Nature tailors the framework
of our thinking.
In conversation with handmade, natural and sustainable skincare brand, Irene Forte.
We are excited to be partnering with Irene Forte, the organic skincare brand that attributes itself to "the Mediterranean diet for your skin". With the ethos of having healthy skin from the outside in, all active ingredients are grown on the brand's Sicilian organic farm. No harmful chemicals and plastic microbeads are used in their skincare and they also avoid the use of mineral oil in their products. All ingredients are vegan and handmade in small batches in Italy.
Explore here for the Lårs Labels curated Irene Forte edit.
Irene Forte has been accredited by Positive Luxury for their commitment to sustainability.
We spoke with Irene to hear more about the brand.
Tell us about Irene Forte and who is behind the brand
I was interested in wellness from a very young age. This started with fitness and healthy eating and developed a little later into beauty.
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 Ana Coelho (now my area Spa Director for Italy), 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 in December 2018.
Irene Forte's Skincare core proposition is below:
We grow our own.
We grow our own fruits, herbs and flowers in the gardens and orchards of Verdura. We control the harvesting and processing so that we can extract our ingredients in the best possible way for maximum potency and purity.
Mediterranean Diet for Your Skin.
We believe in healthy skin from the outside in, through nutrient rich organic products from Sicily that supply the skin with a wealth of vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants.
Spa Grade Products.
All Irene Forte Skincare products have evolved through years of feedback from spa professionals. As a result, they are approved and used by spa professionals.
Nature Shaped by Scientific Insight.
Experience gained from 35 years of research and development with pharmacologist Doctor Francesca Ferri and her team of cosmetic scientists has allowed us to create natural and effective products. We use more than 75 of the most effective natural and biomimetic ingredients. We also only use allergy-screened fragrance, and natural alternatives to petrochemicals, synthetic colours, harsh surfactants and preservatives.
Sustainability as an Ethical Principle.
We believe our ethics are as important as the products themselves.
What are your core sustainability values?
Sustainability is part of our DNA; it was not simply an afterthought. People, community and planet all fall under sustainability for us and we're committed to ensuring that all of our processes are as sustainable as possible. No one is ever 100% perfect, but we are constantly striving to find ways to improve.
We source ingredients from our organic farm in Sicily. We don’t use harmful chemicals and plastic microbeads in our skincare, minimising soil and water pollution. Any ingredients that cannot come from Sicily are sourced from reputable farmers in the area of Trentino, where our lab is based. We also avoid the use of mineral oil in our products, and only use sustainable palm oil derivatives. Our ingredients are also all vegan.
90% of our products are housed in glass. We use plastic for 10% of our products that cannot be housed in glass. Bioplastic and post-consumer recycled plastics are a more costly option and the minimum quantities are still incredibly high. For our first production run, these quantities were not a realistic option, but for my new production launching soon, I’m working on refillables, sustainable olive wood spatulas, and all plastic is bioplastic. I decided not to use plastic wrapping on our retail boxes, and not to add additional paper inserts, and I found papers that were made from 100% recycled fibres, with vegetable and soya-based inks.
We support the local Sicilian community. We use hand-painted ceramics across all of our spas globally and to display products in our retail stores, we also use handmade Sicilian bells and volcanic stones from Mount Etna in our treatments. We have 'coffee' (baskets) as gift packaging, 100% made in Sicily using sustainable palm wood. We're exploring how we can further support the local community by creating a 'social' farm.
Last but not least, we have been accredited by Positive Luxury for our commitment to sustainability.
Why have you selected the ingredients you use in your products?
First and foremost, I selected ingredients that we grew on our farm and that were well-known in Sicily. We have some amazing ingredients in Sicily that I knew could do wonders on the skin, such as Prickly Pear (considered a plant-origin Hyaluronic Acid and the latest super food, which is rich in Vitamins K, E and C); Hibiscus (known as the ‘botox plant’ and loaded with Alpha Hydroxy Acids); Pomegranate (rich in Vitamin C, flavonoids and anthocyanins, which are strong antioxidants for the skin); Olive Oil (rich in polyphenols and Vitamin E), etc.
We also selected biomimetic and effective ingredients with Doctor Ferri that we knew would truly create results-orientated beauty products, e.g. different molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid, a Ceramide Complex, Peptides, etc.
If you could change anything about the beauty industry what would it be and why?
I would make it less about 'fads'/ 'trends' and more about what is actually healthy for the skin.
And then, it's also worth mentioning that the cosmetic industry is the biggest utiliser of single-use plastic. Zero Waste reported that more than 120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, most of which are not recyclable. Fortunately, lots of players in the beauty industry are looking at ways to come up with more sustainable alternatives. However, many are still not making any attempt to change the way they do things - this is something I would change if I could.
Can you tell us anything about what's in store for Irene Forte for the next 3 years?
I've refined my packaging and I'm really excited to launch my new packaging in early 2021. We're also launching some 15ML boosters near the end of 2020 with exciting new technologies, as well as our Travel Essentials Kit. Then, for 2021, we've got some more exciting product developments. I’m opening my second Irene Forte Skincare-inspired spa in Palermo in June 2021 at Villa Igiea (it was sadly delayed by a year due to Covid-19). We're also exploring a flagship space in London for 2022.