Do You Know the Key to Healthy Skin? It’s in the Microbiome

The Origin Story of Skincare Startup Parallel Health

Founders of skincare startup Parallel Health.

You’d never know just by looking in the mirror, but right now, on your skin, there is an entire ecosystem of microorganisms that are critical to the health of your skin. Furthermore, as your body’s largest organ, the skin holds an immeasurable impact on your health and wellbeing. 

While more people have become familiar with the gut microbiome, the bacteria living inside your digestive system, there are far fewer people familiar with the concept of the ecosystems living on your skin. And, like the gut microbiome, how it affects the health of the organ — and your body — as a whole. Fortunately, the founders of Parallel Health, a microbiome-centric skincare line launching in 2022, are developing a solution for a well-rounded skincare routine that is rooted in science with the consumer’s wellbeing in mind.

Creating Science-First Skincare

“At Parallel Health, I mean, our mission really is to improve skin health. And that may sound maybe really broad and big but really, that's what's driving us. We want to use data and cutting edge science, genomic sequencing, to really improve skin health,” says Natalise Kalea Robinson, one of the founders of Parallel Health during our interview. “I think, up to this point, we haven't really been able to uncover the true cause of some issues that people face. A lot of people who have blemish[es] and breakouts, acne, hormonal acne, fungal acne. There are a lot of different root causes, everyone's different and so, we really want to be able to uncover and help people discover why they're having these issues and [how to] improve their skin health.” 

The global skincare industry is valued at a whopping $140.92 billion, with an expected increase of nearly 5% between 2021 and 2026, according to Research and Markets. If you’ve ever wandered into a beauty retailer such as Sephora, you’ve most likely seen a litany of skincare products promising to do everything from reverse signs of aging to eliminate acne. 

Most recently, there has been an uptick in brands touting products that support the microbiome; however, many consumers are still left wondering about their purpose and necessity. As Robinson says, “A lot of brands are using the microbiome word, but no one really has explained what that is.” The founder sees the role [of] Parallel Health as a guide toward better understanding the microbiome and skin health as a whole, “What is a skin microbiome? Why is it important? How does it affect your skin health? How does it affect other areas of health? Like your mental health. And how is it connected to gut health? I mean, it's so complicated, and so, we hope to be a resource for our community.”

Why Skincare Shouldn’t Be ‘One Size Fits All’

Parallel Health’s process starts with a skin microbiome test for consumers to understand the unique microbial makeup of their skin. Then, targeted microbial skincare formulations are developed based on each consumer’s individual skin profile to eliminate harmful bacteria while simultaneously providing support to the microbiome that will help the skin flourish. Parallel Health’s line isn’t one-size-fits-all skincare; it is individualized to meet the needs of each consumer and their unique skin profile — a radically different model than most skincare brands lining the shelves of beauty retailers. 

To do this, Robinson and her co-founder Dr. Nathan Brown, two former colleagues of another science-centric skincare company, chose to launch a skincare line of their own rooted in data collection from an IRB-approved study the startup is currently conducting. 

“[W]e've gotten consent from up to 350 people to swap their skin in different areas, their forehead, their nose, their T-zone, their cheeks, their chin, and their armpits, which sounds strange, but there's a reason for all this because each of these regions on your skin has different properties, like different ecosystems on your skin.” Dr. Brown says, “our mission is to develop phages as cosmetics that people can use, consumers can use broadly. And we want to build consumer awareness of what bacteriophages are. We want everyone to know what these things are and what they can do for them in their health.”

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