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Meet Saul Alkaitis, beauty industry iconoclast

Dr. Alkaitis

Saul Alkaitis is a beauty industry iconoclast. Because his skin-care company called Dr. Alkaitis uses only living, edible ingredients (from organic seed blends and chemical-free plant extracts to food-grade alcohol), it has more in common with the menu at Pure Food & Wine than with other beauty brands.

That’s a fit for the lauded research scientist, who knows the ins and outs of plants and how they’ve been used medicinally. (He’s a doctor of physical chemistry, not dermatology.)

Whole plants—not “plant-derived” material—make up the 14 or so Dr. Alkaitis products. Ingredients are sourced from organic or wild-crafted growers and are kept at or below room temperature. “Beauty products have to be made with healthy ingredients,” says Saul, who’s based in California and visited New York recently to debut the products at Tribeca Beauty Spa. “Skin glows from health, not from a trick of something we put on it.”

Which plants are best for skin health, then? For Dr. Alkaitis, there are no hero ingredients like argan or acai. “Plants have synergistic relationships—any chemist could tell you this. Some plants are more effective together—it’s a one plus one equals three kind of thing,” he says. “So I don’t pick favorites.”

Trish and Saul Alkaitis
Saul Alkaitis at Tribeca Beauty Spa with daughter Trish

Alkaitis isn’t a luddite. He just believes in using science to serve plant purity. Instead of the “lazy toxic route of adding chemical preservatives,” his team makes the skin-care product environment unpleasant for bacteria to grow. “Essential oils and many plant fatty-acids act as preservatives by naturally repelling forms of bacteria, so why wouldn’t I use those?” he asks.

Making clean formulations gives Saul Alkaitis a clear conscience: “The worst thing that happens after using my products for 50 years is nothing. Can other skin-care companies say that?” he asks, leaving no doubt as to the answer. —Melisse Gelula

The best way to try the line is at one of the New York City spas that offers it in a facial like Tribeca Beauty Spa ($135), or by purchasing the Travel Kit ($45), which contains seven day and night skin-care products plus a killer mask.

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