How long have been creating cosmetics?
“I started working as a pharmacologist over 35 years ago. I became interested in dermatological conditions and degenerative diseases. With the research I started doing around this, I got into cosmetics”.
Why are you passionate about this industry?
“I am very passionate about creating products that preserve your health, but that also feel great, smell delicious, make your skin beautiful and make you feel good. I believe in creating ‘psico-cosmesi’, meaning cosmetics that help both mind and body, working internally and externally. Being able create this type of cosmetic is a special thing”.
What are your best cosmetic discoveries or studies?
“The first studies I did many moons ago were for dermatitis and psoriasis. I looked into the use of extracts of Mahonia Aquifolium (Oregon grape) to cure these two conditions. I created a targeted line with this ingredient that worked beautifully for these two skin conditions, and that is still an important line today.
Another study I did over 20 years ago was that of extracting resveratrol from Trento’s grapes (still a technique that is reserved to our lab).The resveratrol was used (and still is used) to create a super anti-ageing cosmeceutical line. Resveratrol is a part of a group of compounds called polyphenols, which act as antioxidants for the skin.
One of my favourite studies also done over 20 years ago was that of using melatonin on the skin. This led me to extract melatonin from plants, such as cherry, yarrow and sage (a technique exclusive to our lab). My studies showed how important the use of vegetable melatonin- phytomelatonin- was for anti-ageing properties on the skin. Phytomelatonin also opened the concept of ‘psico-cosmesi’ for me”.
What does it mean to look after your skin in a healthy way? What are the ingredients to avoid?
“When you create a formula the most important thing to ensure is that it does not create any skin problems; the product must be healthy for you. My experience has taught me that the most important substances to preserve skin health come from the plant world. However, even in the natural world, not everything is perfectly healthy.
We use precious oils that come from plants instead of the ‘traditional’ oils, which are derived from petrolatum, such as vaseline. Petrolatum can create the illusion of moisturised, hydrated skin, all the while suffocating your pores.
In the past, only chemical emulsifiers existed. These have been known to contribute to skin problems. Emulsifiers are ingredients used to assist in the production of an emulsion. An emulsion allows two or more non-mixable liquids (e.g. oil and water) to be mixed together. We only use natural vegetable emulsifiers. These natural emulsifiers are harder to use to create a stable product because they are delicate and not as strong as chemical emulsifiers. Nevertheless, they allow us to create a healthy product.
In the case of essential oils, whilst they have some wonderful qualities, they carry with them a series of allergens. They are called allergens because they can create allergies. The most common that are preferable to avoid are citral, geraniol and coumarin which can often be found on the INCI (ingredient) lists. Thus our fragrances are purified from allergens.
We have also seen that traditional preservatives can accumulate in the skin and cause dermatitis and other skin problems. Vitamins, such as Vitamin A and E, are great to inhibit the reproduction of bacteria, as well as having a cosmeceutical benefit. These natural preservatives are what we have used in our products.
These are some of the key points in creating a healthy product, like we have done for Irene Forte Skincare”.
What are your favourite ingredients for the skin?
“The ingredients that are common in all of my formulas are certainly vitamins, for their physiological, protective, antioxidant and preserving properties. For example, Vitamin E is an incredibly important component for the skin that can be found in high quantities throughout our cosmetics.
Generally, I love using high-quality plant-based active ingredients. We also use extraction methods that allow the product to remain highly functional, such as lyophilization. This is a form of drying performed at low temperatures of a previously frozen product. This process is much more expensive than other extraction techniques, as well as being much more time-consuming. However, the beauty of this process is that the ingredients retain their original features and truly preserve their active substances”.
What is the hardest thing in creating a good natural product?
“I strive to create formulas that are completely stable, enjoyable and extremely absorbent. The difficulty in doing this for natural products lies in emulsifiers. As mentioned above, emulsifiers are ingredients used to assist in the production of an emulsion. If we use chemical emulsifiers that are very powerful, the emulsion is simply created and remains stable for its entire lifetime. However, the emulsifiers that we extract from olive oil, oats or even corn, are very delicate and not as powerful. Therefore, the study of which one to use and in what quantity is complex”.
What pushed you to collaborate with Irene Forte?
“Her dedication and passion for the work she does, our joint passion to respect mother earth, to respect animals and to respect human beings with clean, healthy and efficient cosmetics”.
What do you love about Irene Forte Skincare?
“Saying what I love about Irene Forte Skincare means saying what I love about Irene Forte as a person. Her line is a reflection of her philosophy and her personality. Such a beautiful and intelligent girl could have only had a beautiful, functional and efficient line. Irene has been with us in the lab since the beginning, researching, developing and bringing her products to life. Her line emphasises what she wants to bring to the world.
I love the line from an organoleptic point of view (taste, sight, smell and touch). I also love the fact that it is inspired by and includes ingredients from the beautiful island of Sicily. These ingredients allow us to describe it as a food cosmetic; we give the skin the maximum natural nutrition, creating the Mediterranean diet for your skin.
It is also a healthy product, created with natural preservatives, emulsifiers and fragrances, and without substances that can cause problems for the skin. The highest quality Sicilian and Mediterranean ingredients are extracted in the best way to truly preserve their active substances. They are also found in maximum dosages to ensure functionality. Science is required for this. Science is also required to purify ingredients from their allergens. Lines that are natural that want to be functional cannot exclude pharmacological technologies. These technologies are necessary to make products more active and healthy. Without these ingredients combined with science, we are just any natural brand that you find in a supermarket. Irene Forte Skincare is considered, combining nature with science”.
Why are your natural products expensive?
“Firstly, we use high-quality ingredients that have a price. There are 75 high-quality active ingredients across the Irene Forte Skincare line. Many are grown at Verdura’s Organic Farm. Also, the process of extraction that we use is expensive, as well as being much more time-consuming. Also, when you have up to 15 of these high-quality active ingredients in a product extracted in this way, this adds even more cost. In addition, chemicals are much cheaper than natural ingredients. Therefore, when you are a product with natural and naturally derived ingredients and no big percentages of chemicals, it inevitably is more expensive. Lastly, processes such as purifying ingredients from allergens are also costly”.
Regarding the ingredients that you use that do not come from Verdura’s Organic Farm, how do you guarantee quality?
“We have been working with suppliers since I can remember and they are quite simply the best in the area. They certify every substance, and every active ingredient is extracted with the same methods as ours, guaranteeing quality and efficacy”.
What are you working on at the moment?
“I have been working on some amazing research around DNA for the last three years. We will be finishing our research in August. More will be revealed soon!”