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Behind the brand: Irene Forte Skincare, the handmade beauty range that nourishes the skin with Sicilian-grown goodness

By Kevin Pilley  |  September 23, 2021
Irene Forte skincare brand

Everyone has an eponymous beauty product and skincare line in them. But only the lucky few see them sold in Liberty, Net-A-Porter and Flannels. Perhaps a name helps, or, at least, entrepreneurial genes in the DNA and good ideas in the blood.

Treating your face to a Mediterranean diet and a Sicilian skincare regimen might conjure up visions of messy anchovy face compresses, risotto rice scrubs and balancing ravioli on your eyelids. Actually, an authentic Rigenerante Essenziali, as suggested by Irene Forte, involves grape extracts, prickly pears, pomegranates and pistachio face masks. And the occasional apricot peel.

Irene Forte is the daughter of Sir Rocco Forte, the Bournemouth-born chairman of the famous £360m luxury hotel empire. The family is based on the 1,800-acre Ryde Farm estate in Ripley, Surrey, south of London.

Irene, 32, who studied Modern Languages at Oxford University, worked as communications manager of the five-star Verdura Resort in Sicily where she now grows ingredients for her eponymous skincare brand, founded in 2018.

Irene Forte Skincare
Irene Forte Skincare is a multi-benefit, natural and sustainable skincare brand, inspired by Sicily and handmade in Italy.

She recently married tech whizz Felix Winckler, co-founder of Reflaunt Resell Service which encourages businesses into the second-hand marketplace. He once courted Princess Caroline of Monaco’s daughter, Charlotte Casiraghi.

Irene and her sister Lydia, who is married to Greek shipping heir Dimitri Chandris and is the company’s food and beverage director, are the grand-daughter of the iconic caterer and hotelier, Charles (Lord Forte). Both were well-known party and high society ‘It’ girls and are close friends with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, the daughters of the Duke of York. They have a brother, Charles.

Irene calls her line ‘new natural’. Working with investor Barry Jones, founder of Hogarth Worldwide, and Dr Francesca Ferri of Trento’s EffegiLab, she uses clinically-proven sympathetic natural ingredients sourced from Italy’s Trentino region or grown on the Verdura Societe Agricole organic farm in Sicily. The farm boasts 200 lemon and 3,000 orange trees. Mineral water comes from Sicily’s Madonie Regional Natural Park.

All products and fragrances are allergen-screened. In products like Irene Forte Skincare Hibiscus Night Cream and Helichrysum Hyaluronic Tonic, botanical peptides and biomimetic properties are key. Rice fractions, avocado and olive oil are used as well as over seventy other ingredients, all scientifically proven as delivering exceptional skin kindness.

Irene Forte Skincare
Like a Mediterranean diet for your skin, Irene Forte Skincare delivers all the benefits of the way Italians eat

Dr Ferri focusses on delivering natural remedies in ways that enhance their potency whilst minimising their ability to cause unwanted side effects. Each ingredient has been chosen to work in harmony with one another, and also to complement the body’s natural biochemistry. She said: “We look for actives already naturally present in the skin, making them biocompatible and exceptionally skin-friendly.”  
After Oxford, Irene worked at London’s Brown Hotel, later joining Rocco Forte Hotels’ head office. In 2014, she received £250K in government funding to create a career and development tool for the hospitality industry. This led to the Map My Future app, launched in August 2016. She is now the wellness consultant and serves as an advisory board member of the Global Wellness Summit.

“I first visited in Sicily in 2003. I worked there for a year in 2009 and fell in love with everthing – the people, the culture, the food and the natural spirit of the island.”

Irene is still a Londoner. She was born in the city’s St Mary’s Hospital and grew up in Chelsea and attended Lady Eden’s Girls Schoolm, St Mary’s, Ascot and Charterhouse. She now lives in Notting Hill.

“There are so many amazing skincare founders. Sue Hamsworth, founder of ESPA, is definitely a heroine for me. She is an inspirational and visionary leader who has really shaped the spa industry. She has helped me a lot. ESPA has been an indispensable support in building the brand.”

Irene Forte Skincare
Both sustainable and natural, each product is handmade and nourishes skin with Sicilian-grown goodness

Irene has devoted herself to skin kindness and the fight against free radicals. “It is nature grounded in science,” she says. “Natural skincare made better by the guidance of science.”

She adds: “What is special about the Mediterranean lifestyle is that it’s all about high quality ingredients and freshness. It’s not about a faddy diet or a quick fix. It’s something that promotes longevity.

“Unlike traditional natural products, science guides us to strictly limit the use of ‘essential oils’ because they contain potentially irritating allergens like citral, linalool and farnesol. Avoiding these common sources of irritation is a key.”

Among her star ingredients is hibiscus, which Forte considers ‘The Botox of plants’.

She explains: “Hibiscus extract works as an anti-oxidant and a peptide all in one for skin protection. It blends with skin-nourishing ceramides, moisturising hyaluronic acid and rose water and olive oil for one mighty serum delivering hydration and a smooth complexion. The Pistachio Face Mask is a powerhouse for brightening skin.”

Her ultimate goal is to create her own store flagship spa. “My brand is very experiential. It’s the kind of thing that needs to be felt. My father is an amazing role model. He’s always had such an incredible work ethic and has always been so passionate and dedicated.”

Irene Forte Skincare offers ‘the very essence of the Mediterranean in every bottle’. It’s pro-Euro and from Britain.

All imagery supplied by Irene Forte Skincare