Julia Faller, founder of San Francisco-based Benedetta, wonders why so many of us worry about what we put into our bodies, but don’t notice what we slather over our skin. An esthetician whose background boasts 30-plus years in medical aromatherapy, botanical chemistry, homeopathy, quantum physics, ji shin jyutsu, and nutrition, she’s been entrenched deeply in the search for natural cures and alternative solutions her entire career. Rejecting a rote beauty industry with products that teem with toxic ingredients (such as petrochemicals), Faller drew from her years of research to develop a results-driven, totally clean and pure, 100 percent botanical skincare line. “I wanted my clients to have a better, more functional system of care that addressed their skin’s systemic health and behavior, void of synthetics and inert materials,” she says.
Easy-to-use Benedetta utilizes Farm-Sourced® [Benedetta’s coined phrase] living, certified organic, and biodynamic ingredients, gleaned as close to their “earthly source” as possible to allow nature’s healing powers to support the skin. Her broad-spectrum system stimulates the skin’s innate tools to protect, renew, hydrate, and correct. A celebrity favorite, the line is available online (www.benedetta.com ) and at the San Francisco Ferry Building (1 Ferry Building Plaza San Francisco, CA 94111). We spoke to Faller about her astonishing products.
HL: We’re fans. We put the products to the test on a high altitude jaunt to Colorado, where our skin stayed moisturized and radiant despite the climate. We also love your seaweed mask, as it erased lines and brightened our visages instantly. And your botanical deodorant? It really works! We also loved how easy Benedetta is to use. Unlike many skincare lines, Benedetta is quite simple to use. Tell us about the steps.
JF: Our 5-step day and 3-step night (two of which are in the day regimen) takes the guesswork out of what to use. They are created to work better together than apart, often using less of one product as a result of that union. I developed the water integration system that is used throughout both our facial regimen and Body Duo’s Hydrosol + Body Crème.
HL: You suggest that we make a certain yawn-like face for one of the steps. Tell us about that.
JF: I created a facial in a bottle with our Massage-In Cream Cleanser. This signature product defines years of customized treatments during which I would massage similar ingredients on my clients, always in a prone position. I discovered that if you make a comfortable circle with your mouth, lips wrapped around teeth, you create a tightening resistance. This enables you to strengthen the skin when applying cream-based products. This technique we refer to as the O.M.R. (open mouth resistance) also aids better incorporation of the product as it reinforces circulation, elimination, and moisturization.
HL: In lay terms, tell us how these products are different and why they work.
JF: I created them out of nothing, meaning without laboratory support. Chemist friends said I was wasting my time, unless I used a plasticide to bind everything together, along with numerous other toxic chemical stabilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives, to name a few. The media and professional magazines did not support my thinking; I was alone with my convictions.
Creating synergies using 100 percent botanical efficacy geared towards the function of the skin and what it needs to succeed was first. Second, I designed a system to be used together and developed the concept of water integration: water before oil and water synergies alone at night, to balance and allow the skin to breathe. The practice of interlacing products works better in union with one another, than by alone. This union would prove to activate better hydration at night, and when used with an oil, better lipid, or moisturization during the day.
Last, once the formulas functioned individually and together, I worked tirelessly (to this day) in sourcing the cleanest, most vibrant ingredients, always certified organic, ethically grown, and biodynamic.
In short, this age of internet formulators, clean or farm-to-face, and/or organic lines seems to speak only to the ingredients. To become a certified organic line, you are mandated to use 92 percent organic materials. Many will opt into a preponderance of cheaper materials to make up the mass of their formulae. Therefore, clean ingredients alone do not make a functional product. What separates Benedetta then and now is our use of them.
HL: You also make deodorant, face masks, and more. What are some of your favorite creations?
JF: I truly do create products out of necessity, each having a unique story behind them. Most create products out of trends and what is selling. I never do that. Take for instance, our The “Best” Deodorant, created in 2000. I could not find any natural product that worked, and most had parabens in them. At the same time, there were reports that one in three women in Marin County were diagnosed with some form of fibroid mass or breast cancer, more than any other county in California. I researched and created a 100 percent certified organic deodorant—75 percent of which is biodynamic—that targets the bacteria that often causes the odor. Twenty-one years later, it is our best seller.
HL: They smell lovely. What are some of the ingredients?
JF: We do not add fragrance to anything in the line; everything you smell is an active ingredient and part of the synergy that makes up the DNA of the product.
HL: Anything else you’d like for us to know?
JF: I created Benedetta for people first, profit second, no compromise to this day. I took the design and execution of my formulae very seriously. My success is defined by those people whose lives have changed for the better. I have never followed a trend. I have changed the status quo on what we think is absolute. For example, we do not use SPF’s in any product, yet we address sun damage and protection through a new process of antioxidant uptake and deliver not only filtering the UVA and UVB rays, but also addressing oxidative stress. We believe the skin needs to be toned, not as a secondary treatment as in toners, but executed within a broad-spectrum approach adhering to and marrying together purification, hydration, and lipid balance within the cleansing process.