To end an informative first day of sessions at the ASDS Annual Meeting, Patricia Farris, MD, shared key pearls from her presentation, “Business of Skin Care.” Farris and fellow faculty member, Allison Sutton, MD, FRCPC, discussed how to successfully sell the best products in dermatology practices and cutting-edge selling models for online stores, retail stores and in-office distribution.1
I’m Dr. Patty Farris. I’m a dermatologist from Metairie, Louisiana. My discussion today in the “Business of Skin Care” was around product selection. I’d like to start with a few gems for dispensing physicians, especially those who may be new to dispensing. I know there is a lot of competition. There are many websites, Amazon, Dermstore, all kinds of websites selling against us. And there are also services that actually try to bring dermatologists to the internet and directly to consumers. But they really aren’t your competition. Because when a patient comes to your practice, they have chosen you for your expertise. And you should have expertise in topical skin care. And you really need to own that. I also think there is so much trust and professionalism in the doctor-patient relationship that it is important for us as dispensing physicians to remember that we are not treating consumers, we are treating our patients.
I like to quote my friend Ruth Tedaldi very often, who once said on the podium, in fact at this meeting, in this same symposium, that any consultation in a dermatologist’s office without the discussion of topical skin care is an incomplete consultation. Just as you won’t go to the dentist and they won’t tell you about flossing and brushing, we need to do the same to give our patients good advice on everyday skin care.
When it comes to product selection, there are many distribution companies. What I find is that every business seems to have their own niche. Some are excellent in antioxidants; others are better at unique anti-aging technologies. Some make excellent sunscreens. So I think it’s important when you start stocking your distribution cabinet that you choose products from the best companies and products that you really believe in and love. It will be much easier for you to recommend these products if you know them and if you have a high level of scientific competence.
To simplify things for a newbie marketer, I say you really need 3 simple skin care regimens created by 3 unique products. Each of these diets contains 2 things that are in common: a sunscreen and an antioxidant. These are important in all regiments because of course we need to protect the skin from ultraviolet rays and pollution damage and free radical damage. The first regimen is the base regimen, the base anti-aging regimen, and I call that the protect and repair regimen. This can be used not only in aesthetic patients, but also in our patients with skin cancer and other types of problems. In this particular diet, there is an antioxidant and sunscreen. For patients who have skin cancer, I would like to recommend sunscreens that contain DNA repair enzymes. These are unique sunscreens that can help patients who have a lot of actinic keratosis and skin cancers. Then I like to use a retinol at night. I am a fan of retinols. I know everyone likes to prescribe retinoic acid, but retinol is a much milder molecule and a much easier molecule to use and have access to for our patients. You can sell retinols at reasonable prices, and as you all know, retinol is converted to retinoic acid and ultimately does the same thing intracellularly as retinoic acid, again with much better tolerance.
The second diet you need is of course the one to treat hyperpigmentation. Again, sunscreen and antioxidants are essential in this diet. Sunscreen should be one that contains iron oxide. So these mineral tinted sunscreens are perfect because we know that visible light regulates pigmentation. When selecting your antioxidants, try to find those that are tyrosine kinase inhibitors: vitamin C, resveratrol, and phloretin. These are all known to be tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Finally, you need a skincare product that contains one or more of the skin-lightening cosmeceutical ingredients. And there are things like tranexamic acid, alpha arbutin, and kojic acid. Retinol, of course, is an excellent skin lightener. Sustamine is a relative newcomer to the market. So these are great options that you can sell in your office as part of an over-the-counter skin lightening regimen.
Then the last diet which I sort of call the advanced anti-aging diet. We all know that there are patients who cannot tolerate retinol, cannot tolerate any prescription retinoids. So for these patients you may want to add an alternative anti-aging technology, something like a growth factor or a peptide product. There are many options you can choose from in the type of anti-aging alternative category. And again, each manufacturer has their own hero ingredient that you can choose from. This makes it very easy for you to have only 3 diets. And to have 3 products in each basic diet, you might also want to pack specialty products, things like neck and décolleté creams, and eye creams, of course, are very popular. And I always say that if you want to add a fourth regimen, a very simple 3-part acne regimen is a great idea. Because it’s really hard to get prescriptions covered, especially for topicals. In the area of acne, adult patients need milder products because many of our prescription products are too irritating for them. So, this could be another fourth diet you can add.
My final piece of advice is to consider the things that really let the patient know that you are personalizing their skincare regimen. You already do this by selecting products based on their skin type and skin condition. But you can also go a little further. If you use something that actually allows you to make an individual skincare product. We have been using the personalized dose in our practice for several years now. Patients love it, it lets you select ingredients and create an individualized, formulated serum that the patient goes home with. It’s labeled with their name. And again, it is created based on their skin care concerns. So there are many options for the dispensing physician. Don’t be intimidated by the competition. You are the expert. You must own it. Enjoy.
Transcript edited for clarity.
- Farris P. Skin care company. Presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, October 7-10, Denver, Colorado.