Physician-directed skin care products are what your patients want—and what they should be getting from you. If you are not already recommending and selling a line of skin care products in your practice, it is time to take the leap.

Need more convincing? In 2006, global cosmetics and toiletries sales reached $270 billion. Patients want the best products with the finest ingredients. Because they trust you, they are more likely to buy their skin care products from you.

Here are five additional reasons why you should sell skin care products in your practice:

  • Retaining your clients. When you offer a complete service, your patients can turn to you again and again for services and products. As a one-stop shop, your patients will rely on you for procedures as well as for products.
  • Selling from your Web site. If you don’t already have a Web site to promote your practice, now is the time to create an online presence that covers your services, answers frequently asked questions, updates clients on advances in the field, and provides a marketplace for your products.
  • Increasing your revenue. You sell your services every day. Piggybacking skin care products with services is a natural progression of what you offer. Don’t neglect this important and easy way to increase your revenue.
  • Creating a built-in sales market. Patients are always looking to buy the best products to use on their skin. Because you intend to carry skin care products, you put yourself in a win–win situation. Your patients get the finest products, and you get the proceeds.
  • Generating word-of-mouth referrals. Patients like to be “in the know.” With their radiant skin and youthful appearance, they will be the experts their friends come to for advice on how to achieve spectacular results. Give them more to talk about by carrying skin care products that serve not only presurgical and postsurgical treatments, but all sorts of skin conditions.

“Go Home” with Your Patients

You can’t actually go home with your patients, but you should be sending a “representative” with each one when he or she leaves your office. That representative is your recommended customized skin care product regimen for the face and body.

Every morning and evening, your patients will see evidence of your continuing care for their skin. They will know that you are making every effort possible to help them retain a more youthful appearance from head to toe, while enhancing the results of the procedures they trust you to perform. Further, they will be rescued from the daunting task of choosing the right skin care product for them.

According to Albert M. Kligman, MD, PhD, a world-renowned dermatologist who practices in Philadelphia, “The intelligent Harvard graduate with a PhD can’t make a sensible choice when she goes in and looks for a good moisturizer.”

A recent survey sponsored by the Society of Dermatology Skincare Specialists shows that most patients are woefully unprepared to make skin care product purchase decisions on their own. Only one in three of those surveyed actually sought the advice of an aesthetician or a physician before purchasing products, and many who self-treated often sought advice from unqualified people, like their family members and friends. In many cases, those who self-treated actually made their skin conditions worse.

You know your patients’ skin better than anyone, so why not make it part of your service to provide skin-type evaluations and special skin care programs for them? Like Kligman, the man who coined the term “cosmeceutical,” you should be offering your clients this specialized class of creams that does more than decorate or camouflage. You are also in a position to prescribe medical-grade skin care products.

These physician-directed products, which contain active ingredients that are not available over the counter, are just what your patients would choose if they knew what they really needed. Your knowledge of and belief in the products you carry will have the greatest impact on your sales.

Understanding the science behind the key ingredients in the products that represent your practice or medical spa is imperative. Train your staff on the key ingredients that the products contain.

This knowledge can help bridge the gap between what you use in your treatment rooms and in your retail products because you will be able to explain to your patients how the products are effective toward their goal for younger-looking skin. This can make all the difference in your staff’s ability to sell products they believe in and your patients’ trust in your products.

If you do not carry skin care products, your patients will buy them elsewhere. As a result, they may use products that are not right for them and you won’t generate any additional revenue. Clearly, your patients seek your expertise for treating their skin, and they will be pleased to know that they can buy the products you recommend to them at your practice or spa.

It’s in the Bag

Your patients have high expectations when they seek treatment from you. Exceed those expectations by taking the extra step to provide home care products that are formulated to address the special needs of damaged and aging skin.

“Younger-looking skin doesn’t begin and end with a cosmetic procedure—no matter how good the specialist,” says Donna Tozzi, BSN, RN, founder of the Tozzi Institute of Aesthetic Medicine and Skin Care in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Patients need the right products to care for their skin. I was so frustrated early in my career that there was nothing on the market for my clients who had cosmetic procedures.”

Like Tozzi, you may decide to do the research to develop your own products. Or, you may choose to offer products from one of the many branded skin care lines that are available. No matter which route you choose, you will need to provide skin care packages for the varying needs of your patients.

Offering customized kits that include three to five products for at-home maintenance is a great help to patients. Patients are very thankful that everything has been thought out for them.

You can create kits to mesh with your patients’ needs and your signature services. Patients who you see a few times per year for injectables or other aesthetic treatments may have other issues that you can address with customized kits that deal with wrinkles, firmness, skin brightening and lightening, scars, age spots, sun damage, hydration, rosacea, eczema, and acne.

See also “Selling Skin Care” by Cheryl Whitman in the September 2006 issue of PSP.

Regardless of the type of kits you choose to sell, be sure to explain to your patients what products they are using and how they work. Practice with them in the treatment room so they know how to apply the products and in what order. This is like a prescription, so write out the instructions so they know what to do and when.

Your work doesn’t stop with the creation of specialty packages. You also need to properly market your products. You should have a retail area in your spa or practice so that patients can learn about what you have to offer and can test the products while they are in the waiting room.

Use “shelf-talkers” to describe what each product is for and which skin types it will benefit. Establish displays in each treatment room. Create visual impact by changing your displays with each season—a dynamic way to remind your patients that their skin care needs change seasonally.

Train your staff to assess skin types and promote the proper skin care product for each patient’s needs. You should also consider offering incentives to your staff to encourage their sales efforts.

Brand Name Versus Private Label

Brand-name skin care lines allow you to choose which retail products to stock. You simply act as the middleman or supplier and receive a percentage of the sales.

Patients are receptive to brand names that they recognize, especially when these brands are recommended to them by their physicians or skin care providers. Brand-name vendors also offer marketing ideas and brochures. However, your profit margin will be lower than you could expect with your own signature line.

Private labels, on the other hand, allow you to place your name and logo onto existing products that are created by certified manufacturers and backed by FDA approvals—for as little as $5,000. You will lower costs because you will not have to source for containers and fillers.

Many manufacturers will create a label for you or allow you to provide your own label artwork. You may also decide to be part of the formulation, research, and development of your own line, which is more costly.

Helpful Resources

  • Deitsch S. New study shows US women do not understand their own skin care needs. In: Deitsch S, ed. Society of Dermatology SkinCare Specialists. Reverberate! Public Relations, Nov 1, 2005. Available at: pdf/Skincare_Needs_Release_1Nov05.pdf. Accessed August 16, 2007.
  • Goldberg DJ, Herriott EM. Secrets of Great Skin: The Definitive Guide to Anti-Aging Skin Care. New York, NY: Innova Publishing; 2003.
  • Meschino J. The Wrinkle-Free Zone: Your Guide to Perfect Skin in 30 Days. Laguna Beach, Calif: Basic Health Publications Inc; 2004.
  • Rosen MR, ed. Delivery System Handbook for Personal Care and Cosmetic Products: Technology, Applications and Formulations. Norwich, NY: William Andrews Inc; 2005.

Be aware that your private label is exclusive or semiexclusive. Because these are medical-grade products and cosmeceuticals that will be available only through your spa or practice or on your Web site, you will continue to benefit from repeat business. This includes the brand-name products you carry as well as your private-label line.

“A well-developed private label line will increase revenue, create customer loyalty, and generate referrals,” says Anca Saladie, a skin care product-development expert for the Beautiful Forever consulting firm. “The recurring purchases that do not require treatment can be very lucrative because, by using a private-label product line instead of a name-brand product line, your revenue will increase substantially.

“The markup on private label products can be 300% or more depending on what the market in your area will support. Just as an example, if you are selling brand-name products, you may pay a wholesale cost of $25 for an eye cream that will sell to clients for $50. However, your signature eye cream may only cost you $15 and you can still set the price at $50.”

Adding a skin care line will increase your revenue. Selling signature products will maximize your profit. How you promote your skin care product line is extremely important.

You may have to step outside your comfort zone and look at your product area from a retailer’s point of view. If you can’t make your in-office “shop” look appealing on your own, you should find someone who can.

Help Them Choose Wisely

The average consumer is becoming increasingly committed to maintaining a youthful appearance. Rather than relying on needles, scalpels, and lasers to restore their skin, consumers are latching onto cosmeceuticals for early intervention. This is a major opportunity for your practice to capture a significant part of the market simply by carrying the home skin care products that consumers want.

Marketing Strategies to Increase Sales

Your products won’t sell themselves, so you need to take steps to help your line succeed. Here are some ways to build your retail business:

  • Hold a seminar at a local country club. Be prepared with samples of products and collateral material.
  • Sponsor a local charity and earn free advertisement when you participate in events.
  • Build relationships with complementary businesses, such as dentists or day spas, and create a referral system.
  • Offer sales promotions, coupons, or gifts with purchases.
  • Contact existing clients with direct mail pieces to introduce your products. Offer special rates and a free consultation.
  • Use your Web site to promote your products. Make sure your clients can purchase your skin care line online.

Because there are so many products on the market, patients are often confused about what product they should use to care for their skin. As a result, patients who don’t ask for recommendations first often buy products that are wrong for their skin. Patients will be happy to know that you offer skin care analyses and can prescribe products that will make a difference in their skin’s appearance.

In-office consultations are key. You and your staff will need to take the appropriate steps to determine the best products for each patient. Perhaps you will use a photography system or Woods lamp to assist in your consultation.

You may want each patient to fill out a detailed questionnaire so that you can prescribe a full-body skin care regimen. Be sure to include questions about their specific concerns, as well as their lifestyles and current skin care routines, so that you can determine how much time and effort they are willing to spend on their skin. You want to be sure that you are sending each client home with a skin care prescription that fits his or her needs and lifestyle.

It is important that every member of your staff follows the same skin-assessment procedure. This should be a step-by-step process that everyone is trained to complete. Don’t forget a hands-on demonstration and take-home instructions. You may consider a follow-up phone call to check that patients are using their products correctly and set up follow-up appointments to monitor the results.

Approximately 12,000 people turn 50 every day in the United States. These are the fabled Baby Boomers who want to stay young forever. As a plastic surgeon, you are already on the leading edge of a growing industry. Making an investment in skin care products for your practice should be a solid part of your business strategy.

Cheryl Whitman is recognized internationally as a pioneer in the field of medical spa business consulting. She is a published author and a popular speaker, and she has been a beauty-industry consultant for more than 20 years. As founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever, she now spearheads a successful team of medical-spa consultants and business professionals. For more information, call (877) SPA-MEDI or go to