Innovator Interview: Marisa Arredondo CEO and Founder of Phace Bioactive

It’s hard to imagine that the porcelain skinned entrepreneur Marisa Arredondo once suffered from cystic acne, but that’s just what drove her to start Phace Bioactive. The first pH optimized luxury skincare brand, Phace Bioactive is part of Arredondo’s mission to help people battle their well-being woes by living more pH balanced lives. We spoke with the entrepreneur to find out exactly what that entails.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and grew up in Greenwich, CT.  My parents both come from Spain; Spanish was my first language, and I am the youngest of 3 girls.  I had a nourishing and very loving childhood.  My parents talked philosophy at the dinner table, fostered risk-taking, and encouraged all of us to live outside of our comfort zones.  As a result, I have always felt a level of ease in taking the road less traveled.

Have you always had an itch to start something entrepreneurial?

Yes.  I come from a family of entrepreneurs; my Dad was a real estate developer, my oldest sister founded the search engine, Yahoo Europe, and my middle sister has her own events planning company.  It’s in my blood.

What traits do you think are most important when deciding to venture out and start your own business?

As my father says, ‘commitment is dedication to the mission after the initial thrill is gone’.  You must jump in with both feet, and with the understanding that the alternative is unacceptable.  It’s also important to have passion, an optimistic attitude, effective communication and problem-solving skills, self-awareness – which means the ability to learn from your mistakes and keep moving, and a touch of naivete – because it’s hard, and sometimes not knowing what mountain lies ahead can be a blessing.

Anything you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

I’ve learned that it is much wiser to build a business with relationships, as opposed to transactions.  Every one of our 15 vendor relationships - bottle producers, graphic designers, FDA consultants, chemists, printers etc., has been working with us either from the beginning, or at minimum, for the last 3 years. One benefit of this approach is that these people become emotionally and financially invested in Phace Bioactive, and our success. When there is a problem, a relationship will help you solve it quickly; a transaction doesn’t care.  And frankly, knowing and caring about the people you work with on a deeper level just makes life a lot more fun.

Most people aren't aware of exactly what pH is and how it affects their skin, can you explain the problems that can arise when pH is unbalanced?

pH stands for potential of hydrogen; it is a logarhythmic scale that spans 0 to 14 and measures how acidic (0) or alkaline (14) a solution is. Your skin has a naturally acidic pH of 4 to 5.5.  The reason for this is to protect against oxidative damage, retain moisture, inhibit bacteria and inflammation, and to keep skin firm and elastic. The best way to test the pH of your skin is by looking in the mirror. Healthy, radiant skin with the proper pH has an even color and tone, has very little to no redness, and no dry patches or flakes.  Many dermatological issues such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, seborrhea, rosacea, and acne can be attributed in large part to a pH that is too high, or too alkaline.

How does body pH come into play and what kind of health problems can come from unbalanced pH?

For optimal health, we all need topical products with an acidic pH, but internally, we need to eat foods with an alkaline pH. An alkaline diet is one that relies heavily on leafy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, and allows your body to hang on to important minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.  A diet that is too acidic, or high in processed foods and sugar, leads to cells that aren’t able to get the minerals and oxygen they need. Health problems that develop from “acidosis” extend well beyond the skin and affect our propensity for disease, weight gain, organ function, energy levels, and sleep. 

What are your tips for the best chances of being all around pH optimized?

With respect to skin care, stick with a non-foaming cleanser that uses chemical exfoliants, such as alpha, beta, or poly-hydroxy acids. They can more evenly and safely remove dead skin cells than physical exfoliants like beads, washcloths, and scrubs. It’s best to avoid toner, as many contain alcohol, which can be drying to the skin.  Many serums and moisturizers are formulated with an alkaline pH, so it’s important to avoid ingredients like Propylene Glycol, DEA, TEA and MEA.

Internally, stay hydrated and eat an alkaline diet that relies heavily on antioxidant rich foods, low sugar fruits, nuts, grains and seeds. Avoid acid-forming categories like sugar, dairy, red meat, processed grains, yeast, alcohol, and caffeine. Alkaline-forming foods are naturally high in the exact vitamins and minerals needed for good skin – antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins A, C, and E, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. They lead to a stronger immune system, improved digestion, and better skin tone.  We follow the 80% alkaline/20% acidic principle while eating.

There is a huge education factor with your line given, how have you worked to educate people on the importance of paying attention to pH? What have been the biggest struggles when it comes to educating consumers?

Definitely simplifying our message.  Phace Bioactive isn’t just pH optimized, anti-aging skin care that works effectively with the naturally acidic pH of your skin.  It’s also non-toxic, it uses super-potent biotech and botanical ingredients at their highest clinically proven concentrations, it’s dermatologist-tested and approved, hypo-allergenic, and non-comedogenic, and it’s stored in beautiful glass bottles from Italy, with patented airless technology, to protect against exposure to UV light and oxidation.