Escape to Tulum with David Pirrotta

The beauty guru reveals what it’s really like to get away during a global pandemic.
Escape to Tulum with David Pirrotta
Used to boarding a plane every other week, Materiae founder David Pirrotta has spent a significant amount of time on the ground adjusting to the new normal. While the jetsetter made the most of the many months he’s spent stationed in California, Pirrotta finally satisfied his wanderlust with a trip to Tulum, Mexico. “There’s no nightlife and restaurants close at 11 p.m., so travel has become more of a wellness experience—which is what we all need right now,” he says of his first trip to the beachside paradise with his partner, celebrity colorist Denis De Souza. With rest and relaxation at the top of their to-do list, the duo shared their must-see spots, as well as their wild run-in with a tarantula.

How he recovers post-flight:

Pirrotta was happy to report that the plane was the cleanest he’s ever seen and having the middle seat free (a safety precaution taken by most airlines during COVID-19) made the flight extra spacious. “The only part that was uncomfortable was having to wear a mask for that long,” he says. Upon landing, the couple’s first order of business was to slip into their bathing suits and dive straight into the ocean. Following a refreshing swim, they ordered tacos and cocktails (a salt-less margarita for Pirrotta and an Aperol spritz sans soda water for De Souza) to officially kick off vacation.

Denis De Souza & David Pirrotta

Where he stays:

Far from the “sensory overload” of the main strip, the couple called the Nômade home for a few days. “We wanted a place where we could take daily yoga classes and be barefoot,” says Pirrotta of the property that features a range of room types, including treehouses, tents, and oceanfront suites. “It’s a great place to forget about your problems and fall into the Tulum lifestyle.”

The products he packs: Jao Refresher Hand Sanitizer was a must-have for obvious reasons, as was Mayron’s Goods Hand Cream to replenish much-needed moisture after diligent disinfecting. For soft, smooth skin with a subtle tropical scent, Pirrotta swears by Saya Coconut Body Polish and Rich Body Cream. To further entice the senses, he packed Corpus Cedra Floral Natural Deodorant, Sigil Anima Mundi Eau de Parfum (a warm blend of rose, jasmine, and spicy hinoki wood notes), and Campo’s Roll On Essential Oil Kit for the ultimate Zen experience. During daylight hours, Zelens Power D Treatment Drops helped defend his complexion against environmental aggressors, while the brand’s Power A and Power C Treatment Drops and Z Recovery Intensive Repair Balm went to work at night. His trusty Ziip Device ramped up circulation and promoted lymphatic drainage to enhance his out-of-office glow.

Breakfast on the beach

Where he works out:

“The first few days I got up and went for a run or a walk,” says Pirrotta, who wanted to absorb the scent of “jungle, sand, ocean, and textiles” that filled the morning air. A relaxing yoga session followed by a leisurely breakfast of iced coffee and an acai bowl rounded out the early hours of the day. Naturally, the pair’s afternoons were filled with cocktails and quesadillas. “It’s always happy hour somewhere in the world!” laughs Pirrotta.

How he lives like a local:

Accompanied by a friend who put down roots in Tulum, Pirrotta and De Souza decided to explore a few of the cenotes (natural limestone sinkholes) found in the area. With thousands to choose from on the Yucatan Peninsula, Pirrotta recommends Tres Pallicos, which you can visit with permission from the owner of the land. “The water is crystal clear—it’s magical!” he says. The duo also visited a cenote buried in the middle of the jungle, but the natives (i.e., tarantulas) left them craving the creature comforts of modern civilization.

What’s in his beach bag:

Staving off sun damage was the key objective, so Pirrotta slathered skin with Zelens Daily Defence Sunscreen SPF 30 (a moisturizing formula infused with powerful antioxidants) and Zelens Body Defence Sunscreen SPF 30 (an oil that delivers protection with a “gorgeous, glossy sheen,” says Pirrotta). Sachajuan’s Hair In the Sun kept scalp and strands safe, while the brand’s travel-size Ocean Mist added even more oomph to beachy waves. For a refreshing burst of moisture, Pirrotta kept David Mallett’s Fresh Eau de Concombre within reach at all times.

Where he makes reservations:

“Every night we ate out somewhere new,” says Pirrotta. If you’re in the mood for “gorgeous mezcal cocktails and beautiful appetizers” in an equally stunning setting, book a table at Arca. Snag one of the in-demand spots at Hartwood, which offers fresh fish and local produce cooked in a wood-burning oven and grill. Visit Casa Malca, one of Pablo Escobar’s former abodes, to enjoy great food in the “gorgeous Spanish-style dining room.” Pirrotta also recommends Gitano for its lush tropical canopy and creative drinks, Meze for Mediterranean-inspired delights, and Casa Banana if you’re craving a more casual vibe.


Where he buys breezy souvenirs:

“What I recommend for anyone traveling to Tulum is to not pack too many clothes,” says Pirrotta, who stocked up on linen pieces that are perfect for the beach at Claude, a local boutique. He also snagged some new wardrobe staples while lounging on the sand from Aphrodite. “[Salespeople] model flowy clothes on the beach and we literally bought stuff straight off their bodies!” he explains. To top off his new looks, Pirrotta picked up a few hats from Tuluminati, including a standout straw version accented by a giant feather and a brass scorpion.

How he keeps the vacay vibes alive:

Pirrotta planned a “week-long detox away from margaritas” while driving cross-country from California to New York, but his vacation-worthy wardrobe is still in heavy rotation. “I’ve become an addict of desert living and Tulum living, so my attire is currently a blend of both aesthetics,” he says. “It will be readdressed this fall when things hopefully go back to normal!”

Written by Amber Kallor

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