by Cristina Rivera Earl on Jun 02, 2022
Fast forward 20+ years to their farmhouse in Holland, where my mom sat with a new “organic” cream she brought back from the health food store. She started to read the ingredients out loud and stopped when she couldn’t pronounce an ingredient and asked my dad what it was. When he read the ingredient, he was immediately horrified. We watched his ‘aha’ moment live. He said this should never go ‘into’ the body and quickly started to walk around the house in a ‘mad scientist’ sort of way and read the ingredients of every single personal care product that we used. I was the worst because I was in a very rebellious, conventional makeup and perfume phase in my early 20’s. He understood that by the time we left the house in the morning, our skin was ‘ingesting' so many different chemicals from lipstick, perfume, shampoo, makeup, deodorant, etc. But at that time the beauty industry claimed that this wasn’t true, that these ingredients did not penetrate the top layer of the epidermis. Of course, now that trans-dermal patches are regularly prescribed, it is a known fact that your skin absorbs whatever is put on it, and the industry can no longer make that claim. After trailing my mom and I for about 3 months, my mother told him to “Go do something about it”. So off he went into his little lab in the barn and started to formulate our line, working with the most incredible potent extracts and plants. The same ingredients that we use today. Of course, we have grown the line over the years to include many more incredible ingredients from all over the world.
I moved to New York City at age 28 and after having had flawless skin for my whole life, I suddenly had a terrible breakout of cystic bleeding acne from cheek to cheek. I struggled hard emotionally and physically with it. I did all the dietary things that I knew I needed to do, but nothing seemed to help. There were no wellness blogs, cell phones, or hardly internet yet, so my options were very limited. A health food store recommended tea tree oil which was way too harsh, and I had tried another conventional well-known product that completely dried out my skin and created a huge imbalance.
On top of it all, I bought into the hype of a celebrity esthetician and a dermatologist who both were extremely aggressive on my already very inflamed skin. They finally recommended, after 2 years of treatment, that I go on Accutane, do a series of Microdermabrasion, and do Chemical peels. All these suggestions intuitively felt wrong for me. Looking back, I would say that every single one of these moments and lessons later had a huge influence on how I approached creating our treatments, finding the right estheticians who align with our holistic approach, education, customer service, and how important it is to listen to your own inner guidance.
I finally called my father in Holland and pleaded for help. He sent me the Soothing Gel, which then was just a newly made product, with no name, in a plain stock bottle with masking tape on it, called “Gel”.
Well, that Gel became my magic! The effects were swift and calming. You know cystic acne is not a fast heal, but all the extreme angriness of my condition improved almost immediately, within two weeks. After a year I walked back into the places that had been treating me and they nearly fell off their chairs. I didn’t have one scar left on my face. They said my scars would never go away. But they did, thanks to the next product that he sent to me, The Nourishing Treatment Oil.
Then I called my father and told him that he needed to hire me! I always loved marketing, business, and people, and he loved being in the lab, so we were a good team.
There's a quote on the brand's website that says, "If you can't eat it, don't put it on your skin." Are all of the products technically edible? We promise we won't try to eat them- just curious! Sounds like a pretty amazing feat.
Yes, they are! It’s our formulating guideline. This was very important to him because he wanted to create a product that would never cause harm. He wanted to know that someone could use these products for the rest of their life and never worry about a chemical toxic build up. There’s a spa in NYC that has carried our line for 18+ years and one day my dad was in town visiting, and the assistant spa director had a tummy ache and joked to my dad that she was going to ‘eat’ some of our products. He got super serious and said ‘ok, you can take a shot of the Soothing gel, it will act like bitters for your stomach”. Word spread and to this day that tester is always the one that runs out first! They were all amazed at how fast this settled their indigestion. Does it taste good? No, it doesn’t. But I have taken bites of the masks (mixed with honey and yogurt) many times during Las Vegas trade show where I was desperate for healthy food and needed a boost of something real and nutritious.
You've referred to Dr. Alkaitis products as "high vibration skin care", can you tell us what you mean by that?
Yes, first I need to start with who inspired my father so you we can get the full scope of this answer. Both of my parents were heavily influenced by the work of Rudolf Steiner. His lifetime achievements are far too long to list here. He was a genius. He invented biodynamic farming, which is a very special, sustainable and spiritual way of farming that works with the sun, moon and the land and the intentionality of the farmer. Among many things Steiner was also a philosopher and was always trying to find the synthesis between science and spirituality. This resonated with my scientist father very much and helped shape the core concept of our products, brand and how the ingredients are sourced and created from inception to completion.
All of our ingredients are organic, biodynamic or ethically wild-crafted. We have long term relationships with our farmers. My father has done years of extensive research about where we source our ingredients from. Much of this research was heavily informed by the history of the land before it began to be harvested. He learned what land and water sources had been depleted or damaged and this informed his research choices. Additionally, we have farmers who live in the rain forest who are also shamans. When they are harvesting ingredients for us, they will set aside the plants for us that they feel are energetically the highest vibrational of the season. We are very fortunate for these long-term relationships, and it adds another layer of mystical healing into an already very therapeutic product line.
Last but not least, when we are making the products in our lab with our slow and meticulous methods, it all comes together to create this little ecosystem in a bottle where each element supports one another. Kind of like a pond; you have the lotus flower, the frog, the algae, the sun, the wind, the birds, the dragon flies, and the holistic balance of it all matters for the health and support of each other. One of our preservation methods is from the actual layering of the ingredients in a specific sequence. This is the fusion of my fathers’ scientific background and plant knowledge. Understanding how plants chemically interact to achieve the desired result. I am still in awe of the process every single time.
Dr. Alkaitis skincare is "raw" and is never heated above body temperature. Can you please explain what the benefit of that is?
The raw concept has always been a huge touchstone for our products. A simplified concept is that it’s like the difference between a raw juice and a cooked meal. The raw juice is teaming with fresh enzymes, natural vitamins, and vital nutrition. It is living. It is alive. The cooked meal or ‘heated’ juice would kill all those natural enzymes. The enzymatic action in our products is very important because this is what will naturally, gently, holistically and effectively produce cell turnover on the skin. My father was never big on aggressive exfoliation because he knew that if someone was using all our products on a regular basis, they were naturally & gently getting the exfoliation while keeping the skin in homeostasis, or balance. Once that balance is disturbed it is very difficult to bring it back. I would say in my 27+ of experience in the beauty industry that 70-80% of skin care problems come from over exfoliation methods & products that are way too aggressive, just to have an ‘instant gratification moment’. Obviously, if you are working with a talented aesthetician who understands this then it’s not an issue, but women tend to go overboard with their at-home skin care routine.
What is what the brand refers to as "Boutique Agriculture" and why is it so important?
Boutique Agriculture is important to us because it’s essentially what we do. We are a high-end boutique organic skin care line who collaborates with boutique organic agricultural practices that are consciously, and sustainability minded. It’s kind of like going to the farmers market vs the big box market. When you go to the farmers market and get the tomato that you are buying directly from the farmer, it actually tastes and smells like a real tomato, unlike the premature, colorless and odorless one that was picked too early and expected to mature on a truck or shelf, not in the sun.
We are involved in a network and community of small businesses (farmers) that are collaborating and contributing to this planet on a daily basis. These people are part of our family and together we are growing, and we are creating products that are ultimately healthy for people and the planet. It is nature being recycled back to nature.The cycle of the grower, to the creator, to the consumer who chooses to make a conscious purchase that will ultimately be for the greater good of this beautiful vibrating blue ball that we call earth. We are all supporting one another and that feels really good.
It appears as though you were very into yoga at one time; is that still a major part of your life? What did/does the practice mean to you? And how does it relate to the ethos of the Dr. Alkaitis brand?
Wow! I love this question because it cuts to the core of who I am. Yoga found me when I first moved to NYC, and I found it to be an absolute life saver. It helped heal my skin along with our products, but back then, OH MY, yoga was so intensely transformative and deep! I started at Jivamukti and after that went on to become the General Manager for OM yoga center for 9 years. My personal practice essentially became infused into my management style and it definitely helped form the foundational tenants of what is important to me. I would say that everything I touch in our business is infused and informed by my yoga practice and studies. It provided me with a map of which to live my life by, and helped me recognize the essence of what motivates and inspires me: nature, health and beauty; which is vastly infinite.
This has been an absolute pleasure! Thank you all for the opportunity to share.
Trish Alkaitis xxx
"This is a product that I simply can’t live without. The ingredients are insanely nutritious for the skin while providing a deep hydration. I now like to ‘cocktail’ this with 2 pumps of our Herbal Toner and a pump of either our Day or Night crème if I feel I need ‘extra’ hydration. You can also layer all these together. "
"I can’t live without this gloss. Either in Malibu, Fruit juice, or Jellyfish. I often will layer it with a more matte lipstick, and it works perfect for me."