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The future of beauty is...bacteria? Gallinee's founder Dr. Marie Drago explains

The future of beauty is...bacteria? Gallinee's founder Dr. Marie Drago explains

A more *cultured* approach to skincare

Text: Redzhanna Jazmin

Is double cleansing necessary? Should you wash your hair more or less? Gallinée's founder Dr Marie Drago has many polarising opinions—find out what they are and where they come from

Here are three things Dr Marie Drago believes: You shouldn't double cleanse, you should be washing your hair less, and you should be keeping your skin's microbiome happy. Take from that what you will, but upon hearing this, we just had to learn more about the reasoning behind this controversial philosophy.

In our skincare-savvy day and age, we're all about revolutionary scalp care for healthy hair and doubling down on active ingredients in pursuit of perfect skin. Naturally, hearing Dr Drago's philosophy seems counterintuitive.

Enter: Skinimalism and the low-poo movement. These movements have taken the beauty industry by storm (though skinimalism really is just an age-old practice repackaged as a trend). Skinimalism, in particular, calls for a complete pare back of your routine to encourage healthier skin, and one brand is expertly riding the waves of the movement.

Don't over-cleanse and don't over-treat—that's the Gallinée way. What do they suggest you should do instead? Well, just as you would introduce probiotics into your diet to foster a healthy gut microbiome, Gallinée urges you to do the same for your skin's microbiome. To learn more about the burgeoning bacterial revolution, we spoke to Dr Marie Drago, the founder of the pro-probiotic brand:

What inspired you to make the jump between pharmacy and cosmetic science?

Pictured: Dr Marie Drago

"After my pharmacy studies, I went directly to work for the cosmetic industry. I’ve always been fascinated with making and using beauty products. My mum tells me that I was trying to make perfumes by putting flowers in water when I was little. Pharmacy studies helped me to get much better at making products!

"The inspiration for Gallinée came about because I was under very heavy treatment for my autoimmune disease, which wasn’t really working. I started looking into the science of it and found out about the microbiome and how taking care of my good bacteria helps with my condition.

"I stopped my treatment and switched to a probiotic and prebiotic-focused diet—which I am still on—and it was such a revolution. That’s when I thought, 'If consuming probiotics and prebiotics can do so much for our gut, why is no one taking care of the bacteria on our skin?'

"Because the idea was so new, I couldn’t find any science on it, so I called my university and they told me to submit my thesis on the effects of probiotics on the microbiome. I went back to school, 15 years after the end of my studies, and researched for my thesis—which is now the basis for the formulations of Gallinée. Here at Gallinée, we believe that you are a planet. You are made up of human cells and of billions of bacteria living together in perfect harmony. If you look after them, they will look after you."

Could you define microbiome skincare for our readers?

"Microbiome skincare is a branch of beauty that not only considers the skin, but also the live ecosystem that lives on it: the microbiome. This microbiome, these good bacteria, are your first line of defence and can also help build the skin barrier, reduce inflammation and protect against the bad bacteria that causes acne and eczema. So, it makes a lot of sense to take care of this microbiome. It is the generation after probiotic skincare, where the idea was just to bring good bacteria to the skin. Microbiome skincare put your own live good bacteria to work, helping them to give you back the best skin ever!"

What are the differences between probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics?

"Probiotics are just another word for good bacteria. In cosmetics, they are usually gently killed by heat. Prebiotics are the nutrients for good bacteria alive on your skin. I find it so interesting, as it’s really putting your microbiome to work. We use a lot of them in Gallinée products. Postbiotic is a new concept: a produce of good bacteria that has a positive impact on the microbiome. At Gallinée, for example, we love lactic acid: it is made by lactic acid bacteria and creates the perfect environment for your microbiome."

What are the unique advantages of including probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics in your skincare routine?

"I really think it’s a proper revolution in beauty: seeing your skin as a live ecosystem instead of just some kind of leather to oil. Pre, pro, and postbiotics help support your skin and the microbiome, and fix a lot of issues on the way: preventing inflammation, inflammageing, rebuilding the skin barrier and also helping with diseases such as acne and eczema."

You have previously said that you have never double cleansed—this is quite the polarising statement in this industry climate. Could you give us some insight into this? How do you recommend we remove stubborn products like sunscreen and makeup thoroughly at the end of the day?

"I know, it’s a bit controversial! Working on the microbiome, I learnt that, usually, the less you do, the better it is. As my skin is much better since creating Gallinée, I use very little makeup, so that’s a lot easier to cleanse. I usually use our cleansing bar to remove pollution, makeup and sunscreen, and it works well for me. In the morning I usually just rinse my face with water or just use the Foaming Cleanser."

(Writer's note: If you are partial to a full face and/or stubborn sunscreens, it's probably not the time to retire your double cleanse routines—micellar water or a gentle oil cleanser followed by gentle foaming cleansers are the way to go!)

What does the formulation process behind Gallinée's products look like?

"Gallinée is a bit of a special company when it comes to formulation. As a scientist, I translate microbiome research directly into innovative products, going on the hunt for the best probiotic and prebiotic ingredients. I then work with the lab and the team on the textures and packaging. At the core, we are extremely driven by science and efficacy, but we are all also obsessed with beauty products. It’s a good mix."

What are some things we can do to encourage a healthy skin microbiome besides using it in our skincare routine?

"I always say that the first step is respecting your microbiome. Overwashing with harsh cleansers is quite damaging, so use gentle cleansing ingredients as much as you can. Nutrition can also help a lot, eating fermented ingredients (Yakult, kimchi…) and a lot of fibres. This will feed your gut microbiome and have a rebound effect on your skin, thanks to a mechanism called the gut-skin axis. Oh, and it’s good to encourage diversity of your skin microbiome: so, hug a tree, pet a dog, it’s all for the greater good!"

You mentioned that post/pre/probiotics can help with skin conditions such as acne and eczema. How so?

"Pre, pro and postbiotics are a very novel way to help with acne and eczema, but a very logical one. When the microbiome of the skin is disturbed, it leaves room to roam for two kinds of bad bacteria: C. acnes, the one for acne, or S. aureus, the one for eczema. So instead of killing them and hoping for the best, the idea is to feed and stimulate your good microbiome with biotic ingredients, and put the system back into balance. It is much gentler than the old way, but also much more efficient."

Which products would you recommend as a "starter pack" for those who are just learning about the brand?

"The speciality of Gallinée is that we take care of all the different microbiomes on the body: face, body, scalp, mouth, and even intimate hygiene. But if we just focus on face care, I would recommend our Foaming Facial Cleanser; perfect for a gentle face cleanse, even for the most sensitive skin. I’d follow with our Face Vinegar. It’s a toner with two patents, that soothes sensitive skin while still purifying pores. I’m quite proud of this one. And then our Youthful Face Serum is the perfect oil-free intense care, it’s lifting, firming and so light! But if you want to explore a bit further than the face, our Soothing Cleansing Cream for the scalp is the perfect companion: it allows you to soothe and calm your scalp, even if you wash your hair every day. And it’s great on dandruff!"

Where do you see the future of probiotics in beauty heading?

"I think inside-out beauty is going to be a massive trend, especially with probiotics. The science of influencing the beauty of your skin through your gut microbiome. That’s why at Gallinée we are developing a range of beauty supplements based on the gut-skin axis."

So, should you quit your maximalist ways and adopt the bare-bones, pro-microbiome approach to beauty? Ultimately, it's up to you—you know your skin best, so if it works for you, go wild! It certainly won't be for everyone, but it certainly won't hurt to give it a shot. 

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