Catching Up with Chris Salgardo

6.19.2012

By Peter Frost

The 'power bear' president of Kiehl’s reflects skin care, beards , and being the Grand Marshal of NYC Pride 2012

The paring of Chris Salgardo and Kiehl’s may be a match made in heaven. Linked by their mutual love of motorcycles, charity, and accessible skincare for all, Salgardo and Kiehl’s form a proud duo this year, with the company celebrating their tenth year marching and Salgardo being named Grand Marshal of the parade. Since becoming president of the company six years ago, Salgardo has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to quality skincare, bridging social media platforms (follow him at on Twitter at @kiehlsprez) and continuing the evolution of the brand. Just in time for the kickoff of festivities in New York, we caught up with Salgardo to talk about Pride, bears, and how to protect your skin during scorching summer months.

Out: How did you and Kiehl’s get involved with Pride 2012?

Chris Salgardo: Kiehl’s has been supporting Pride for many years and this will be our tenth anniversary of marching in the parade. It’s important for us to be a part of Pride because it shows that we support diversity and it allows our employees to get together, march, and have a presence in the celebration. It’s going to be a really great year for us. We first became an official sponsor of the parade three years ago. This year, Kiehl’s is a platinum sponsor, and I’m so honored to be the Grand Marshal of the parade.

What are you looking forward to the most about Pride and being the Grand Marshal?

I think Gay Pride parades in general are so important for the community. Personally, I think it’s a real celebration of diversity. It’s a time for anyone that identifies as LGBT or anyone who supports someone in the community to come out and be proud. As a gay male and the president of a company that supports diversity, it’s an honor to be a part of this Pride parade in particular. 

So you’ve been described by Out as a ‘power bear’ before. Do you identify with that title and do you have any skincare advice exclusively for other bears?

I’m not big into labels, but I do like the bear moniker and the bear community, so I go with it. For my fellow bears or anybody who has a love of furry face, I always recommend Formula 133. It’s a conditioner and styling aid, great for your beard or whatever you’ve got. It’s definitely a favorite product amongst the bears. 

What are your skincare tips for Pride-goer to protect their skin from the elements?

I love addressing this, since it’s directly related to sun exposure and cancer prevention. In general, men tend to have larger pores, which very easily get clogged. We also have thicker and denser skin, so our skin tends to sweat more. So, with all that being said, for me, I’ll be wearing a UV Guard, which as an SPF 50 sunscreen. It goes on my face, neck, everywhere I’m going to be hit with sun. We also just came out with a new product, which has become my new favorite. It’s called the ‘No Shine Hydrator’, and what’s unique about this is that it’s an oil-free formula, so it’s very, very lightweight, but it will allow you to have 24 hours of moisture protection. It also has some anti-sweat ingredients in it too, which is a big problem for men. So I think between those two items, all the parade-goers will be very well moisturized and protected.

Looking back at your career, how have you risen through the ranks of the industry to get to where you are today?

It’s been a very organic and fortuitous journey. I went to school for communications, so originally I had a very different path in mind for myself. I happened to get a part time job while I was going to school at Chanel, but I knew absolutely nothing about cosmetics at the time. While I was there, I discovered a big love for the company and they discovered a big love for me. From there, I went on to work for Estee Lauder and Bobbi Brown. Finally, in 2000, I got the call of all calls, to come work for Kiehl’s. Regardless of where I was working, whenever any of my friends would ask me what I recommended for skincare, I always sent them to Kiehl’s. I’m very proud to say I’ve been with the company for 12 years and been president for 6, so you might say that I actually got my dream job.

Since you became president, you’ve tapped into Kiehl’s charitable history and have given to three primary causes (HIV/AIDS research, environmental issues, and children’s well being). What made you pick these three?

Well, one of the things that attracted me to Kiehl’s was the fact that the company has always been philanthropic for years and years and years, the previous owners have always given back to the community. I think when it came down to choosing the pillar causes, we wanted to focus our efforts and really make a difference. So whether we’re raising money for incredible organizations such as AMFAR, doing motorcycle rides to raise awareness about HIV/AIDs, or collaborating with people such as Jeff Koons for the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, its about making a difference. It is. These are things that I personally love, so it’s a place where Kiehl’s and I align quite well. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s great to work for a company that believes in the same things I do.

For Pride 2012, Kiehl’s is giving all of their customers 10% off at any freestanding NY or New Jersey Location, so be sure to stop in from June 16-30. 

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