From Rags to Richard

Male skin care is at the base camp of its Everest, the changing trends have caused a quicker accent than anticipated.

There have been many attempts to climb it before, some successful and some not so lucky. Getting the right navigator and team is the ultimate key to a successful climb.

The Black Leopard Team, up for the challenge, started the perilous climb to the top in 2015. Entrusted to navigate our path was a little known, yet highly influential pioneer in Richard Gonano.

Richard is the man mixing the Black Leopard cocktail and is a Cosmetic Chemist with a big bag of tricks and innovations.

From his early beginnings studying and practising law, to the classroom where he taught ‘formulation science’ to third-year students at Monash, Richard has always searched for and possessed a passion to create, innovate and inspire. With this unique and sensitive skill, setting the transition from what was then to what is now was rapid and rewarding.

Starting with urethane spray for cool stores and industrial coatings and insulation, Richard’s transformation from academic to biochemist was in full swing. Preceding his success in this field, which involved owning, managing and operating a factory and team of up to 40 people, Richard flicked the switch and changed his course with growing concern for the damage their products were doing to the environment and ozone.

These changes led to a chance encounter with the team at ‘Red Earth’, a female skincare brand in its infancy. While Richard had always dabbled and maintained an interest in Cosmetic Chemistry, he’d soon begin the process of becoming a full-time exponent of the skills he possessed. With an aptitude for learning and pushing the boundaries, Richard, the self-taught Bio Chemist had arrived on the scene and was ready to make his presence felt.

Working out of his garage, he quickly progressed to larger premises, then a factory and then multiple factories. His success with Red Earth had enhanced his reputation and put him on the global skincare map! Now, 25 Years on Richard has worked on over 50 brands (inc. Aesop, Kevin Murphy, Jurlique and Sodashi), sold products in over 70 countries, served on numerous boards, established retail outlets and set up 3 cosmetic manufacturing companies.

With this reputation and standing amongst the cosmetic landscape, Richard who was the logical choice for the Black Leopard team to create a specifically formulated skincare range for Men. We see Richard as our navigator as we fight tooth and nail to claim a spot at the top of the mountain. He is always there, with an idea, solution or much needed reassurance and with his running mate Ranelle Anderson, a passionate and talented formulation scientist who has worked internationally and also in pharmaceuticals forming the perfect team to complement the boys at Black Leopard, and to ignite his first serious attempt at an out-and-out Male Skincare Range.

His favourite product of Black Leopard, and arguably one of his greatest men’s products is the ‘Black Leopard Aftershave Balm’… “Because it smells amazing, feels great on your hands and face, is fantastic for sensitive skin and is a serious attempt at ‘dressing your face’ after shaving”.

With a number of companies and brands offering organic skincare products, Black Leopard went down the tried and true path of Skincare, with synthetic actives and essential oils and plant extracts, that are proven to be more potent and much more effective. “People fear the nasties and the guilt aspect of buying non-organic products. Realistically if you want something that really works, you’ll need some clever synthesised ingredients” Richard says. “As a marketing tool, words like certified and organic appeal greatly to the buyer”.

Black Leopard gets certification on all its products to ensure the quality of all synthetics, essential oils and extracts. “Plants have some extraordinary benefits and mixed the right way with synthetic ingredients you can make seriously effective skincare products”. Richard singles out ‘peptides’ as the biggest recent game-changer in skincare, with proven results that are revolutionary to the cosmetic world. As for other products outside of the Black Leopard range, Anti-Pollution is Richard’s key tip for the next benchmark in biochemistry. “the science in Anti-pollution actives is coming on apace”…he also spruiks fruit acids, amazing, sustainable, natural plant oils and butters, the powerful ‘Retinol’  (a Vit A derivative) and Vitamin C for lightening and brightening and cell improvement.

Richard Gonano, the bio-cosmetic chemist who has pioneered and pushed the boundaries of Skincare in the last 30 years, isn’t done with yet.
As a new generation joins him at the helm, Richard has a renewed lease of life within the industry and plans to evolve with the trends and set new frontiers for those willing to trek. He is our Chef de Mission and Black Leopard will remain his number one fan as he guides us to the summit and sets a platform for us in Australia and throughout the world.

Finally, Richard has passed on his advice for Men to look after their skin and maintain a youthful appearance.

  • Don’t Smoke.
  • Stay out of the Sun.
  • Have plenty of water.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Get yourself a decent moisturiser.
  • Develop a good skincare regime as early as you can.