Interview with Maike Thumel, Founder of CAPE Cosmetics

CAPE Products
Maike Thumel, Founder of CAPE Cosmetics

Today I want to present you my dear friend Maike. Maike is a natural beauty expert, founder of the botanical cosmetics brand CAPE Cosmetics and a really talented photographer.

I had the honour to meet Maike in Nuremberg during a yoga class at My Shanti Yoga and since then she is always my go-to person for any (natural) beuty advice and a beloved friend!

ARI: Dear Maike, so lovely to have you here. Could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your personality and your passion for natural beauty? When did you start using only natural products for your beauty routine and why? Which benefits did you notice for your skin and wellbeing in general?

MAIKE: Thanks very much for the invitation, Ari! It’s an honour to be here.I founded CAPE Cosmetics after working in the sporty corporate world for almost 15 years. My whole life I’ve been interested in many different things but the two red threads so far have been cosmetics and sport. When I was a young girl I had a make-up dummy head and I enjoyed doing make-up for her. Later on that passion reflected in a side job during my studies. For a couple of years I worked in a retail job selling close-to-nature products. During this time, I was lucky to have many product trainings and learned loads about ingredients and make-up. I was one of two shop assistants who were doing make-up for our customers and I enjoyed it big time, especially working with people who were afraid of using too much make-up. From that time I was more conscious about what I was using on my skin but you know how it is: sometimes along the way you forget again until something major happens and you are forced to look into all directions again. For me that “happening” was the diagnosis of an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto, which affects the thyroid. I started looking into my lifestyle, my nutrition and cosmetics and read many articles and studies about the disease. Only slowly I realised and understood how everything is related and I’ve kept learning new things about it. I stopped eating gluten and refined sugar, cut down significantly on dairy and soy and started buying more fresh and organic produce, feeding myself all the nutrients my body really needs. As part of this I also changed my cosmetics – from shampoo and conditioner to soap, body and face oil and make-up products. The skin is our largest organ and products we use on our skin are ending up faster in our blood cycle than the food we eat. We tend to forget that. In addition I started to look into personal development, yoga, meditation and volunteering – which brought me to South Africa six years ago. Together with all these changes and experiences came the wish to live a more minimalistic life, consume more consciously and use resources wisely. All these changes helped me to feel more energetic, healthy and balanced and my skin looks and feels happy, too. 

ARI: Do you have some tips for the people that are new in this topic and want to switch to natural cosmetics. Where should we start? With which products? Which harmful ingredients should we try to avoid?

MAIKE: In my experience, it is important to not stress about the switch and rather make it a fun process. Take your time and change products one after each other. There’s no need to throw away all of your products at one time and change everything in one go. Chances are that your skin might be overwhelmed. Rather change one or two products at a time and see how your skin reacts. Give your skin the time it needs – it takes around 28 days for the renewal of your skin. So don’t give up if your skin reacts for the first few days. It’s possibly going through a major change. I recently heard that one should start with lip products as we women are eating many kilograms of lip product in our lives but I tend to disagree. As mentioned before a part of the ingredients in a product ends up in our blood cycle way faster through our skin than it does through eating and digestion. The consequence for me would be to start with a switch in body cream, butter or oil as it covers the majority of our skin. There are some fantastic and simple DIY recipes for this, too. When it comes to your face I’m personally a huge fan of face oil instead of cream and can only recommend trying – with every skin type. There are face oils for every skin type, even oily ones. I love combining it with a moisturising serum and use it for day and night. With these two products you have the majority of your skin covered and protected.

Ingredients that should be avoided, is a topic on its own and I guess it could fill a whole book. However, you are on a good way when you are only buying products that don’t contain the following ingredients: 

· Any artificial preservatives like parabens⁣ (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)· Microplastic⁣ (often found in peelings but not limited to)
· Synthetic perfume 
· Alcohol⁣
· Phthalates⁣
· Silicone⁣s (usually ending on -methicone and -siloxane)
· Mineral oil⁣s (often referred to as petrolatum or paraffinum liquidum) · Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate – used for almost everything that foams or bubbles · Aluminium⁣

A good idea is to start using apps like “Codecheck” that you can use to look up single ingredients or scan a product in store. It will tell you right away which ingredients might be harmful and why. It’s a good tool to learn more about individual ingredients over time.

I can also recommend to reach out for help and treat yourself with a Natural Beauty Coaching, e.g. with Lisa Scharff to find the right products for you from the beginning. 

ARI: In the past year, you also founded your company CAPE Cosmetics and had a successful crowdfunding campaign. Can you tell us more about that? How is CAPE Cosmetics born? What is the CAPE philosophy and the story behind the products? What first products are you launching?

MAIKE: The idea to create a natural cosmetics line with local ingredients I had after a spa visit during one of my holidays in South Africa. The original idea would have meant to go around some patents of another company and so I pushed the idea to the side. However, it came back to me several times and evolved into what it is today over time: a water free, vegan, cruelty free, all natural cosmetics and make up line with a high organic content and packaging that is mostly plastic free and industrially compostable.

CAPE stands for
P – PURE⁣⠀⁠

⁠I believe in UBUNTU, an African philosophy of life that I got to know during my six volunteer trips to South Africa. I also believe in humanity, charity and community spirit and that we are all part of a whole. It is important to me to contribute something that goes beyond sustainable products. I’d like to contribute so that more people in this world can enjoy a good education. That’s why a part of every product sold is donated to projects in education and for the environment.Against the initial plan to have the products produced in Germany, I’ll be now developing and also producing my products in South Africa. That way I am supporting another one-woman-show and her extraordinary skills.

CAPE Cosmetics products

The first products on the market will be a luxurious face oil with wonderful ingredients like marula, macadamia, baobab and rosehip oil and a lip&cheek product in a rosewood color, with the basis of macadamia oil that you can use as a blush and tinted lip balm. I love multi purpose products and like to offer fewer products with higher quality. Big news is that there is a third product in the making that was not planned for the launch. It’ll be a surprise to make up for the long waiting time after the crowdfunding campaign. 

ARI: What is your favorite natural beauty ingredient?

MAIKE: This is probably the hardest question to answer as there are so many amazing ingredients. If it has to be one, then it is marula oil. Marula oil comes with several superpowers but the tree itself is also fascinating to me. The more I read about it, the more I’m in awe. Marula trees are one of Africa’s many botanical treasures. The oil is full of antioxidants like vitamin C and E and it’s both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It is a lightweight oil and absorbs easily which makes it a wonderful moisturising oil for dry and aging skin. At the same time it is not too rich for oily skin and even your hair. 

ARi: You use also a lot of essential oils in the CAPE products and in your DIY beauty creations. What is your your favorite essential oil?

MAIKE: Honestly I love so many essential oils that choosing one is difficult. The one essential oil that has helped me through the lockdown phase with its uplifting and energising benefits is lemon. I love adding a drop to my water and or using it together with rosemary in a DIY body oil in the morning or after sport.

ARI: Can you reveal us your favorite beauty rituals?

MAIKE: My current most loved daily beauty ritual is – after a long day – to use my favourite face oil cleanser, massage my skin for a minute, take it off with a hot washcloth and apply an overnight face mask afterward. The weekend version of that would be adding a peeling and a moisturising mask in between. The other one is taking care of my feet – something we tend to forget. Our feet carry us all day and we should be grateful for their work. So I prepare a foot bath with epsom salt which is great for detoxing, file my feet before the bath, let them enjoy the bath for 10-15 minutes and then massage them with a rich oil or butter like shea or cocoa and wear cotton socks afterward so the feet can soak in the oil best over time. 

ARI: Do you have some easy beauty-tricks with few basic ingredients for difficult situations (like we had during the lockdown or when traveling) when we cannot access or buy many different products?

MAIKE: Haha, by now I might be the expert in this. During the first weeks of the lockdown here in South Africa we were not allowed to buy anything else than essentials and my beloved natural cosmetics were not considered essential of course… As I was running out of a few of my products I had brought from Germany at that time, I had to come up with a creative solution. I bought several oils at the market – sunflower oil, apricot kernel oil, avocado oil – and used them instead of proper face and body oil. Sunflower oil makes a good basis for body oil. Just add a few drops of your favourite essential oil and use it on your slightly wet skin after showering. The other two oils I use as is for my face but you can also add essential oils of your choice. In general it’s a good idea to look into foods as an alternative to cosmetics in times of limitations of all sorts.

ARI: Dear Maike thanks so much for all your tipps and information. To conclude would you like to share with us your favorite DIY Beauty recipe?

MAIKE: One of my favourites is an amazing whipped body butter with just a few ingredients: for the simplest version it’s only coconut oil and shea butter 1:1 and essential oils to your liking. The more complex – well, not really – version is coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba or sweet almond oil 1:1:1:1 approx. 1/3 cup each, plus 20-30 drops of essential oils. If you don’t like that little greasy feeling that I looooove, you can add 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder.
Combine all ingredients except the essential oils in a pot or better a glass bowl over hot water, let them melt on medium heat while stirring constantly and remove from the heat to cool down. Move to the fridge and let cool for around an hour until it is starting to harden but still a little soft. Use a hand blender or mixer to whip for 5-10 minutes until the butter is fluffy. Add essential oils and whip for another minute. Store in a closed jar and enjoy! 


Prep. Time: 1.30 h I Makes 350/400 ml glas jar

  • 80 ml / 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 80 ml / 1/3 cup shea butter
  • 80 ml / 1/3 cup cocoa butter
  • 80 ml / 1/3 cup jojoba oil or sweet almond oil
  • 20 – 30 drops essential oils (for example for a relaxing evening ritual: lavender, ylang-ylang, cedarwood and for an energizing morning body cream: lemon, grapefruit, wild orange)
  1. Combine all ingredients except the essential oils in a pot or better a glass bowl over hot water, let them melt on medium heat while stirring constantly and remove from the heat to cool down.
  2. Move to the fridge and let cool for around an hour until it is starting to harden but still a little soft.
  3. Use a hand blender or mixer to whip for 5-10 minutes until the butter is fluffy.
  4. Add essential oils and whip for another minute. Store in a closed jar and enjoy!

Apply on all your body and give yourself a nice massage!


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