25 April 2013 by Julienne du Toit

Just Pure in Hermanus

One of the most intriguing places in the whale-watching town of Hermanus, not far from Cape Town, is a fragrant little shop and bistro with a great view of Walker Bay.

Tamsin Koen, founder of Just Pure. Picture Chris Marais

In Hermanus, there’s a certain place where people heading for the PostNet in the centre of town are led astray. They suddenly pause and sniff, and then turn at right angles.

Tamsin is South Africa’s low-key, elegant, sleekly beautiful answer to Anita Roddick and her Body Shop.

They stop there and sniff some more. This is where Just Pure makes its products, and they smell delicious. Tamsin Koen, the founder and owner, insists on only natural, organic products. All the hand creams, face creams, bath oils, soaps and cleansers are scented with essential oils, like frankincense, myrrh, rose geranium, everlasting and cedar wood.

Just Pure soaps are popular gifts. Picture Chris Marais Just Pure soaps are popular gifts. Picture Chris Marais

Tamsin is South Africa’s low-key, elegant, sleekly beautiful answer to Anita Roddick and her Body Shop. Just Pure has the same ethics, and was started for roughly the same reasons: a driving belief that there must be something better to put on your skin than riotous combinations of unnatural odours and substances.

Tamsin was driven to this mission because her mother got cancer. It seemed an act of insanity to bring anything near her body that was carcinogenic, and Tamsin was horrified how many proven harmful chemicals were in body creams.

“Research shows that up to 60% of what we put on our skins is absorbed into the body,” she says.

She looked around for lotions without these chemicals and couldn’t find much that was locally made.

So Tamsin started experimenting. She wasn’t a chemist, she wasn’t a cosmetician. In fact, her background was in marketing and fundraising. Tamsin eventually came up with a few products and, of course, the name described what they were – Just Pure.

Her small shop was a pleasure to walk into because of its naturally good scents, some astringent, some sweet. The shop did very well, especially considering the seasonal nature of Hermanus trade. The reason it thrived was because locals loved her place, and still do. There is always something new: hand-made pure wool baby’s clothes, for example; or a new range of soaps.

Then she opened a daytime bistro with the most addictive cappuccinos and healthy food that is locally sourced, free range and organic where possible.

The latest development is that spas are starting to stock Just Pure, and therapists are mad about Tamsin’s massage oils.

But Tamsin’s enduring fascination is her laboratory. This, the source of the alluring smells, is a place where she oversees the making of fresh batches, and experiments with scents and products. Her husband, Louis, and all her friends are guinea pigs, and they swear by her creations.

Category: Health & Wellness

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