Defend your skin naturally
Last year, inspired by the inviting packaging, I decided to buy a couple of Sûrface facial products for my mother. It was her birthday. A risky choice for a woman so used to the same old products, often of large and well-known brands. That day I went to Frip to buy a clothing item and unexpectedly came out with beauty creams. I did not know the brand but a glimpse was enough to get the concept of a natural and simple product. What else can I say, today two people in the family are using Sûrface.
So I decided to have a chat with Ilario Schiattarella, the founder of Sûrface, the first brand designed to protect the skin from pollution damage. Sûrface uses the best technologies combined with natural and organic ingredients to create modern skin products that work everywhere with special attention to the problems of city life.
Introduce yourself: who are you, what do you do, and what brought you in Milan?
Hi, my name is Ilario Schiattarella and I am the founder of Sûrface, a modern skin care brand.
I was born and raised in Naples in a traditional Italian family. After several working experiences in the
textile industry between London and New York, I arrived in Milan in 2006 to study at the Istituto
In Milan we are definitely more used to fashion designers. How did you come up with the original idea of launching a new skin care brand?
I was drawn by passion but also by a personal need after meeting my partner in business and in life Janna
Van Der Laan.
She grew up in the Netherlands, and her skin changed after moving to Milan 8 years ago. Janna never had
dermatological problems until then, but after a few years in Milan her skin became sensitive and suffered
with inflammations and irritations. She was then diagnosed with acne rosacea. We then began to notice
that even her friends complained of a skin change related to city life and to understand that there was a
real need. Our idea was to create a skin care brand with one single goal and promise: a healthy skin for
those who live in the city.
So Sûrface is the first brand dedicated to protecting the skin from city pollution, right? Tell us about the benefits of your products. Why should we choose you?
Exactly, we are the first brand that helps the skin fight the negative effects of city pollution.
Reaching this goal with a natural line is not so simple. Now that there are many products of excellent
composition but of little effectiveness, we are happy to have achieved the results we aspired to after two
and a half years of research and development. With Sûrface we can affirm to have exceeded the limits
related to natural products. Thanks to the thirty-year experience of our laboratories, we have succeeded in
creating an 100% natural effective cosmetic unisex line.
Our solution against air pollution is the natural extract of the Camellia Japonica flower, the key to all
Sûrface products. Here are the specific properties:
– powerful anti-oxidant;
– collagen synthesis;
– strong moisturizing;
– anti-pollution specialist;
– stable at high temperatures and UV radiation.
Finally, I would like to highlight that most of the companies on the market formulate their products with
Coco-Betaine. It is a surfactant that certainly gives viscosity to the product and makes it more foaming. At
the same time, it is highly polluting for the environment, not biodegradable, and could also contain traces
of petrochemicals. Therefore we chose not to use this substance, despite many companies don’t
believe in our success. We obtained a natural product that doesn’t lack any cosmetic characteristics. Obviously this meant more time researching and developing the brand but it was definitely worth it.
We can therefore define Sûrface as “New Natural”, thanks to its modern formulation that uses the latest
generation of ingredients and technology.
You have touched an important key. We often use harmful products. How important is the choice of natural products? Two quick tips to know how to “read” the creams we buy?
You should choose the right cosmetic products just as you choose healthy eating because they are
nourishing for our skin. With the constant use of quality natural products, premature skin aging signs can
The term natural nowadays is often abused in the communication of skin care products. We recognize
this problem and we feel it is important to be transparent with our consumers right from the start. That’ s
why we speak through our “smart packaging” where we have directly highlighted the product (what it is),
its properties, and the final promise. This info is above the name of the brand which instead is found at the bottom of the packaging.
On our website a whole section is dedicated to the INCI, with all the information necessary to identify the
origin of each individual ingredient present in our formulations. If you are not a chemist but you still want
to read an INCI, you can help yourself with the “biodictionary”, an online dictionary that signals the harmful
ingredients with a red light.
A quick tip is to avoid products that have the word PEG in its INCI because they are oil derivatives and could
Which is your strongest market? Are Asians still the most skin care conscious?
Our best markets right now are definitely Asia and Northern Europe. Asians have always been careful to
skin care and have long been familiar with problems caused by pollution. Moreover, in these countries
made-in- Italy brands are very attractive.
Even Northern Europeans, attracted by our brand identity and package design, found themselves in our
philosophy as they are very educated in natural skin care.
Is it difficult to enter the cosmetics market? Tell us about your niche target and distribution.
I think it is very difficult to enter the “selective” market but we have invested everything on quality and we
are finding that in the long run it is rewarding.
We speak to an urban and young target, which is highly attentive to aesthetics as well as to the quality of
the product. Therefore, we wanted to create a strong brand identity that represented our philosophy and
the unisex idea through the “look & feel” of the packaging.
As a result, our distribution goes from the small premium natural beauty store to the concept store. Our
completely natural cosmetic products could also be sold in pharmacies.
You talked about the idea of a unisex product. What are the aspects that affect the one and the other sex? Do you have a best-seller?
Cosmetics for men is an increasingly growing market while women cosmetics is a solid but also saturated
market. The man is more loyal and punctual while the woman likes to change often to try different
products and brands. Surface best sellers depend a little on the market and distribution. However, I would say
that facial treatments are the most popular in beauty stores. Body treatments instead are best sellers in
concept stores because they work better as gift ideas. Our favorite is the face spray or FACE MIST!
Projects in the next future?
Our business will always be based on skin care and life in the city. Through various projects we will
definitely increase our product range in both skin care and lifestyle. Our dream remains to open our store
in Milan where we can express and expand the Sûrface philosophy.
Your favorite places in the city? The ones you feel more attached to.
After more than 10 years in Milan there are many places to which we are attached. If we focus on our
downtown area, we like to have quick breakfasts at God Save The Food in Via Tortona. When time allows a
richer breakfast we choose the garden of Al Fresco, instead. We like to have a good pizza at the new Dry and for “a-
typical” dishes we choose The Botanical Club always in Tortona. For shopping, we recommend Workshop
(also in the Tortona area) and the shops where our products are also found, such as Frip, Dictionary and
Hidden Forest Market.