Op-Ed The British Invasion: 4 Clean English Brands

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When it comes to the clean skincare game, the brands across the pond kind of have us Americans beat. This isn’t to say we’re not competitive, arguably Intelligent Nutrients is becoming a behemoth, while Tata Harper & Kahina are carving an established base for themselves atop the luxury green skincare game, and newcomers are building a solid identity that resonates with customers: i.e. May Lindstrom, the poster-child for artisanal beauties and YULI, the quiet storm of coolness for the modern crowd. But the movement kind of started across the pond, not only are the skincare requirements more stringent (thanks to a government that isn’t so tied to big-money corporations like ours), but the audience is also much more knowledgeable as well in general. I think the demand for these clean products definitely is the contributing factor for why these brands got the jump start, so without further ado, let’s look at what makes these brands great:

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Pai Skincare

What it is: A line started by Sarah Brown for those who have sensitive skin using the cleanest plant-based skincare. 

My Impression
: This is the line I’d point you to if you love Ren (a fellow British born line, see the trend here?) but wanted something even cleaner. Their aesthetic is similar down to the pastel labeling for the products. While they have a full line that is continually expanding, they’re most known for their oils and creams with audiences here.

Products to try: Pai’s Bioregenerate face oil is a pure rosehip complex that regards itself as an all-natural retinol treatment. The Chamomile & Rosehip Organic Sensitive skin cream is a good product to try for those with ultra-sensitive skin, it is a light cream that I consider one of the best made comparable to Tata Harper’s Rebuilding Moisturizer.

Price: Similar to Ren, might be slightly more expensive on a product by product basis, but the cleaner ingredients and higher quality formulation justifies that. 

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SUTI

What it is: A line created by Suzannah Jenkins & Tina Steadman, who are collectively homeopaths, aromatherapists, and medicine practitioners. The concept was to develop a line that was pure enough to eat.

My Impression: Suti’s products focus as much on the senses as it does on the skin benefits so even products like facial oils are aromatically scented to provide the emotional response the founders intended. This artisanal quality reminds me a little of our very own May Lindstrom. Similar to May Lindstrom, this line is very edited: three balms (one is a cleanser, one is a moisturizer, and the last one is for feet), two toners, two facial oils.

Products to try: The facial cleansing balm is a wonderfully scented cleanser + moisturizer that cleans off makeup and leaves skin soft. A wonderful alternative for those looking for a natural version of Eve Lom’s (another British brand) Cleansing balm. The Rejuvenating Facial Oil smells glorious with citrus notes in a rich golden hue, kept in a gorgeous bottle. However, it did break me out after 3 days of continuous use, the base oils were too heavy for me and while the scents were lovely, the over reliance on citrus oils made me hesitant to use this during the day for photosensitivity. 

Price: Very reasonable. DIYers will probably not buy this, but those who love high end clean beauty will not break the bank trying their stuff. 

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Ila

What it is: A spa grade line that uses only plant or mineral ingredients. Their focus is on creating an ‘experience’ to restore, nurture, and balance. 

My Impression: Probably the most premium brand on this list, Ila’s focus is on the spa experience so its advertising and message is a little less commercial than the other brands. Unlike other skincare lines, the majority of Ila’s products are geared toward body care, with lots of products for baths, body washes, body lotions, body oils, etc. The facial products they do have are still a complete line. Branding wise, I love the feminine, minimalist aesthetic and everything is in a neat dual-color plastic cylinder which looks so chic when you have a row of their products together.

Products to try: Spirit Demerson raves about their Glowing Radiance treatment oil but it is too heavy for me (though I acknowledge that it is lovely). My favorite product from them is the Body Balm for Glowing Skin which smells of Rose and Tuberose, and is perfect for the driest winter months. Although scent plays a strong part in the products formation, I have to say that they all smelled so strong that you absolutely have to make sure you enjoy the scent before buying because some are just HORRIBLE.

Price: This is the confusing part, their products are either incredibly high or surprising cheap, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. For instance, at $109, their facial oil will set you back a bit, and their daytime and nighttime lotions each cost over $100 as well. But the body wash and body lotion comes in at $12.80. It almost feels like two lines with different intended audiences merged into one.

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The Organic Pharmacy

What it is: started by a homeopathic pharmacist and her husband, the line has now spawned a seriously massive collection featuring several lines: skincare, body, bath, hair, sun care, baby, health, supplements, men, makeup, candles, etc. This isn’t just a skincare brand, it truly is its own empire.

My Impressions: The Organic Pharmacy is most similar to our Origins stores. They’re massive in their own right and feature a plethora of various products. The difference is that they’re cleaner formulated and the ingredient quality is top notch. There are so many products that it might be intimidating to figure out what to get, so it’s a good thing they have experts to help you decide. 

Products to try: The Rose & Bilberry Toning Gel reminds me of the Dr.Alkaitis Soothing Gel but is more about healing whereas the soothing gel is more about anti-bacterial action. The Blemish gel isn’t powerful or strong but it is good at alleviating breakouts through gentle repair without the use of anything too harmful which is something most American brands haven’t been hip to yet.

Price: This line isn’t as expensive as some others on this list but for what it is- a larger scale company, the prices are a little more expensive than I am used to. I’m fine paying the prices for the products I picked because the formulation is good but don’t expect $20-$30 products as you might at Origins. The Rose & Bilberry toning Gel set me back almost $100 after shipping while the Dr.Alkaitis Gel is only $60 for more product. So you really have to do your homework to figure out if what they have is worth the price compared to other higher end brands.