As a natural skincare enthusiast, I've always been curious about the different paths skincare experts tread. Today, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Heather Smith, a physician with a unique blend of medical expertise and a love for natural ingredients and clean beauty. So, let’s dig deeper into what she has to say about the blend of clinical and natural skincare.
Q: Dr. Smith, thank you for joining us. To start, why do you believe dermatologists often lean towards clinically-tested ingredients in their products?
Dr. Smith: Thanks for having me! Dermatologists have years of training focused on skin diseases. Naturally, they lean towards ingredients and formulations that offer rapid, tangible results for specific conditions. Their expertise is undeniable, and this clinical approach reflects their deep understanding of skin.
It’s important to remember that treating skin diseases is a medical role while working towards cosmetic improvements is not. Dermatologists are excellent at doing both, but they aren’t specifically better at cosmetics just by virtue of their training.
Q: In a lot of your blog posts, you mention that clinical products can sometimes be too potent for some users. Would you like to share your view on that?
Dr. Smith: Absolutely. While these formulations are effective, they often push the limits, having the highest concentrations of active ingredients. More isn’t always better and can be highly irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin. A clinical approach might overshadow the benefits of natural compounds when it comes to daily skincare.
As an example, benzoyl peroxide is great for acne, but it’s horrible for your skin barrier. Skin barrier damage can often worsen acne, so harshness sometimes perpetuates the cycle. Retinoids have a similar story. If a product is so harsh you can barely use it, then what’s the point? It doesn’t matter if it’s effective or if it’s too painful to use.
Q: As a physician with a natural inclination, how do you view skincare differently from a dermatologist?
Dr. Smith: My focus has always been holistic. Instead of zeroing in only on diseases or skin issues, I look at overall skin health. This perspective allows me to incorporate wellness and balance in my formulations, leading to gentle products that suit a broader spectrum of users.
I also don’t take a medical approach at all. When people email me for medical advice, I send them back to their doctor. Focusing on skin health and appearance is what I do. I like to keep my two worlds separated. With that said, a lot of natural products have great benefits for certain skin disorders like eczema, so there is a lot of overlap.
Q: There's a growing debate about doctor-owned brands vs. non-doctor brands. How do you feel about this?
Dr. Smith: Physicians do have an edge when it comes to interpreting medical research. However, a doctor's label isn't a direct indication that they're hands-on with product formulation. Many hire teams to design products for them. On the flip side, non-doctor brands, though lacking in medical expertise, often bring consumer-centric innovations to the table. Both have their strengths, but it's essential for consumers to look beyond the label and evaluate products based on their actual merits.
Q:Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Skincare: What's your take on this ongoing debate?
Dr. Smith: Honestly, the words “clinical” and “cosmeceutical” are just marketing terms with no true definition or meaning. Doctors treating skin disorders with prescription medications is an entirely different category from cosmetics.
I could put on my white lab coat and stethoscope and market my products as “clinical strength botanicals,” but I’m not into pushing hype. I want my products and corporate ethics to speak for themselves.
Q: Any final words for our readers who are torn between choosing a clinical approach and a natural one?
Dr. Smith: Listen to your skin. Understand its needs. Skincare is deeply personal, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer. It's about finding the right balance that works for you.
Through this enlightening chat with Dr. Heather Smith, it became evident that the world of skincare is vast and diverse. Whether you're a fan of clinical solutions or swear by natural remedies, there's room for every approach. It's all about understanding, researching, and choosing what resonates with your skin's unique needs.
Dr. Smith is dual-certified in Internal Medicine and Critical Care in Manitoba, Canada. She writes the sustainable beauty blog Elevated Simplicity and is the founder of bareLUXE Skincare. bareLUXE is a clean beauty brand dedicated to anti-plastic activism. Their award-winning face oil serums are vegan, cruelty-free, and refillable.