Book Review: Pure + Simple – A Holistic Guide to Natural Beauty by Kristen Ma

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have recently read the above mentioned book. I needed to educate myself more on skin care and I spotted this book at my local Pure and Simple Spa. Another skin care book I have reviewed is The Skin Type Solution by Dr. Leslie Baumann.

As you may know, I am not new to skincare regiments and lingo. I’ve been suffering from acne since grade 7, and have gone through my fair share (and then some), of dermatologists, estheticians, beauty products and prescription medicines. But I am always open to learn more about anything, and due to my vanity, I am especially interested in learning about skin care.

I wanted to read Kristen’s book, but I did not want to plunk down the $30 to buy the book. A quick search on my local library system showed there were a number of copies available. 🙂

Onto my review.

Chapter 1: What is Natural Skincare?

Ma talks about what is natural skincare and stresses the importance of reading labels to truly determine the natural content amount. She also talks about various reasons to go natural with our skin care, including: absorption of chemicals, social responsibility and being more aware of our bodies.

Chapter 2: Skin Basics

Ma introduces us to the functions of the skin, as well as the skin’s structure. She talks about skin classification vs skin conditions.

Skin classifications are what is typically used to describe the skin, such as the following:

  • Dry skin
  • Normal skin
  • Oily skin
  • Combination skin

Skin conditions describe the condition of the skin and can vary with environment and other factors. They are as follows:

  • Dehydrated skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Unbalanced skin
  • Problem skin

Chapter 3: Ayurveda

Ma believes that Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine are very important to achieving beautiful skin as these are more holistic treatments and focus on preventative manners.

Ma goes into a bit of history regarding Ayurveda and introduces the Three Doshas: Kapha, Pitta and Vata. There is also a Ayurveda questionnaire at the back to determine your individual dosha.

Chapter 4: Our Bodies Tell us So Much

Here, Ma introduces two face maps: Ayurveda and the parts of the face, and the Chinese Face Map.

The Ayurveda face map is broken into 3 parts. The forehead is the Vatta region. The cheeks and nose is the Pitta region. And lastly, the lower cheeks, jaws, lips and chin are the Kapha region. Blemishes or inflammation in each of these face regions indicate an imbalance related to a separate cause or region of the body.

The Chinese face map is more comprehensive and shows different areas of the face relating to specific organs. For instance, under-eye circles indicate weak kidneys and frown lines between the eye brows indicate an overworked liver and spleen.

Chapters 5 – 12: Various topics on how to protect and care for your skin

These chapters include the following topics and are pretty self explanatory:

Chapter 5: Ingredients to avoid. (Mainly petrolatum/ paraffinium liquidum and sodium laurel sulfates.)

Chapter 6: The importance of calming down.

Chapter 7: Glow

Chapter 8: Protect yourself (Use sunscreen, preferably a physical sunblock as opposed to a chemical sun screen.)

Chapter 9: Be Gentle (Do not use abrasive or harsh chemicals on your skin.)

Chapter 10: Decongest (Basically, a combination of natural chemical exfoiliants and physical extractions via facials)

Chapter 11: Beauty 911

Chapter 12: Skincare 101


I thought that Ma’s book was an easy and quick read. Ma touches a lot of good points about how our perspective of beauty has changed and her thoughts of natural vs “man made” beauty. She gives some background to approaching beauty in a more holistic manner, which I am huge fan of.

I think the book reads more as a magazine article than a reference book, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading marketing material. I learned some new things, but overall, I wasn’t overly impressed and didn’t find it as informing as I had hoped.

I hope you don’t take this review the wrong way, as it is strictly a review on the book itself – I am a huge fan of Pure and Simple spa and their products (as you will find out from my holy grail items). But this book…

I found Ma’s discussion of Ayurveda wishy-washy and I didn’t get much out of it. For me, there was a lack of information and connection between the general introduction and the explanation. Even though I found Chapter 5 – 12 had some helpful information, but I felt a lot of the information overlapped, and could have been presented more cohesively.

If you are looking for a quick and light read on natural skin care, this might be the book for you, but if you are looking for more information intensive read on skin care, I’d recommend Baumann’s book over this one.

Side note: I am a (pretty) loyal client at Pure + Simple (P&S) spas, and with the amount of P&S toiletries in my vanity, you’d think there was a mini P&S spa in my apartment. I am a huge fan of P&S products. But I wasn’t overly impressed with the book and didn’t find it as informing as I had hoped.

Have you read Kristen Ma’s Pure + Simple? What are your thoughts on the book or on natural skin care products and holistic skin treatments?



Filed under Book Review, Health

8 responses to “Book Review: Pure + Simple – A Holistic Guide to Natural Beauty by Kristen Ma

  1. I also have suffered acne since I was 12 ish and you would think I would outgrew it in my late twenties/early twenties, unfortunately not the case. I also have you-name-it beauty acne products and beauty products including accutane. Currently my acne is not severe but still not good. What do you find that works for you?

    • I found that my acne went down significantly after I stopped eating so many butters, oils, fats and anything processed. I avoid eating stuff in packages, things like sausages, or anything very oily.

      That was the #1 thing I’d recommend. Make things from scratch, avoid stuff like boxed foods, and even in restaurants, I go for grilled items.

      Now, when I eat bad/oily things, I can tell because my face gets a massive, painful pimple(s).

      Otherwise, I try to exfoliate regularly with a Clarisonic face brush (genius, this thing makes my skin feel so soft and it absorbs moisturizers/serums SO much better), and I think it’s making a difference in my skintone/acne by clearing it up.

      • Sorry, apologize for all the typo in my original post. Clarisonic face brush…need to check this out. Food, I generally eat fairly healthy to begin with though there is definitely room for improvement. Thanks for the tips.

    • Gah! I know what you mean, since I’m still suffering from acne and I’ve had it since grade 7. It’s such a bummer, but I find it a little easier to pinpoint the cause of my acne as I age, if that helps.

      As FB said, diet is a huge part for me, as well. I find my skin reacts badly to processed foods and fatty foods, and not enough sleep. If I have a cheese platter one day, within 48 – 72 hours, I will expect to see a zit or two.

      I used Accutane before (in high school) and I just found it too harsh to go back to in my 20s. Although I had great skin for the first few years afterwards, the toll my body was huge and it’s not the first thing I’d recommend to anyone. In fact, I see it as a very last resort.

      I wrote a post a few weeks back about my holy grail items A combination of eating well, sleeping well, taking time to de-stress and my holy grail products help keep my skin in check 🙂

  2. I felt the same way when I browsed through it, which makes sense — she’s in it to sell her stuff.

    I do like P&S lactic acid and sunscreen.

  3. I breakout as well and have been wanting to make changes in my diet to try to get better skin – sad to hear that the book didn’t work out but I’m going to try what you recommended above and cut out as many processed foods as possible when I return.

    Also thank you for your sweet comment on my blog – I’m glad you liked the interview 🙂 Hi from Thailand!

    • Hope you are having a wonderful time in Thailand! I was there about 5 years ago, and it was simply breathtaking.

      I hope that you can find a solution for your skin. Adult acne seems to be a more common trend than I once thought. It is so annoying!! 😛

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s