YOU ARE WHAT YOU PUT ON YOUR FACE.
Beauty innovations are usually sexy. Think Christian Louboutin lipstick or Illuminage’s curvaceous face laser. Bacteria? Not so much. We first looked at the microbiome – the ecosystem of microorganisms that makes up 50% of our body’s cells for Open Eye 25 – Personalisation – because of its potential for health and beauty brands. Research suggests our microbiome impacts digestion, hormones, immune system and even mental health, and that our skin is colonised by fungi, bacteria, viruses and even mites that could cause rosacea. Back then, however, actual products that worked with our microbiome, not against it, weren’t available to feature.
So when we had a chance encounter with Gallinée skincare founder Marie Drago at a CEW beauty event and heard about her bacteria-friendly beauty range, we had to invite her to the Studio to tell us about her start-up journey over a lunch packed with probiotic goodness: from kimchi to live yoghurt. We knew that feeding the good bacteria in our gut with probiotics keeps our system healthy. But could this work for your skin? Could it actually become part of a beauty regime?
Marie has a background in brand management for pharmaceutical and beauty companies and a PhD in pharmacy. So when she talks about Gallinée, it’s with passion AND precision. She explained how the 150-year-war waged against bacteria in general correlates exactly with a rise in autoimmune and inflammatory disease and that while our unique microbiome is formed in our first three years, lifestyle and external factors continually affect it. So our skin reflects where we live, what we eat and most interestingly for us as beauty designers, what we put on it.
Gallinée is the first brand to talk explicitly about bacteria in beauty, pointing out that when good bacteria is abundant on the skin, it takes over and starves the bad ones that cause inflammation, dryness and acne. Its patented triple biotic complex is made up of prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotic lactic acid that keep good bacteria on skin healthy. By tackling the cause of skin issues, rather than treating the symptoms; it’s a totally new way of looking at skin care, ignoring traditional skin care categories entirely. It also begs the question of whether these products are in fact pharmaceutical or beauty-led, smashing yet another boundary.
Although Gallinée has serious science behind it, Marie wanted to create a brand that was feminine, positive and inclusive. The design is informed by the lactic molecule structure and has no external packaging, to minimise its environmental impact. Marie’s feminist outlook is reflected throughout – the name takes a swipe at male domination by replacing the Gallic Rooster, France’s national emblem, with the patois word for Hen and the symbol of an egg quietly features in the logo.
Six months on from a successful Kickstarter campaign in late 2015, Marie launched five products; a hand-cream that has immediate effect, a cleanser, face scrub-mask made from French clay and olive stone fragments, a moisturising cream and body milk. And now, just a few months later, the range is stocked in Harvey Nichols, Topshop and independent pharmacies across London. We were so intrigued many of us have started using a variety of the products and are loving the results already. And Gallinée is getting lots of love from beauty editors in Cosmo, Tatler and more, so we’re in good company. We fully expect to see more beauty and wellness brands using bacteria as a key selling point across a range of categories. Indeed, a more lighthearted competitor is already on the scene to join Gallinée’s pioneering range. The microbial era has most definitely arrived.