Skyler Stein Of Gladskin USA: “We need to create a system of preventive health care using safe science that addresses the root cause of issues”
…The existing healthcare system is reactive. I want to bring wellness, self care and preventive care to people using safe science that works at the root cause of health issues.
As a part of our series about how technology will be changing the beauty industry over the next five years, I had the pleasure of interviewing Skyler Stein.
Skyler Stein leads Gladskin USA, a biotechnology-driven skincare brand. Gladskin is a leader in global endolysin technology using science to improve inflammatory skin conditions by rebalancing the skin microbiome.
Throughout his career, Skyler has advised, invested in and developed businesses across technology-driven sectors. Before Gladskin, Skyler worked at Obvious Ventures, a venture capital firm dedicated to startups that combine profit and purpose; his focus was on companies commercializing microbiome science to improve human health. Previously, Skyler was a Principal at Bregal Investments, a global private equity firm where he was on the board of various high growth portfolio companies. Skyler has served as an Advisor to Clarity Genomics, which develops computational platforms to elucidate mechanisms of action for human — microbiome interactions.
Skyler holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Duke University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I spent the first seven years of my career investing in clean energy, working in private equity and venture capital. I then pursued my MBA at Harvard Business School. Three weeks into my first semester, a Lyme diagnosis caused me to take a two-year medical leave. Along with following my doctor’s orders, I researched nutrition, supplements, exercise regimes, and other healing modalities.
My experience with Lyme disease, and my path to recovery, sparked my curiosity about what and how we consume affect the composition of the types of bacteria in our guts,(our microbiome) and in turn, how this composition in turn affects our health. On a weekly basis, I tracked the correlation of different diets, medicines, and supplements against changes to my microbiome for a year. This experience transformed my health, and changed the trajectory of my career path. I decided to say goodbye to clean energy finance and focus the next chapter of my career on health, with a special interest in the microbiome.
Once healed, I finished my MBA program at Harvard and joined Obvious Ventures, a Venture Capital firm that invested in “World Positive ‘’ companies. Focused on finding companies in the microbiome space, I met the European-based Gladskin team. Gladskin’s endolysin technology was an impressive application of the science, with real results supporting their approach. Their traction, science and purpose inspired me to join the team to bring the products and technology to the tens of millions of Americans with inflammatory skin conditions.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
My tipping point was when I followed my gut (literally) to pursue a path that aligned my health, personal interests, and professional ambitions, deciding to join Gladskin full-time. After my personal experience with the collateral damage of antibiotic treatment on my microbiome, I wanted to pursue a career in using microbiome technology to help people improve the quality of their lives.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
John Heffner, the CEO of DryBar, has been a mentor and inspiration to me for many years. Among many other lessons, he has instilled in me the most simple but powerful principles to live by: be positive, be nice, and presume positive intent.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. The beauty industry today has access to technology that was inconceivable only a short time ago. Can you tell us about the “cutting edge” (pardon the pun) technologies that you are working with or introducing? How do you think that will help people?
Gladskin is a new category of non-prescription eczema treatment that works differently than most OTC products. We like to say that Gladskin Eczema Cream is “smarter, not stronger” because it uses breakthrough endolysin science to relieve eczema.
Healthy skin needs a healthy balance of bacteria, just like your gut does. Scientists are just realizing that an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria that naturally live on your skin (a.ka. the microbiome) causes eczema flares in 4 out of 5 eczema-prone people.
Gladskin’s patented endolysin science was developed by Swiss researchers at ETH Zurich University. Endolysins are proteins present everywhere in nature, including on our skin. Endolysins can rebalance bacteria that are known to be at the root of most eczema flares, while at the same time, protecting the good bacteria that we now know are essential for healthy skin. Also, based on lab research we’ve conducted, we don’t see any bacterial resistance developing with the use of endolysins.
It’s a true game changer for people with eczema and Gladskin is a global technology leader spearheading this exciting new science. The Gladskin launch in January, represented the first time endolysin science became available to consumers in the United States.
The Gladskin technology is specifically targeted, so it will only work if a specific type of bacteria is at the root of the problem. This is well suited for our product, because we know that one specific bacteria is at the root of 80% of eczema flares. However, if a different type of bacteria is at the root of the problem, then our product will not be as effective.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the “beauty-tech” industry?
- I’m excited about the trend of product development becoming increasingly focused on working with the nature of skin, respecting the fact that our skin is an ecologically diverse environment.
- As a society, we are feeling the consequences of the overuse of antibiotics over the past 50 years — like superbugs, record high gut health issues. In skincare, we have always been taught that we need to disinfect and scrub our skin clean all the time. We know now, like antibiotics, this can work in the short term, but can cause problems over the long term.
- Beauty is often a window into what’s going on inside of us — from our mind to our microbiome. I’m excited that beauty and skincare can spark curiosity into deeper health and wellness pursuits.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
- Safety — Right now, any company can create their own new cosmetic formulation, and with no testing, they can launch the product into the market. All new products are considered safe until proven dangerous. A level of safety testing should be required to protect consumers.
- Efficacy — With all of the activity in the “natural” healthcare space, it is important to note that there is a difference between products that are ‘all-natural’ and products that are proven safe and effective. Consumers need to be properly educated on the difference.
- Transparency — Consumers should have the right to understand the quality of the ingredients used in their products, and the quality of the manufacturing processes and facilities used.
You are an expert about beauty. Can you share 5 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
To me, it’s all about feeling good, and that feeling is created by a healthy lifestyle. By focusing on health, you’re playing the long game, and the rest takes care of itself. The importance of being conscious of managing the following aspects of health is indisputable in research:
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The existing healthcare system is reactive. I want to bring wellness, self care and preventive care to people using safe science that works at the root cause of health issues.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My family has had a statistically impossible number of off-chance medical scares. These have enforced the idea of being modest in desire and appreciative of the moment. We’re all on this crazy journey together, let’s treat each other right and make the most of it.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.
Skyler Stein Of Gladskin USA: “We need to create a system of preventive health care using safe… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.