Skin Deep: Formulating a Legacy Image

Skin Deep: Formulating a Legacy

By Alan Ng | October 13, 2022

Jonathan Salemi’s Skin Deep: Formulating A Legacy profiles the phoenix-like rebirth of cosmetic chemist Vince Spinnato. After losing his parents, his dog, his health, and a devasting break-up with his fiancée, Spinnato’s life went on a downward spiral in the worst ways. The film starts with Spinnato attempting to resurrect his life and career by launching his skincare line, Caviar & Diamond. 

In his youth, Spinnato became enamored by the classic television show Dynasty. Following the exploits of the wealthy and cutthroat Carrington family, the young man was determined to one day live the lifestyle of that fictional family. Spinnato discovered that he had an aptitude for chemistry. His innate talent led him to create perfumes and creams for the rich and famous, most notably Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, and Michael Jordan. His rise was fast and furious, and the cosmetic chemist quickly attained his “dream.” Unfortunately, Spinnato also lived that stereotypical party lifestyle, which came crashing in on itself after the death of his parents.

After lots of therapy and self-reflection, Spinnato is ready to return to his previous life and tread down that same road paved with the pitfalls of his past. Throughout Skin Deep: Formulating A Legacy, Spinnato talks about this new perspective he’s taken in life and the struggle he faces with his return. He still wants to live the party life he grew accustomed to as a young, affluent gay man in Los Angeles. But he realizes that he has to put the work in to avoid the traps of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Spinnato also has health problems, including a condition that causes him to pull out his hair constantly.

“…has a brilliant ability to translate his clients’ vague ideas of a fragrance or feeling into chemical reality.”

On the flip side, Spinnato is a brilliant chemist. Testifying to this fact are several of his colleagues and other notables in the cosmetics industry, including Damone Roberts and Geoff Ross. The documentary goes to great lengths to show how Spinnato became so influential and wealthy from cosmetics. He understands the in-and-outs of all ingredients and has a brilliant ability to translate his clients’ vague ideas of a fragrance or feeling into chemical reality. Now for the first time, Spinnato is stepping out from behind his celebrity client and branding his own product line, a skin cream that takes the shape of caviar eggs.

Skin Deep: Formulating A Legacy is fascinating in unique ways. Often it’s hard to watch a documentary about a guy who is a helluva lot richer than you are. Yet, Spinnato was a regular guy from New Jersey who turned his brilliance into a fortune. Yes, he struggled with the trappings of instant fame and money, but we’re able to connect to his struggle with loneliness after the loss of his parents.

As a documentary, this has an indie feel. Spinnato is essentially followed around by a simple camera, and the talking head interviews are fairly no-frills with simple setups. It’s a stark contrast to the more professional docs from the big Hollywood machine. Ironically, this, tonally, feels like a small-budget episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Sure it sounds “cheap,” but it works with the overall story.

Let’s face it. It is hard to sell a film about a rich guy, and ultimately, his wealth and pursuit of very lofty dreams may be the tipping point between watching or not. The saving grace of Skin Deep: Formulating A Legacy is that Spinnato is an average guy who earned his wealth and that he struggled through life the same way we did. He’s also a charismatic man with very personal demons he had to overcome.

For more information about Skin Deep: Formulating A Legacy, visit Vince Spinnato’s official website.

Skin Deep: Formulating a Legacy (2022)

Directed and Written: Jonathan Salemi

Starring: Vince Spinnato, etc.

Movie score: 6.5/10

Skin Deep: Formulating a Legacy Image

"…a charismatic man with very personal demons he had to overcome."

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