Meet the dermatologist devoted to demystifying the causes of skin aging, unlocking a youthful glow, and reminding us all to keep smiling.
- Written by:
- Patty Tortolani
In the 1970s a young medical student by the name of Loretta Ciraldo joined a team at Harvard University Medical School to study the harmful effects of UV rays on skin. The first SPF products had launched just a few years earlier but still weren’t widely adopted. And while it was known that the sun’s rays could burn the skin, the extent of the damage was just being uncovered. Thus began Dr. Loretta’s decades-long journey into understanding how and why our skin ages. Today, the Miami-based dermatologist, along with two of her daughters, oversees an award-winning and VIOLET CODE APPROVED collection of skin care essentials that not only protect against UVA and UVB rays but also fortify skin against pollution, light, climate, and irritants that are responsible for much of the visible effects of premature aging.
VIOLET GREY: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A SKINCARE LINE?
DR. LORETTA CIRALDO: So much of my inspiration has to do with my clinical practice. I really felt, after years of seeing patients, that there was a need for a very different approach to address how our skin ages. Because it's clear to every dermatologist who does total body exams that it's only exposed skin that ages prematurely. We see this disparity, this huge disparity, between the skin on our face and our neck and then the skin that gets covered with clothing. In the early eighties, we came up with the phrase ‘photoaging’ to explain this disparity.
VG: WHICH IS PREMATURE AGING CAUSED BY EXPOSURE TO THE SUN?
LC: Yes, that is what we thought at first. Because at the time, we honestly didn't even have good UVA protection. So we thought, okay, fine, it must be the sun because that's what we get exposed to. But fast forward to now, and we do have good sun protection, but exposed skin is still aging faster. So what about other factors that we're getting exposed to on skin that's not covered? And that’s when I began to research the effects of pollution on our skin.
VG: POLLUTION, AS IN CITY SMOG AND CAR EXHAUST?
LC: Yes but it’s not always visible. I don’t want to get too complicated, but Particulate Matter (PM) is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that are suspended in the air. If you look at a weather report that checks air quality, you will see a PM 2.5 rating. These are tiny little pollutants with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is 20 to 30 times smaller than our pores, that can get into our skin and cause free radical damage. Then there is the matter of inflammation caused by the very products that we put on our skin and weather-related dryness. So in addition to UV rays, we’ve got pollution, we've got irritants, we've got climate issues—there is a whole constellation of stuff that ages our skin. I knew there was such a gap in the protection of our skin, I knew enough about the chemistry of skincare and how to formulate products, and, most importantly, my daughters were on board to help. So that is really what inspired the line.
VG: YOUR BRAND TAGLINE, 'SKINCARE FOR THE REAL WORLD,' SPEAKS TO AN ALL-ENCOMPASSING APPROACH TO SKIN AGING
LC: Because we don’t just offer great sun protection with antioxidant defense against pollutants and all forms of UV, we also have cleansers and exfoliants that remove those tiny pollution particles, and our Intense Replenishing Serum with lipids and ceramides that fortify the skin barrier so that it is better protected against all types of aggressors.
VG: LET'S TALK ABOUT LIPOCHROMAN, THE ANTIOXIDANT YOU USE IN YOUR FORMULAS, BECAUSE IT IS VERY UNIQUE.
LC: It’s a synthetic molecule inspired by Vitamin E that was originally developed to treat cancer patients because chemotherapy creates such a huge amount of free radicals. Now I know everyone always thinks natural is better, but this bio-engineered antioxidant is a true powerhouse that quenches all types of free radicals—carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and all other naturally occurring free radicals. So basically, it's protecting you from all environmental insults.
VG: ONE WORD YOU CURIOUSLY, HAVEN'T USED IN DESCRIBING THE LINE IS 'ANTI-AGING.' WHY IS THAT?
LC: I know that there's been a lot of controversy about that term, and I understand that. I know that with each birthday, obviously, I'm getting older. But I don't feel that I'm aging in my spirit. And that's almost much more important than my appearance. So I think that you focus on keeping your skin healthy and radiant with the right products and a good diet. Now, do I probably do Botox as the number one procedure in my office? Yes, but I don't believe that it should be detracting. Just because you can erase all the lines, it doesn’t mean you should. I always say, remember to keep a youthful spirit, to smile, and to celebrate joy. I have many patients in their nineties whom I consider young women and, alternatively, a few in their forties who are already old ladies.