Take a look through your beauty stash and ask yourself this – how many ingredients can you actually pronounce? If recent reports are to be believe, most of us are putting up to 515 synthetic ingredients on our skin without knowing.
A little over a month ago I was having a facial in New York with an expert in the natural skincare world. She told me a few upsetting things, among them about a recent lawsuit against one of the big beauty giants over a link between their talcum powder and cases of cervical cancer among women whose mothers used it on them as babies. She also explained clients of hers who’ve also suffered illnesses linked to chemicals in the everyday products in their medicine cabinets. Your skin, she says, is your largest organ. Of course, anything you put on it becomes absorbed into your bloodstream and into the body. We seem to understand this when it comes to food, but are still lagging behind when making decisions about what we put on our skin.
It scared me, and got me thinking about the products I put on my body every day. And that’s what brought me to Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy di Prima. The duo is the force behind CAP Beauty, a natural beauty shop in New York’s West Village. Launched early last year, the store has become the holy grail and ultimate destination for wellness aficionados, stocking over 70 brands of truly natural beauty products and a selection of superfoods and ingestibles. Both women left the grind of the fashion industry and opened the business to pursue a life of wellness. Cindy worked as a style editor for many of the top fashion and lifestyle magazines and Kerrilynn was previously the owner of Castor & Pollux in the West Village, which stocked the likes of 3.1. Phillip Lim and Acne before they were available anywhere else.
Natural beauty may be what everyone’s talking about right but the pair, who have been best friends for the last twenty years, has long embraced a more conscious lifestyle. They eat mostly vegan and advocate self-love by only putting on your skin what you would put in your body. The store is warm and inviting without being pretentious and it’s the one place I feel confident buying products without studying the label. Walk in and not only will you discover incredible brands you’ve probably never heard of, but you’ll also walk out feeling empowered knowing more about ingredients that work in harmony with your skin.
We still get confused about what organic and natural beauty actually means so we quizzed them on everything we need to know and also the under the radar brands to keep an eye on.
LIFE BEFORE STARTING CAP BEAUTY
Kerrilynn: I went to school for interior design many moons ago and have always been interested in how people live. I’ve always been curious about people’s routines and rituals and many of my jobs have reflected that interest. I’ve been in the world of fashion, home, food and design and CAP is a culmination of these worlds colliding. Both Cindy and I are huge fans of entertaining and sharing space with others so for us opening CAP is a physical extension of that interest.
Cindy: Before launching CAP, I was a stylist and set designer. I worked on shoots creating images for advertising, books and magazines. I worked on everything from cookbooks to fashion shoots and loved the diversity every day. I still do a lot of this kind of work but now for CAP. Photography and design are so important to us and the experience I gained working on countless photo sets goes into almost every decision I make. I’m lucky to have learned from some truly great talent.
KERRILYNN ON WHAT KICK STARTED HER INTEREST IN NATURAL & ORGANIC PRODUCTS
When I found out I had Celiac 8 years ago I naturally started looking into what foods I was eating and eliminated any and all suspects that contained gluten. From there the next logical step for me was to assess what I was putting on my skin because so many products contain gluten. I just fell in love with the skincare element of naturals and was amazed by the results that I got when I coupled the power of naturals with a diet that supported my system.
ON HOW THEY FIRST MET
Kerrilynn: We met while working at Martha Stewart close to twenty years ago. We would see each other in the hall and there was always a curiosity there but we really cemented our friendship after our first “friend date” on the Upper East Side. Lots of wine, good food and a deep dive into the world of wellness, health, beauty and fashion sealed the deal.
Cindy: We definitely stood out to each other at Martha I think for our shared interests in fashion, food and wellness. After Martha when we each ran our own businesses we decided to form a mastermind group (with another friend, the designer Kimille Taylor). We met religiously to bounce ideas off of each other, share resources and support each other’s businesses. It was during that time that Kerrilynn had the idea for CAP Beauty. I loved the idea, and basically wouldn’t let her drop it.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BRICKS & MORTAR IN THE NATURAL BEAUTY SPACE
Cindy: The world is so focused now on new, digital markets, and certainly when we launched there was no shortage of outlets online to purchase natural products. We felt like it was important to provide a place where people could come and try everything. Experience the products on every level and learn about the lifestyle around them. In addition, before we launched, “natural beauty” had a very specific and not very modern aesthetic attached to it. Our mission is to open minds and create a setting for these products that is relevant and inspiring on every level.
Kerrilynn: We wanted to create a space where people could actually try these products and find a community of likeminded people. The natural beauty category is well represented online but we felt that a physical space was missing. We set out to create an aspirational, sophisticated and welcoming environment for discovery. The education component of CAP is our way of sharing the amazing people in this world with our crew. Our events are always free. Also, at the end of the day, Cindy and I love creating spaces and sharing them with friends. Our store has lovingly been coined “The CAP Beauty Clubhouse” which couldn’t make us happier. This is not an exclusive clubhouse, but an inclusive one open to all.
CLEAN & NATURAL BEAUTY 101
Cindy: This can be really confusing, so we’ve tried to make it simple. For us a “natural” product is simply one that contains absolutely no synthetic ingredients. Unfortunately some ingredients are not as cut and dry as we’d like them to be and so we are constantly reading, learning and questioning. Each producer, retailer or blogger may have their own definition. There are certainly products out there that are less toxic but not 100% natural. Its up to each of us to decide for ourselves where our comfort level lies. For us, the power of plants is astonishing. Ingredients that are close to their natural state have remarkable powers to heal and transform. Ingredients that vibrate on a higher level create radiance and true beauty.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING WHAT YOU PUT ON YOUR SKIN
Cindy: We’ve all been educated to believe that what we put on our skin matters less than what we put in our bodies and to some degree that may be the case. The body processes ingestibles differently. But it all matters and the proliferation of transdermal pharmaceuticals like the nicotine patch should be evidence that our skin absorbs things quite efficiently. We were always struck by how many people we knew who were prioritizing organic foods, juicing, working out and practicing yoga, but who would go to the bathroom and use products that were frankly toxic. A lot of these people knew they should be using better products but didn’t have a good outlet for discovery, a retail store or spa that resonated with their lifestyle.
Kerrilynn: I do a much more through routine at night that involves cleansing, toning, oils and serums but in the morning it’s a quick rinse of the face with warm then cool water followed by my oil of choice mixed into a hydrosol.
Cindy: Me too. The nighttime routine is more consistent and more involved. I like to double cleanse with both an oil cleanser and something lighter. I love Tata Harper’s Oil Cleanser and also the Elizabeth Dehn Vitamin B cleansing oil, which has pineapple enzymes and lightly exfoliates. I follow that with the In Fiore cream cleanser, Treate and a mist of Mun’s hydrosol or the hydrating floral essence from Tata Harper. Then I mix In Fiore’s Soleil Fleur with a good face oil like Vintner’s Daughter or In Fiore’s Pur and another hit of hydrosol and work it into my skin. If I need additional hydration after that, I add on the Odacité night cream or May Lindstrom’s Blue Cocoon. We also love a great mask and there are masks for every type of skin. Some days we need a deep cleanse, some days an exfoliating mask, some days a hit of moisture. My favorite masks are from Hannes Dottir, Dr. Alkalis and Leahlani.
HOW THE CHANGE IN SEASONS IMPACTS THEIR ROUTINES
Kerrilynn: I go heavier on purifying masks in the summer and deeper into nourishing, hydrating masks as the temperature cools down. I always assess my skin to see what it needs and go from there. I really believe in the idea of asking yourself what your skin wants that day instead of just blindly using the same thing everyday. We compare it to how you eat. Some days you don’t want much and some days you want heavier food. Same with skincare. You know your skin best so listen to what it’s telling you.
Cindy: My skin definitely needs more moisture in the fall and winter and I also need more warming elements, both from the products I put on my skin and from the foods I eat. In the warmer months I rely heavily on In Fiore’s Soleil Fleur serum mixed with a bit of their Calendula oil. In the winter I add the day and night creams from Odacité and even their incredible Deep Hydration Masque, which I wear as a night cream. In terms of my diet, I add in ginger and more thermogenic spices like cinnamon and cayenne and make sure to take Cordyceps or Reishi daily to strengthen immunity.
ON HAIR CARE
Kerrilynn: I have baby hair and although I love the idea of not washing it everyday, it really doesn’t work with my fine hair. So I’m a wash daily person. When I do wash I use Rahua Shampoo, the original formula. I skip the conditioner. I just don’t need it. I also rely heavily on He Shou Wu, which I take internally (the CAP Beauty Elixir is a delicious way to take it). It’s really made my hair a lot thicker and stronger.
Cindy: I probably wash more than I should. I have thicker, dryer hair. Since I’ve started using Rahua, my hair cutter has told me how much softer its become! I probably wash every other day but it should probably be more like once a week. Working out is really what drives me to wash it so often. I wash and condition with Rahua. About once a week I also add in their Omega 9 Hair Mask or the Treatment from La Tierra Sagrada. Sometimes I just mask with them before jumping in the shower and occasionally I’ll mask overnight. Both masks are very nourishing and hydrating. The other factor that I’ve learned is so important is brushing with the right quality brush. I used to use a Mason Pearson brush because I was always told they are the best, and for some hair types they are. I’m always looking to soften and smooth my hair and a wooden bristle brush is perfect for me. I use one by Widu that we sell at the store.
HERO NATURAL MAKE-UP BRANDS & PRODUCTS
Kerrilynn: I’m in love with the W3LL PEOPLE trifecta of Bio-Brightener Stick, Narcissist Foundation and Universalist Lip and Cheek. They’re always in my bag and ready for a quick pick me up.
Cindy: I love the new W3LL PEOPLE concealers and the metallic eye shadows from rms. I also love the Universalist stick from W3LL PEOPLE and Shirley taught me to mix her foundation powders into an oil or balm for an instant tinted moisturizer. It makes my skin look amazing.
ON FOCUSING ON POSITIVE HABITS
Cindy: We call it crowding out and it works! Simply focus on adding something good and less on avoiding the “vices.” When you adopt healthy habits then more toxic ones just fall away. There isn’t enough time in the day for everything and as we raise our state of health, our cravings for the less healthy habits tend to fade.
ON PRACTICING BEAUTY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
Cindy: We both eat tons of plants and fermented foods and avoid more inflammatory foods like meat, sugar, gluten and dairy. We meditate, work out and take our probiotics and a lot of herbs. Sleep is vital and so is spending time with loved ones.
ON PRIORITIZING ‘ME’ TIME
Cindy: We put it in the calendar! Seriously. Anything we see as non-negotiable from yoga to meditation to time with friends gets scheduled along side our other must-dos. There are times we have to cancel, times when an investor meeting trumps yoga, but at least when they’re in the schedule we are reminded of the importance of these things. Our families and relationships are so important to each of us. We look out for each other on that score. I know when Kerrilynn needs a work-free weekend, and she knows when I do. When we’re spending time with our husbands and kids, we do our best to stay off our phones. There are very few e-mails that need to be answered immediately.
Kerrilynn: We just know when to say no. We’ve gotten better at recognizing the work projects and partnerships that might seem exciting but are too time consuming and frankly not worthwhile. We’re lucky that self-care is our business and so fitness, meditation, yoga and healthy eating are vital to our mission and really must be non-negotiable. We’re also lucky that we both understand the importance of taking car of ourselves.