The Man Behind the Products

SkinMedica’s Vice President of Formulation Development and Founding Formulation Scientist, John Garruto, shares his skincare insights, favorites, and his most memorable moments

After 34 years in the business of beauty, it’s safe to say John Garruto knows a thing or two about skincare. As SkinMedica’s Vice President of Formulation Development, he’s played a pivotal role in the brand’s development—and the formulation of the line’s bestsellers. Here, Garruto gives us a glimpse at the man behind the lab coat.

Q. What inspired you to become a formulator?
A. I was always interested in chemistry, especially after I received a Gilbert Chemistry Experiment Lab when I was about 10 years old. I set up a lab in the basement of our house and stayed there for hours doing experiments. Unfortunately, I got bored with the contents of the basic chemistry lab and devised experiments of my own that were much more fun and unfortunately much more incendiary (much to my parents’ dismay)!

Q. What’s your most memorable career moment?
A. After college, I was hired by a cosmetic manufacturing firm, and although I clearly had no experience in cosmetic formulation, I was given the task of developing lipstick formulas, and my initial prototype were critiqued as having insufficient coverage on the lips. I had been working on a revision alone in the lab one morning and in a moment of revelation I decided to apply the latest prototype to my lips in order to replicate what the testers were experiencing. I did so and went to my desk to retrieve a mirror to see how I had done. Shortly thereafter, two production girls came into the lab with product samples and I know that my face was a deeper shade than the “Elizabeth Post Star Spangled Red” lipstick that I was testing that day.

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest triumph?
A. Without a doubt, the biggest triumph of my career thus far has been the development of TNS® with Dr. Richard Fitzpatrick and Linda Schreck. This was a breakthrough product that had a major impact in the anti-aging market and really was the launch pad for SkinMedica. The challenges of formulating TNS were extraordinary and everything about the product was so unique. Dr. Fitzpatrick had great foresight and he simply wouldn’t compromise on his vision, which was a game-changer for the company and the industry.

Q. Which products and formulators do you admire?
A. Avon’s Anew product changed the landscape of personal care in the early 90’s. It was the first nationally marketed alpha-hydroxy acid product and it set the stage for truly functional personal care products going forward. I think that Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair product was a trailblazer in anti-aging as well.

Q. In your opinion, what has been the biggest breakthrough product?
A. I believe that our TNS Essential Serum® is hands-down, a truly revolutionary product. Naturally, there is a bit of bias here, but the dual chamber package with TNS growth factor complex on one side and antioxidant/peptide blend on the other, delivers the best 1-2 punch in anti-aging today. The product is state-of-the-art and the clinical results are incredible…


John Garruto has worked as a formulating chemist and technical consultant to the personal care industry for 34 years. He is a featured lecturer to the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, HBA, Beauty Industry West, Nutracon, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, The International Aesthetics, Cosmetics & Spa Conference and other professional and private organizations. Mr. Garruto is a frequent consultant to many beauty publications, as well as news organizations such as FOX Communications and CBS. In addition, he is a published author with articles appearing in many technical publications and holds multiple patents in the area of personal care and related science. Mr. Garruto is a past chairman of the California Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists and recipient of the National Chapter Merit Award.