The industry has realized professional skin care is no longer just “lotions and potions.” With formulation breakthroughs, scientific advancements, and cutting-edge innovations, the profile of skin care has been elevated. To be accurate what is commercially available today is actually no longer skin care, rather it is a cosmeceutical therapy. These topical treatments are born from the convergence of two distinct paths—cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Cosmeceuticals are clinically proven, biologically tested therapies that provide a drug-like or medicinal benefit, particularly preventing and correcting skin aging symptoms. Podium presentations, published papers, and even strategic brand acquisitions validate the importance and necessity of this next generation skin care. From working in conjunction with procedures for device-assisted transepidermal delivery to complementing, enhancing, and maintaining treatment results, skin care maximizes your practice's patient care focus. And aesthetically-minded consumers and patients are recognizing the superiority of skin care products found in the medical dispensing channel.

A new study by Kline and Company indicates that the significant contribution of skin care sales within aesthetic medical practices will be the primary source of growth for the overall skin care market in 2015 and 2016. More patients will be visiting their aesthetic medical provider seeking topical therapy solutions than ever. The question is: What is your practice's role within this movement? Are you dispensing? If so, is your practice integrating skincare in an effective manner? In this three part column series, we will cover how you can leverage the skin care opportunity within your practice from product refinement to how to medically dispense and not “sell.”

WHAT YOU NEED IN YOUR PRACTICE

Let's start with the fundamentals. Do you dispense the right skin care assortment for your practice? When it comes to the dispensing channel's point of differentiation, the clinically validated, medically proven technologies provide the uniqueness factor. Despite being unsuccessful, brands in other channels, like mass and luxury, have attempted to capitalize on these medically tested ingredients or formulations, due to their lucrative established efficacy. These technologies remain at the core of any aesthetic medical skincare portfolio.

What's Next

Valued at close to $1.7 billion currently, the medical dispensing market projected to grow annually by an additional five percent. What will be your practice's role in this rapidly growing channel?

Antioxidants. The pillar of any anti-aging correction and prevention regimen, effectively formulated antioxidant serums neutralize environmentally-induced free radical damage, increase skin's natural defenses, and promote repair via new collagen synthesis. These therapies can be considered as the skin's daily multi-vitamin and relevant for all patient profiles.

Retinoids. Undisputedly the gold standard for rejuvenation, retinoids provide essential cellular regeneration to ensure continuous resurfacing of younger skin cells. Pure retinol, at a meaningful concentration, is not commercially available in any other skincare channel due to regulatory restrictions. Aesthetic medical practices are the only source for high concentrations of pure retinol or retinoic acid.

Brighteners/Lighteners. While hydroquinone remains the most efficient skin lightener, ongoing toxicity concerns have motivated professional skincare brands to develop similarly effective alternatives without the harmful side effects. Hyperpigmentation and loss of radiance is one of the first symptoms of aging for most skin tones; therefore topical therapies that correct and prevent discolorations remain a key need.

Physical Sunscreens. Medical providers have long been educating on the necessity of a daily broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen. However with increased awareness, patients are shying away from the continuous use of chemical sunscreens, especially in light of the recent study published by the Environmental Working Group. The report indicates that many of the available chemical sunscreens including those manufactured by brands popular with dermatologists offer “inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients.” Physical sunscreens have come a long way thanks to formulation innovations and continue to remain an exclusive technology to the dispensing channel. These new generation mineral formulations provide a multitude of cosmetically elegant, non-whitening textures ideal for daily use with multi-use benefits including color coverage, primer-like texture refinement, and even protection for select facial zones, like the eyes.

Beyond core technologies, you must also consider your patient profile in selecting the appropriate skin care assortment. First think about the price points that would be accessible to your patients. Knowing that the goal is to have 70 percent of patients purchasing at least two skin care products per visit, assess what price ranges would make this achievable for their out-of-pocket spend. You may find that diversifying your skin care portfolio to include mid-range brands and “star” higher price point technologies from other manufacturers will foster the right product mix. After your pricing analysis, segment your patient profile to understand if there are dominant skin needs, conditions, and habits. For example, is your practice mainly made up of patients 45 and older? In that case, ensure that your skin care choices reflect rich, moisturizing, nourishing textures. Do your patien's have active lifestyles, so multi-step regimens could prove to be challenging in terms of compliance? Then seek products with multi-end benefits so that your product recommendations can be streamlined.

Finally, and perhaps most important, consider how your skincare will integrate with the procedures you perform. When refining your assortment, evaluate the synergistic benefit of skincare to treatment. Your products should prime the skin pre-procedure and help facilitate recovery post-procedure. As an example, if your practice performs a lot of medium depth peels or fractional resurfacing, ensure that you carry rehabilitative balms and protective physical sunscreens. Similarly assess what products will help support procedure results between treatments or on an ongoing basis. One of the most critical benefits of effectively formulated skin care or cosmeceuticals is that it complements and enhances procedure results. Therefore if IPLs are a mainstay of your practice, then curate a few skin brightening products for various skin types and preferences. Also, look for need gaps. An untapped opportunity, for example, is to provide injectable patients with texture refinement skincare to correct skin concerns not addressed by neurotoxins or dermal fillers for complete global facial rejuvenation.

THE BRANDS TO CONSIDER

The dispensing channel is flooded with skincare manufacturers and product options, making it difficult to vet through the most promising choices. When considering different brands, keep a couple of critical factors in mind. First, learn where the brand's products are commercially available. If they are sold through hair salons, nail salons, mass or luxury retailers, then the brand does not provide the medical credibility and focus is expected from products found within your practice.

Next evaluate the brand's science and proof of efficacy. The burden of proof for skin care found in the dispensing channel should be the highest, just falling short of pharmaceutical testing standards. Have your checklist of questions ready. Is the testing done on the final formulation? What are the biomarker indicators? Are the results in-vivo and not in-vitro? Did the testing include placebo? Was there instrumental evaluation and not just clinical grading? Does the testing reflect a well recognized testing protocol and are the findings reproducible? Finally, are the before and after pictures taken in a consistent format with all the variables controlled? As you can guess after asking these questions very few brands will make the cut.

SkinCeuticals. This brand continues to be the industry standard for antioxidant, particularly vitamin C, formulations. With an unprecedented amount of clinical testing, SkinCeuticals vitamin C serums have been biologically proven to increase skin's natural environmental protection by up to 8x. Beyond photoprotection, their C E Ferulic has been shown to reduce downtime by up to five days post ablative laser.

SkinMedica. This Allergan brand provides one of the most complete retinol assortments with various strengths to foster continuous patient graduation. With proper use, most patients find their retinol formulations to be non-irritating and easily tolerated, even for sensitive skin.

NeoCutis. Acquired by Merz Aesthetics, this Swiss-founded brand has a strong post-procedure offering based on their proprietary growth factor technology.

EltaMD. Known for their vast sunscreen assortment, this affordable brand provides various texture options based on skin type and condition for both chemical and physical sun care. All of their sunscreens are formulated with zinc oxide and many find their product options to be family friendly. Their UV Aero Broad Spectrum SPF 45 continues to be the only continuous spray sunscreen formulated with zinc oxide.

Compounded formulations. Many specialty pharmacies will now develop customized cosmeceuticals or RX skincare formulations. Seeking this partnership may be helpful for formulating select high potency, active products, such as skin brightening or lightening therapies.

Stay tuned as our three part column series continues to explore how skin care can grow your practice revenue and also increase patient loyalty and overall satisfaction.

Delaram Saidi is the Founder and Principal of DS Group, a full service business development agency for aesthetic medical practices. Contact delaram@dsgrp.com