Although the encounter with the world of beauty was “magical” for Alessandra Baessato, there are no secret magic formulas at the base of the formulation of matte lipsticks in perfect stick form: as well as ingredients, we can find creativity, research, security, stability and experience as their components. All elements that qe also find in the training of Alessandra, pharmacist and founder of LH36, a brand of versatile, punk and vegan lipsticks, which are accessible to anyone.
I had the opportunity to try some of the new shades of the line LH36 and also use them as eyeliner, and what is striking about these products is their finish, with colors ranging from neutral to the brightest nuances to give free rein to inspiration, and to match perfectly to our personality. We took the opportunity to ask Alessandra how a matte lipstick in stick is born and developed, and talk about beauty as an ally to feel good in your skin (whether you have dry, combination or oily skin, they are all included, of course) without resorting to filters: because the heart cannot be commanded, but neither can the skin!
When and how did the idea of creating your own beauty brand originate?
The idea was born in 2018, after taking an advanced course in the field of cosmetic formulation at Milan’s university. The class about lipstick was determining for me, it was a “magical” moment because it allowed me to combine and mix chemistry with my passion for colors. After this, I thought a lot about it before starting the project. After a series of personal events, in February 2020 I started developing the idea of the brand and, eventually, on June 21st, 2021, I launched my first 6 lipsticks.
Have you always had a passion for the world of beauty, or is it a feeling that’s grown over time?
When I was a kid, I would love to dig through my mom’s beauty cases, playing with her makeup and using up all of her perfume bottles. I loved reading fashion magazines and I would try every single tester I’d find attached on the adv pages. When I was 4, I had my first approach with lipstick, which I would use not only to paint my lips but also to vandalize the wall of my house’s living room. I’ve cultivated my passion for the world of beauty over time and my studies have given me the possibility to deepen my knowledge from multiple points of view. As of today, my job as a pharmacist allows me to give advice on skincare and makeup products not only with the aim of looking more attractive but also as helpful resources to heal skin imperfections and diseases.
“I’ve cultivated my passion for the world of beauty over time and my studies have given me the possibility to deepen my knowledge from multiple points of view. As of today, my job as a pharmacist allows me to give advice on skincare and makeup products not only with the aim of looking more attractive but also as helpful resources to heal skin imperfections and diseases.”
LH36: what’s the story behind this name?
When I started to develop the idea of the brand, I made a list of hypothetical names, but none of those really convinced me. Then, one day, while I was organizing all my ingredients, I realized I’d bought multiple packs of a red pigment called RED36. It’s a vivid red pigment, which almost tends to an orange shade and, in chemical terms, it belongs to the category of pigments called “lacquers”. I spent a few minutes staring at the jar whose color was called… lightning strike… LACCA36! It sounded too long, though… That’s why it became LH36!
The star product of the line is lipsticks: how does the creative and productive process behind the various shades build up?
Creating a cosmetic product is nothing like making a cake. First of all, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to make. I already had in mind what kind of stick and what shades I wanted to create and, not by chance, every single name I gave to the lipsticks has its own meaning. In order to create a cosmetic product, there must be several requirements, to begin with, and in the case of stick lipsticks, you need to consider quite a few of those: safety, durability, and the “no feathering” effect, just to mention a few. So, the choice of ingredients is vital as well. Lipsticks are an anhydrous blend of oils and waxes that are compatible with each other, to which you add a dust phase (pigments, pearls, texturizers) and other compounds to help a long-lasting effect, antioxidants, besides fragrances and additives according to one’s preference. From here, the real stability and technical validation tests begin, like the breaking load, the tint test (play-off test), the dropping point…
Where does the choice to focus on matte textures come from?
The choice of matte textures is due to two reasons: first of all, I’m not a fan of things that glow and glitter, from clothes to home décor, etc.… Secondly, a few years ago I started suffering from a skin disorder. When I was 28, late acne began to affect my skin: luckily, I solved it in no time, but from that moment on, my skin has been going through different phases, it’s become seborrheic and oily-looking. That’s why I started to feel the need to use sebum-regulating skincare products and mattifying makeup products like powders and foundation, things that do not make my face look glossy, so my choice of lipstick has also focused on an opaque kind of texture.
“In order to create a cosmetic product, there must be several requirements, to begin with, and in the case of stick lipsticks, you need to consider quite a few of those: safety, durability, and the ‘no feathering’ effect, just to mention a few.”
What can you tell us about the ingredients, instead?
In the case of LH36 lipsticks, I wanted to create a long-lasting stick that is matt and non-drying at the same time. As they’re products that do not contain water, you might have limitations in adding up hydrating active substances because they might not be compatible with the base of the stick. The ingredients I use are both natural, like argan oil, aloe vera, and the very precious squalene, or of different origins, like the peptide I used in my first collection and other components of the lipstick, like waxes and fundamental polymers, in order to reach optimal performance. Obviously, I don’t use anything that’s of animal origin!
Genderless, vegan lipsticks with a pop touch: how can you combine your experience as a chemist together with creativity?
When you’ve got a creative mind, which I think is something you’re born with, and some knowledge of chemistry, all that’s left for you to do is experiment with no limits. This is what I do! Both when I make cosmetic formulas and when I deal with clients and patients. When you’ve got the awareness and the knowledge of what you’ve made, you can push further, and that’s what I’d love to bring to the pharmacy field, a new concept of makeup that has no boundaries, where you don’t exclusively put lipstick on your lips, but you can use it as a real hybrid product that you can also apply on your cheeks and eyes. Above all, I’d love not to have limits in the choice of shades, but always propose something new and accessible to everyone.
Among the new shades you’ve launched, what’s your favorite one and why?
My favorite shade is PUNK, no doubt. Burgundy red, which tends to bordeaux with notes of crimson. That’s a color that could seem mainly wintery, but for me, as I’m the one in charge of “rules”, it’s perfect for a summer night! A veil of foundation, a layer of mascara, and a rock n’ roll touch with my PUNK lipstick.
What’s your signature beauty look?
“Essential, but not too essential!” I always start with a smoothing, tone-on-tone base, a bit of bronzer, and mascara, and then my canvas is ready to be painted. Focus on the lips with a layer of EXPERIENCE lipstick, or FUN or PUNK LH36, or focus on the EYES with a touch of NocLHub Issues or I Don’t Give a cLHub lipstick as an eyeshadow, and in that case, I’ll use a nude shade on my lips with the TO-BE or CASHEW lipstick. Last but not least, of course, a lipstick used as a blush!
What does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
It means to have no filters! We can’t give our skin orders of any kind, our skin mirrors our health and our changes, and sometimes imperfections can come out that we can’t accept. Especially at this time in history, when we are overwhelmed by images of perfect models, for some people, even just a tiny “mark” on the skin can become a huge problem because it’s difficult to accept. Every day I get to deal with patients and clients who suffer from skin disorders of all kinds: rosacea, acne, brown spots, and what I do is encourage them to take care of their skin, first and foremost, and in some cases, if necessary, examine the disease with a specialist. In these situations, makeup can truly become a helpful ally! Which doesn’t mean “hiding” behind a layer of foundation or concealer because what I mean is that it can be a means to feel more confident in our skin. Without constantly relying on “filters”.
What’s the latest thing you’ve found out about yourself thanks to makeup or your job?
I’ve surely rediscovered my creativity! I’d lost it, but no one can teach you how to be creative.