Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream


Facial oils and I have had a long, long honeymoon. After years of oil-free, a sample size of argan oil sent me spinning off into a whirlwind romance with not much of an end in sight. I had so much swore off cream moisturizers in favor of all the goodness that is a facial oil, until this winter. A facial oil wasn’t cutting it for me. My skin would still feel dry and makeup would cling to dry patches. I had dabbled in layering cream moisturizers last winter, but never quite came to a conclusion as to how my skin felt about them. I actually initially purchased the Pai Skincare Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream last summer during a promotion (free travel-size cleanser with moisturizer purchase), but ended up passing it on to my sister because I wasn’t sure if my skin was reacting poorly to this or the cleanser. But with the onset of winter, this found its way back into my online cart at NuboNau…

My repurchase of this was a gamble during a NoMoreDirtyLooks Friday deal. I had just sampled the Studio78 Chameleon foundation from NuboNau, loved the color-changing properties, but was desperate for a way to help the finish look less dry. Tanya, the aesthetician at NuboNau, recommended the Macadamia and Rose Moisturizer as a remedy for my dry cheeks along with gentle exfoliants, but hesitant to return to cream moisturizers and afraid of over-moisturizing my skin, I went back to the Geranium & Thistle Moisturizer, which is meant for my other skin concern: blemishes.

The pictured half-empty bottle (now almost completely empty!) is a testament of how my skin has felt about this product. The cream initially feels rich upon going on, but with a nice facial massage and patting (stimulate those lymph nodes!), it dries to a more of a matte finish. When I go without this cream, I definitely feel the lack in moisture. When I do use the cream (two pumps post-oil, pre-sunscreen), I am moisturized, but not so sufficiently moisturized that I can always start putting on sunscreen and makeup right afterwards. This is fairly reasonable, since this is directed towards combination skin, and not dry skin. (To remedy this, I add a pump of Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organic’s very moisturizing Vitamin C Serum.)

The best part? No breakouts. Guess it was that cleanser after all. The ingredient list is really fantastic. As far as the moisturizer’s namesake, geranium has a has a cooling and calming effect on the skin while thistle is packed with skin-friendly omega 6 and is excellent at clearing congested skin and reducing large pores. I was pleasantly surprised to see manuka oil on the list, which is famed to be 33 times stronger than tea tree oil in killing certain strains of bacteria. Moisture comes from human-skin-friendly jojoba oil and borage oil, which plays an important role restoring the intracellular moisture barrier of adult skin as evidenced from experimental studies.

tl;dr Cream initially feels rich, but dries to matte finish. Maybe too matte for me and the winter, but no breakouts thanks to killer ingredients.
Have you tried any of Pai’s moisturizers? What are your thoughts? If not, what moisturizers have been saving you this winter?

Ingredients: aqua, carthamus tinctorius seed oil* (thistle oil), simmondsia chinensis seed oil* (jojoba oil), cetearyl alcohol (coconut-derived emulsifier), glycerin* (vegetable glycerine), borago officinalis seed oil* (borage oil), cetearyl glucoside (corn-derived emulsifier), mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin e), lavandula officinalis flower oil* (lavender oil), leptospermum scoparium leaf oil (manuka oil), pelargonium graveolens oil* (geranium oil), cymbopogon martini oil* (palmarosa oil), sodium levulinate (corn extract), sodium anisate (basil extract), glyceryl stearate citrate (from sustainable palm oil), sodium lauroyl lactylate (from coconut oil), lactic acid (derived from sugar beet)



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  1. Daisy
    February 4, 2014 / 2:34 am

    Thanks so much for this review. I have been on the fence about this moisturizer. I got a generous sample of the chamomile and rosehip one a couple of month back and while it gives me the much needed moisture during this winter season I have similar concerns with layering over one of my beloved facial oils. I just never thought it absorbed that well and then layering SPF on top kind of made me feel like I was layering too much. I may just have to give this one a try. I do have the Pai Rosehip oil, which I use 3 times a week at night and at times I feel it does not quite give enough moisture. Hopefully this one will solve this problem.

  2. Audrey Nature
    February 4, 2014 / 7:37 am

    Thanks for this nice review. I tried a couple of times some Pai samples…I wasn't too sure the smell and the matte finish .

  3. Jessica
    February 5, 2014 / 4:21 am

    I mix this with the EDOLO Vitamin C Serum as well! I think they make a great combo!

  4. February 5, 2014 / 4:05 pm

    Great review! 🙂 This is one of my favorite moisturizers too! I love it for all the same reasons you mentioned. Sometimes when I'm feeling extra dry I like to mix in some of my Pai Rosehip oil, it's a great combo for my face.I think this is the only daily moisturizer I ever want to use! 🙂 I'm so curious about the Studio78 Chameleon foundation, definitely want to try that!
    -Kasey from

  5. Jade
    February 7, 2014 / 4:29 am

    Glad to be of help! This cream definitely absorbs quite well, despite its initial rich feeling. Hopefully this will give you the perfect balance of moisture 🙂

  6. Jade
    February 7, 2014 / 4:29 am

    No problem! That's too bad you didn't like the smell and finish–I myself like the smell, but I agree with you on the finish.

  7. Jade
    February 7, 2014 / 4:30 am

    They do!! ED4OLO's Vitamin C Serum seems to mix well with everything for a good shot of extra moisture 🙂

  8. Jade
    February 7, 2014 / 4:32 am

    Thanks Kasey! High five for similar likes! I've been eying Pai's Rosehip oil and while I like this moisturizer, I've got my eyes on different brands once I finish it out. Studio78's Chameleon foundation is super cool, but I haven't been able to have too much success with it yet–don't know if it's the winter or me or the foundation, but I always look dry! Maybe you might have better luck 🙂

  9. Anonymous
    February 10, 2014 / 2:33 pm

    Hi i have similar issues with face oils not being enough; i tried a few of the pai creams but they somehow do not cut it for me; texture, scent, effectiveness. I am currently trying the kahina lotion that has hyaluronic acid and amino acids and will see how my skin likes it. Lara

  10. Jade
    February 11, 2014 / 9:26 pm

    Hi Lara! I love the idea behind Pai, but similarly, they are not my holy grail of moisturizers and I will continue to try other brands. I have been eying Kahina's products for a long time! I would love to hear how your skin likes Kahina's lotion.