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Founder Stories

Dan Signorelli: Founder, Vive Sana

by @vanzillascott
Mar 04, 2019


It's the first day of Spring, sweet Supergreaters! And what better way to celebrate than to pick up the perfect SPF for your next few months of sun?

There are no more excuses for your lack of protection; sunscreens are getting better, faster, stronger, and even camouflaging themselves in your favorite makeup products and creams. They're also defying your long-held SPF beliefs, like they have to smell like synthetic coconut, they always leave a greasy white cast, and they need chemical ingredients to work.

The best example of this innovation is happening at Vive Sana, where they've produced a serum and a daily cream that uses the chemical-free power of non-nano uncoated zinc to protect you from the sun. It's also the only sunscreen carried by Goop Shop, and as we all know, nobody understands quality quite like GP.

But Vive Sana (which means "healthy living" in Italian) is actually a lot more than just a plant-based sunscreen. Read our interview with founder Dan Signorelli below.

Instagram @vivesana

Instagram @vivesana

On being the only sunscreen sold at Goop:

Dan: I was in London training staff at Goop, they opened a bit ago and we’re the only sunscreen they carry. It’s a beautiful store and it’s always helpful to go in. The thing that we found is the more people know about what we’re about and what our product does for your skin, the better it does. There’s sort of a lot to tell, sometimes too much, but it’s a great thing to meet everybody and let them know what we’re about and let them ask questions. I do almost all of the training.

On why people have to be convinced to wear SPF:

Dan: It’s psychological. I think the reason people don’t get excited about it is because it’s like eating your brocoli; you know you’re supposed to do it but it’s not something you look forward to. That’s part of the reason why we try and make people understand that the daily is a daily antioxidant cream that is highly moisturizing and all of that, and it has an SPF. The serum has a bunch of really potent antioxidant and vito nutrient profiles to both repair and improve skin, as well as an SPF. We are an SPF, and that’s usually the first bucket we’re put in, but we’re really a lot of things.

On the brand's beginnings:

Dan: I'm a lawyer by training, a chef before that—I was in fashion too. All these things have kind of come together in a way. I started doing this years and years ago. I was working in a big law firm in New York, and I had a bunch of junior lawyers working for me, and a couple of them got pregnant at the same time. It was really amazing how educated people were getting about everything related to babies and toxins and organics, and also how connected they were.

The nerd part of me sat down with piles and piles of the latest academic studies and research. You didn't need to have a ten million dollar advertising budget then, and it was also the beginning of that movement of caring about organics. So it [Vive Sana] became kind of a real cult brand all over the world. All the best stores from Paris to Tokyo were trying to get it. I was selling out of my attic only, and they thought were a hundred times bigger than we were.

On how Vive Sana works:

Dan: Your skin is really good at adapting. For example, you get on an airplane and for the first hour your skin dries out, your hair, your eyes, everything gets really dry. At the end of the flight, everything gets really greasy because your skin is going into triage trying to draw out all the moisture. So what we're doing is getting your skin balanced at the start of the day so it doesn't doesn't have to be adjusting as much.

The goal is a three step approach; preparing, protecting and sealing, then repairing your skin. We use a lot of light botanicals that don't overwhelm your pores, but that are rich in ceramides. We picked all the anti oxidants and acids, and things like licorice root are nice from an aesthetic perspective for skin tone and blood flow. The daily is very moisturizing and has a semi matte kind of finish. The serum is lighter and has a much brighter finish. They use most of the same ingredients, but in very different proportions.

It's very concentrated, so it last a long time. The reason for that is it's a Mediterranean wellness, Italian kind of approach. We really didn't want to clutter the product with a ton of ingredients, especially ones that were counterproductive.

On Chemical vs. Physical sunscreen:

Dan: You know, a lot of the synthetic actives [in chemical sunscreens] have endocrine disruptors that directly affect your hormones. They also weirdly don't work right away, and they degrade quickly. That's why the FDA tells you to put your sunscreen on half an hour before you get sun. And it's not a physical barrier like our product, which literally deflects the rays. Ours works immediately and it doesn't break down, so from a performance perspective it's also better.

Plants have been dealing with the sun for millions of years longer than humans, so it's not a coincidence that all the best antioxidant come from plants. So, why turn to chemicals when you can just take something that exists in nature, right? And the answer to that rhetorical question is because it's cheaper—but that's not what we’re about.

On changes in the way people approach beauty:

Dan: People just want that one product that works for several things. You know, seven different products don’t necessarily play nicely together. Your skin is really complex. It's got a lot of interrelated functions and often one function has an impact in a bunch of others.

So, for example, when your natural lipid barrier gets compromised, it also gets dry and it's not comfortable or aesthetically appealing. But it also impacts how your skin deals with the sun and with pollution and with other external contaminants. So keeping the lipid barrier healthy and functioning properly is probably the single most important thing.

On his personal skin care routine:

Dan: Honestly, I shower [laughs]. Besides the serum I don't do anything else. And it really stays on, the daily is also very water resistant. But I don't do much, for what I'm looking for it pretty much gives me everything I need. I have a very simple beauty routine, again, back to that. You don't need to jam a thousand things in—we focus on quality.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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