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A Scientific and Ethical Approach to In-Office Skincare Retail – Part 3

In this 5 part series, the world-renown dermatologist, Dr. Leslie Baumann, will be sharing her extensive skincare expertise. From properly identifying a patient’s skin type to learning about skincare product manufacturing and packaging processes, our readers are sure to learn something new from this informative series.



Leslie Baumann, MD, FAAD

So far in this series of five installments discussing skincare retail, I’ve discussed the importance of identifying your patients’ Baumann Skin Types® and choosing the right ingredients and ingredient “recipes” for each type.
In this third part, I’ll discuss the importance of a product’s formulation, manufacturing and packaging process, as well as the significance of ingredient interactions.

The Product’s “Recipe”

A product’s “recipe” is extremely important. Although the label lists ingredients, it does not say anything about the formulation, which is proprietary and often patented. This “recipe” includes the order that ingredients are added, the pH, the amount of each ingredient, the temperature at which ingredients are added, how long and quickly the mixture is stirred, and other factors that determine the final chemistry and efficacy of the product.

Ingredients like vitamin C, green tea, and retinol are expensive when formulated and packaged properly. Many copycat brands use the same ingredients but in smaller amounts or of lower quality. They fool consumers with similar packaging and identical ingredient lists, but they do not have efficacy. This is why I always independently test products for efficacy separately from the brands. I am passionate about guiding dermatologists towards efficacious products and avoiding the less scrupulous brands.

Did you know that cosmeceutical formulators are like chefs in that they each have specialities? Some are experts in SPF, while others excel at ascorbic acid, hydroxy acids or retinols. Knowing who formulated the product is one way to begin to judge the integrity of the product. As dermatologists, honesty, integrity, and transparency are at the core of our business and we must take steps to ensure that our patients are receiving well designed products that are formulated, manufactured, and packaged properly.

The Manufacturing and Packaging Process

A product’s manufacturing and packaging process is crucial. For example, retinol breaks down when exposed to light and air. I once visited a manufacturing plant that was stirring its “anti-aging” retinol preparation in open vats. The retinol was exposed to air and light and was losing its potency, which was why the end-product was “less irritating.” It did not irritate because it had no functional retinol. Proper manufacturing practices are imperative because heat, light, pH, air, and exposure to other ingredients all play a role in the efficacy of the final formulation.

The packaging process can also have an impact on the final product. In some cases, the product is formulated in one place and shipped to another location for final packaging—and many ingredients can lose their potency during transit. The actual container the product is packaged in is important as well. If air and light can get into the tubes or bottles, this can affect a product’s efficacy. Many products are packaged in airless pumps to avoid exposure of the products to air.

Counterfeit Products

There is a huge problem right now with counterfeit products, especially with the obfuscation that online retail allows. The FBI is getting involved to try and decrease this problem, but you need to be aware of it. Retailing products in your practice is the best way to protect your patients from these counterfeit products, many of which have been found to contain inactive or harmful ingredients. The FBI website actually encourages consumers to discuss products, especially supplements, with their doctors before purchasing.

I’ll be outlining more steps to properly and ethically recommend and retail skincare over this series of five articles. The next article will discuss skincare regimen design. To learn more about my innovative, customized, expert skincare diagnostic system please visit STSFranchise.com or feel free to email me at [email protected]. You can also follow me on LinkedIn, LeslieBaumannMD.com or Instagram @LeslieBaumannMD.

Missed Part 2 of this series? Check it out here!

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