HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN CREATING COSMETICS?
I started working as a pharmacologist over 35 years ago. I became interested in and started researching dermatological conditions and degenerative diseases. With this work, I got into cosmetics (and supplements).
WHY ARE YOU PASSIONATE ABOUT THE COSMETIC INDUSTRY?
I am very passionate about creating products that achieve results, preserve health, and that also have beautiful organoleptic properties (feel great, smell delicious) ultimately making you feel good and your skin look beautiful. I create ‘psico-cosmesi’ (psycho-cosmetics), and believe I was the originator of this concept. This means that cosmetics can help both mind and body, working internally and externally. Being able to create this type of cosmetic is a very special thing, and this is why I believe fragrance is so important for a product.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK ON DERMATITIS AND PSORIASIS?
A lot of my work has indeed focussed on dermatitis and psoriasis. I discovered the medical benefits of extracts from Mahonia Aquifolium in the treatment of these two conditions. I also developed a methodology for extracting resveratrol from Trento’s red grapes; this extraction technique is still reserved today. The resveratrol, rich in polyphenols, has pronounced antioxidant activity, making it a great active for the treatment of psoriasis and dermatitis. I also created an innovative dermatological line using avenanthramides, Vitamin E and Vitamin F to treat atopic dermatitis.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR OTHER BREAKTHROUGH SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERIES?
Yes, of course. I am proud of the fact that I developed a pure Vitamin E tablet, tested at the Institute of Tumours in Milan on women with breast cancer, to assess its antiproliferative effect on the tumours. We achieved incredible results and now have a patent for this work.
There is also my lifetime’s work on Phytomelatonin, which is undoubtedly my most important achievement to date. I was recently awarded a prize from the Italian government for this work. However, we are launching something very special with the brand on this very soon, so I will save going into detail on this until then.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN IN A HEALTHY WAY? WHAT ARE THE INGREDIENTS YOU HAVE AVOIDED AT IRENE FORTE SKINCARE?
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. We use precious plant 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 plant 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.
We have also seen that traditional preservatives can accumulate in the skin and cause dermatitis and other skin problems. Vitamins, such as 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.
However, it is worth noting that not everything in nature is friendly. This is very much the case with essential oils, often used for their fragrances in natural products. Essential oils carry a series of allergens, such as citral, geraniol and coumarin. They are called allergens because they create skin allergies. Unlike traditional natural products, science guides us to strictly limit the use of 'essential oils', and we have created lab-formulated allergen-screened fragrances instead.
All of the above decisions that we have taken means that Irene Forte Skincare products are healthy, and exceptionally skin kind. All of our facial products are clinically approved for sensitive skin.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS?
You will always find Vitamins in the products that I formulate thanks to their protective, antioxidant and preserving properties. If pressed, Vitamin E is probably my favourite. It is an incredibly important component for the skin that can be found in high quantities throughout our products. Indeed, we have 30% Vitamin E in the Rose Face Oil.
I also cannot go without mentioning my love for Myoxinol™, a unique bio-peptide extracted from Hibiscus Seeds. Myoxinol™ has become an important means to address skin ageing because of its proven antioxidant activity and its ability to smooth wrinkles. It can be found in the Hibiscus Serum, Prickly Pear Face Cream and Hibiscus Night Cream.
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 absorbent. The difficulty in doing this for natural products lies in the 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.