Think back to the last time you and your best friend made a pact to get “healthier.” Maybe you actually made it to yoga three times that week, or you bought a vegan lipstick and silently patted yourself on the back, or maybe you even lasted the full four weeks of Whole30. Hey, every little bit counts, right? But that also means your best friend definitely isn’t Cindy DiPrima, co-founder of CAP Beauty, because the last time DiPrima and her best friend decided to live a healthier life, they created one of the coolest natural beauty shops in New York City, and ever so swiftly established themselves as the new leaders of the beauty and wellness community.
Unlike you and your best friend, though, DiPrima and her business partner, Kerrilynn Pamer, didn’t just randomly decide to jump on the wellness train after finishing off a bottle of merlot and a bag of pita chips. “I’ve always been into natural beauty and holistic health, but all of those interests were really amplified when I had kids,” says DiPrima, whose two children are ages five and seven. “Babies lick you and kiss you, and I realized I didn’t even know what they were ingesting, because I didn’t know what was in my skin-care products. And that was kind of when I realized I needed to take ownership over my health and what I was putting on my body.”
So when Pamer, who was already the owner of the fashion and jewelry boutique Castor and Pollux, which already carried a small collection of natural products, asked DiPrima in 2014 if she wanted to help her create a store solely devoted to natural beauty, her answer was easy. Within a year, the duo founded CAP Beauty (“it stands for clean and pure, though my very French husband pointed out that it also means destination, which is fitting”), an all-natural beauty website with a hyper-curated stock of hand-picked products, and in 2015, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in the West Village in New York City.
“Kerrilynn and I decided early on that we were going to have high standards and a really tight edit with our selection of products,” says DiPrima. “Every product we carry has been tested by someone on our staff, and even then, we’ll only include it if it’s really, really excellent and is also filling some sort of void. Like, we’re not going to bewilder you with 20 choices of the same type of product—we’re going to give you the best ones at different price points, so you know you’re going home with the right product for you and your skin.”
The rigorous vetting process, though, is somewhat necessary in a world of miscommunication about natural beauty. “People either think that natural beauty products are the less-effective stepsisters of mass-market products, or that they’re over-priced DIY recipes they could make in their own kitchen,” says DiPrima. “But a really excellent natural face oil, for example, wasn’t just slapped together; it’s been intelligently formulated to treat different skin types and issues using truly effective ingredients.”
And those ingredients really do make a difference. “99-percent of the time, synthetic ingredients in mass-market products aren’t actually making the product more effective—they’re generally just preserving the formula so it can sit on shelves for years without spoiling,” she says. “So maybe only 20-percent of the ingredients in your anti-aging cream are benefiting your skin, while the other 80-percent are fillers used to stabilize the product—all of which can be awful for your face in the long run.”
The ingredients in natural products, however, all serve a purpose: to better your skin. “Every single ingredient in the natural products we carry is there for a reason—whether it’s radish root ferment, which is both a natural preservative and an anti-inflammatory, or a botanical active that stabilizes the formula, while producing collagen in your skin,” says DiPrima. “Some of the best ingredients in the world are natural because they’re loaded with excellent nutrients, which makes them wonderful products on their own merit, even when stacked against drugstore favorites.”
And if none of that sways you to try the natural-beauty life, maybe the fact that DiPrima’s own skin and hair now shine with the light of a thousand moons will entice you. “I have honestly never looked better since using all natural beauty products,” she says. “I’ve been using an oil treatment that turned my frizzy hair into this shiniest, silkiest hair I’ve ever had, and despite the fact that I’m always trying out new products, my skin-tone has totally evened out, my complexion is brighter, and I just look way glowier overall.”
Still, if you’re skeptical about sweeping your entire vanity into the trash can, DiPrima recommends starting small, but staying consistent. “The best way to adopt a natural lifestyle is to just be mindful and doing little things every day,” she says. “You don’t have to do a 21-day juice cleanse, but maybe try to have a green juice each morning. And you don’t need to abandon all of your favorite beauty products, but maybe try to swap two of them out for natural options.” In the end, though, DiPrima acknowledges that everyone needs to find a system that works best for her—“though I’m biased and think that system should be natural,” she says with a laugh.
Luckily, we got DiPrima to tell us her absolute favorite, holy-grail natural products, so you can test the natural life without feeling completely overwhelmed by the choices (or without buying a plane ticket to fly to New York and ask the CAP Beauty founders yourself). Click through to see her MVPs, and then get slathering. Your ridiculously perfect hair and skin will thank you.