for example, has a similar effect to Cillit Bang on the skin, is packed with chemicals and smells revoltingly medicinal. Not entirely surprising then, that far from leaving skin clean and clear, it leaves it sensitised and in danger of a fresh crop of spots thanks to its oil stripping properties. But what about Pai?


For a start, Pai’s effort is organic and entirely based on botanicals, which give it an altogether greener hue than Clean & Clear. It contains ‘living waters’, which to give you the science, are the organic compounds, vitamins and minerals circulating in the plant’s sap. The floral answer to blood, these waters are what provide the plant with food and as a consequence, are packed with skin-loving goodies. What’s more, unlike many cleansers, Pai’s doesn’t contain any alcohol so won’t cause dryness in sensitive skin. It also smells garden-fresh without any chemically undertones. Followed by the excellent Avocado and Jojoba Hydrating Day Cream, £19, it left our tester’s ultra-sensitive skin calm, smooth and hydrated, all without any sort of chemical involvement. The toner shelf might not be the obvious place to hunt for a hero product, but Pai’s savvy plant science has just made it so.

Pai BioAffinity Toner, £30, is available online at


Add to StumbleUpon
Hello Hauschka! The green skincare brands making a bid for your make-up bag
OK, so Dr Hauschka’s cosmetics range isn’t really news, but the goodies coming out of Haushka and NATorigin HQ are well worth spending a few pennies on. Ruth Styles puts them to the test
The A to Z of beauty baddies
Confused by chlorobutanol? Baffled by bronopol? George Blacksell has the skinny on beauty’s nastiest additives
Natural anti-ageing: Melvita versus Tata Harper
Claiming to combine anti-ageing efficacy with green credentials is nothing new but in the case of Melvita and Tata Harper, those claims could be justified. Ruth Styles put them to the test
How to beat stress naturally
Stressed? Tired? Don’t turn to medical anti-depressants. As Phoebe Doyle discovered, natural stress-busters can be just as effective
Review: Lush Validation Facial
Tucked away underneath the King’s Road store is the Lush spa, where, as Ruth Styles discovered, you’ll find a soothingly green approach to beauty treatments

More from this author