Pelegrims is the brainchild of natural formulator Alex Verier. Together with co-founder Jerome Moisan, has created a British skincare brand that incorporates by-products from local winemaking in Kent to create a low-intervention skin-care range that works in harmony with the skin.
Sustainability is hugely important to the brand, from the grapes stems & seeds used to formulate the products right down to its conscious packaging, Pelegrims are paying homage and setting a new tone for skincare production in the UK. We recently caught up with Alex to discuss the product development behind the brand, his recommended skin-care routine, and the importance of life by the sea.
What is the main reasoning behind starting Pelegrims & where does the name originate from?
Pelegrims has always come from the idea of the beauty if imperfection – nature is perfect but it is also imperfect; with grape vines as an example, they grow as they want to grow and they produce fruit that is then revered around the world in their final form. But it’s not something that can ever be 100% planned – so we wanted that idea to come through with the products: each product comes from a specific vineyard, variety and harvest which means they will change over time. Only ever so slightly but there will be imperfections and variance which makes each product more unique and exciting! The name stems partly from the French for Pilgrim and partly from the Old English as the first Vineyard we have worked with, Westwell in Kent, is located on the Pilgrims Way, a route of running across southern England and finishing in Canterbury. So it’s a nod to that.
Why is skin-care important to you?
Through my teens I never had great skin but also, I didn’t really know about skincare, other than using some acne face wash every now and then, it wasn’t the worst but it probably took away some confidence. As an adult I can see so many people around me who look visibly happier and more confident in their day to day lives if they have used the right product for their skin, it boosts you up and makes the day a bit better! We’re not saving lives but I think anything that can bring an extra spark to the day is worth having.
Which Pelegrims product is your favourite? past, present or future.
I love the Facial Cleanser – I was especially happy with the scent and effectiveness with that one. And in terms of future…Our new Facial Toner is incredible, really potent ingredients, but we also have a Facial Treatment Gel and Exfoliating Powder launching shortly and they’ve really special as well. I love them all.
Sustainability is obviously a big part of Pelegrims, can you explain to us how it filters down to other parts of the business?
We try to think about our impact on the environment with as many aspects of what we do as possible but we try not to label ourselves as being an ‘eco’ brand because, for too many other brands, this becomes a sticking point that is hard to properly achieve and then the end result is disappointing customers in eco promises that don’t have substance. In each decision we make, whether that’s packaging, ingredients or even the courier we choose, we always try to consider the impact and make a thoughtful choice. We’re not perfect as well and it’s important to always remember that – it means we have a motivation to constantly improve how we do things in the long term.
Can you explain the importance of location in which the grapes are sourced from?
Location is very important because I want to always have a relationship to the growers of the grapes – it’s the most important part of our products and one of the things that make them so unique. I need to be able to travel to visit the vines so we can have a clear view of the total lifecycle of the ingredients from vine to grape to waste pomace and finally to extract.
Right in the middle of Summer, what would you recommend the ideal summer skincare routine for people looking to explore Pelegrims products?
This is a tricky one as at the moment our summer routine isn’t perfect (but it will be by next summer!) because we don’t have our SPF quite ready yet. I would therefore recommend starting each day with the Facial Cleanser, adding in the new Clarifying Exfoliant Powder once a week, followed by the Facial Toner. I then opt to use the Facial Oil but I mix a few drops into a factor 30-50 good quality SPF, you don’t want to dilute it too much but by adding a few drops of the oil will add some boost and improve the look and feel of your skin that could get clogged with the thickness of the SPF. Reapply the Facial Toner throughout the day to refresh and hydrate the skin before applying more SPF as needed. At night I would cleanse again before adding the upcoming Facial Treatment Gel liberally, it’s Aloe Vera based but with Retinol and the scent is incredibly relaxing so a great post sun treatment. Finish with the Facial Balm to sink in overnight and give your skin a really high-quality experience.
Outside of skincare, how do you find being based down in Kent? What are a few of your tips for people looking to get down to that part of the world?
I’ve always lived down by the coast – originally Broadstairs and Ramsgate but we moved over to Folkestone a few years ago because it felt like a different vibe to how Margate has become that suited me more. Now I’m a big promoter for Folkestone, visiting and moving to, so I would have that as one of my key recommendations! It’s 50 minutes on the high-speed train and is great for food and drink but also getting into the countryside too.
What does the product development stage of Pelegrims products look like? and are you working on anything new at the moment?
I try to stick clear of the main harvest time as much as I can, however as soon as the grapes are pressed I’m there to collect those alongside the stems, seeds and all – we always want to use as much of the whole plant as possible. From here, it’s a short 20 minute drive to my lab where I begin the extraction process over about 6-10 weeks.
I’m just coming to the end of quite an intense first half of the year of development, January to now is usually that way, so we’ve got some really exciting products nearly finished and currently being packaged up. As well as the ones I mentioned we have a Facial Mask finished and which will be coming out shortly and also a new Body Wash which I’m very happy with. By next summer we’d have perfected our SPF formulation – its nearly there but it’s very important it was perfect so we thought it was better to wait until next year.
We love the illustrations on the packaging can you give us the inspiration behind this?
Me too! These are by Galia Pike who we met through working with Westwell Vineyard which she helps to run with her husband Adrian, the winemaker there. They are all illustrations of stems and leaves under the microscope which come out both fascinating and beautiful.
Lastly, how are you planning on spending the rest of your summer holidays?
To be honest, I’ll be mostly working now through to the end of December but hopefully I’ll get a few days here and there – I need to go in the sea more, I feel guilty to not appreciate it more as it’s a 5-minute walk from my house. So maybe a few swims and lots of good food (and wine).
To view our full Pelegrims range at Folk please click here