LR.D women | edition #2
For our second “LR.D women’’ series, we spoke to Caroline Resende, founder of Skinfo, a platform that provides a community to talk about and normalise all skin types, particularily linked to women’s health. Caroline also is a part of the team at Hertility, a ‘women’s health company built by women, for women to demystify the inner workings of our hormones’.
What were you doing in life when you decided to start Skinfo?
'Skinfo was born as a passion project in 2019 when I was feeling very unfulfilled in my job in Banking at the time. Like it did for many others, lockdown opened up time and space for my creative pursuits, which brought me a lot of joy that was lacking in my day job. I was also dancing a lot (it was my passion growing up), hula hooping and cooking. It was then that I also had time to reflect on my skin journey and started making real connections between my menstrual cycle, stress and my acne.'
What was the ultimate inspo for skinfo?
'Around the same time, I started speaking to other women about my skin. I decided to be open and honest, rather than ashamed, about how I had been on roaccutane four times, and the pill multiple times to clear my skin. I started a WhatsApp group which was intending to be about 10-20 - it quickly grew to 70 people. I was astounded at the number of people who either told me they had been on roaccutane too, or the pill, purely for their skin. People that I thought had perfect skin and hadn’t had a blemish in their lives. I wanted others who may have also painted a broad stroke that ‘everyone else has perfect skin but me’, to know that they weren’t alone, and that someone else had struggled too and that we didn’t have to hide it.'
Why was it important to you to share your experience with your own skin?
'For me, I mostly use social media when I travel, visit beautiful places, experience different things, but it does mean your life can look incredibly curated, as you tend to snapshot only the best moments. Skinfo meant I could portray a more vulnerable aspect of my life that was uncomfortable to share. Uncomfortable because acne isn’t traditionally accepted - it’s photoshopped and edited out. My skin has really impacted my mental health, my relationships and my self-esteem, so skinfo felt like somewhere I could share a more authentic experience, where I could hopefully help people, rather than give them fomo.'
Was it daunting to put your own story out on social media? & What has the response been like?
'It was incredibly daunting, as prior to skinfo, I struggled to even talk about my skin to my family and friends, let alone acquaintances and strangers. But the relief I saw in peoples faces when I showed them pictures of my skin at its worst, and the impact just a few conversations of people opening up about their own acne issues, made me push past it.
And the response was very humbling, as the feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive. Even though it's only a small community at this stage, I still feel my friends and friends of friends etc have a place to come to if they’re having troubles with their skin and want to feel like they’re not alone. It’s so normal!'
Have any of the questions/responses you’ve received surprised you?
'I think when people have messaged me and told me that I’ve really made an impact on them and their skin and as such, their self esteem - that wasn’t expected. I didn’t think I could have that impact unless I was a dermatologist (which I toyed with the idea of being last year and sat my GAMSAT & planned to move home and study in Australia , but I never applied in the end! I decided 12-15 years was too long for me to start making an impact). '
What’s the most important message you want to convey to your followers?
'The message is probably one I’m still teaching myself - your skin doesn’t define your beauty or your worth. And it’s okay to have imperfections.'
Do you think beauty standards are changing for the better? & What kind of change would you like to see in the beauty/skincare industry?
'I do see small changes in both the beauty and fashion industry, to more inclusive, real life people representation, but there’s still a long way to go.
The day the industry, as well as social media, stops perpetuating unrealistic standards of airbrushing skin to the nines, that would be the oracle. Upholding flaws and imperfections is beautiful.'
Who do you look up to?
'I look up to intelligent, ambitious womxn who admit their struggles and flaws whilst also succeeding. It’s not one or the other. They’re the ones being real - here to make the world a better place, whether through charity, sustainability, women’s rights, inclusivity. People like Emma Watson, Millie Bobby-Brown (where the eff was she when we were 16?!), my mum and dad. My fiancé (though that term sucks). My friends - Hannah, who’s eternally looking on the bright side and refuses to live a conventional, capitalistic life. Neil, who works at the House of Commons dealing with grievances and misconduct of politicians. Sandy, a non-binary influencer challenging societal norms of representation in the media. The founders of Hertility and other female founders making technology that works for women such as Tania Boler from Elvie.'
Tell us about your role at Hertility…
'Hertility is a women’s health company built by women, for women to demystify the inner workings of our hormones. My role is working with Corporates to implement Hertility as part of their company benefits. We work in partnership to provide Reproductive Health Education, at home Hormone & Fertility testing, menstrual & fertility policy consulting and specialist consultations with gynaecologists.'
What inspired you to work in women's health?
'Starting skinfo really led me to women’s health in sort of an unintentional way. When I created the skinfo WhatsApp group and friends were adding friends upon friends, I asked everyone to write an intro and include what they wanted to learn about by being part of the group. Every person literally wrote an essay, wanting to understand their bodies whether it be their skin, their gut, their moods, periods, migraines, energy, it was incredibly eye opening. It made me realise how little we know about women’s health as medical studies were primarily conducted on males and how far we have to go to understanding our complex bodies.'
Where do you see Skinfo in 5 years?
'Skinfo for me is a bit of a wait and see. I would love for it to be a source of truth which incorporates dermatologist input and research as well as expert-led product recommendations. A skinfo podcast which interviews dermatologists and profiles peoples skin journeys would be a dream too.
It’s very much my passion project that I see myself in 2-3 years time dedicating more time to. Right now, I’m really focusing a lot of my energy into my current role at Hertility as momentum is really picking up, particularly with the UK government’s recent commitment to a 10 year women’s health strategy. (Finally). But I’d love to see both skinfo & Hertility move forward at the same time.'