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Beauty Biologist Raffaele Ruberto Knows What Skin Cells Need

Our first encounter with Raffaele Ruberto, the “beauty biologist,” included advice for how to combat a cold. We remarked that we were feeling a bit sniffly and were met with an exuberant “try olive-leaf extract!” Ruberto’s enthusiasm for natural remedies extends to all topics, but his specialty is skin care. His recently launched collection, Raffaele Ruberto® SKIN, includes meticulously researched and tested products to combat five major signs of aging: loss of elasticity, poor texture (visible pores and wrinkles), hyperpigmentation, inflammation (redness and puffiness) and dehydration. Not only did Ruberto come up with formulas that have proven results in clinical trials, but his products are also all natural, paraben and sulfite free, and they smell amazing.

Raffaele Ruberto, SKIN

We spoke with the cosmetic chemist to learn about this new line and to find out what other miracle cures he has up his sleeve. (More science terms follow.)

How did you get interested in skin care?

I actually started off at 17 years old. My parents hired a financial advisor to handle my college tuition and applications and everything. So I got into the school I wanted, NYU, but this financial advisor sent my tuition deposit late, so I was deferred. I couldn’t start with my friends in August but had to start in January! I was really upset. My family friend had just opened up the Nordstrom Westfarms location. And she was like, “Raffi,” because they call me Raffi, “why don’t you come work in cosmetics before you leave for college? It will give you some money and you’ll get to meet some interesting people.” And she hired me at 17 years old as the Estée Lauder makeup artist. And I fell in love with the cosmetics industry so that when I went to NYU and studied biochemistry, I knew that I wanted to become a cosmetics formulator. I merged those two worlds by first working as a chemist and product developer for several brands that were acquired by Estée Lauder.

Why did you decide to start your own line?

Working for these brands, I saw a need, in the early 2000s, a missing piece in the industry. There was really a need for organic and sustainable products choosing not to use synthetics. I was aware of parabens because my family is European, and in Europe they have banned parabens for years. And cosmetics is an unregulated industry. So I was really conscious of the organic science. But the challenge was to create a product that was organic and natural but that was just as effective, if not more, in the fight against aging.

Raffaele Ruberto SKIN

Tell us how you accomplish this with your new line.

Being a scientist I need clinically proven evidence, evidence that substantiates any claims that I make on products. I created a complex called the R-Lift Complex. And that complex has been proven in clinical trials to address those signs of aging. My complex has the big players that we’re aware of in the industry: hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed collagen, DMAE [dimethylethanolamine]. But I bring some new players in: resveratrol and nicotinamide riboside—that’s a B vitamin. This complex proved in clinical trials to address five signs of aging: loss of elasticity, textural issues (which are fine lines, wrinkles, large pores), hyperpigmentation (discoloration, age spots), dehydration (dryness), and redness and inflammation. Addressing all those signs of aging translates into inimitably beautiful skin.

How does chemistry make your line different?

We are the world’s first biologist-formulated anti-aging and organic skin care. What does that mean? Physician, doctor and aesthetician-branded lines often look at the skin differently than scientists and biologists. Doctors look at symptoms. Aestheticians look at a condition. They say “dryness, rosacea, hyperpigmentation.” Whereas a biologist or chemist looks at the cellular level and sees what’s going wrong with each individual cell and tries to address the issues at that level. And once we infuse the individual cell with the R-Lift Complex, what happens on the surface is that all those healthy-looking cells manifest into beautiful-looking skin. Now, not that one way is better or worse. I see all the other brands as my colleagues—everyone has something to offer—we can all play together.

And how does this change the ingredients you use?

Some of the newest players that work to address aging at a cellular level are resveratrol, which is the anti-aging ingredient found in red wine, and nicotinamide riboside—that, likewise, helps address aging on the cellular level, working with the nucleus. We are one of the first skin-care brands to use them in combination.

Raffaele Ruberto SKIN

The scent of your products is amazing. Where is it from?

Our aroma profile uses neroli. That’s orange blossom, essential oil—we do not use synthetic fragrances. I was driving down the Amalfi Coast, visiting my parents in Italy, and I couldn’t figure out how to fragrance these because I wanted something palatable to people but new at the same time. And I had the window open and the orange trees were in bloom and there was this amazing fragrance wafting across the ocean. I love the Mediterranean. It was such a magical moment. People love the aroma profile. It’s intoxicating.

What other health and skin-care tips can you impart?

I’m a firm believer in whole foods nutrition, internally and externally. Things like blue-green algae from the Klamath region in Oregon, which we use in our products, provides the skin, internally and externally, with not just every vitamin, mineral and amino acid that you need but also with chlorophyll, which is extremely oxygenating. So the best thing you could do for your skin—something that will give you visible results—is to use a product that incorporates blue-green algae and eat chlorophyll-rich foods. I’m a firm believer in green juices every morning. Chlorophyll microencapsulates oxygen; oxygen is a gas so it’s really difficult to keep oxygen where it needs to be—it’s volatile. But chlorophyll traps it. It’s purifying and detoxifying and it does wonders for the organs and skin.

But if you want a pro tip for our products, using formulas 9, 10 and 11 as primers for makeup, before an event or whenever, just creates the most glass-like finish on the skin. It has an instant tightening effect. It enhances the contouring effect of makeup. It’s an added bonus. The makeup artists love that part.

SHOP: Raffaele Ruberto® SKIN

—Britt Burritt