When an email pinged into our inbox from Plenaire we immediately sat up and took notice. Not because its best-seller, the Rose Jelly Makeup Remover sounded right up our street, but because the mailer was accompanied by a lead image of a man: a fresh-faced, flawless-skinned man, at that with a great blush. It was a welcome change from the glowing female beauty trope we so often see and made us want to know more about this genderless British brand.
UK newbie brand Plenaire is putting a fresh face on emotional wellbeing and sustainability. We tested the range and this is what we rated
What’s the story behind Plenaire?
The brainchild of Namrata Kamdar, former Global Skincare Innovation and Digital Director at Nordic skincare brand Lumene, she launched Plenaire range in September 2019 with five vegan skincare offerings starting at £16: Droplet moisturiser, Tripler exfoliator, Rose Jelly makeup remover, Violet Paste blemish solution and the Skin Frosting mask, plus Plenaire organic hemp and cotton blend face flannels . Coming soon are a foaming cleanser called Daily Airy, an exfoliating tonic named Brightening Elixir and Vapour, an intriguing-sounding moisturising fragrance mist. It's out with stuffy three-step regimes and in with inviting products to suit your needs, whether that's a refreshing your glow or topping up your hydration.
The clean, sustainably-designed UK-made has been created to cater to everyday skincare needs - cleansing, moisturising, exfoliating- but also encourages emotional wellbeing and self-care, especially among the social-media pressured Gen Z, offering them a simple and open-minded approach to beauty without having to conform to online ideals.
The simplicity is reflected in both the monikers of the products and in the pared-back white and polka dot packaging which has more than a hint of Glossier about it. That and the pastel pinks and lilacs of the formulae themselves.
Plenaire comes from the French meaning 'in the open air', which ties in with the fresh, open-minded, offline approach the brand takes. Kamdar wanted to create a brand that was empathetic to its users, stepping away from the image of scientists in a lab coat recommending what to use, you create your own path with Plenaire.
You won’t see any hyperbolic promises on the packaging, either. No claims to reveal a new you, or the best skin of your life – just straightforward information on what the products do.
What's in the range?
The products are sourced and made in the UK and are formulated without SLS/SLES, parabens, mineral oil, silicones and a handful of other red-flag ingredients. The range isn’t fragrance-free (which those with sensitive skin can find irritating) but this was a conscious decision.
“We chose synthetic fragrance for our products over natural ones,” says Kamdar. “Synthetic ingredients in fragrance allow for a more complex and unique signature, which was the main reason for this decision. We wanted to create a fragrance that is a true reflection of our brand, that is instantly recognisable and loved.”
So what do the products smell like? In a word, delightful. Nectarines, roses, violet and creamy musk muddle together for a fresh clean scent that we can't get enough of. The brand drafted in the help of a Grasse Institute perfumer to create the scent, so we’d expect nothing less.
Who's it for?
Plenaire is aimed at Gen Z, but don't let being born the other side of the millennium put you off. In the same way that Glossier drew us in with its simplistic packaging and easy-to-follow instructions, Plenaire is ideal for people looking for no-nonsense skincare that does what it says on the (minimal) box. Fans of Alex Steinherr's Primark beauty range will love it too. Sharp lines and muted colours stop the collection from looking gendered.
What does it cost?
The cheapest is £16 for the Rose Jelly Cleanser, 30ml with 30ml sizes (apart from the Violet blemish solution , £36 for 30ml) under £20. If you love it you can graduate to 50ml sizes, which range from £34-£36. While the prices are notably higher than Glossier, we can still see Gen Z parting with their cash for it for its ethical credentials. Speaking of which...
Plenaire says it's all about conscious consumption, but what does it mean? “We encourage our customers to be more mindful of how much they consume, as well as think about a more circular approach to buying. Only use how much you need, be present and conscious of waste,” says Kamdar - meaning they encourage you to buy the products you actually need rather than creating a multi-step method where you feel obliged to buy the lot (though we can see why you'd want the whole collection lined up on your shelf).
The brand aims to be waterless, with the majority of cleansers requiring little to no water to use them. When we tried out the cleanser Rose Jelly Makeup Remover we were surprised how far the conditioning formula went with just a few drops from the tap.
The packaging is fully recyclable, with tubes and jars made from a mix of BPA free polypropylene (PP) and glass. The cartons are biodegradable, and where possible, the tubes and bottles have matching closures to minimise the hassle of separation, which often stands in the way of people recycling properly.
When our parcel arrived from the brand that was no plastic in sight, with all of the products wrapped rather refreshingly Japanese-style in a wrapping cloth, known as furoshiki, a sustainable way of gifting, which brands such as Lush are also embracing with their knot wraps. The idea is you unwrap your present when given and hand the wrap back to the gifter for use next time. Plenaire have brought out their own Knot Wrap too for £8, which doubles up as a bandana or hair band.
So what to choose? Here are our picks from Plenaire
The Best-seller: Rose Jelly Makeup Remover, £16 for 30ml
The fun jelly-like texture of this makeup remover rapidly dissolves makeup with minimal water. Apply to a full-face of makeup, add a splash of water and watch the formula turn into rose-coloured milk – pretty and effective. All you need to do next is wipe off the excess with a flannel and voila! It's their best-seller for a reason.
The hydrating mask: Skin Frostin g , £19 for 50ml
With a name that sounds like it should be atop a cupcake, (it comes out a sweet lilac white) this hydrating mask immediately piqued our interest. The formula comes out grainy, but the texture dissolves on the skin, leaving a creamy mask behind. Ingredients including raw coconut oil (some might find this comedogenic, see our explainer: Is coconut oil good or bad for your skin? ) shea butter and Japanese tsubaki oil combine to create a nourishing mask that feels extra comforting in the drier months. Leave on for 15-20 minutes.
The gel moisturiser: Droplet, £34
Another name that instantly enamoured us, this lightweight moisture gel absorbs instantly, giving a cool-to-touch feel without any heaviness at all. It’s packed with hyaluronic acid for hydration and white peony to help control sebum mattifying the skin and leaving it dewy soft. One for oily and dehydrated skins.
The multitasking cleanser: Tripler, £18 for 30ml
This multi-tasking clay is a mask, cleanser and gentle exfoliator all in one. It has the tiniest, finest blackcurrant seed particles in it, and works to deeply cleanse and decongest the skin, regulating sebum and reducing blemishes. It's made with French Clay which is suited to dry and sensitive skins. Our skin felt baby-soft afterwards.