Beauty: Doing it nature's way at Pure Source
Proof that high-performance beauty products can be kind to the planet, Cambridge’s Pure Source is the place to go for green brands which truly deliver, as Alice Ryan discovers
Having spent her childhood in Latvia, famous for its endless forests, Yelena Serebryakova credits her early immersion in nature with inspiring her holistic approach to beauty. Not only does she infuse her Lena Wild products - new to Pure Source this summer - with extracts of organic flowers, herbs, nuts and seeds, she encourages us to “slow down and breathe deep” when we use them, “as you would if you were walking through a wild forest”.
While working 9-to-5 in a London office, Yelena found herself facing first depression and then terrible adult acne. Taking a series of courses, including a natural skincare and nutrition programme via the College of Naturopathic Medicine, she started experimenting with her own formulas. And so the seed for Lena Wild was sown.
Now a certified organic cosmetic formulator and facialist, Yelena believes the natural world can cater for every skin need. Determined to tread gently on the planet, every element of her enterprise - ingredients, packaging, supply routes - has been developed with sustainability foremost in mind.
Harmony Rescue Mask, £45
Containing green clay, matcha tea and willow bark to detoxify the skin and aromatic yarrow and lavender to calm the mind, this mask - winner of the Beauty Shortlist 2019 Award for Best Face Mask: Detox - comes in powder form. Pour into your palm, activate with water, apply to face and neck and leave till not-quite-dry before rinsing off. Particularly impressive on oily areas, it balances skin beautifully and can also be used as a spot treatment and exfoliator.
Harmony Bloom Oil, £62
Don’t let its lightweight texture fool you: loaded with nutrients, including extracts of sea buckthorn, blackcurrant and cranberry, this Bloom Oil is a beauty heavyweight. Winning the Beauty Shortlist 2019 Award for Best Facial Oil: Age 30+, it’s designed to do pretty much everything: soothe, smooth, firm, protect, repair. . . A big fan of oils, especially if jade-rollered onto skin at night, I love this product: the skin slurps it up and both immediate and cumulative results impress.
Raised in Mexico, with her grandfather a medicine man and a mother who made beauty remedies, Ere Perez was seemingly destined to start her own botanical skincare and cosmetics brand. Founded on her belief that products should nourish from both within and without, Ere describes her range, which has just arrived at Pure Source, as “luxurious, fuss-free, affordable, and all about healthy radiant skin”.
Still based in Bondi Beach, where it began 15 years ago, the Australian company has impressive eco and ethical credentials. Certified carbon neutral and cruelty free, its products are also predominantly vegan - the only animal-derived ingredient is beeswax, used in the mascara.
Natural Almond Mascara in Black (also available in Brown), £22.50
The product which launched the Ere Perez brand in 2004, this little tube has a big reputation. No wonder: it’s easily the best 100% natural mascara I’ve worn. It’s a deep, glossy black, leaves lashes lifted, plumped and yet defined, and it’s impressively smudge-resistant, too (it even bears up to a little cry: I tested it). And it’s not just a pretty face, either - rich in saturated fats and essential fatty acids, the hero almond extract promises to strengthen and hydrate.
Oat Milk Foundation in Honey (six shades are available), £32
Foundations make me nervous; always have. I fear too-heavy coverage, jaw tidelines and pigment clogging in my peach fuzz. So, nine times out of 10, I stick to a primer/BB/CC and swish of powder. But this Oat Milk formula is fast converting me. Though it’s buildable - you can layer from medium coverage to full - it feels light on the skin and, with an even, non-greasy finish, looks amazingly natural. It’s full of goodness, too: oat milk is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and emollient properties.
With the tagline “wear no evil”, Axiology’s pledge is to produce “good makeup that doesn’t harm animals or the planet”. It started because founder Ericka Rodriguez couldn’t find a decent vegan lipstick. “When I tried vegan lipsticks, I was let down. They were super drying and just didn’t deliver the way my other lipsticks did,” she explains. “So, I got to working in my kitchen - and two years later I had the 10-ingredient formula that launched Axiology.”
Now producing lipsticks, crayons and balms in a vast spectrum of colours and all finishes too, from sheer to shimmer to matte, the US brand’s formulas are all vegan, clean and cruelty-free. Plus the products, a long-time favourite at Pure Source, come in planet-friendly packaging: tubes are made from post-consumer recycled plastic, while boxes are handmade from recycled rubbish by a women’s cooperative in Bali.
Lipstick, shown in Philosophy and Identity, £28
The first thing to strike you about Axiology lipsticks is the texture: formulated with moisturising kokum butter, avocado and coconut oil, they’re gorgeously creamy, making them a pleasure to both apply and wear. Even dry lips look and feel better after a swipe. With pinks still trending for autumn, Identity is a bubblegum shade with a medium-pigment, slightly shimmery finish, while Philosophy, my current daytime go-to, is a high-pigment opaque. All colours and finishes are designed to be layered both with each other and themselves, so you can tailor your look.
Described as “good for your morale and your health, and made in France with love from the most natural ingredients possible”, Manucurist nail polishes are vegan and free from both cruelty and the chemical nasties, such as formaldehyde and ethyl tosylamide, found in old-school formulas.
Growing out of a family business, started by her mother in 1996, Gaëlle Lebrat-Personnaz took the helm in 2015, pledging to create products that are “clean for women to wear and as respectful as possible to the planet”.
Manucurist now sells two formulas: Green Flash (believed to be the first truly toxin-free gel polish, it’s set by LED lamp and promises 10-day staying power) and Green (a classic lacquer, it’s this one that’s newly stocked at Pure Source).
Green Nail Polish in Carnation, £14
Made from 84% natural ingredients, including potato, corn, cassava and cotton, Green polish is gentle on the wearer and the planet, yet is made from tough stuff. Apply it properly - with base and top coats, and taking care to cap your edges - and it’s not only brilliantly shiny, it’s pleasingly hard-wearing, too (it can survive a day’s aggressive typing without a single chip). It comes in 59 colours, from timeless pinks and reds to out-there yellow and green, and various effects, including metallics and glitters. Carnation, pictured, is an understated yet polished pearly pink, ideal for day-to-day.
It was reading the ingredients list on the back of a favourite lip balm which jolted Sasha Plavsic into joining the clean-and-green beauty revolution: starting with a determination to make a balm that was “safe, effective and natural”, her ILIA brand, based in LA, now spans a full natural makeup range. Promising to do good as well as look good, the makeup is “skincare powered” and arrives at Pure Source this month.
Sasha runs the business with her brother, Zac, whose childhood battle with severe asthma and allergies led doctors to believe he’d never be fit enough to play sports. Their mother, whom Sasha describes as a true health and wellness pioneer, sought homeopathic remedies including an organic diet; in both 2008 and 2012, Zac sailed in the Olympic Games.
Color Haze in Temptation (five shades are available), £34
Multitaskers continue to trend - and they don’t come better than this lip-and-cheek pigment. Containing jojoba, coconut and linseed oils, to repair, soften and smooth respectively, it’s lusciously creamy on application, making it a dream to blend, but dries to a modern matte, producing a natural-looking wash of colour. It works so well on both cheeks (go easy) and lips (layer up), it’s won awards for both Best Cream Blush (NewBeauty 2020) and Best Lipstick (Pure Wow 2019). A universally flattering shade of coral pink, Temptation is a beaut.
Radiant Translucent Powder SPF 20 in Magic Sands (also available in deeper Waikiki Run), £32
It’s a very clever product, this one, managing to both mattify skin and give it a lovely little glow. A talc-free blend of organic powders and oils, including extracts of nourishing aloe and soothing rosemary, simply swish it over your face with a big brush as a finishing touch: as well as helping set your makeup, it delivers an invisible layer of sun protection via mineral SPF Non-nano Zinc Oxide 14.
About Pure Source
Pure Source was founded more than a decade ago in Barbados, where it still has a store, by Kim Sivyer, after she struggled to find chemical-free products and decided to fill the gap in the market herself. Returning to the UK last year, she opened her second boutique on Cambridge’s Bridge Street in the autumn.
Aside from the curation of products - to make the stocklist, a product must be genuinely natural, ethically sound, and honestly do what it says on the tin - Kim says it’s the personal service which sets Pure Source apart.
“We talk to all our customers about their skin, their routine, what they’re looking for, and we make recommendations unbiased by brand - even down to makeup: some people like to apply makeup with their fingers, some with a brush,” she explains. “There’s no one-size-fits-all.”
Pure Source is at Bridge Street, Cambridge. See @puresourcebritain for more.
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More by this authorAlice Ryan