He’s launched 76 beauty brands and counting. He’s clocked countless hours at cult-favorite cosmetics companies, including Natura Bissé, Red Flower, Art of Shaving, among many others. He’s responsible for bringing Rodin—a now-iconic name that started with a single face oil—to product aficionados all over the world. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what sparked David Pirrotta’s passion for beauty. The Los Angeles-based entrepreneur, who founded David Pirrotta Brands and Materiae, credits many with stoking the fire behind his covetable career.
Perhaps it was watching his mother, a “girly girl, ”spritz her signature Chanel fragrance day and night. Or maybe it was his grandmother, who whipped up her own natural soaps and beauty remedies. Time spent with Lucille LeClair—a woman he affectionately refers to as his “Auntie Mame” who introduced him to Barneys and three-ply cashmere at the ripe age of 12—may have played a role. It could have also been his side hustle at a boutique near Roger Williams University in Rhode Island where the theater major discovered he was a natural born salesman. “Every day was a new performance,” he laughed. One could also attribute Pirrotta’s enthusiasm for skincare to time spent working behind the Natura Bissé counter at Bergdorf Goodman…and the glass of white wine that convinced him to quit his job in the accounting department of a corporate wireless company and follow his retail roots (more on that later).
Regardless of the actual source, Pirrotta’s years of varied experience culminated in Materiae, the ultimate online destination for impeccable brands created by interesting people. The goal of the site isn’t simply to peddle product, but to start a fun-yet-informed conversation between true industry experts and advice-hungry consumers who are constantly bombarded by information from every angle—credible or not. And who better to kick off this digital dialogue than Pirrotta, a beauty veteran who undoubtedly knows how to spot the next big thing the second it steps into his office. Packaging, formula, and a genuinely inspiring founder are three of the main factors he takes into account when discovering his next beauty “triple threat.” With Materiae’s carefully curated and expertly edited selection, you’re guaranteed to discover products that are personally vetted by the master himself.
Here, Pirrotta—a man who has seen and tried it all—gets real about his personal skincare routine, the derm he keeps on speed dial, and how he found career inspo in a glass of Chablis.
His aha! moment: “I had just moved to New York City and started working in the accounting department for a corporate wireless company. Everyone I worked with had zero personality and would immediately put their heads down when I walked into the office…One day, I went to lunch at a little Puerto Rican restaurant and ordered arroz con pollo and a glass of Chablis. After my second glass of white wine I decided I couldn’t go back to the office. I was broke, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the Natura Bissé Oxygen face cream I read about in Vanity Fair. I was a little buzzed, so I walked over to Bergdorf Goodman and visited the cosmetic floor for the very first time. The woman at the counter, a Sicilian lady from Queens, asked me what I did for a living. I told her I had just quit my job. She said, ‘You have fabulous skin and people will want to talk to you. Can you start tomorrow?’” The rest, as they, is history.
His biggest product pet peeve. “Everyone wants a beauty brand these days. I estimate that 90% of products out on the market today are private label, which means companies slap their logo on someone else’s formula. I don’t represent those brands because I think integrity in ingredients is key to becoming a triple threat.”
His glow-boosting skincare routine: “Right now, I’m loving Melanie Simon’s vitamin C serum. It makes my skin look incredible, but it’s pretty potent. In the morning, I add vitamin D drops from Zelens to my daily moisturizer. When I travel, I never leave home without Dr. Loretta’s Micro Peel Peptide Pads.”
His ultimate indulgence: “Depends on the day because I indulge in everything. I’m the guy who uses an entire bottle of bath oil in my tub. That said, I think a Cire Trudon candle is expensive but worth it. My go-to scent is Ernesto. I’m half Cuban and I love the combo of tobacco and leather. My runners-up are Abd El Kader because it smells really minty and clean, or Odalisque when I want something citrus-y.”
His biggest beauty mistake: Overloading on retinol. “I should have known better that to use it all over. Instead of sampling in one little spot to see how my skin reacted, I just went for it. I wasn’t ready and it tore up my face. You need to gradually adjust to powerful ingredients like vitamin A and vitamin C.”
His beauty icon: “My mom is my OG, but one of my clients, Linda Rodin, is a true legend. She is the epitome of aging gracefully and being yourself. She was doing Botox and filler but decided to stop because she didn’t recognize herself in the mirror. The fact that she’s allowed herself to age makes her look more spirited than anybody else.”
His beauty conspiracy theory: “Sophia Loren says that she only uses olive oil, but I don’t believe that for a second! I want to know what she really keeps on her vanity—and it’s not fucking olive oil.”
His second act: “Wig master. I missed my calling combing, setting, and managing the wigs of famous Hollywood actresses. Don’t you want to know who wears a wig and what they look like with it off?”
His beauty mantra: “If you’re not laughing, you’re never going to look beautiful. You’ve got to enjoy life first and find wellness within. Beauty products come second.”
Written by Amber Kallor
March 1, 2019
Portraits by Oh E