Can a Skin Care Line Hurt a Dermatologist’s Reputation?
Updated: Mar 25
The U.S. skincare industry is set to reach $11 billion by 2018 (source), so it’s no wonder that increasingly more doctors are beginning to sell skincare products in their medical practice. Some doctors offer their own brand name skincare lines while others choose to offer an assortment of cosmeceutical brands within their practices. The skincare products that you choose to sell can help or hurt your reputation- depending on the results that your patients get from the products. This article will discuss how to ethically offer skincare products for retail to your patients without injuring the patient / physician relationship.
Patient Education is Key
Keep in mind that in order to prescribe products for your patients’ skin types, patient education is key. You need to take the time to properly diagnose your patient’s skin type and educate them about their specific skin issues. You also need to properly tailor the skincare regimen to improve outcomes from cosmetic procedures by giving pre and post procedure skincare advice.
We know this is easier said than done. We understand you don’t have time. The average dermatologist spends 3 minutes with each patient. It is important to set up standardized methodologies to speed up the flow without compromising patient education and outcomes.
Use a Scientific Methodology To Increase Efficiency
The Skin Type Solutions Franchise system offers this. It is a system that I developed to rapidly and accurately match skin care products and prescription medications to the patient’s skin type. (Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th Edition, 2012, Ch. 250, p. 1343). This system accurately determines a patient’s Baumann Skin Type (there are 16) and provides a pre-set regimen that is designed to address that particular skin type’s needs. The system has been tested in over 100,000 people around the world of all ethnicities and ages, as well as both genders, and found to accurately assess skin care needs (Dermatol Clin. 2008;26(3):359-73; Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. 2014;4:78-84).
Stay on Top of the Newest Skincare Brands and Products
You need to stay updated on the latest skincare brands and products your patients may be hearing about through the media. The challenges that doctors face when providing skincare recommendations to patients include difficulty in separating fact (science) from fiction (marketing claims), time constraints that prevent you from reading the latest cosmeceutical research, and the need for staff training. It is further complicated by the fact that new brands and new products are regularly being introduced to the market. Ideally, each practice should have a dedicated skincare expert to manage the process successfully, but this is not always financially feasible. Skin Type Solutions has a comprehensive program to mentor and train staff members on skincare in order to keep them current on the latest cosmeceuticals, prescription products and procedures.
Know and Recommend Only Ingredients with Science Behind Them
There is so much interesting research on cosmetic ingredients, but there is also plenty of hype and misinformation. Again, we know you don’t have the time to research every ingredient or product that comes on the market, but it is essential to choose efficacious products. When choosing skincare products, it is important for dermatologists to know which ingredients work well together and which do not. The order in which ingredients are placed on the skin is crucial as well, because they can inactivate each other and affect absorption. For this reason, every single product that is placed on the skin, and the order that it is used, has an effect on efficacy. The regimens must be designed with this in mind and patients should be instructed on the order in which to use the products.
Choose The Best Products From Each Brand
It is important to note that just because a product or two from a particular brand is effective, it does not mean that all products from that brand are of the quality dermatologists should be recommending. I personally use a brand-agnostic approach to choose the best technologies from various brands from around the world. In other words, I cherry pick the best products from each brand rather than choosing to sell products that are all from the same brand. I believe that brands have a core competency, such as sunscreen technology or superior skin hydration formulations, so you should choose these “hero” products from each brand so that every single product in the patient’s regimen has superior technology.
Make Sure That Every Product in the Regimen Is Correct For The Skin Type
Patients will commonly ask about you about what to use on their skin. It is important for you to give them guidance about which products are worthless (or even harmful) for their skin type and which ones are beneficial (such as SPF), so that you can protect your patients from purchasing worthless products and causing harm to their skin. Often physicians will prescribe a prescription medication to their patient without any thought as to what cleanser and moisturizer the patient should use. This can dramatically affect the incidence of side effects and worsen outcomes. When products cause unwanted side effects, your patients will have poor outcomes, your physician-patient relationships will be damaged, and the patient’s’ trust in you will decrease.
You have two choices to approach learning about skincare ingredients: You can study resources like my book Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients or you can choose to outsource this to a company that you trust such as Skin Type Solutions. Which option you should choose really depends on how much time and enthusiasm you have for cosmeceutical ingredients. If you prefer reading all the latest literature on skin cancer or psoriasis and are bored by cosmeceutical science— outsourcing the skin care recommendations in your medical practice is the best idea.
The purpose of the Skin Type Solutions (STS) system is to allow you to delegate the skincare choices to someone who you can trust and who you know is passionate about skincare. In the STS system, I personally test the best products (SKUs) from each brand, and combine and try them on various skin types to see which products and what combinations of products work best. Only the products with scientifically-backed ingredients will be included in the STS system. Outsourcing the evaluation of skincare options saves you a significant amount of time and energy. Without firing a neuron you can rest assured that your patients will be given efficacious skincare recommendations by your trained that has been trained by the competent and passionate Skin Type Solutions team. You will be confident that you are doing the right thing for your patients and making your staff’s life easier with fewer office call backs and less patient confusion. If you choose to sell skincare in your practice, do it the right way and make sure that you are improving patient outcomes with the products that you recommend. This will enhance your reputation, build trust and increase referrals.
Developed by world-renowned dermatologist, Leslie Baumann, MD, the Skin Type Solutions® Franchise System is an educational, science-based skincare store that implements a simple and reliable system to maximize skincare product sales and improve patient compliance and results.
Based on Dr. Baumann’s patent-pending Baumann Skin Typing System, this first-of-its-kind retail model provides dermatologists with the scientific methodology, training, and education necessary to prescribe effective, customized skincare regimens utilizing multiple brands of products that have been independently tested and approved by Dr. Baumann. To learn more about what Skin Type Solutions can do for your dermatology practice, visit the STS site here.