My lightbulb moment: Beauty innovator Sarah Brown

In 2008 Sarah Brown, 44, founded Pai, an organic skincare brand for sensitive skin. She lives in London with her husband and 닥터스피부과 two children, seven and four.

I was working in PR in my 20s when, out of the blue, my skin broke out in hives and became hyper-sensitive.

At a hospital dermatology department, I was told I had chronic urticaria, an auto-immune condition, and was given high-strength antihistamines.

Trying to keep my skin under control was a daily battle.

I’d wake up and think: ‘Is it going to be a good or bad skin day?’

After moving to work in the wine industry in the States, I had a huge flare-up in a high-stress meeting. My boss said: ‘What’s happened to your face?’ I was mortified.

Sarah Brown, 44, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed the inspiration for Pai came from her experience of having hyper-sensitive skin

Sarah Brown, 44, (pictured) who lives in London, revealed the inspiration for Pai came from her experience of having hyper-sensitive skin

Sarah Brown, 44, (pictured) who lives in London, 닥터스피부과 revealed the inspiration for Pai came from her experience of having hyper-sensitive skin

I started keeping a diary of what I’d eaten, how I slept and, crucially, what skincare I was using, and noticed a pattern in the ingredients I was reacting to.

Unlike the food industry, there is no regulation in the beauty industry controlling the use of terms such as ‘natural’, 닥터스피부과 so there is a lot of mislabelling.

I’d ended up with a bathroom of products claiming on the front to be ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘organic’, but their ingredient lists were full of known irritants.

Back in London in 2007, in my garage I started blending creams with good remedial properties, such as rosehip and chamomile.

Focusing on a few core (but pure-grade) ingredients was better than having 94 in one formulation.

It took me two-and-a-half years to persuade the bank to lend me £25,000 to buy ingredients, build a website and start with six products. Natural skincare had a slightly homespun reputation back then, so I wanted the packaging to be sophisticated.

Pai means ‘good’ in Maori (I’m half-Kiwi) and 닥터스피부과 that sums up what I wanted the brand to be.

The good life: paiskincare.com

The good life: paiskincare.com

The good life: paiskincare.com

Today, we have a 12,000 sq ft factory in West London with 53 staff and are stocked in John Lewis and Bloomingdale’s in the States.

Our hero one-ingredient product is rosehip oil, which has amazing regenerative properties.

Our products are certified organic, cruelty-free and vegan, and we won a Queen’s Award for enterprise in 2016.

Fifteen years ago, I just wanted effective skincare I could trust. The last antihistamine I took was on my wedding day. I thought: ‘This is the last time I use this crutch.’ And it was.

Creating Pai was my way of taking back control. 

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