Most skincare brands start one of two ways: an outsider finds their way into the fold or an established veteran spins off from a major brand to start their own thing. Atwater, started by Chris Salgardo, falls very much into the latter category.
Salgardo has built skincare brands for Chanel and Bobbi Brown, but more recently served as president of Kiehl's (starting in 2000, when Kiehl's was acquired by L'Oreal, and running until 2018). There, he learned a lot about product development, the men's market and what it was still missing. All that ultimately led to Atwater, a brand he'd been thinking about "almost my entire life," he says.
"I’ve been thinking about the concept of Atwater almost my entire life, but I didn’t really start developing it until 2019," Salgardo says. My primary motivation for the brand goes back to when I was trying to improve my skin while I prepared for the working and dating world and wanted to put my best face forward as a teen. In most of my experience, skincare was heavily focused on women’s products, and there weren’t many choices for men, so it was hard to find a solution."
Salgardo envisions Atwater as the perfect balance. He wants it to emphasize effective, all-natural ingredients while being simple to use. "As my career progressed and my experience grew, it allowed me to have this moment where I could create a brand that uncomplicates a man’s daily routine and gives him the essentials he needs to look and feel his best without any unnecessary extras."
Atwater's official launch, which is happening in collaboration with Nordstrom, will feature 10 total products: Skin Armor, Heavy Armor, Oil Regulator, Smooth Target and Clean Impact: Facial Moisturizer, an Eye Moisturizer, a Face Scrub, a Lip Moisturizer, a Facial Cleansing Bar, Shaving Cream and a Body Cleansing Scrub Bar.
These, Salgardo says, are the "daily essentials that would provide him," meaning a hypothetical user, "with the best skin possible." He wants Atwater to offer products you can use once and stick to — for a lifetime.
"Atwater's founding principles are mainly centered around simplicity and efficiency," he says. "I believe in not over-stressing the skin with unnecessary products, and I developed these non-toxic formulas to promote healthier skin daily... Atwater is not and will never be based on marketing gimmicks."
Off the bat, Atwater is certainly better at pointing out the primary ingredients within its products (and what they do). Terms like Skin Armor, Heavy Armor, Oil Regulator, Smooth Target and Clean Impact might seem like editorializations, but they're actually easy to understand terms that serve as identifiers for buyers. Oil Regulator products are for oily skin, Skin Armor is for combination skin, Heavy Armor is for dry skin and Smooth Target is for shaving, of course, while Clean Impact is a sustainable coconut-based bar.
"I founded the brand and formulated each product with intention, purpose and a lifetime’s worth of knowledge in the skincare industry," Salgardo says. Even mere hours into the brand's existence, this should seem clear, even to those who haven't been testing the products for weeks before their release.