The skin care business

To round out an informative first day of sessions at the ASDS Annual Meeting, Dr. Patricia Farris shared key pearls in her presentation, “The Business of Skin Care.” Farris and her fellow faculty member, Alison Sutton, MD, FRCPC, discussed how to successfully sell the best products in dermatology offices and cutting-edge sales models for web stores, retail stores, and office dispensing.1

Video Transcript:

I’m Dr. Patty Farris. I am a dermatologist from Metairie, Louisiana. My discussion today on The Business of Skincare was around product selection. I’d like to start with a few gems for relaxing doctors, especially those who may be new to relaxing. I know there is a lot of competition. There are many websites, Amazon, Dermstore, all kinds of websites that sell against us. There are also some 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 office, they’ve chosen you because of your expertise. And you must have experience in topical skin care. And you really should own this. I also think that there is so much trust and professionalism in the doctor-patient relationship that it is important for us as doctors who provide drugs to remember that we are not treating the users, we are treating our patients.

I like to quote my friend Ruth Tedaldi very often, who once said on the podium, actually at this meeting, at this very symposium, that any consultation in a dermatologist’s office without discussing topical skin care is an incomplete consultation. Just like you wouldn’t go to the dentist and they wouldn’t talk to you about flossing and brushing, we need to do the same to give good advice to our patients about daily skin care.

When it comes to product selection, there are many dosing companies out there. What I find is that each company seems to have their own niche. Some are excellent antioxidants; others are better at unique anti-aging technologies. Some make great sunscreens. So I think it’s important when you start stocking your dispensing cabinet that you choose products from the best companies and those products that you really believe in and really like. It will be much easier for you to recommend these products if you are familiar with them and if you have a high level of competence in the science behind them.

To make it easy for the novice doser, I say that you really need 3 simple skin care regimens that are created from 3 unique products. Each of these regimens contain 2 things in common: sunscreen and an antioxidant. They are important in all regiments because we need to protect the skin, of course, from UV light and pollution damage and free radical damage. The first mode is the main mode, the main anti-aging mode, and I call it the protection and repair mode. This can be used not only on cosmetic patients, but is also applicable to our patients with skin cancer and other types of problems. In this particular regimen, there is an antioxidant and a sunscreen. For those 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 cancer. After that, I like to use retinol at night. I’m a fan of retinols. I know everyone likes to prescribe retinoic acid, but retinol is a much gentler molecule and a much easier molecule to use and access 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 at the intracellular level that retinoic acid does, again with much better tolerability.

The second regimen you need, of course, is to treat hyperpigmentation. Again, sunscreen and antioxidants are essential in this regimen. Sunscreen should contain iron oxide. So these mineral tinted sunscreens are great because we know that visible light regulates pigmentation. When choosing your antioxidants, try to find those that are tyrosine kinase inhibitors: vitamin C, resveratrol, and phloretin. All of these are known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Finally, you need a treatment 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 is of course a great skin lightener. Sustamine is a newcomer to the market. So, these are great options that you can sell in your office in the over-the-counter skin lightening regimen.

Then the last regimen I call advanced anti-aging regimen. We all know there are patients who are intolerant to retinol, intolerant of any prescription retinoids. So for these patients, you may want to add an alternative anti-aging technology, something like a growth factor or peptide-containing product. There are many options to choose from in something like the alternative anti-aging category. And again, each manufacturer has their own base ingredient to choose from. This makes it extremely easy for you to have only 3 modes. And to have 3 products in each main regimen, you might also want to carry some specialty products, things like neck and décolleté creams and eye creams are of course very popular. And I always say if you want to add a fourth regimen, a very simple 3-part anti-acne regimen is a great idea. Because it’s really hard to cover prescriptions, especially for topical medications. In the area of ​​acne, adult patients need gentler products as many of our prescription products are too irritating for them. So this could be another fourth mode that you can add.

My final tip is to consider things that really let the patient know that you are individualizing their skin care regimen. You already do this by choosing products based on their skin type and condition. But you can also look at it a little further. If you use something that actually allows you to make a custom skin care product. We have been using personalized dosing in our practice for several years now. Patients love it, it allows you to select ingredients and create an individualized, formulated serum for the patient to go home with. It is marked with their name. And again, it was created based on their skin care. So there are many options for the prescribing physician. Don’t be afraid of competition. You are the expert. You must own it. Enjoy.

Transcript edited for clarity.


  1. Faris P. Skin Care Business. Presented at: American Society for Dermatologic Surgery 2022 Annual Meeting, October 7-10, Denver, Colorado.

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