In this age of over-sanitisation, the very thought of bacteria anywhere near us is enough to trigger a bout of germophobia. Yet, an increasing number of people are beginning to see its benefits. Think of the same concept with probiotics and gut health, as well as the boom in people drinking kombucha. If good bacteria inside us is beneficial, will it work the same way on our skin? That’s what Marie Drago, the founder of Gallinée thought.

“I developed this idea because I thought, bacteria is good for the inside, but why isn’t anyone taking care of the good bacteria on the outside?” mused Drago, who is a pharmacist by profession. And so, she developed Gallinée products championing microbiome, the micro-organisms (including bacteria) that take care of the natural bacteria already on your skin.

Marie Drago, founder of Gallinée is a pharmacist by profession.

We spoke to Drago during her trip to Malaysia recently with Sephora to find out how exactly does good bacteria help make one’s skin condition improve.

We all know that probiotics are good for gut health, but how does it affect the skin topically?

Our bodies are full of bacteria, and the body’s microbiome is mostly in your gut — there’s a lot of bacteria there. However, your skin is also covered in bacteria, and its role is to regulate your immune system while helping to reset the skin bacteria. Your skin’s natural bacteria also helps lower the skin inflammation and fight bad bacteria on the surface of the skin. We’re talking about bacteria that causes acne and also eczema.

It’s interesting that in the beauty world so far, not many have really taken this “good bacteria” into account, so most of the beauty products today attempt to kill the bacteria on the skin. This can lead to inflammation and sensitised skin. That’s why at Gallinée, we had this idea of looking at the skin as something alive — it is essentially skin cells and bacteria talking together and supporting the ecosystem that is your body.

Feeding the good bacteria on your skin helps repair the skin’s natural barrier.

Bacteria, in general, can be somewhat unstable. How do you stabilise it enough to use as skincare?

The bacteria in our products are not alive anymore — live bacteria is really unpredictable. Hence, the bacteria that we use has been stabilised by very gently killing them by heat, so that the bacteria cell is still intact and is able to interact with your skin receptors as well as the bacteria on your skin.

But for me, the next step of what we want to do here at Gallinée is to use prebiotics to feed your own ecosystem of bacteria. Instead of adding new bacteria to your skin, we actually make your existing ones work for you.

In the future, will Gallinée develop products that extend beyond just for sensitive skin?

We originally developed this range of skincare specifically for sensitive skin, and what happened was that I realised a lot of skin problems are directly linked to bacteria. For example, sensitive skin happens because your microbiome is damaged. By feeding the microbiome, you can repair the skin’s barrier and reduce inflammation.

On the other hand, one primary cause of ageing is “inflammaging” — the degradation of collagen is due to inflammation, so similarly, if you feed the good bacteria on your skin, you can reduce inflammation and that helps with the ageing process. As for acne, the same products used by sensitive skin people are also loved by those with acne, because by growing the right kind of bacteria on your skin, you stop the bacteria from acting up and that reduces acne.

What is your best-selling product thus far?

So far it is the Face Vinegar (RM115), a toner based on actual vinegar because that’s a product of fermentation, so there are many good bacteria in it. Another best-seller is the Youthful Serum (RM265), which works very well because it’s oil-free, anti-ageing, and clarifying all at the same time. I know that oil-free and silicone-free products are loved in this country because the weather can get a little sticky at times, so these two products are perfect for tropical countries.

Will Gallinée’s products clash with any other skincare products in our existing regime — for example, maybe certain acids?

We have lactic acid in our products — it’s produced by bacteria and brings skin to the right pH, so it’s a good kind of acid to have in your skincare. I’d say microbiome bacteria doesn’t favour strong acids, alkaline products, and skincare with alcohol in it, so perhaps try to not use any of these with Gallinée products. However, if you still do use them, it will be good to replenish your skin with the right kind of bacteria by using probiotic skincare afterwards.


(All images: Gallinée)

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.