1. As the wellness consultant of the Rocco Forte Hotels, it’s pretty obvious you have always been passionate about skincare & wellness but what did you want to create when launching your own skincare brand?
As an Italian who grew up in the UK, I’ve always wanted to create something that connected me back to my roots. I also fell in love with Sicily, and wanted to do something that tied me back to this magical island. I first stepped foot in Sicily in 2003 to visit the site that would soon become Rocco Forte's Verdura Resort. Six years later, the resort opened its doors and I spent almost a year working there. I was living in the resort, and didn’t have a car, so I spent evenings testing lots of different things in the spa with the Spa Manager, and from that point I got into beauty. I also fell in love with the people, the culture, the food and the breath-taking nature of the island.
Later in 2014, when I started overseeing the spas for Rocco Forte Hotels, I decided to create a small line (Forte Organics) that unified all of our spas with signature Rocco Forte Rituals. I knew I wanted to use ingredients grown on Verdura’s Organic Farm, so I set about looking for a lab in Italy that would be able to formulate with them. After meeting with a number of labs, I came across Doctor Francesca Ferri of EffegiLab in Trento; I immediately knew she was the perfect fit to help me bring the line to life. The immediate positive reception to this first line made me want to learn more, create more and launch an even better and bigger line that was my own. Therefore, I worked with Ferri and tested formulas in our spas over three years, before finally launching Irene Forte Skincare.
My original vision for the brand has remained the same; I wanted to create a brand with the following core propositions: Mediterranean diet for your skin; spa-grade (we tried and tested the products for over 3 years with spa professionals); growing out own fruits, herbs, and flowers in Sicily; nature shaped by science (natural products that are formulated by cosmetic scientists led by pharmacologist Doctor Francesca Ferri, who has over 35 years of experience); and sustainability (built into our DNA from the start).
2. What is your skincare morning & evening routine?
Unsurprisingly, I use Irene Forte Skincare. I start the morning with a bit of water and the Almond Cleansing Milk. I then splash the Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner on and pat my skin to boost circulation, balance the PH of my skin, and remove the calc from London water. Following this, I use the Hibiscus Serum. I never miss the serum step because it’s more potent than a cream and its molecular size allows it to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. The Almond Eye Cream comes next and then I usually finish with the Prickly Pear Face Cream.
In the evening, I use the same cleanser and toner. I then use the Hibiscus Serum, followed by the almond eye cream. I will then use the Hibiscus Night Cream or the Rose or Orange Blossom Face Oil with some self-massage techniques. Sometimes I’ll also add a layer of the Hyaluronic Acid Vial before.
Both morning and evening, I always moisturise my body. The White Wine Body Cream and the Rose Body Oil are amazing.
3. What is your self care approach?
For me, self-care means taking an active role in protecting our own wellbeing and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
My first self-care ritual is sleep. I sleep about 8.5 hours per night and never jeopardise sleep for work, etc. Sleep is essential for your health and skin. The World Health Organisation and the National Sleep Foundation both stipulate that we need eight hours of sleep per night. In his book ‘Why We Sleep’, Matthew Walker states that sleeping less than six or seven hours per night demolishes your immune system.
My second is having a healthy and balanced diet. I follow a Mediterranean diet, which is widely believed to be the cleanest, healthiest and most balanced diet in the world, associated with good health and longevity. It is not about faddy trends and unsustainable eating habits (just like my skincare).
My third is regular exercise, vital for good health, and the skin thanks to the fact that it assists with the internal movement of blood, nutrients, oxygen and cellular energy.
I also have stringent AM/PM skincare routines (as shared above), which have become my morning and evening rituals. I do regular facials/ treatments, and, on top of that, I’m a sucker for longer at-home facial rituals.
4. Any beauty advices you would like to give?
One of my favourites is mapping the face. We don't have the same 'skin type' on all areas of our face. For example, I have quite dry and sensitive cheeks, but a greasy T zone. By mapping the face, I can use the most appropriate face mask or moisturiser on different areas of the face! I can do the same with cleansers and toners too.
5. Your favorite beauty and/or wellness place in London?
I have a monthly at-home facial with Desi Valentine, who has recently launched Skinned App in London- a mobile app for advanced face and body treatments; she is amazing, and I have her Irene Forte Age-Defying facial which integrates microdermabrasion, ultrasound and LED with my products.
I love going to the Spa at Brown's for treatments when I can; they do great Irene Forte face and body treatments, as well as a number of other fantastic services such as deep tissue massage.
I have a massage now and again with Lucja Maslowska at home. She’s amazing, extremely experienced and qualified in a number of massage techniques, meditation and nutrition. She truly reads you and deeply connects to your body’s needs and tailors the massage to that.
In terms of healthy food spots, I like eating at Farmacy, Good Life Eatery and Farm Girl.