Poéthique: Finding the Beauty Wisdom in Nature


Great business ideas often start small and simple, with a vision to make the world a better place. For Poéthique founder, Gayatri Pradhan, that vision was to deliver safe plant-based ingredients that could replicate the sensory experience of high-end skincare products, but without the toxic ingredients still all-too-common in our skincare industry.

As a former marketing executive for global skincare brands, Pradhan knew there were opportunities to create a better product. Not just an opportunity—a dire need to do it. And it helped that she was a trained pharmaceutical chemist who understood that making a natural, green product that was not only effective, but also felt great to use, involved a whole lot more than simply blending together ingredients–there’s an art and a science to the natural stuff as much as the conventional.

“We’ve come such a long way with our knowledge of natural ingredients,” says Pradhan.

“People think of cultural beauty wisdom as this old, ancient thing, almost like a static body that hasn’t grown or evolved in years. But every passing generation adds something new,” she says. “This body of knowledge is a living, growing thing. And so I knew there had to be a way to get to a product that was green but also felt great.”

Pradhan’s Indian heritage, passion for travel, and thirst for learning converged into a singular goal of trying to bring the best and most effective natural ingredients into products that actually work. With her keen eye for design, she has been able to bring to life a brand that stands out from the earthy and minimalist brands that abound in natural skincare and addresses the growing concerns of consumers from all walks of life, but in particular, millennials and their quest for clean, green beauty that performs as well as or better than the conventional products beloved by their mothers and grandmothers.

“Our generation is interested in all natural lifestyles in such a paradigm-shifting way. There had to be other green chemistry experts out there that recognized this and wanted to add to this body of knowledge.”

One such expert is Patricia Mirabito, a cosmetic chemist with more than twenty years of formulation experience under her belt, and the key formulator for Poéthique’s unique products. As director of her own chemistry laboratory in Buenos Aires, her reputation has been built through her sought-after work for the region’s most respected dermatologists.

Patricia had always been interested in active natural ingredients and botanical extracts and used them extensively in her practice. However, prior to Poéthique, she typically blended these botanical ingredients with standard cosmetic industry chemicals, thinking of them as necessities to get to a stable product that worked and felt great to use.

“There are some synthetic ingredients that have become such an industry standard that I wasn’t sure it could be done without them,” says Mirabito.

The problem is that the indulgent experience of luxury conventional skincare brands typically comes from silicones and other polymers that are often composed of the same materials that go into making plastic goods like tires, bags, etc. They may offer temporary results, but don’t deliver the long-term benefits of natural plant-based ingredients. And several of these non-natural ingredients are being exposed as harmful toxins, impacting human endocrine systems through both acute and cumulative exposure.

With Poéthique, Mirabito’s natural instincts for problem solving were tuned to formulating a 100 percent plant-based product without sacrificing the indulgent experience of high-end skincare brands.

“I have so many friends that would love to make the switch from green beauty products but try them and turn back to their default non-natural brands, because the experience is just not enjoyable,” says Pradhan. “It feels like they have to take a medicine–but beauty and skincare is not a medicine! It is as much about the experience as it is about the results.”

So the duo set out to reinvent the beauty care industry relying on nature’s inherent beauty wisdom. While this is certainly not the first green beauty brand on the scene–they did have a specific task in mind. The twosome wanted to create products that could work across multiple skin types, across multiple climates, and that would layer well with other skincare routines. Consistently, they had found that many existing green beauty brands felt heavy and greasy to use, making them not suitable to all skin types, nor could they be used in all manner of season or climate. They knew their work was cut out for them – making something that is effective was a given, but having people go WOW! when they tried the product would be the hurdle to cross. Passionate about helping more people make the switch to clean, green beauty, they wanted their products to make it easy for people looking to make a switch.

It didn’t disappoint. From Pradhan’s early vision, the journey took close to two years as they approached various suppliers, consulted with other experts in green cosmetic chemistry, pushed for better results, and built prototype after prototype testing treasured natural ingredients from cultures all across the globe. Their search for unique ingredients took them all over the world – from the mountainous regions of Peru to the sub-tropical rainforests of Australia; from the heart of India and sweeping Mediterranean groves to California’s lush valleys. There they found such exotic and powerful ingredients as the caviar lime, chock full of fruit acids, vitamins, and trace minerals, and wild plums abundant in vitamins and antioxidants. They also recognized the utility of well-known ingredients such as oats, olive, and jojoba oils.

 Armed with these ingredients, they formulated their first line of products, meant to balance skin health – a cleanser, serum, and moisturizer. As a new brand, they decided to launch the products in phases, using each product to introduce green, toxin-free beauty lovers to unique ingredients. The launch product, Poéthique’s Radiance Boosting Serum, is loaded with caviar lime and wild plum extracts and acts as a treatment to gently accelerate skin’s renewal process to reveal softer, brighter skin. In releasing the serum first, Pradhan wanted to showcase the uniqueness of ingredient, the high quality of the product that could layer easily with a person’s existing beauty regimen.

When product testers begged for more of the sixth round of prototypes, the two knew they had a hit on their hands. Their work has been validated over and over by the green beauty community. Users consistently rate it highly for effectiveness and experience, while bloggers love it and have called it their “new green beauty obsession!” Well on its way to becoming a cult favorite, Poéthique’s journey has only just begun. 

 “Entrepreneurship is such a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping ride,” says Pradhan. “We put so much passion and hard work and expertise into developing Poéthique, and we got feedback along the way to make sure we were going in the right direction,” she says.

“Once we went live, I was a nervous wreck! What if no one bought this? What if no one loved it? And then to hear the reviews come in, it’s such sweet relief and a validation of all the work we have put in–it powers us for the hard work ahead as we nurture Poéthique and the customers who believe in green beauty products that work.”

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.