Pai Skincare // the Perfect Balance range

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Pai Skincare’s been on my radar for a long time but other than the cult clean beauty cleanser and exfoliator, I only introduced a full line-up to my arsenal in mid-January.

Pai was created as a pure clean plant-based line for sensitive and allergy-prone skin. All ingredients are certified organic by the Soil Association, and founder Sarah Brown places significant emphases on the line’s ability to soothe, and on transparency in disclosing ingredients. The British brand’s been a powerhouse in introducing organic skincare to the masses, and is loved by a whole host of celebrities from both sides of the Atlantic. The cleanser was also one of my first forays into clean beauty!

There are four ranges for different skin types:

  • Instant Calm for hypersensitive or redness-prone skin;
  • Perfect Balance for combination, oily or blemish-prone and sensitive skin;
  • Pure Hydration for dry or dehydrated and sensitive skin; and
  • Age Confidence for very dry and sensitive skin or to combat signs of ageing.

I generally don’t have allergic reactions, but my mother and sister have sensitive skin and as I mentioned in my last post, in 2015 I had a spate of episodes of non-stop tiny whiteheads on my cheeks, and underarm rashes.

When I started a new job early this year, I added the Perfect Balance range to combat what seemed to be an endlessly rebellious breakout. Here are my (long rambling) thoughts on everything, save for the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil which I’ve yet to try!

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Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (100ml, £28, also available in 200ml, £38) + bamboo muslin cloth (now Dual-Effect Sensitive Skin Cloth)

For all skin types, with nourishing antioxidant-rich camellia and damask rose otto oils, this is a light cream cleanser that relaxes and soothes on application. 100ml gives about 1.5 months of twice daily use. It thins out fast so I use about 2-4 pumps depending on how grimy my face feels.

Double-cleansing with this isn’t enough to get all makeup and SPF off (I wear base makeup for 12-16 hours a day), so I use micellar water to remove makeup before. Otherwise, this cleanser definitely lives up to its name as my skin feels plump and less irritated after.

Each bottle comes with an organic cotton muslin facial cloth. These travel well as they’re thin, large and dry fast. I’m on my third muslin, but Pai’s just launched their new Dual-Effect Sensitive Skin Cloths – one side muslin, the other side soft terry. I’m excited because I’ve always loved the Emma Hardie Dual Action (muslin & microfibre) Professional Cleansing Cloth and now Pai has a similar version! They’re available separately at £12 or AUD24 for a multipack of three :)

Rice Plant & Rosemary BioAffinity Skin Tonic (50ml, £30)

Next to the cleanser, this is my favourite Pai product! The BioAffinity Skin Tonics are a unique alternative to traditional harsh stripping toners, containing pure vegetal waters extracted from within plants themselves: blends of hydrosoluble vitamins, trace elements, mineral salts and amino acids. The rice plant and rosemary “living waters” have anti-inflammatory properties and are natural astringents to reduce the appearance of pores. After cleansing, I spray once on each side of the face. I only wish this came in a bigger size for its price as I used this very often. Disappeared after 1.5 months of twice daily use. If I’m spending the day at home, I usually don’t even follow with a moisturiser as the Skin Tonic is that hydrating.

At first I was a little put off by the strong (fermented?) herbal scent, but it grew on me and is a refreshing start to the morning 🎶

Copaiba & Zinc Perfect Balance Blemish Serum (30ml, £42)

Pai recommends using the serum 1-2 times weekly or daily up to a week as an intensive treatment. I tried both ways but didn’t experience the amazing reduction in blemishes other users have. In fact, I healed better after I stopped using this. I might have benefited from mixing a face oil in for a microemulsion, but on its own, this is a no-go for me.

As the serum purports to reduce sebum production by up to 65%, it was drying for my dehydrated combination skin despite the presence of humectants like sodium hyaluronate (i.e. sodium salt of hyaluronic acid that has a smaller molecule size and penetrates skin better than hyaluronic acid). Maybe the second-most ingredient, lemon water, contributed to that effect.

Pai states that this should be used at night, I assume partly because the serum contains phototoxic citrus oils, which give the serum its scent. (Note: not all citrus oils are phototoxic – depends on the citrus fruit and the way the oil is produced!) For a treatment product, the fact that it contains water, glycerine and two emulsifiers in the first 6 ingredients doesn’t recommend itself.  If you have truly oily sensitive skin this might work. I’d use another treatment product if your skin isn’t sensitive and requires more potent care.

Geranium & Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream (50ml, £34) 

Not your typical moisturiser for blemish-prone skin, I found this day cream to be thicker than expected. It does not flow. One pump (two max) cocoons your face and neck for the day, but isn’t pore-clogging and sinks in well. I apply this straight after cleansing and toning and let sink in before sunscreen and makeup. Doubles as a primer for busy girls! Over this, my Gressa foundation only starts to, ah, congeal after 8-9 hours without reapplication, powder, or blotting.

I’ve been dreading the day I finish this. Tough to tell as the opacity of the bottle doesn’t give you any indication *cries* but it’s been 3 months of almost daily use and I’m still getting full pumps! My go-to when skin is freaking out, this is a serum-cream to rebalance and clear congested skin, thanks to jojoba, thistle, lavender and geranium oils. My new lighter acne scars have also faded.

According to my WAY skincare device, my skin moisture level is “excellent” after I use this day cream 👌🏻 the light lavender and geranium scents provide aromatherapeutic benefits to reduce anxiety and stress. Overall, a top pick to combat hormonal acne.

Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream (15ml, £30) 

I have brutally dark and puffy eyebags, thanks to squinting at a monitor 8-12 hours a day and 5-7 hours of sleep daily on weekdays. And every member of the family on my mother’s side has the same brutally dark and puffy eyeballs. The eye cream doesn’t really do much to brighten (not sure what will…) but has the texture of freshly churned soft butter, and imparts a cooling sensation that feels sublime on the puffy morning eye area, or at the end of a long day. Concealer applies smoothly over. The pump dispenses half a pea of eye cream which is too much even applied generously as instructed. It’s also difficult to control the pump to dispense the quantity I need, so I usually pat the excess onto my neck.

I had never heard of echium before this, but it’s reported to have very high levels of essential fatty acids, omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (also found in evening primrose oil and traditionally valued for treating swelling) and omega-3 Stearidonic Acid, which reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and combat inflammation.

While the eye cream is under Pai’s Age Confidence line, it’s suitable for all skin types. Just adjust frequency and dosage. A good starter eye cream if you’re in your 20s and haven’t started applying any on a regular basis.

Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator (50ml, now comes in 75ml, £24)

I ran out of my second bottle two weeks ago and skin’s looked duller ever since. This is a slightly sticky sunflower yellow gel that needs massaging to melt over dry skin. I spend a minute working two pumps in, especially between eyebrows and over the nose and chin areas, add a few drops of water to turn it into a milk and massage for another 30 seconds or so.

The scent is incredibly uplifting (ok no other way to say this, but the gel smells like a fresh fruity version of Korean laver! Yum) and there’s no resultant irritation (i.e. from micro tears in the skin) thanks to perfectly spherical jojoba beads. There are a lot of tiny beads that aren’t easy to wash out of the hairline. I leave the exfoliator on during a warm shower and wash off at the end for an extra boost of hydration from the Kukui and other plant oils. Gentle and hydrating enough to be used daily if required, to keep a smooth-appearing and brighter visage.

However, if you’re seeking a solution to blackheads/sebaceous filaments, this exfoliator doesn’t dissolve the clogged bits.

Copaiba Deep Cleanse AHA Mask (75ml, £30)

For tropical weather induced blackheads/sebaceous filaments, the mask does a little more than the exfoliator, with pink pomelo (i.e. grapefruit) AHAs to slough off and dissolve those nasty plugs of dead skin cells and sebum, and lots of good stuff for anti-blemish action like Kukui oil, açai oil, copaiba resin, frankincense oil and May Chang oil.

I smear thick globs of this on – about 2 teaspoons worth, but sensitive skin types can use 1 teaspoon. It’s a cream textured AHA clay mask that somehow doesn’t dry out or stiffen up. It’s not the end of the world if you forget to rinse off within 10 minutes. How do I know this? I, ah, once fell asleep in this and rinsed off only 4 hours later and my skin didn’t feel or look like a desert! Not recommended but FYI in case it happens to you. And now you know that this mask is so comfortable it’s possible to forget it’s on your face.

Big warning: the kaolin usually pulls up gunk within the next day, which is great if you like a good purge and know how to perform proper extractions, but not so great if you have a big client meeting or a fancy dinner event.

After I introduced my skin to peels (and Alpha-H Liquid Gold) in 2013, it’s become pretty tolerant of AHAs, etc., so this mask was a light walk in the park – lovely to use but not comparable to a proper workout to eliminate blackheads or slow down sebaceous filaments. If you’re just starting on acids, this would be a good pick.

Note: as lactic acid is the second last ingredient on the list, I doubt it works actively to exfoliate.


What I liked about the Perfect Balance range surprised me, as I’ve been trying to follow a 10 step routine for months (which can be effective with the right combination of products) but I could pare down to 4 + SPF daily under this range. The cleanser, tonic, cream, eye cream and a sunscreen are really all you need, along with the exfoliator and mask 2-3 times a week. (Ok maybe add a face oil in there – really should have purchased the Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil too!)

My overall summary on Pai? If you’re just starting on organic skincare or have sensitive skin, it’s an excellent line to start with.

One last point on Pai’s formulations: in almost every product, purified water, vegetable glycerine and an emulsifier show up in the first 6 ingredients. Definitely dilutes active ingredients for sensitive skin but means potency is watered down, which could be a good or bad thing depending on the other products you’re using or your skin type.

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Beauty Heroes // our hero beauty journey + Josh Rosebrook Balance Shampoo & Conditioner

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Happy 2016! We’ve been nowhere near observing a dry January (or February), but we’ve been kicking back into high gear at our day jobs and taking the time to ease ourselves into better habits. We’ve not published a beauty-related post since a year ago, and there’s a good reason as we’ve experienced a sort of paradigm shift in our personal beauty regimens. Here’s Manda’s story…

Since acne made its grand entrance when I was 11, I’ve barrelled through dozens of beauty products, mostly sourced from drugstores or department stores. After a few years in London and easy access to a SpaceNK down the road, I switched to cult luxury lines and my reactive skin could generally be controlled with masking and spot treatments.

In 2015, however, I developed a tendency to break out in masses of tiny whiteheads on my cheeks, and had frequent underarm rashes. The top-rated stars in cult luxury beauty didn’t ease the problems. Faced with an abnormal situation and no explanations, I was bewildered and treading the line towards hysteria. 

I spent a lot of time reading the stories of women who had similar experiences. I started to notice how toxic my beauty cabinet was. Sure, I had some clean beauty products but I relied on brands with flimsy “non-toxic” claims. I thought my aloe-based deodorant (repurchased biannually for 8 years) was pretty clean… It turned out to have supremely pore-clogging aluminium chlorohydrate. When you take a magnifying glass to the ingredient lists of your beauty stash, there’s a lot to be shocked about. A lot. 

So I made a decision: use clean beauty as much as possible. Everything from skincare to bodycare to makeup to haircare.

Problem: for someone fresh out of university, clean beauty can be prohibitively expensive, due to the high quality and rare sources of the ingredients, and the slow speed and small batch nature of production.

Solution: clean beauty subscription boxes! Now I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, subscription boxes never give me good value or the suitable products I actually need.”

Enter Beauty Heroes, the ultimate in clean and effective beauty subscriptions. For USD39 per monthly box, you’re sent a full-size “Hero” product or two, and usually a travel- or even full-sized “Sidekick” product, adding up to a value of at least USD60. I went on a bit of a beauty box spree last July, and was thrilled to discover Beauty Heroes. I’ve been a subscriber ever since. (And I’m a sucker for the adorable sparkly superhero mask that adorns each Hero product.)

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What I love is that you don’t get a bevy of trial sized products, but full sized Hero products and substantial Sidekick products you can use long enough to see results. Despite claims of instant results by various beauty brands, it takes at least 4-6 weeks to see results from products. For example, your skin cells renew every 28 days or so, which means you’re not going to see results immediately even if a product promises deep penetration. Swen and I are believers in sticking it out and seeing what happens before we pass judgement. (Although patience is still a virtue we’ve yet to perfect!)

Each box comes beautifully packaged, with crinkle-cut protection for your new products, and a comprehensive card detailing everything you need to know, including a Beauty Heroes Pocket Guide to Ingredient Intelligence (i.e. Superpower vs Villain ingredients) that you can share with a friend or family!

The November 2015 box featured new releases by the legendary Josh Rosebrook: the Balance Shampoo and Conditioner duo (250ml each – an approximately 2-month supply). The box also featured a travel-sized Firm Hold Hair Spray. Jeannie, the wonderful founder of Beauty Heroes, thinks of Josh Rosebrook’s line as holistic hair care that’s more than non-toxic, and actually good for her.

“Josh Rosebrook’s newly released Balance collection features a stunning arrangement of advanced herbal infusions that cleanse and balance scalp and hair while enhancing volume and shine. Balance offers a revolution in hair care, one that is truly holistic, purifying from the outside in… like an infusion of super-foods for your hair and scalp. Crafted with over 30 organic herbs, flowers and plants that work in perfect synergy to bring out optimal volume and shine.”

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Josh and Jeannie recommend a “spa in the shower” ritual: 1) massage in the shampoo thoroughly and leave it in for three minutes while treating yourself to a full body scrub; 2) rinse, then apply conditioner mid-shaft to ends, and leave in as long as you like while you buff your face with your favourite exfoliating method and a light hand. Rinse off to “reveal smooth, clean hair and skin”.

I’ve been using the duo every other day since the second week of November, and the experience itself has been such a sensory pleasure, even when I don’t have time to perform the full “spa in the shower” ritual. 

Sensory perception

The Balance Shampoo smells like lemon herbal candy, and has this lovely gel texture that looks more like a gentle facial cleanser or conditioner. The scent definitely makes the biggest impression, filling the shower as I apply the product, and keeping my hair freshly scented even after a long day in the office. The Balance Conditioner has a similar but milder scent, and has the consistency of thin cream. There’s a very slight cooling and mentholated sensation to both products that’s incredibly refreshing, so this works to wake you up in the morning or lift any fatigue at the end of the day. And of course, the black and white bottles look trés chic in the shower.


There aren’t any harsh foaming agents in the Balance Shampoo so I’ve found it best not to apply directly to hair as it does’t spread well. I squeeze about a teaspoon into my palm (carefully, since it’s quite slippery) and gently emulsify by rubbing with a bit of a gap between my hands to allow air in and create volume for easier application. Then I spread my fingers and take my time massaging the concoction in at the crown, after which I dispense and emulsify again to massage in at the sides and above the back of the neck. After rinsing, I gently squeeze any excess water out and apply a teaspoon of Balance Conditioner. It gets absorbed and detangles hair pretty quickly. Just use fingers – no need for a comb.


Due to stress and dehydrated skin (thanks hot humid weather and air-conditioning!), I’ve had bouts of dandruff and itchy scalp. I’ve had a go at many other anti-dandruff shampoos – oh, all the false promises! It’s not marketed as such but the Balance Shampoo is the first anti-dandruff shampoo I’ve tried to actually work. The African black soap in the Balance Shampoo sloughs any fluff off, while both shampoo and conditioner soothe and hydrate the scalp with an intense list of all-star hydrators like camelina seed, hemp seed and coconut oils. Big bonus? The gentle formulas aren’t stripping and appear to prevent split ends. They wash cleanly off, leaving hair light and healthy.

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One of the only two qualms I have is that the shampoo isn’t strong enough to remove a considerable amount of styling product, maybe because of the small concentrations of each ingredient in a very long list. The other qualm is that I need to add regular hair masking or a more hydrating/repairing conditioner since I use a curling iron almost daily. I like to rotate Rahua in when I need a strong clean or extra hydration.

All in all though, the Balance Shampoo and Conditioner are magic to the senses in the shower, and never fail to wash away tired thoughts and frowns. I’m forever grateful to Josh for his alchemy and Jeannie for always introducing the best in clean beauty! In the meantime, here’s to a cleaner, superpowered 2016!

P.S. Mini-review of the Firm Hold Hair Spray: doesn’t give helmet hair, applies in a full fine non-tacky spray and good for holding those curls :)

Something mighty this way comes…

// On M: Jaggar Samurai leather vest, Zara trousers, Luv Aj cuff, Mode Collective red pony ankle strap sandals //
// On S: Nasty Gal jumpsuit and Cleo shoulder chain, Dixi shield cuff bracelet, Jeffrey Campbell Litas in hologram //

It’s been a while, our pretties, but we’ve returned, and triumphant from a jaunt to an abandoned housing project to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve.

A long-serving and uncanny mystical connection has always been present in our friendship – we unknowingly both slipped on loose flowing flares to explore long-forgotten remnants of an estate armed with sturdy hardware and deathly stares.

On this spirit night, we take a moment to remember the past and look to the future, harnessing strength in our wake…

Have a lovely Halloween,
The Mignonnes xx