“To say that I find skin fascinating would be an understatement. My personal interest began in my childhood when I had vitiligo, a disorder affecting the skin’s pigmentation. I wasn’t at all bothered by this as a child. I felt I was unique, and I was happy to identify with my favorite breed of dogs, dalmatians. I was proud of my patchy skin. But things got worse in my teenage years. The desire to be the same as everyone else replaced the desire to be unique.”
Above is a quote from the founder of Skinome Project, Johanna Gillbro, whose interest in our largest organ, the skin, started at an early age. This interest led her to later begin her studies in pharmacy at Uppsala University, where she graduated in 2002. During this time, she got in contact with Karin Schallreuter, the German dermatologist and skin scientist who was a professor at the University of Bradford and an expert in vitiligo and got the opportunity to pursue doctoral studies in experimental and clinical dermatology as part of Professor Schallreuter’s team. In 2006 Johanna graduated from the University of Bradford with a doctorate in experimental dermatology.
Should we start over?
Johanna’s expertise in skin-related matters led in due course to the skincare industry and she has since then acquired over fifteen years of experience in a variety of contexts. She has worked as a research team leader and as head of innovation, responsible for developing new active ingredients in skincare products with a focus on finding ingredients that really work. During the years in the skincare sector, she realized that the general public knows relatively little about this subject, it’s hard for people to see through skincare companies’ promising words, describing effects impossible to verify for the consumer. Very few people understand the structure of skin cream, what ingredients it contains and what these ingredients do to the skin.
There’s such a large variety of products, but often no research to show whether they have the desired effect. On top of this, using too many products can worsen skin status. More and more women declare having sensitive skin which may (in part) be due to over-exposure by both the number of ingredients and products. This made Johanna think that maybe we should hit the reset button? And if we’re going to start over, which products work, and which ones are redundant?
An idea was born
When conducting research on active ingredients, Johanna started to reflect upon how these ingredients were handled. They were always kept in the fridge, some even in the freezer, and as soon as the skin scientists had used some, immediately they were put back. This led to her first investigation on how many active ingredients degrade at room temperature and over time. The results were very clear showing that the effectiveness was significantly reduced when ingredients are stored above 8 degrees Celsius.
Some years later researchers discovered the skin microbiome, also known as the skin flora, consisting of good bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and started to understand the importance of these micro-organisms. They understood we should cooperate with the micro-organisms instead of fighting them. Today Johanna is one of the world’s leading experts in the skin microbiome. Understanding the importance of our skin microbiome has also led Johanna, together with many other scientists, to question how we produce conventional skincare today. In the light of this, and the studies on active ingredients, Johanna decided to experiment with a completely new skincare concept.
Initiating Skinome Project
Today’s skincare industry is optimized for logistic solutions and not necessarily for better skin health. The methods of production, storage and usage demand high levels of preservatives to inhibit bacterial growth. The whole point of preservatives is to kill bacteria, and unfortunately not just the bad ones. Based on her research and understanding of active ingredients together with the microbiome, Johanna realized that a change was needed in the industry. After many years of having the security of being employed, she decided to quit and write a book with a mission to bring her knowledge to consumers like you and me. Upon publication in April 2019, “Hudbibeln” went straight to the bestseller lists at all major retailers in Sweden. In 2020, her book is launched worldwide starting with Poland, Finland, Denmark and later in the UK, Australia, US, Canada, New Zeeland, Hungary and Russia (the English title in the UK will be “The Scandinavian Skincare Bible”).
Based on the overwhelming response from all readers, Johanna decided to start the Skinome Project.