Pure Culture offers an alternative perspective: when you see your skin as a microbiome and learn to care for it as an environment so too can you begin to take ownership of your external environment.
When Alex Gentry found her bathroom floor covered with the soap she made, with no room left to step, she knew it had become more than just a hobby.
What began as a stress-relieving activity during lockdown evolved into an exploration of high-performance organic skincare ingredients, leading her to enroll in a two-year course with Formula Botanica. This journey, fueled by a passion for clean ingredients and a gap in the market, laid the foundation for Pure Culture, a local clean beauty brand that Gentry says is committed to redefining beauty through accessible, science-driven skincare.
Pure Culture is founded on a sense of responsibility, starting with the intention to call their market “beauty citizens” rather than consumers. “As a citizen, there is accountability to think beyond me,” explains Alex. “We really wanted to educate Flipinos on a few things, the first being to rethink the definition of beauty. What does beauty really mean? And what does beauty really mean to you?”
Gentry, along with friends and co-founders Kim Reyes-Palanca, Rina dela Calzada, and Steph Oller, all share an equally personal connection to their products: Alex, earlier motivated by a need for clean ingredients during pregnancy, gave longtime friend and brand builder Rina a call, who eventually became the COO of the company. With ultra-sensitive skin prone to allergies, dela Calzada was eager to create products free from reactions. Kim desired to materialize her mindfulness advocacy into sustainable products while CEO Steph Oller, dealing with eczema, sought skincare relief and inner confidence.
Starting with straightforward, minimalist, and multitasking products, Pure Culture introduced sets made of lato-lato, or Philippine wild algae, which caters to oily and acne-prone skin in high humidity, and a Bulgarian rose line designed specifically for dry to mature skin. They say that this is a reflection of the brand’s dedication to addressing specific skincare needs within the Philippines’ unique climate.
Central to Pure Culture’s identity is the concept of the microbiome, a recognition that the skin is an ecosystem. “Your skin is not a blank canvas that needs to be alcoholed and cleaned. In fact, we’re more microorganisms than we are cells,” Alex explains. “And if you have that understanding that your skin is an ecosystem, therefore my body is an ecosystem, therefore my community is an ecosystem, therefore my country, planet, is an ecosystem, then there’s just a better reflex of understanding that your choices that you make, however small, really ripples through.”
The brand strives to bridge the gap between non-toxic, luxurious, and effective formulations and wants to advocate for biotechnological innovation. “There are so many things that biotechnology can do for the industry that we’re in to make it more effective and more sustainable, and I think beauty should embrace that,” Alex says.
“We always think about legacy because we’re all moms. We think, ‘what are we gonna leave behind for our children’?” adds Reyes-Palanca, the company’s chief marketing officer. “Advocating for mindfulness and a beauty centered on wholeness is our way of contributing to the beauty landscape of the Philippines and to the generations to come.”
Since the brand’s conception in the pan- demic, it has faced numerous challenges—from sourcing environmentally friendly packaging to navigating the complexities of certifications. Still, the founders say they remain resilient, driven by the belief that elevating the industry is worth the effort. “It’s a commitment to build a community of ‘beauty citizens’ who think beyond themselves, embrace diversity, and contribute towards a more sustainable industry.”
Makeup: Zidjian Paul Floro. Hair: Noel Muncada, Lindsay Agapito, Gerelyn Valentino, Renz Repuya of Toni&Guy Philippines. Stylist: Neil De Guzman. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Nails: Jeneve Aldave and Maritess Dela Paz of Extraordinail. Producer: Bianca Zaragoza. Multimedia Artist: Tinkerbell Poblete. Photography Assistant: Christian Manlunas. Makeup Assistant: Kim Roy Opog. Stylist’s Assistant: Jilliane Santos and Kyla Uy.