Q&A with Marie Drago, Founder of Gallinee
What led you to create Gallinée?
I always wanted to create my own products, and my plan when I was a kid was to become a witch. I studied pharmacy instead, which was close enough and allowed me to learn a lot about skincare and how products are made. I also have a weird auto-immune disease, and it got me interested a lot about the microbiome, bacteria, and how probiotics can help with these kinds of problems. One day something clicked in my head and I decided to create a brand that would take care of your skin bacteria and give you back the skin you’re supposed to have.
What was your career trajectory prior to starting your own skincare line?
I originally trained as a pharmacist in France, but I had some problems with the ethics of the Pharmaceutical Industry, so I went quickly to the beauty sector. I moved to Ireland at the end of my studies, and then to London and have been living here for the last 10 years. I always worked in skincare and beauty, usually in business development. I was lucky to work for small companies and amazing entrepreneurs, such as Marcia Kilgore at Soap&Glory. I was working a lot with international markets, and it gave me the opportunity of discovering the world and Mecca.
Can you talk us through the point of difference of your products vs others on the market?
Gallinée is the first beauty brand to focus on your skin and its microbiome. We see the skin not as a piece of leather that needs to be oiled, but as a living breathing ecosystem that we can protect and support. The formulas are based on my pharmacy thesis and the use of probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics. I love how our products are a pleasure to use, smell and feel so nice but are extremely technical and innovative. We now have 4 patents, and a lot of very happy users!
What are the benefits of probiotic/prebiotic skincare products and what do they do for the skin?
Probiotics are very interesting for their soothing and anti-inflamatory properties. When added to skincare products they will help sensitive skin and will also prevent ageing. Prebiotics are nutrients that will feed your own microbiome, your own bacteria. That is great to rebuild the skin barrier and also balance the right kind of bacteria on skin. We use prebiotics that reduce the growth of the C. acnes (the acne bacteria) and of the S. aureus (the bacteria linked to eczema), which means the same product will have different effects on different people. In Gallinée we also add lactic acid, which is a postbiotic. It will create the best possible environment for your good skin bacteria and bring your skin pH to the perfect level.
What products or steps would you recommend someone with sensitive skin might take when introducing new products to their routine?
The easiest product to try if you have sensitive skin is our Foaming Cleanser. It is our best seller, is super gentle, smells so fresh and leaves your face feeling amazing. Usually for sensitive skin foaming cleanser can be a bit drying, but our is pH5 and the prebiotics inside make the foam really creamy, like a little chantilly cloud.
What is your daily skincare routine (morning and night)?
I am quite a lazy person, so I have quite a minimalist routine. In the morning I try to avoid washing my face (the skin microbiome replenishes during the night), so I just pass a cotton with our Face Vinegar and follow up with our Face Cream with a few drops of our Youthful Serum. In the evening I wash my face with our cleansing bar (I even use it to take away my make up), follow with the Face Vinegar, the Serum and the Face Cream. I love how it makes my skin really plump and soft in the morning.
How do you care for your skin in summer?
For the face I use our serum as it is oil free so very light when the weather is warm. I love our body Milk as an after sun, the lactic acid inside will soothe and smoothe the skin. It might take away a bit of the tan, but it will last longer. And I usually have horrible sandal feet, and the Hand Cream makes them super soft really quickly.
What’s your philosophy on beauty?
Less is more, and also if your skincare is good, you don’t really need makeup. I like to say that if the canvas is nice, you don’t need a lot of paint. I also encourage people to be nice with themselves and with their skin, gentleness pays!
What have you learnt about skin that you wish you had known when you were younger?
That clean doesn’t mean sterile! I was obsessed with squeaky clean skin when I was younger, and I was using a lot of alcohol based products. Now that I have learned to work with my skin ecosystem, not against, my skin is much happier for it. I am a lot more gentle than I used to be
What’s the skincare product you tell everyone about?
Our Face Vinegar! I am so proud of this product. We have two patents on it, and amazing results. It is going to be purifying and refining while also soothing and anti-redness. Something quite rare in beauty products, we have the indication for oily skin AND sensitive skin.
What is next for Gallinée? Is there a new product or line you are excited to release?
We are working on a lot of really exciting projects, and also new categories, as there is a lot of bacteria on the body to take care of!