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Bottega Organica is obsessed with what plants can do for your face

Bottega Organica soap desk
The Soap Desk at New York City’s Bottega Organica (Photo: Bottega Organica)

Three New York City doctors-slash-restaurateurs and an Italian geneticist seem like the last people to partner on a new beauty venture. (Or even walk into a bar.)

But a shared love of olive oil and a belief in its benefits led that very group to create Bottega Organica, a natural beauty brand based on scientific principles, which opened a Wallpaper-worthy store in the West Village in January.

The brand philosophy is simple: “100 percent natural ingredients blended according to scientifically sound principles with the objective of maintaining skin’s youth for as long as possible,” says partner Paolo Manfredi, MD, who is also a co-owner of the New York Italian restaurant Quartino and a Harvard-trained neurologist. “We’re very serious about what we say, and 100 percent natural means these ingredients come directly from nature,” and are extracted using chemical-free processes.

(Photo: Bottega Organica)

The inspiration

The plan was hatched when Manfredi met Andrea Alimonti, MD, an Italian molecular geneticist, while working together at Memorial Sloan Kettering in late 2012. The two began talking with Manfredi’s partners in Quartino, a cardiologist and ophthalmologist, as well as other doctors who were habitués at the restaurant and now serve as advisers.

“We’re all obsessed with pure and natural ingredients,” says Manfredi, departing from what a lot of people might guess about MDs. “Having worked with patients with cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, we often wondered why even people who are very careful about diet don’t worry more about what they apply to their skin. Chronic diseases can be caused by environmental toxins that can be ingested or absorbed through the skin.”

Bottega Organica olive tree Italy farm
The skin-care brand uses extra-virgin olive oil from its farm in Liguria, Italy. (Photo: Bottega Organica)

The science

Dr. Alimonti told the Quartino crew how those toxins influence the aging of cells—and about his new screening method for understanding the effects of natural substances on the aging of cells, especially skin cells. This method zeroed in on plant extracts that slow aging, called “Natural Inhibitors of Senescence,” or “NIS” (with senescence being a fancy word for growing old).

He screened thousands of natural substances and identified a handful of NIS ingredients: natural substances that were tested on human cell lines and shown to prolong cellular life and slow aging. (Cool fact: The most active NIS is a species of sage, Salvia haenkei.) The idea behind Bottega Organica was to blend these powerhouse medicinal plants with pure Ligurian olive oil, which is rich in skin-loving antioxidants and nutrients.

And there’s serious brand integrity here. All ingredients are grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and the founders can say so for sure because they follow every step, from the cultivation of the olive trees and medicinal plants to product formulation and clinical testing. “We worry not only about the immediate effects of our products but also about the effects in 20 to 30 years,” says Manfredi. So you don’t have to. —Ann Abel

For more information, visit or check out five of our top picks from the vast product line, here:

Bottega Organica Nourishing Face Oil with Lavendar1. Nourishing face oil (with lavender), $48





Bottega Organica Ultra concentrated face serum (with sage) smaller2. Ultra concentrated face serum (with sage), $122





Bottega Organica extra nourishing hand formula with orange

3. Extra nourishing hand formula (with orange), $36





Bottega Organica anti-blemish face mist with rose

4. Anti-blemish face mist (with rose), $24






Bottega Organica extra virgin olive oil soap

5. 100% extra virgin olive oil soap (with lavender), $12