I’ve been reading US beauty magazines my entire adult life, but feel the Atlantic divide most acutely when they casually suggest “asking your dermatologist”, as though all readers have a skin doctor on speed dial, waiting to advise on every line and pimple. The British system is, of course, entirely different, focused on free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare; any GP would rightly need to see a legitimate and unresponsive skin condition to even consider a referral to a consultant.
Nevertheless, it’s still entirely reasonable to have concerns about skin, whether driven by health or vanity, and to want to seek expert help without dropping £250 for half an hour with a derm. It’s also possible that a prescription-strength product (containing higher levels of active ingredients) will work beyond the reach of a retail equivalent.
That’s where Dermatica rather ingeniously comes in. For a £19.99 monthly subscription, UK clients can access dermatologists, doctors and pharmacists specialising in beauty-related skin concerns such as pigmentation, ageing, rosacea and acne, starting with a personalised online consultation based on uploaded photographs. A three-month routine is designed by a dermatologist, a prescription issued and relevant products mailed out with instructions on how to use them. Clever.
But while prescription skincare can work wonders, it is for neither the fainthearted nor the half-arsed. Not everyone who thinks they want rid of a wrinkle realises that, actually, they might sooner take it over a prescription of tretinoin that renders skin flaky and dry for up to six weeks before anything improves. (That’s if it can be tolerated at all. The internet has wrongly decided that what is, in effect, a strong retinol is the silver bullet for all skin woes, when it can often irritate and inflame.)
If Dermatica’s expertise appeals, but a specialist over-the-counter product better suits your lifestyle, comfort levels and timeframe, then the Skin Nerd is a good option. Here, an online Skype appointment with a well-trained, experienced consultant is €50 (£43; your €25 follow-up deposit is redeemable on future appointments) and there’s zero obligation to buy recommended products from the 27 high-quality and reputable brands on offer (including Environ, REN, Avene, NeoStrata, Murad and very good in-house brand Skingredients). The advice is solid, unpushy, commitment-free, and a thoughtful present for someone who may be intrigued but bewildered by the active skincare revolution.
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