Tuesday, 23 March 2010
Yesterday I met Dr Rafaella Gregoris, the brains behind Bakel, the high-end Italian skincare brand. She developed the range of six serums, available at Space NK and Harvey Nichols. She explained that in her previous work, developing products for other companies, she found that many of the ingredients in a moisturising cream were added not to benefit the skin, but to improve the texture, smell or look of the formula - like adding dimethicone, a silicone, to give a cream a slippy, spreadable texture. She has taken the opposite approach to brands that try to blind us with science, by stripping back each product to the purest form she could - coming up with the strapline 'zero useless substances, 100% active principles'. So the Jaluronic serum, for example, contains only sodium hyaluronate and water. The simplicity of the formulas mean that she uses the best possible quality raw materials with no preservatives and no animal-derived ingredients, and they're housed in airtight pumps. Nearly all of them can be used on eyes, lips, neck and face - as she points out, the aging mechanism is the same all over the body, just the thickness of the skin is different. A tiny amount goes a long way and can be used morning and night. You can layer the serums if you need more than one benefit. Such quality comes at a price, from £85 - £95. She points out that the cost of certain ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, can vary from 70 to 3,500 euros per kilo. I guess it's like comparing wine or olive oil, where standards - and prices - can vary hugely. I like the simplicity of the approach and I think if you have particular skin concerns like sensitivity or dryness that you haven't been able to sort out, these could be for you. Dr Gregoris is developing a sunscreen and cleansers, but until they are available, recommends a rinse-off cleanser so that no residue is left that could interfere with the performance of products you put on afterwards.
I think it's a fascinating concept that turns a lot of thinking on skincare upside down. By spotlighting these key ingredients she is demystifying skincare and educating us on what different ingredients do. Her straightforward, educated approach kind of reminded me of the early days of Cosmetics To Go (anyone?) a brand which was always very clear about their ingredients, where they came from and what they could achieve. That company eventually evolved into Lush, who again are transparent about their products, one of the many reasons I've always been a fan.