Pai: the organic skincare brand that’s making a bold environmental statement

The Beauty Investigator, Marie Claire’s new series, follows Beauty Writer Charlotte Clark as she goes behind the scenes with some of the industry’s most recognisable brands to discover if their environmental and ethical claims really stand up to inspection...


The Beauty Investigator, Marie Claire’s new series, follows Beauty Writer Charlotte Clark as she goes behind the scenes with some of the industry’s most recognisable brands to discover if their environmental and ethical claims really stand up to inspection...

Right now, we're becoming more aware than ever of the impact our daily habits and behaviours are having on the environment. The result? Beauty brands are increasingly sitting up and taking notice. Last year saw microbeads hit the headlines, with international lobbying focussing on their impact on the oceans and sea-life, in particular. This became political when parliament moved to ban the manufacture of any products containing these tiny plastic spheres, immediately reducing the potential harm they could do in the future. But there is plenty more work to be done in addressing the environmental repercussions that the beauty industry and our regimes are having on the world around us.

In this first episode I look into emissions, particularly those generated in the supply chain and how they impact the environment. This involved visiting the head office of organic skincare brand Pai who are based in West London.

Founder Sarah Brown launched Pai back in 2007 after she suddenly developed Chronic Urticaria, which led to sensitivity and acne. After trialling a whole host of products she couldn't find one that wouldn't irritate her skin or cause a reaction so she set out on a mission to create her own brand to address those concerns. Free from synthetic ingredients, parabens, alcohol, SLS and SLES, as well as a number of other potentially aggravating chemicals, Pai is also Soil Association certified. Since it's launch despite exponential growth (the brand now exports to over 50 countries) the majority of it's operations are all housed under one roof in their warehouse and head office in Chiswick, which significantly reduces their environmental footprint and the related emissions.

Keep scrolling to find out more about what Pai is doing to reduce their environmental impact...

Tackling C02 emissions


Did you know that a shocking 95% of emissions linked to the cosmetics industry stem from the supply chain? I certainly didn't - but Pai has managed to reduce the majority of these by keeping nearly all of its production processes in one location. This integration of the supply chain means everything from research and development, to formulation, testing, packaging and shipping are all managed under one roof, significantly reducing the harm caused by C02 emissions.

The importance of water savings

One of the biggest factors to consider in the creation of a beauty product is the use of water in both the production process and the formulas. Back in 2007 Pai skincare invested in a 'reverse osmosis system' that recirculates and recycles water, meaning it now uses 50% less during production and requires 80% less energy than traditional systems.

Eco friendly beauty packaging


When it comes to packaging, it’s a mixed bag – quite literally. Currently, Pai uses a combination of glass, sugarcane plastic and regular plastic. Founder Sarah explains that glass is ‘top of the environmental tree because it’s totally recyclable but just below it is sugarcane plastic.’ Made from 100% renewable resources, sugarcane plastics are considered carbon negative. They’re created by replacing the petroleum that is needed to make normal plastic with ethanol from plant-based sugarcane products. Sarah recognises that ‘this is a work in progress and in future the company aims to move all packaging to either glass or sugarcane.’ Adding to its eco credentials, Pai has even created specially made-to-measure shipping boxes that are built to snugly fit products so that no additional packing materials are needed. All of the cardboard for boxes are sourced from sustainable forests and 100% biodegradable eco-fuel chips are used for online orders to protect products.

Looking to the future

Founder Sarah has big aims for the company’s future environmental practices. Top of the list is to create a garden on the roof where she hopes to grow some of the active ingredients needed for products and would have the additional benefit of insulating the building and conserving energy. 

Review: Pai Back To Life Serum 

If you’d like to try one for yourself take a visit to Pai’s Back To Life Serum sampling page, where you can order a mini version to trial at-home - for free!

Pai back to life

The newest launch from the brand is Pai Back To Life Hydration Serum, £42 (available now) which founder Sarah Brown describes as ‘a serum for people who can’t use serums.’ It’s aim? An intense shot of hydration but without risk of irritation, that’s suitable for both sensitive and eczema-prone skin. It can be used with or without your moisturiser. After testing for two weeks I found my skin felt immediately smoother and softer. The texture is a lightweight, creamy fluid so it sinks in within seconds and even managed to stop my foundation looking patchy towards the end of the day.

Charlotte Clark