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Kristen Ma is a pioneering force in natural skincare and cosmetics. Co-owner of four Pure + Simple spa locations (each featuring the company’s own beautiful products), and author of Beauty: Pure + Simple, A Holistic Guide to Natural Beauty, Kristen demonstrates that healthy, glowing skin can be achieved through balance and the goodness of nature.
Bamboo Magazine: Your beauty philosophy seems almost revolutionary in a society that is obsessed with exterior perfection. Balance within is more important than a symmetrical face. How else would you describe your vision of beauty?
Kristen Ma: To me, beauty is health. When we radiate wellness with glowing skin, shiny hair, bright, alert eyes and a strong body, we are naturally magnetic and attractive. This is why applying natural skincare without harmful chemical ingredients is so important, as is taking the time to listen and balance our bodies.
BM: Your book, Beauty: Pure + Simple, A Holistic Guide To Natural Beauty, is such a wonderful, informative and accessible guide to great skin. What prompted you to write it?
KM: I wanted to empower consumers with information on healthy beauty care, as well as what to avoid in their skincare products. At Pure + Simple, we try hard to educate our clients about what’s best for their skin and why, and we use Eastern Medicine (Ayurveda) as a tool. But we often have a short period of time to do this during our skin analyses, which only scratches the surface. This book was a way to communicate much more knowledge on Ayurveda-inspired beauty.
BM: You really arm your readers with the knowledge they need to take good care of their skin while nurturing themselves internally, as well. How has becoming an Ayurvedic practitioner directed you and Pure + Simple?
KM: Being an Ayurvedic Practitioner has changed my whole perspective. In fact, it has changed my life. As someone who has struggled with acne for over a decade, it became clear to me that what I ate, how I moved and when I slept had an effect on my complexion. Ayurveda gave me a wonderful framework to understand health in. As a sister science to yoga, it prescribes balance in our bodies through proper diet, exercise and emotional grounding. I think that this approach also promotes a more meaningful view of beauty as we concentrate on increasing our overall vitality, not our perceived “flaws.”
BM: You have been an esthetician for over a decade now, and, in that decade, the cosmetic industry has started to take note of the benefits of “natural” and the downfall of “synthetic.” However, many companies claim to be “natural” yet, due to flimsy regulations, consumers would be shocked to learn how many harmful ingredients are still in their products. Can you give our readers a couple tips for navigating the cosmetic counters and skincare aisles (other than the obvious, which is to “go to Pure + Simple”)?
KM: Yes! Consumers need to be careful of label claims, indeed. With the popularity of natural skincare, there have been more corporations trying to capitalize on the trend, but there has also been the creation of many watchdog groups. People can check out their skincare ingredients on sites such as The Environmental Working Group. If you want to screen things quickly, I would recommend avoiding products that contain sodium laurel sulfate and petroleum-derived chemicals (like mineral oil, paraffidium liquidium, petrolatum and propylene glycol). These are harmful to the body and damaging to the skin.
BM: You and your mother, Jean, have created beautiful skincare and makeup lines, which are truly natural. How would you describe the journey to creating a line that fully embodied your beauty convictions?
KM: Creating our Pure + Simple cosmetics line has been years in the making. We originally began manufacturing mineral makeup because the makeup we had within our stores were expensive and still contained some additives we did not appreciate. We went through many trials and errors and have continued to evolve formulas for better efficacy and value. Unlike other mineral brands, we do not use any drying fillers (such as cornstarch), chemical preservatives or unnatural sealants. This used to make our items very delicate, but, through persistence, we found a way to break down the minerals fine enough to make them hold together more strongly. And I can say that, while we carry other makeup brands in-store, I personally only use our Pure + Simple mineral line. Its finish is fantastic, and we have even introduced a gorgeous liquid foundation that combats dehydration.
BM: Have you noticed a shift in our culture when it comes to a more holistic approach to beauty? Do you feel it is still a niche market, or is it becoming more mainstream?
KM: Definitely. The popularity of yoga and organic food has brought more attention to holistic beauty care. However, while natural skincare gets a lot of buzz, it still makes up only a small minority market. Fortunately, it’s a growing segment, and I am excited to see more and more people switch over to a healthier way of grooming.