November 21, 2022
Natalise Kalea Robinson is the co-founder and CEO of Parallel Health, a skin telehealth company providing personalized skincare and custom prescriptions. Using whole genome sequencing, Parallel uncovers what your skin microbiome type is and provides you with personalized, targeted microbial-based products for optimal skin health.
Briefly describe your skincare journey. At what point did you first become interested in skincare and where did this interest spark from?
“As a teenager, I was on the cross country team which meant a lot of running. This led to me breaking out. I used a product that was very popular at the time which contained benzoyl peroxide. Despite the product making my skin dry and red, I continued to use that product for a long time. I stopped using it once I realized it was aging my skin.”
What was your elevator pitch for Parallel?
“We’re creating personalized end-to-end skincare that begins with a skin microbiome test using whole genome sequencing. By understanding your skin microbiome type, we can give you a precision phage formulation that’s a match for your type, which helps optimize skin health and supports clarity, better aging, and radiance. Continued testing over time enables you to understand how your skin changes across seasons and over the years, which helps you choose the right microbiome products for you at every stage of your life.”
Where did the idea for Parallel come from?
“When I met my co-founder (Dr. Nathan Brown) at a previous skincare company, he was creating a phage-based serum for acne. [Phages are microbes that infect bacteria. Think of it as a lock and a key. Every key will open a certain lock. Every phage will kill a certain bacteria.] Nathan was working on creating a phage-based serum that targeted c. acnes bacteria.
While working on this product, we realized that people who were buying the serum didn’t know if they had c. acnes bacteria. All they knew was that they had some sort of bacteria that was causing inflammation.
I started realizing that if you’re going to use a really precise solution like phage, then you should probably know what you have to make sure you’re using the right phage. We realized that there’s this personalization element that’s required when looking at the microbiome space. And we had this idea that ‘if we want to make an impact,’ then we need to understand each individual’s skin.
From that line of thought, we did more research into understanding the skin microbiome of individuals. What we learned is that a lot of people who think they have c. acnes bacteria actually have different types of bacteria. So we decided to execute on this larger vision of personalization and founded Parallel.”
What is the step-by-step experience of a Parallel customer who has just joined your waitlist?
“First, you’d join the waitlist and once a spot is open for you, you’ll receive an email from us. From there you’ll be able to order a skin microbiome test kit. Additionally, you can order a bundle which includes the test kit in addition to a microbiome-friendly cleanser and moisturizer, which you can start using while you wait for your test results. The test kit comes with swabs for you to swab your skin at home. After swabbing yourself, you’d send the kit back to us. We prep the samples, sequence them, and look for patterns. Based on the test results we determine your skin microbiome type. Based on your type, we provide you with a serum that will optimize your skin microbiome. That serum is then shipped to your home.”
I really enjoyed speaking with Natalise and feel very inspired by the work she’s doing. The idea behind Parallel Health is really fascinating to me and I’m glad I was able to learn more about the company. If you’d like to learn more about Parallel Health (and join their waitlist), check out their website here!