In Conversation With Irene

What pushed you to start a skincare line?

I was interested in wellness from a very young age. This started with fitness and healthy eating and developed a little later into beauty. It is for this reason that I eventually became Director of Wellness at Rocco Forte Hotels.

I first debuted a skincare line in 2015 for Rocco Forte Hotels. I wanted to create something that unified all of the group’s spas. I also knew that Rocco Forte Hotels had an amazing wealth of active organic ingredients at Verdura Resort in Sicily.

I came across Doctor Francesca Ferri of EffegiLab in Trento, Italy, who I immediately knew was the perfect fit to help me bring the line to life. The immediate positive reception to my first line made me want to learn more, create more and launch an even bigger line. So, I guess you can say that it has been 3 years in the making.

You named the brand after yourself, why is that?

I questioned the name for a long time. I wasn’t 100% sure about putting my name on the brand (especially because no one can pronounce it!). But ultimately, I have put my heart and soul into the creation of this line and I’m proud of what I have created, so saw no reason not to put my name on it. I also know that people like to put a face to a brand.

What made you fall in love with Sicily, the place that inspired your brand?

I first stepped foot in Sicily in 2003 to visit the site that would soon become Verdura Resort. Six years later, the resort opened its doors and I spent almost a year working there. I fell in love with the people, the culture, the food and the breath-taking nature of the island.

I realised that Sicily’s rich ingredients and the bounty of Verdura’s organic farm made for the perfect base for a skincare line. Inspired by Sicily’s authenticity and beautiful nature, I also knew that I wanted to create a natural skincare line that was sustainable in its entire life cycle.

Last but not least, I was also influenced by Sicilian handicraft, wanting to ensure that my products were hand-manufactured and that my treatments and rituals focussed on the power of touch.

What has been the most exciting process of creating the brand?

Every part!

Choosing ingredients from Sicily and working on the formulas- and then seeing the final product that I love and am hugely attached to.

Working on the branding, such as - logos, jars, bottles, boxes- and then seeing them come to life.

Training Rocco Forte Spas on the treatments and rituals I created and then watching their positive reception to it all. But in short, seeing everything come to fruition.

How will Irene Forte Skincare tie in with the hotel/spas?

Irene Forte Skincare is available in all European Rocco Forte Spas, with an exciting menu of treatments and rituals, given that we have a professional range. We are also launching an in-room amenity line to go in all the rooms and suites. This includes shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and soap.

What does your current skincare regimen look like now (day & night)?

Product mania!

AM: I use the Almond Cleansing Milk, the Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner, followed by the Hibiscus Serum, the Almond Eye Cream and then I usually use the Aloe Vera Face Cream. However, this varies depending on the season and how my skin feels. For example, if my skin is feeling greasy, I would use the Lavender & Rosemary Face Cream around my T bone area and the Aloe Vera Face Cream on the rest of my face.

PM: the same cleanser and toner. I then use either the Rose Face Oil or Orange Blossom Face Oil; they both smell delicious. If I’m not in the mood to do two layers, I will add a few drops of the face oil to the deliciously rich Hibiscus Night Cream. Sometimes I also mix a hyaluronic acid vial into my cream. Both morning and evening, I always moisturise my body. The Prickly Pear Body Cream is amazing. I am also always testing other brands, so I often add other products into the mix too.

It’s hard to choose but what are your favourite IF products?

I started working on the line pre 2015, so I have had a lot of time to make sure I love all of the products. Therefore, it is has to choose. I use certain products depending on the season, what I am doing and how my skin is feeling. For example, when I travel, I like to apply the Hibiscus Night Cream on my face because planes really dry out my skin. I always carry the Pistachio Lip Balm in my handbag. It helps soften, nourish and replenish the lips, but it can also be added under the eyes, around the nose or anywhere where my skin is feeling dry or dehydrated. The Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner is such a lovely product as it is a toner but almost has a serum like texture, which adds so much hydration to my skin. Then I literally use the Rose Body Oil all the time; I pour it all over myself as it smells so delicious.

Do you have any exciting projects surrounding IF that you’d like to share, plans for the new year?

There are lots of exciting projects in the pipeline. More will be revealed very soon.