The first installment of our series highlighting the 12 brands in partnership with Beauty Made in Italy is Skin&Co! Blending Italian traditions from hundreds of years ago with modern-day innovations, Skin&Co operates out of a small Italian village and has managed to achieve great success for decades. Believing that its traditions carry a level of craftsmanship and know-how that is currently unprecedented, the company is looking to the future without forgetting the wisdom of the past. We checked in with its founder, Gabriel Balestra, to find out how a farm boy from the hills of Italy transitioned his family estate into the skin care and wellness empire it is today—and to get the scoop on the truffle-infused body oil that industry insiders can’t get enough of!
Tell us how you got into the beauty business. Your family background started out on a farm in Umbria.
I have always felt close to the beauty category because I grew up around plants and flowers and roots that would ultimately make it into a beauty product. My first memory every is harvesting season and I was probably 4 years old. It was a super-hot summer and I remember that like it was today.
You’ve said all ingredients aren’t created equal. What’s your process for selecting the right ones?
Using the right ingredients in our foods or our beauty routine is what I call “true luxury” today. Most ingredients are grown in greenhouses and farmed to grow as quickly as possible. I wanted to create a line that was naturally sustainable and also respectful of nature and her time. We pick ingredients right where they have grown for thousands of years and right when they are actually supposed to grow. There’s a season for everything. The ingredients we grow are completely GMO-free and they aren’t fertilized to grow faster in any way. This forces you to operate a little differently as you might have seasons that are really rich and others that aren’t as prominent.
And what made you want to combine beauty and wellness?
I believe that beauty starts within, truly. It starts with what we put into our bodies and how we enhance our appearance. Beauty though is not only a process of looking better. I truly think that beauty is also a process of feeling better. In my case, it was a natural process because we are one of the very few brands that not only create their products but grow their ingredients. Most people don’t realize how much farming and natural beauty are two faces of the same coin. The lemon you eat is that same lemon that goes into a cleanser or a moisturizer. It is extremely potent when that extract is Food Grade, rich in nutrients that are good for you. When I first started SKIN&CO, the green movement in beauty was just building up and people would tell me, “This is just a trend that will pass quickly, don’t expect it to last forever”. I knew it wasn’t a trend, this is how I grew up my entire life. So, if this was a trend, I was in-trend for 35 years.
That’s a pretty long trend! Tell us about your “Slow Beauty Process” philosophy.
I love to refer to it as our mantra. Beauty can’t be fast, in my opinion; because beauty and wellness are rituals and rituals take time. “Slow Beauty” focuses on preserving traditions, craftsmanship, growing rich and nutritious ingredients for rich and nutritious products and lifestyles. It focuses on quality, not quantity. I like to think of it as that beautiful wool sweater that never goes out of style, that never shrinks. Oprah [a fan of the brand] once told me that, “God is in the details,” and that’s so true. Beauty is in the details and to pay attention to the details, you need to slow down.
What are some of the Mediterranean rituals you’re trying to recreate for an at-home ritual experience?
Mediterranean traditions are historically based on what nature has to offer, therefore they are mostly simple. They don’t require you to go the extra mile and be stressed about it. Some of the rituals I grew up with and I am particularly a fan of are those that evoke a sense of relaxation of the body and the senses. We live such a fast life that it truly is our job to give ourselves 30 minutes to detox, whether it is with a rosemary bath with some candles or a mask followed by some cold-pressed oils.
Are you launching anything new?
In the past week, we have launched our Truffle Therapy Dream Cream, which is our first night cream with 10 percent AHA. It is highly concentrated in natural fruit acids that must be used at night to avoid exposing your skin to UV rays while using it. It gently exfoliates the skin as you sleep and the AHA is fully obtained from fruits and not synthetically. Our Holiday collection is a big reveal every year and we have partnered with some very talented Italian artists for this year’s best gifts!
What common mistakes do you think people make when selecting skin care products?
The most common mistake is to keep using products that are not right for you, simply because we see them around and we feel it they are working for a friend they might work for us too.
What should consumers pay attention to when selecting their skin care regime?
I will be bias on this one but “origin” is one of the things they should be paying attention to. As a consumer, I am a freak when it comes to ingredients, but I am also a freak about the origin. A pretty little list won’t just make it for me. I need to know who’s the company, what’s their story, what do they stand for. Primarily give products time, don’t mix too much. Your skin is your largest organ and it’s the wrapping of that beautiful candy that is you.
What’s next for the company?
We have a lot of projects in the making that go beyond beauty and venture into wellness and lifestyle. It is beautiful when you get to work with such talented people in their category that push you to try and explore.