A Curious Mind

How one woman established the gold standard of clean beauty
Dr. Macrene Alexiades

By Annelise Peterson

With a BA, an MD and a PhD in genetics from Harvard University, as well as being the recipient of a Fulbright grant in bioengineering and natural alternatives in agriculture, Dr. Macrene Alexiades, a forerunner in the field of dermatology and clean beauty, has a résumé of accolades that could fill a textbook. But it’s Alexiades’ artist’s eye that sets her apart. As she vacations on the beach in Sicily, she draws inspiration from the crystal-clear waters of Taormina, which parallel her quest for purity and transparency in beauty as well as business practices.

Drawing portraits for as long as she can remember, Alexiades began matching her artistic skills with scientific studies even as a child. Seeking knowledge through nature, she planted toothpicks in her garden to track the paths of ants. Twenty years later, during her coursework at Harvard, Alexiades had an epiphany about the professional path set before her: “I learned early on that the current institutions were built by men, and they unconsciously did not want to share,” she says. “If I wanted to break the glass ceiling, I had to build my own house.”

And that’s exactly what Alexiades has done in New York City and upstate New York, as well as on Long Island and at her own private retreat on the island of Skyros in Greece. With a deep commitment to honesty and integrity, both personally and professionally, coupled with impeccable instincts, Alexiades launched Macrene Actives, her line of signature skin care, over a decade ago. Focusing on nontoxic plant-based solutions in eco-conscious packaging—100 percent recyclable glass containers; uncoated paperboard; biodegradable inks; an included mother-of-pearl spatula—Alexiades foresaw a category of skin care that would later become the gold standard of clean beauty. “Clients were coming into my office slathering on up to 10 layers of toxic chemicals and preservatives packaged in plastic.” Instead of getting clients or companies to change, Alexiades created her own line. “The beauty market chastised me for ignoring ‘margins.’ That’s not what motivates me. In the end, authenticity prevails.”

Even in the darkest of times, art endures and inspires— and perhaps it can erase a wrinkle or hyperpigmentation as well. macreneactives.com, nyderm.org