Insider Interviews: Irene Forte: Skincare Founder

The wellbeing expert, skincare founder & hotel heiress on building a beauty brand, the experts to see, the products to use & her failsafe skincare secrets

by Amy Wilson Wyles

Not content with pioneering the successful wellness program across her family’s Rocco Forte Hotel chain, Irene Forte has created an entire line of products using ingredients from one of their hotel’s organic gardens in Italy. Here she shares her secrets to staying well while traveling, her global beauty address book and the skincare tips she lives by.

The Experts

  • Hairdresser

    Limoz Logli in Chelsea. It’s an amazing little salon run by Limoz that I’ve been going to for years. Super friendly and experienced team.

  • Hair Colorist

    Tatjana at Limoz Logli. She has been doing my highlights for years and I’m always extremely happy with the results.

  • Blow-Dry Go-To/Hair Treatment

    Duck & Dry in Sweaty Betty on Carnaby Street is perfect for a lunch break blow-dry. You can also order amazing food from Farm Girl (also located in Sweaty Betty) as you get your hair done.

    If I’m short on time I also use hairdressers on Ruuby App, which is great because you can get someone to come to your house as early as 7am or as late as 10pm at night for a quick blow-dry.

  • Facialist

    Desi Valentine for at home facials – she is amazing and I have her Cryo Facial once a month, which includes ultrasonic, LED light, high frequency and the CO2 gun all in one facial.

    Olga at The Spa at Brown’s for Irene Forte Skincare facials. Olga is fantastic and the Forte Facial is a great monthly maintenance facial, which is tailored to suit your skin needs (e.g. to purify, brighten or even hydrate).

  • Dermatologist/Skin Doctor

    Although he’s not a dermatologist, Pietro Simone is a total skin wizard. He has a clinic in Chelsea and offers all sorts of high-tech skin treatments. He’s my go to for laser using Clear & Brilliant every six months or so.

  • Exercise Class

    All of the high intensity classes at Equinox where I’m a member, be it The Worxx, Formula, Tabata, etc.

    Heartcore for Refomer Pilates. Their classes are tough and you leave feeling like you’ve had a proper workout.

  • Manicurist/Pedicurist

    Pam’s Nails on Chelsea Manor Street in Chelsea. A little salon run by Pam. The team are lovely, professional and quick.

    I also use Ruuby App for at home manicures and pedicures when I’m short of time.

  • Masseuse

    Lucja Maslowska for at home massages. 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.

    Anyone at The Spa at Brown’s. There is an amazing team of ladies there that all deliver exceptional treatments.

  • Eyelashes

    I have eyelash extensions, and Julie To has been my go to in the last few years. She works from home in Fulham. She makes them look extremely natural and they last for at least a month. She doesn’t have a website, but you can WhatsApp her to book a treatment: +447891508238.

  • Brows

    I use Pietro Simone at his clinic in Chelsea. He micro-blades my eyebrows, which look extremely natural. I’m blonde and he mixes a lighter and darker colour to make them look super natural.

  • Favourite Spa Destination

    So hard to choose!
    I love Verdura Resort in Sicily. I worked there for almost a year and most of my ingredients for my skincare line come from the organic farm there. The spa is a 4000 square metred pavilioned spa set around an open-air courtyard, surrounded by palms, orange groves and olive trees. It’s home to Irene Forte Skincare.

    Vana Malsi in Dehradun in India. Going to Vana is a life-changing experience. Ayurveda, Sowa Rigpa and Yoga are thoughtfully integrated into the resort’s offering.

The Rules

Growing up in the hospitality business taught me to always be extremely nice to people working in the service industry. I had to work my way through all hotel departments and I know how tough it is to work in operations.

As Wellness Director for Rocco Forte Hotels, I decided to overhaul our wellness offering after realising that we weren’t doing much for wellness when I joined the company. We live in an age where approximately 70% of deaths each year are caused by preventable chronic disease. So much scientific research has shown that we can prevent and even reverse chronic disease by making the right lifestyle choices. We have the possibility to make a difference to our guests’ and teams’ lives. Wellness is the future.

The idea for the Irene Forte skincare range came about because of my passion for wellness, my work for Rocco Forte Spas, my Italian roots and last but not least my love for Sicily (I spent a year working at Verdura Resort in Sicily almost ten years ago). I decided to create a natural and sustainable skincare line, 100% made in Italy, with ingredients sourced from Verdura’s Organic Farm. The line was debuted for Rocco Forte Spas as Forte Organics in 2015. After seeing the immediate positive reception to Forte Organics, I wanted to learn more, create more and launch an even bigger line. This is how Irene Forte Skincare was born after 3 years in the making.

The biggest lessons I’ve learnt in the process are to pick suppliers wisely, get things formally agreed contractually or at least in writing, don’t let things going wrong get you down and be super flexible/ adaptable!

My top wellness tip while travelling is to always bring MegaMag Muscleze magnesium powder with me (I put this in my water in the evenings; it helps make me relaxed, sleep well and prevents fatigue during trips). I also add 4 drops of Iodine (I use Lugol’s Iodine Tincture 15%) diluted in 1 litre water bottle and drink it on the plane. It counteracts against air-conditioning germs, supporting immunity. These are two tips that the wonderful Akcelina Cvijetic gave me that work well.

My skincare secret is layering. I don’t believe that one mask or cream is perfect for all areas of the face. For example, I use my Lavender & Rosemary Balancing Face Mask around my T-zone as this area can get quite greasy, whilst I use my Pistachio Age-Defying Face Mask on the rest of my face given that it tends to be dry and dehydrated. I follow the same concept with face creams (I use the Lavender & Rosemary Balancing Face Cream on my T-zone and the Aloe Vera Hydrating Face Cream on the rest of my face). Also, if I don’t want to do a step of oil and then cream, I often add a few drops of oil into the Aloe Vera Face Cream. But I never miss the first step of serum before applying a cream/oil as serums tend to have a smaller molecular size, penetrating more deeply into the skin.

If I could only visit one hotel for the rest of my life it would drive me mad, as I’m obsessed with constantly visiting new hotels! But if I had to pick, I would pick one of our hotels in Rome: Hotel de Russie or Hotel de La Ville. I absolutely love Rome. Hotel de Russie has the most idyllic secret garden right in the centre of the city. Hotel de La Ville is our newest property that’s at the top of the Spanish Steps where I’ve launched my first proper Irene Forte Skincare only spa.

The Kit

Skincare routine:

AM: I use the Almond Cleansing Milk, the Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner, followed by the Hibiscus Serum, the Almond Eye Cream and then I usually use the Aloe Vera Face Cream/Lavender & Rosemary Face Cream.

PM: the same cleanser and toner. I’ll then add a few drops of the face oil to the deliciously rich Hibiscus Night Cream. Sometimes I also mix a Hyaluronic Acid Vial into my cream.

I’ll do a face scrub 2-3 x per week and a face mask 1 x per week.

Foundation: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20.

Concealer: Inika Certified Organic Perfection Concealer.

Lipstick: Not into lipstick, but I love the Korres Jasmine Tinted Lip Butter.

Mascara: Isehan Heroine Make Volume & Curl (an amazing Japanese brand).

Secret Weapon: MAC Spice Pink Cinnamon Lip Liner.

Biggest Indulgence: Pietro Simone Skincare’s Eye Contour Cream and £110 for only 30ml but amazing.

Best Budget Buy: Lucy Bee Coconut Oil.

Signature Scent: Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue; I’ve been wearing it since I was 16.