Meet the New York City Nurse Whose Pet Project Became a Luxury Skincare Line

Nuebiome is a clean, bioferment-based collection.

Ricardo Gray, Founder of Nuebiome


It’s a tale as old as time: Guy loves skincare; guy becomes nurse anesthetist; guy’s hands get painfully dry working in the hospital; guy invents the perfect hand cream to solve his problem; guy becomes luxury skincare brand founder. Wait, what?

OK, so Ricardo Gray’s story might not be one you’ve heard before, but his path led him to creating a new brand that's starting to get major buzz in the beauty world.

nuebiome is a clean, bioferment-based skincare line that focuses on repairing the skin’s microbiome. The line officially launched in March of this year with three products: Biotic Radiance-Boosting Hydrator, (Glyco-Biotic) Ultra-Synbiotic Facial, and hero product Amaretto and Biotic Hand Remedy. “My medical background enables me to understand the clinical data on all the ingredients I could use in my line and interpret the research, so I could find my hero ingredients and have substance to my formulations,” he shares. “My brand had to be more than just hype.”

His medical knowledge and commitment to educating his consumer also led Gray to a major overhaul on a ready-to-launch product. “After a long process of revising my formula and finding my formulator, I was finally ready to launch the brand in early 2020, and then of course, Covid happened,” he says. “During the lockdown, I was at the hospital most of the time intubating patients, and it really made me reevaluate what I wanted to focus on. I spent so much time and energy on the formula and sourcing the ingredients, so I wanted all that ingredient information in writing, on the packaging, so people could readily see what makes the products so unique.”

So Gray did a complete packaging overhaul, and the result is chic, eco-friendly bottles and tubes that feature ingredient information proudly and visibly.

Here, Gray shares the ethos of the brand, his goals for the future, and why he’s obsessed with the microbiome. 

InStyle: What inspired you to start your brand?

Ricardo Gray: I’ve always been into skincare, and when I was in nursing school, I was always making face peels and little concoctions for myself, but I never thought I would actually start a business. I just liked looking good! Then, after becoming a nurse anesthetist, I had persistent dry hands, because I am always using harsh chemicals to wash my hands, and I couldn’t find anything that was hydrating enough, but also fast-drying with a matte finish, so I could put my gloves on easily — and I looked everywhere. So I set out on a mission to create the hand cream I needed, literally just for myself.

Why focus on the microbiome?

As I was working to get the formula of my hand cream right, it dawned on me one day that all the GI problems I see at work are caused by an imbalance in the gut microbiome, and that might be the key for healing skin, as well. I was really excited about the scientific evidence I read to support my theory, so I started adding the prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics into the cream, and that made it exactly what I wanted.

And why the three-pronged approach of using pre-, pro- and post-biotics?

One reason I decided to include postbiotics is that they are extremely hydrating, and they also complement the pre- and probiotics, and I wanted to create a well-rounded approach to the skin’s microbiome. Bacteria have three phases and all three of those have to exist at the same time to create a balanced microbiome. So our ingredients support all three phases. Prebiotics to stimulate the growth of the microbiome, probiotics to mimic the effects of the microbiome and postbiotics to restore metabolites made by the microbiome.

You had a hard time finding a formulator to work with the bioferments you wanted in your hand cream — why? What makes probiotics more challenging than other ingredients?

I first started working on my hand cream in 2018, and while there were a few skincare products on the market with probiotics, it was a fairly new concept. So I would call up these formulators, and they all thought I was trying to create a supplement. The raw materials were on the market for use, but they weren’t very stable, and a lot didn’t smell very good, so they were hard to work with. Plus, the formulators weren’t well-versed in the science, so they didn’t understand the pre-, pro- and postbiotic component I wanted to include. They also didn’t have the postbiotic materials in stock, so I had to go research and source the materials for them. It was a logistical nightmare, but I ultimately found the perfect formulator, and it all worked out for the best.

What’s the hardest part about being a "side Hustle CEO"?

Well, eventually I want this to be my main hustle, but the brand is entirely self-funded, so I have to work a full-time job. Of course you have to work harder this way, but I have a job that supports this brand, so I’m lucky. I have three days a week that are dedicated to nuebiome, and then the other days, I work at the hospital. One day a week I have a 24-hour shift, and the rest are 13-hour shifts, so on those days, I come home and work a few more hours on nuebiome. Fortunately, I have a partner, Andy, who helps me by feeding me and supporting me during those long days.

Your brand is clean, vegan, cruelty-free, never tested on animals, made in the USA, housed in recyclable packaging and sent via carbon neutral delivery, but none of that is even how you lead conversations when talking about the brand.

When I initially started working on my formulas, I used the clean standard set by Whole Foods. At this point, we exclude more than a hundred toxic ingredients shown to harm human health, but there are plenty of others that just don’t live up to our standards like mineral oils, drying alcohols, and of course artificial colors and fragrances. Our brand is clean, because skincare should be clean. It’s really that simple. Every component of the brand has to live up to my personal standards. That's how I live. 

Shop nuebiome Products

Amaretto and Biotic Hand Remedy

Nuebiome Amaretto and Biotic Hand Remedy

The brand’s hero product really is a skincare hero: This lotion manages to be super hydrating but also lightweight and dries in seconds to a totally matte finish. Bye-bye greasy keyboards!

To shop: $30;

(Glyco-Biotic) Ultra-Synbiotic Facial

Nuebiome (Glyco-Biotic) Ultra-Synbiotic Facial

Boasting a beautiful red color, this mask helps improve the radiance, tone, and texture of your skin — gently. Great to use once a week to help repair pre-existing damage and prevent new damage. 

To shop: $80;

Biotic Radiance-Boosting Hydrator

Nuebiome Biotic Radiance-Boosting Hydrator

The perfect daily moisturizer for any skin type, this oil-free hydrator helps reduce redness, boosts the skin’s oxygen uptake, offers antioxidant protection, and leaves the skin feeling firm and bouncy.

To shop: $68;

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