Getting To Know Prato Botanico with Co-Founder Crystal Gourley

Prato Botanico is a luxury, certified-organic skincare brand founded in 2020. The company is family-owned, and each product is carefully crafted in the Puglia Region of Italy. This spa-quality skincare line includes high-efficacy botanicals, which are harvested by local farmers and extracted with expert precision to preserve the purity and quality of each active ingredient.

We sat down with co-founder Crystal Gourley to explore the passion, ingredients, and purpose behind this certified organic brand. 

What was your initial inspiration for the Prato Botanico line?

     Tired of synthetic-laden (i.e. dimethicone) products that irritated my sensitive skin, and inspired by the organic living and beauty of Italy, my husband I and first started on the journey of creating Prato Botanico in 2020.

    However, the Prato Botanico story really begins many years earlier in 2014. My husband and I were living in the UK for a few years for work. While there, I fell completely in love with the EU’s organic produce that made me feel so energetic and healthful during that phase of life. It fed my long-held belief that Mother Earth provides all the ingredients we need (and our skin needs) to thrive. My husband and I also had various opportunities to travel throughout Italy over that same decade. We discovered Italy’s deep heritage and extraordinary commitment to organic and sustainable farming that make the country especially suited to producing some of the most efficacious skincare ingredients in the world.

    These ingredients absolutely transformed my skin in a matter of weeks, solving a myriad of issues for me, and revealing the most natural, beautiful skin I have ever experienced. We wanted to share the incredible benefits of hand-picked, cold-pressed, Italian botanicals with people to help them achieve their most natural, beautiful skin.

     

    Why Italy?  Why is it important for you to produce the products in Italy?

    Prato Botanico is inspired by the rich botanical heritage of Southern Italy, from where our organic ingredients originate. Known as one of the organic capitals of Italy, the Puglia region has more than 250,000 hectares dedicated to organic farming and an agricultural history spanning many centuries. The region is first in Italy in the production of organic olives, vegetables, and fruit, with local farmers adhering to extremely high standards that are deemed as food-grade. As we consider our luxury skincare line to be “skin food,” these high standards were extremely important to us and one of the reasons we fell in love with the region. Our small, local farmers produce what we believe are some of the richest and highest-quality botanicals in all of Italy.

    In addition, as part of the European Union, Italy refrains from using more than 1,300 substances that could cause harm to consumers and to the earth. By sourcing our ingredients from this beautiful region that is committed to organic living, Prato can consistently provide some of the world’s richest botanicals throughout its product formulations.

     What are the most important or powerful ingredients in your products?

    Our products are packed with many nutrient-dense, “superfood” botanicals from Southern Italy, where organic living and farming are a way of life. If we had to pick a handful of our favorite ingredients that are the most powerful, it would be our organic aloe vera, which serves as the main foundation of each formulation, as well as potent grapeseed oil, wild prickly pear, antioxidant-rich pomegranate, and retinol-alternative sea fennel. All of these ingredients are cold-pressed and each provides a special set of nutrients that help to protect and restore the skin over time.

    Our organic aloe vera is harvested carefully by hand and then also hand filleted at our manufacturing facility within 2 to 3 hours to preserve maximum efficacy. Aloe vera helps with hydration, fine lines and wrinkles, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin to help protect skin. It is packed with 75 active components—vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, etc.—including vitamins A, C, and E, which are all very powerful antioxidants, earning its name of “miracle plant” bestowed by the ancient Egyptians. Because of its intense anti-aging effects, we use this as a base in all of our skincare formulations.

    Grapeseed oil is another powerhouse ingredient in our line. Our grapeseed oil comes from our vineyard where we grow a variety of grapes called Negroamaro. This variety of grape is grown almost exclusively in Puglia, Italy and literally means “black and bitter” in English. This rare variety of grape is so deep in color that it appears black when it is on the vine. Studies have shown that black grapes are some of the most nutrient-dense. Rich in polyphenols like resveratrol and anthocyanins, they produce very strong antioxidant (and thus anti-aging) effects. We are proud of our heritage vineyards and the bounty they produce for our skincare formulations.

    Prickly pear is native to the Puglia region and grows wild throughout, including areas of our organic farm. The prickly pear fruit in our formulations brightens and evens the skin tone in addition to providing anti-aging benefits from potent vitamins and fatty acids. In fact, it contains very high levels of Vitamin E as well as omega-6 and 9, which nourish and protect the skin barrier. A desert plant, its components are designed for hydration, so it helps with both hydration and the aforementioned hyperpigmentation issues.

    Pomegranate has long been known as a superfood for your body and is likewise incredible for your skin. Our organic pomegranate is grown alongside some of our herbs on the farm and, like grapeseed oil, also contains skin boosting polyphenols. Pomegranates target age spots and fine lines via potent antioxidants such as vitamin C, tannins, ellagitannins and anthocyanins that fight free-radicals. These compounds have been shown to reduce cellular damage and pave the way for newer cells to regenerate the skin.

    Lastly, one of our truly magical ingredients is sea fennel. Sea fennel has been shown to improve the tone and radiance of skin via vitamins and minerals such as A, C, E, potassium, and iodine. In fact, it has such a high level of Vitamin A that it is often considered a retinol alternative. As we know, high levels of Vitamin A help with cellular turnover, which in turn, can brighten skin and increase the elasticity of the skin via collagen and elastin production.

    The purpose of combining so many of these powerhouse ingredients into our products is to give the effect of a varied diet for your skin, on your skin. Each botanical ingredient brings different benefits to the skin and fights free-radicals in different ways to reveal your natural, glowing complexion.

     

    Our male customers often ask us for a simple and effective skin care routine.  What would you recommend to them?

    Men’s skin is obviously somewhat different than women’s, as you might imagine. Men’s skin tends to be thicker (up to 20%) and is often more oily due to higher levels of testosterone production. But what many people don’t realize is that men’s skin can actually be much more sensitive than women’s, despite these factors that would suggest otherwise. The reason is that many men choose to shave their faces on a regular basis. This often daily ritual can strip skin, increasing sensitivity to UV rays and outside stressors/pollution. Thankfully, our line was created with both women and men in mind, and can provide significant nutrient and anti-aging benefits for men’s skin.

    We would first recommend that men use our organic, aloe vera-based Calming Cleanser to balance the skin and prepare it to receive nutrients from our other products. We would then recommend our Smoothing Day Cream after shaving to infuse vitamin C into the skin and provide protection from environmental stressors. Again, the shaving action essentially acts as a deep exfoliation which leaves the skin vulnerable to the environment, so skin must be properly fortified and nourished to prevent photoaging and other damage.

    After our Smoothing Day Cream, we tell men to use a daily sunscreen of 30+ SPF or higher to protect against the effects of photoaging. We like Elta MD UV Clear, which is designed for even the most sensitive of skin and contains 100% mineral active ingredients. Next, a light layer of our Enriching Night Cream can help restore the skin overnight with botanical ingredients designed to help increase cellular turnover and boost collagen production. Lastly, we would recommend a once weekly mask using our Purifying Face Mask to draw out excess oils (from testosterone production) and debris that can accumulate in the pores. Our Purifying Face Mask is made with Fuller’s Earth which contains minerals and volcanic ash that help unclog stubborn pores and improve skin texture.

    We are so thrilled many men have been taking more proactive approach to skincare, as good regimen over many years is what can contribute the most to healthy-looking skin as we age.

    Aside from using the Prato Botanico products, what other skin care tips do you have for the Mozzafiato community?

       We love sharing skincare tips that actually help your skin, whether it involves our products or not. Skincare is such an important self-care practice, and our goal is to help people around the world achieve their healthiest skin possible. In fact, would you be surprised if we told you that our products are more like the icing on the cake? Don’t get us wrong. It’s not a cake without icing, but some of the most important skincare and anti-aging practices happen before you ever touch a skincare line. Our skincare line can work absolute wonders for your skin, but the best results are seen when your beauty regimen includes some of our below holy grail skincare tips:

       

      1. Drink water, and only water, if you can! Our bodies are made up of roughly 60% water and most of us don’t drink enough of it. Water is essential for the function of every organ, including your largest one—your skin! Drinking beverages other than water displaces the pure water you would have consumed otherwise, which can lead to dehydration…and wrinkles.
      2. Wear a good sunscreen 30+ SPF or higher, every day, and repeat the application every few hours even if you work inside all day. Simplistically, fine lines and wrinkles are caused by cellular breakdown which can happen due to dehydration (lack of water), lack of nutrients, and exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation can come through windows in your home or car, so it’s a must even on days when you don’t venture outside. Wearing a daily sunscreen is one of the easiest ways to prevent photoaging.
      3. Go to bed early and get plenty of rest. As we probably all know at this stage, nothing ages you faster than a bad night’s sleep! But did you know that although your skin is constantly working to regenerate, the peak of that regeneration happens at night? In, fact this peak happens somewhere between midnight and 3am. However, you don’t want to slide into the sheets just before midnight because that means you missed the climb to the peak that also contributes significantly to cellular regeneration. We recommend lights out around 9pm or 10pm for maximum anti-aging effects.
      4. Exercise regularly. We know. You’ve heard this approximately one million times, but we can’t stress it enough! Even if it means a brisk walk for 20 minutes each day, your skin will reap the benefits and you will see a brighter, younger looking complexion. Exercise increases blood flow, helps remove dead or diseased skin cells, and improves overall cellular mitochondrial function so you can maintain your youthful-looking glow.
      5. Avoid inflammatory foods. What are inflammatory foods? Sugar, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, red meat, bad fats. The only thing that can age you almost as fast as a bad night’s sleep is a bad meal or a bad diet, generally. The above foods cause inflammation in your body, which can increase sebum production, weaken the skin’s structure, and age you faster. When you do eat the above foods (life is meant to be enjoyed!), try to eat them in very small amounts immediately after a healthy, nutritious meal to minimize the effects.

       What’s new and exciting on the horizon for you and the brand?

        We have been working hard on testing a number of new formulations that we hope to bring you in 2023! We can’t share all of our secrets right now, but one solution we will be launching very soon is our Golden Riviera Luxe Self-Tanning Mist for face and body. It gives you a gorgeous, natural glow on your skin as you head into the winter months. We just explained above why sun protection is so important, and this product can help you achieve a healthy glow without harming your skin with UV rays. We believe that when our skin looks healthy, it can help us actually feel healthier too! Skin health = happiness. The formulation is 100% natural, with organic ingredients, and is made with DHA (the tanning agent) from natural sugarcane—a very sustainable ingredient. Aloe Vera, Calendula, and Mallow contribute to the nutrient-rich formulation that nourishes skin while it tans. We can’t wait for you to try it!

        In addition, we are going to be releasing some complete skin guides later this year that can help various skin types from dry/crepey, to sensitive, to acne prone, to oily, so you can achieve your healthiest-looking skin yet! We are so grateful for all of our loyal customers and want to continue helping all of you on your skincare journey.

        Shop Prato Botanico