How A Small Town In Rural California Inspired This Premium Personal Care Brand

Chris Salgardo’s skincare journey began around the age of 18 when he was hitting barriers in shopping for acne solutions and struggling with his self image. The products he came across were targeted towards women with delicate pink packaging or sophisticated, floral scents. It was within these moments that Chris discovered an early passion for skincare, beauty, and transformation and was eager to begin a career in the industry.

He entered the beauty space while living in Los Angeles, becoming a makeup artist with Chanel and then taking a corporate role with beauty entrepreneur Bobbi Brown. In 2000, he served as the vice president of sales and education for Kiehl’s and climbed the corporate ladder to become President of the international legacy brand. With his corporate exit from L’Oréal almost two decades later, he shaped the brand into a renowned skincare leader, opened 86 retail stores, and grew Kiehl’s to become one of the largest success stories in the beauty world.

The next step in Chris’s career came unexpectedly during the onset of the pandemic. “I left my life in NYC behind and moved north to the Catskills. I was burnt out and I wanted to embrace nature and complete my BA to help manifest what was next in my life and career,” said Salgardo.

It was during his full time academics when Chris decided that he was ready to add brand founder to his growing CV. “As a consumer myself and after working in the industry for over 30 years, it was time to work on my own company. My head was clear and laser-focused on creating a brand dedicated to simplifying, not dumbing down, a men’s grooming routine,” he said.

Chris took his time curating an edit of high-performance, superior-quality skincare essentials that were intentionally designed to simplify grooming and personal care for men. He chose the name ATWATER to pay homage to his father’s hometown of Atwater – a small town in central California – and took further inspiration from his love of great grooming, adventure sport, and bright and healthy skin.

“ATWATER was guided by a lifetime of trial and error. From the texture to the design, every single touchpoint of the brand was infused with decades of invaluable knowledge from my tenure at the most successful beauty companies in the world,” said Salgardo.

The bootstrapped brand debuted in August 2022 at select Nordstrom US store locations as well as at, and the brand’s own site, The ATWATER philosophy emphasizes the importance of not over-stressing the skin with unnecessary products or steps and is on a trajectory to becoming the most trusted name in grooming.

The collection is clean, vegan and cruelty free. It consists of a series of collections ordered around skin-type and regimen – Skin Armor, Heavy Armor, Oil Regulator, Smooth Target and Clean Impact: Oil Regulator Facial Moisturizer ($35), Skin Armor Facial Moisturizer ($35), Eye Moisturizer ($29), Face Scrub ($25), Oil Regulator Facial Cleansing Bar ($18), Heavy Armor Facial Cleansing Bar ($18), Shaving Cream ($18) and Clean Impact Body Cleansing Scrub Bar ($17)

“I formulated each product with intent and avoided harsh, abrasive treatments that compromise skin health. It was important for me to offer formulas powered by active ingredients with clinical benefits that achieve brighter, healthier skin through a consistent daily regimen – a routine to last a lifetime,” said Salgardo.

Atwater’s Top Attractions

Live like Chris Salgardo did when he was growing up by exploring the best of what Atwater has to offer:

Castle Air Museum – Castle Air Museum is an experience that focuses on the evolution of aircraft and the past milestones of aviation.

Rancho Del Rey Golf Course – A semi-private 18-hole, par 72 parkland golf course, Rancho has a driving range and two practice putting greens.

Atwater Flea & Farmers Market – 200 vendors come out to this market that sells everything from produce to art to antiques.

Corbin Cash Spirits & Distillery – Imbibe on Sweet Potato Vodka, Rye Whiskey, Blended Whiskey, Dry Gin, and Sweet Potato Liqueur at this family-owned distillery on a nearly centur-old farm.

Jantz Cafe & Bakery – A family-run bakery that has a following for its “from scratch” philosophy. The breakfast, lunch, pies, and pastries are MUSTS.

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