Dr. Macrene Alexiades
On International Women's Day, we bring you the powerhouse founder and formulator behind OG clean skincare brand Macrene Actives.
We are positively thrilled to have just added Macrene Actives to the Onda family. We've admired you and your cult-status brand from afar for a while now. What is responsible for the aforementioned cult status?
Quality over quantity! I believe in excellence and have created the healthiest, most beautifully crafted, and naturally packaged products in the world to replace cosmetic procedures. I believe in a redacted line with a few actives-packed formulas that are updated annually as opposed to endless addition of SKUs in plastic that clutter and destroy the earth. My approach of updating my cream, serum, and lotion each year through formula advances instead of adding more and more products reduces waste of energy, resources, and additional trash from excessive packaging. I am leading by example on how to create outstanding efficacy and quality to revolutionize the personal care products industry. Those of good taste and who know quality support these incredible creations that are good for your skin and the earth.
You take a very holistic approach to skincare. Why is that, and how is it all connected? Why does what we eat and what we do and how we manage stress, etc matter to our skin?
The best advice about aging I’ve received was from my Greek father, who emphasized routine throughout life, as well as being physically active, doing things yourself (when something needs to get done, you just do it), enjoying everything in moderation, eating fruits and vegetables daily, and importantly, getting good sleep!
Diet is something I often discuss with my patients. You want to avoid foods that exacerbate certain conditions, such as acne or rosacea. Conversely, you will want to incorporate healthy nutrients that boost skin quality, such as those typically found in the Mediterranean diet. It is wise to include fruits, vegetables, and healthy omega oil from olive oil. Another component of being holistic involves eating an organically-grown, plant-based diet that is clean and sustainable for our health and that of the planet.
Finally, I learned from my Greek ancestors from so-called Blue Zone islands that low stress equates to longevity. Short on Stress, Long on Life! Yogic breath, taking things in stride, staying positive and taking adversity as challenge and opportunity, are all ways of reducing your stress to maintain better health.
We read that you will make procedures obsolete in your lifetime. First let us say: we love the confidence! How will you achieve this, and why do you want to?
Through my dermatologic and rigorous scientific background coupled with my formulation expertise, I have recapitulated the results of cosmetic procedures using actives that are applied to and penetrate the skin. It is my belief that I have already achieved the goal of replacing cosmetic procedures with Macrene Actives. If in your 20s, the goal is prevention of the changes I have defined; using the actives twice daily starting at this age aims to restore the skin in real time, preventing the degeneration of skin with age. Starting in your 30s, my goal is reversal of mild to moderate skin changes; if you start the actives at this stage, you will observe a reversal of the degradation that has accrued. And starting in your 40s and 50s, I am targeting rejuvenation–that is to boost levels of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid that has been lost over time, and removal of brown and red discolorations. All the actives targeting these steps of prevention, repair, and rejuvenation are accurately thought out and combined to deliver results in all decades to prevent the need for cosmetic procedures. For example, patients who use my High-Performance Lip Filler do not need to do injections.
Macrene Actives is the cleanest luxury, scientifically proven, and clinically effective line that replaces injectables and lasers with plant-derived actives. It was launched alongside my seminal textbook, Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgery (Wolters-Kluwer-Lippincott), which provides a guide to the appropriate and proven medical, cosmetic, and surgical treatment options for every condition of the skin.
The mission of Macrene Actives is to harness exceptional natural ingredients—a combination of potent plant actives sourced from the land and the sea—in order to create one-step topical skincare solutions to replace aesthetic procedures. Macrene Actives is designed to achieve total skin health and youthful vitality by boosting skin longevity, addressing environmental stressors, providing powerful antioxidant support, and fortifying the moisture barrier with over 50 organic actives in each product.
Have you encountered pushback from your patients about using actives vs. having procedures done?
Rather than pushback, my patients have universally embraced and realized on their own the truth: that Macrene Actives has replaced their need for cosmetic procedures! The pandemic made this obvious as my patients and customers who used my products at home for 1-3 years have never looked better or more youthful. They realized on their own that my actives work better than injectables or lasers. In fact, we have record-breaking return of our existing customers.
If you weren't the powerhouse dermatologist and skincare formulator you are today, what other career would you have chosen?
Artist. I was an artist before I was anything else. I started drawing faces, profiles, and eyes in my parents' telephone book by the time I was around 3 years old. Starting at the age of 4 or so, I began drawing picture perfect portraits of my parents' friends at their famous dinner parties in our home, and of all my teachers commencing with kindergarten and continued this tradition until college. I believe now that it is my artistic talent that makes what I do so special in bringing out the natural beauty in my subject, whether by injection, laser, or actives. I inherited from my mother a natural gift for seeing and creating beauty and use it to do good for the world around me.
We made the very conscious decision to publish this on International Women's Day. You are the epitome of a strong, intelligent woman and have not one, not two, but three Harvard degrees. That sort of thirst for knowledge must be inherent. In what are your degrees, and why did you pursue each?
Thank you for the kind words! It is one of the greatest moments in my career to be honored on International Women’s Day.
After reading Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring at the age of 12, I started making plant extracts at my local university in New York where I was born and raised, with the goal of finding non-toxic, plant-based alternatives to pesticides. I became devoted from this young age to finding clean solutions and prioritizing the environment in my scientific endeavors. At the age of 16, I began my freshman year at Harvard and immediately went into the lab, and it turned out that my idol who had pioneered this alternative to pesticides research in entomology worked there. Following this, I entered a plant molecular biology lab at Harvard and got my undergraduate degree in High Honors in Biology and was awarded the Captain Jonathon Fay Prize, the highest undergraduate honor at that time.
After Harvard College, I was admitted to the Harvard MD PhD Program and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. As a Fulbright Scholar, I devoted myself to finding non-GMO alternatives for agricultural crops in my ancestral homeland of Greece.
Once at Harvard Medical School and then Graduate School getting a PhD Doctorate in Genetics, I gained tremendous experience in both scientific research and medical training.
Over the past two decades as a board-certified dermatologist both in the US and the EU, I’ve harnessed these areas of plant and environmental science expertise to discover organic plant actives in my lab and to originate and define clean beauty by eliminating hidden toxins in
personal care products. Not only do environmentalism and wellness inspire my skin products, but they also inform my work in my cosmetic practice, where I see patients every day and conduct clinical FDA trials on lasers, women’s health devices, and dermatologic aesthetic treatments both in my Manhattan and Hamptons offices.
For the past 25 years, I have worked ceaselessly to pioneer and launch cosmetic dermatologic treatments including botulinum toxins, fillers, and lasers, to treat skin concerns such as wrinkles, brown spots, red capillaries, and skin sagging and to translate these procedures into active ingredients. Now that I have published my textbook, Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgery, you can see how each skin condition is aptly treated by procedures. By translating these cosmetic procedures into active ingredients, it is with great joy that I have launched Macrene Actives and helped bring out the natural beauty in my customers and patients.
How has where you come from–beautiful Greece!–informed your skincare philosophy and your larger philosophy on life?
Greece and Farm Life: My favorite beauty routine is on my island of Skyros. I spend every afternoon taking several swims in the Aegean Sea. Because my New York life is so packed with activity throughout the year, slowing down time and just being one with nature like this is truly satisfying for me. The other time that is truly meditative for me is when I’m on the Upstate New York farm doing my gardening by myself (perhaps with Zeus my shepherd dog accompanying me). These principles of connection with the earth, plants, and wildlife have informed my skincare philosophy that we are best when we utilize plants that contain thousands of potent antioxidants, DNA repair, soothing and healing compounds, and healthy ingredients rather than toxins for bringing out the health and beauty in our bodies.
We understand that where you're from in Greece is either in or very near to a blue zone? What is it about these pockets of the world that make for a healthier, longer, more fulfilling life?
My ancestors come from a Greek island close to one of the famous Blue Zones, where people live exceptionally long lives. Below are some of the belief systems that lend themselves to this principle:
Engage. Being active and engaged in the world is most important for looking and feeling your best. Connecting with and doing things for others and engaging in activities you enjoy invigorates you, makes you smile, and makes your heart beat and your muscles work, and all of this brings perfusion and nutrients to all corners of your being to create a healthy body and mind.
Natural exercise is transformative. An organic, mainly plant-based diet (with a treat here and there) makes a huge difference, along with getting what I call natural exercise. People in Blue Zones have a direct relationship with the earth and the elements; they enjoy natural exercise by walking up and down rocky hills or pulling fishing nets from the sea, and they often do these kinds of things far into old age. I mimic a Blue Zone life as best I can by working hard in my Manhattan or Hamptons offices helping heal people all week and then spending time tilling the soil and planting botanicals on my farm on the weekends.
Avoid potentially toxic substances. My devotion to finding plant-based healthy alternatives started at a very young age; after reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring at the age of twelve, I started working in a university lab researching nontoxic plant-based alternatives to pesticides. Years later, after earning an undergraduate degree in biology at Harvard, I traveled to find natural alternatives to GMOs as a Fulbright scholar, then returned to Harvard to get my MD, then a PhD in genetics, and then went on to become a board-certified dermatologist in the US and the EU. My expertise as a plant scientist, geneticist, and dermatologist helped me identify scientifically proven plant active ingredients to keep the skin (and me) looking young as I developed Macrene Actives. I have included powerful antioxidants and peptides in my formulas with the idea that we can assist your genetics a little and help protect your skin against environmental aggressors.
Shade is better than SPF. While “wear sunscreen,” is good advice, I try to use sun-protective clothing and minimize midday sun exposure as much as possible. I am always looking for healthy ways to be symbiotic with our world.
Skincare makes a major difference. While lifestyle, exercise, food, and habits impact how you feel, I am the biggest believer in plant-based, scientifically active skincare to look your best. My theory—that I could replace cosmetic procedures with active ingredients from plants—has helped keep my own skin, and that of my patients and customers, youthful and looking its best. So while I may not always get eight hours of sleep with all the academic and patient care work I do, every morning, I wash my face with lukewarm water and while my skin is still damp, apply my Macrene Actives cream that has superhydrators like olive oil, purslane, and hyaluronic acid, research-backed peptides, red and blue algae, and powerful antioxidants. I dab on my Macrene Actives High Performance lip treatment to give the appearance of fuller, healthier lips without injectables (it also moisturizes and feels and looks so good), and I apply my tinted moisturizer, which helps smooth and brighten and delivers forty-five active ingredients: powerful antioxidants that help to defend against pollution, brighteners, and peptides. At the same time, you get natural, beautiful coverage.
What's next for a) you personally b) the Macrene Actives brand?
For me personally, I am living all the creative dreams that I have envisioned since my youth 40 years ago as an individual who cares about the earth and its inhabitants. My vision is to leave the world sustainable for future generations and more beautiful than the way I found it. I am racing against the clock to revolutionize the personal care products industry and leave this pioneering of clean beauty and now clean packaging and manufacturing practices as my legacy.
The exciting news is that I just closed our first funding for the brand Macrene Actives! It was scary because I have never done something that is such a high stakes venture in my life. It was successful and that is incredible, especially in this economic climate, and it speaks to the strengths, value, and potential for Macrene Actives.
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