Clean Beauty: How to Shop for Healthy, Toxin-Free Skincare
Manila/ Fashionista/ Beauty

Defining Clean Beauty with Stephanie Oller of Pure Culture

Pure Culture Interview with Steph Oller Photo by Pure Culture/Stephanie Oller

Taking care of oneself can be quite confusing. With a growing demand for “self-care” comes a saturation of supply — and in today’s market, that means plenty of nascent brands and tempting promises. Clear skin in a bottle, brighter complexion in just two weeks, you name it. Yet, beyond these glitzy avowals lurk something much more insidious: toxins.

Laypeople, myself included, aren’t familiar with the chemical jargon of listed ingredients in most skincare bottles. What many understand is what the companies want us to understand: that a certain product smells good, brightens my skin, and makes me look and feel better. But at what cost?  

“We Filipinos were never empowered to be knowledgeable about our skin. Reading labels is not part of our culture,” Stephanie Oller, Pure Culture CEO and co-founder, points out.

A growing brand that’s taken over the market by storm, Pure Culture stands out through straightforward simplicity. Certified by Safe Cosmetics Australia (the first local brand to boast of such), products from their skincare line are of natural origin and made with biotechnology. It’s a far cry from the usual culture that Filipinos are so familiar with.

“We are so wired to keep buying what's new and what's popular; but these typically end up as waste as we realize after trying them out that they don't do our skin any good or we are simply not compatible with them,” Oller explains. “It's a trial-and-error market rather than a preventative market.”

Having stumbled, and paid for, multiple bottles of unusable products myself, it’s become apparent that research is key to avoiding both waste and harm.

“The market is finally catching up and what we call ‘consumer 2.0’ is becoming smarter than ever: asking the right questions, knowing the basics, and being very conscious about what they put in their bodies,” Oller adds excitedly.

These days people have become aware (or at least more curious) of what to invest in and what to avoid. She and her team have even put together a helpful guide that lists down thirty “Heck No!” ingredients that include endocrine disruptors such as benzophenone and dibutyl phthalate and possible carcinogens such as hydroquinone and polyacrylamide.

It's obvious then that Pure Culture is made with plenty of care. In fact, the reason the brand is so adamant about wholesome ingredients is because they had their very own in mind.

“I have sensitive skin, my kids have very sensitive skin and mild eczema, so I can't just use any product at home,” Oller expounds. “This story is very common. Sensitive skin is attributed to low microbiome diversity. And what makes Pure Culture work is that its products are all microbiome-friendly, so you glow from within.”

Of course, the first step is to fully understand your own needs. Identify your skin type and most pressing skin concerns or allergies.

“Once you know, you can now be more precise in finding the most suitable ingredient that may resolve your skin concern,” Oller says. “Understanding your allergy triggers will also help you prevent allergy attacks, redness, or irritation. For instance, I am allergic to silicone so it doesn't matter how popular or how promising a skincare product is — I know I cannot use it.”

It seems as if Pure Culture’s all-female founder team, which includes Alex Gentry, Kim Reyes Palanca, Rina Dela Calzada, and Oller herself, represents an evolving outlook toward skincare. Much like the aforementioned “consumer 2.0,” these ladies understand that knowledge is power, and use it to their advantage.

Adding to that, they approach self-care as something holistic: despite its name, self-care doesn’t just impact one individual. Businesses such as these can impact local industries and macro consumer choices. Through comprehensively scanning the globe for lab and manufacturing partners, Pure Culture keeps its products accessible to all without limiting itself.

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