Why Jordan Samuel Wants You to Focus Less on Single Skincare Ingredients

"It's created a buying frenzy, and more often than not, creates further skin issues and concerns."

Beauty Boss: Jordan Samuel
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

For professional dancers, performance is everything, which why formula takes center stage in former professional ballet dancer Jordan Samuel Pacitti's eponymous skincare line.

While Pacitti never experienced skin issues growing up, wearing heavy stage makeup (and washing it off with pink antibacterial hand soap) during his ballet career wrecked havoc on his skin, leading him to discover the power of a good facial and understanding what ingredients can help improve specific skin concerns.

After retiring from ballet, Pacitti enrolled in esthetics school in Seattle, and eventually opened up his own practice. The cult-favorite Jordan Samuel Skin product line soon came afterwards, adopting the facialist's signature less is more approach to skincare.

Ahead, we chat with Pacitti about skincare trends, why there's more to good skin than the products in your routine, and more.

What inspired you to get into skincare?

A lot of people say they got into skincare because they had skin issues growing up, but I didn't experience that so I had no idea how to take care of my skin. Then I became a professional ballet dancer and my skin went haywire. When I started performing professionally, we would do upwards of eight shows a week, which meant putting on stage makeup, removing it, putting it back on if we had a matinee and evening show, and then taking it off again. My skin became super irritated, raw, sensitive, and broken out. I needed help, so I used my maintenance money allotment from the ballet company to get facials. I really got into the therapeutic aspect of it, as well as learning about what ingredients and products worked best for my skin. I ended up breaking my left and right foot two years apart, and when I was out for recovery, I started thinking about what my next move would be. At that time, a new aesthetics school opened up in Seattle (where I was living), and it seemed like the writing was on the wall. I started working in a spa, then in product education for Kate Somerville, and then opened my private practice. I quickly realized some of the buy-ins for the brands I wanted to use were so extreme and not accessible to everyone, so I decided to invest in myself and start my product line.

Your line prioritizes formula above everything else. How do you create the products?

COVID has really thrown a wrench in how I do things, but it usually starts in the treatment room. A number of clients come in and at a certain point, you start hearing or seeing the same things. Yes, everyone's skin is different, but that's really what I tap into in terms of creation. There's probably a product out there, but it's priced absurdly or maybe it's not a pleasure to use. That's also part of the initial groundwork. From there, I go to one of the chemists I work with and they'll come back with something and then we really dig in. My preference to focus on formula over marketing also comes from the treatment room where I'm educating clients on skincare and how to make their skin better. And even though we say we're further apart with social media, I also feel like it's allowed me to be more accessible to people right now because I can respond to comments on Instagram or emails. So even if we're not in a treatment room together, there's still a way to educate people that wasn't there 10-15 years ago.

You don't just educate your followers on ingredients and products, but also how internal factors like how emotions impact the skin. Why is this important to share?

I would have clients who were on really great programs for their face talk about the extreme stress they were going through when they came in, and I could see it in their skin. I'm obviously not a doctor, but I've talked to doctors about this. I see a lot of people get really frustrated and spend too much on a product that's either masking their issue or not doing anything, so they keep switching to something else. It's always nuanced because everybody is different, but your skin health is much bigger than just your daily regimen. We're talking stress, environment, and even diet. It's important to let people know they don't have to go run out and buy a new set of products, they need to get to the root of the problem. While it might not be in everybody's budget, I always recommend going to an aesthetician or dermatologist because the amount of money spent there will save people money in the future by not purchasing products blindly.

Everyone's skin is different, but what is one product from your line that all skin types can benefit from?

The Hydrate Facial Serum is one of our best sellers and it's the second product I created. It can work for super oily, acne-prone skin to dry, sensitive skin. You can use it as a serum or a booster by putting a few drops into your moisturizer. The formula isn't solely based on hyaluronic acid, it also has glycerin, cucumber and aloe leaf extracts, and vitamin C. And now, between the over-cleansing and over-exfoliating, and even something as simple as extreme weather, it will help add hydration to the skin — even if it's not used daily, but just at certain points throughout the year.

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What is one skincare trend you want to see die and what is something you wish would become popular?

This trend of focusing on single ingredients rather than the whole formula is something I'd like to see die because people get hell-bent on them, and instead of using a single product, they end up using six. It's created a buying frenzy, and more often than not, creates further skin issues and concerns. It's usually in the form of sensitized, irritated, and confused skin where it's dry on top and oily underneath, for example. For me, the focus on single ingredients is never going to be the answer. It's always going to come down to the whole formula.

Something I'd like to see come out of this is a less is more approach to skin. There is not one person I've had a pleasure of working with that I haven't stripped back their routine or put them on a really straightforward, simplified routine. I would love to see this be the direction because it's better for the environment and it's also better for the skin in general. It creates less confusion and concerns for everybody.

Shop Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

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The After Show Treatment Cleanser

Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

After the show comes the after party, and after that, it's time to wash your face. This gel-to-oil cleanser is formulated with oils to take off makeup — even stage makeup (a nod to Samuel's past life as a dancer). Sugarcane, apple, and willow bark extracts gentle exfoliate skin for a healthy glow.

02 of 05

Soothing Facial Oil

Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

Loaded with antioxidants, this soothing facial oil calms and nourishes skin. Use it as the final step in your routine (before sunscreen in the morning) to lock in hydration.

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The Performance Cream

Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

Designed to be layered and mixed with the line's serums and oils, The Performance Cream is a peptide-packed moisturizer that can be used by all skin types.

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Retinol Treatment Oil

Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

What sets this retinol product apart from others is that it simultaneously nourishes the skin to prevent vitamin A-induced dryness and irritation. Apply it solo as the final step in your nighttime skin routine, or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer to buffer it.

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Hydrate Facial Serum

Jordan Samuel Skincare Products

Samuel's best-selling hydrating serum draws in moisture and soothes skin to keep complexions balanced.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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