Board-certified dermatologist, Internet entrepreneur, and skincare brand pioneer, Craig Kraffert, MD, is committed to creating healthy and beautiful skin on many levels. First, as owner of Redding Derm, he operates the largest dermatology practice in northernmost California. Second, he founded DermStore.com, the hugely successful online resource for hard-to-find skincare products, which he sold in 2007. And most recently, as president of Amarte, a luxury skincare line, he has combined the heritage of traditional Korean skincare with cutting-edge technology.
Dr. Kraffert’s commitment and passion for dermatology is evident in all aspects of his life. Here, he shares a few of his insights with Beauty in the Bag.
Gosh, I don’t know where to start. Tell us a bit about how your commitment to dermatology began.
Like many people, my interest in the social and medical aspects of skin began at an early age. I was first drawn to dermatology during my medical training at UCLA—not out of career convenience or status but out of an innate interest and passion for skin health and beauty. Over the course of my career, I’ve tried to channel my passion for this subject into meaningful endeavors for my patients and society at large.
At your private practice, do you treat medical and cosmetic patients?
Yes, at each of my four offices we treat both medical and cosmetic dermatology patients, and in some cases, these two concerns mingle together including treatment for acne, rosacea, and sun damage. My practice is committed to bringing the latest cosmetic advances to patients and offering cutting edge treatments before they’re widely available (for example, we adopted Botox in 1998, many years before its FDA approval).
Please describe the Korean technology that inspired you to create Amarte?
Korea is experiencing a perfect storm right now in creating skincare products—the Korean heritage for creating therapeutic skincare products that dates back to antiquity combined with the mastery of high tech scientific advances in cosmetic chemistry has put Korea at the center of the “beauty map.” This synergist approach to skincare has resulted in the development of several breakthrough skin innovations, including odorless nano-sulfur, which is featured exclusively in Amarte products. Sulfur has been used as an active skin therapeutic agent for a very long time and has been an active ingredient in prescription products for decades, but Korean innovation has made this ingredient more effective, elegant and odorless. Another major Korean innovation is nano-encapsulated retinol. This breakthrough ingredient preparation method enhances the stability, efficacy and tolerability of retinol—an ingredient well established as one of the most important functional cosmeceuticals. Koreans are also responsible for perfecting many natural and botanical extracts for skincare as has been documented in Korean writings for over 500 years. Botanical extract preparation is a key component of this unique Korean expertise and precise proprietary fermentation techniques developed over many years help formulators express the best qualities of botanical extract preparations. Compounds such as the natural mushroom based emollient ingredient found in Amarte’s Wonder Cream all relate to this legacy.
Since skincare products are not considered drugs, how can we be sure they are really effective and safe?
This is an excellent question and a source of a great on-going debate between the cosmetic industry and the US Food and Drug Administration. Consumer safety is of paramount importance. Presently, the FDA is charged with regulating skincare and cosmetic products and desires to increase regulation within the US in the name of safety as there continue to be safety issues with products sold in the US. Amarte products, however, are manufactured in Korea and are held to a much higher standard than required in the US. Each Amarte product is periodically evaluated by the Korean FDA (KFDA) in their national laboratories to ensure safety. The KFDA is notoriously strict and cosmetic safety problems are extremely rare in Korea and all Amarte products have been KFDA tested and approved with safety certificates.
Efficacy is hard to measure in cosmetic products, as the most rigorous scientific test methods capable of accurately assessing product effectiveness are prohibitively expensive. A certain body of scientific evidence does exist for many individual ingredients found in skincare and cosmetics. Nevertheless, objective, unbiased, scientifically rigorous data on individual product effectiveness is uniformly absent for skincare and cosmetics. This is why real world results in terms of socially relevant skin improvement are the true gold standard of skincare product effectiveness.
How did you come to launch DermStore?
In the early days of the Internet I decided to make a store for patients and consumers around the world to find the skincare products they were looking for and couldn’t readily obtain elsewhere. DermStore was a way of bringing my skincare expertise and passion to a much larger audience than could be seen in a brick and mortar dermatology clinic. I wanted the store to also be a place where people could go to get questions answered and receive unbiased skincare, dermatology and beauty information. Many late nights were spent answering countless questions from Internet surfers and shoppers in the early DermStore days. It was important for me to create an online store environment where people could come to find products they were looking for and be exposed to new and interesting products that they weren’t even aware they needed. This mission of customer engagement and DermStore overall have been huge successes.
You are really a beauty renaissance man. How do you find time to fit in everything in a day?
Thank you for these kind words. The key to achieving big things rests in surrounding oneself with people who are even more focused, productive, passionate, and intelligent than you are. I’ve always reached out to partner with the best and brightest associates available and have welcomed the chance to see us achieve things together that we could never accomplish individually. Prioritization and delegation of tasks is also essential for efficiency and overall productivity. I try to ask myself not how good my work is but how good my work is per hour. Finally and most importantly, a loving and supportive family is the key foundation upon which all my projects in the health and beauty world rest.
San Francisco-based dermatologist Richard G. Glogau, MD, is used to being referred to as a guru. In fact, his popular beauty blog is called “The Wrinkle Guru” and on it, he offers all sorts of tips and techniques for banishing frown lines, crow’s feet, and other facial furrows. He also takes on sun damage, spider veins, toxic lipstick, and much, much more in this timely and comprehensive resource.
Glogau, also a clinical professor of dermatology and director of the post-doctoral fellowship in Cosmetic Dermatologic Surgery at the University of California San Francisco, also earned guru status when he developed the Glogau Wrinkle Scale. This scale helps doctors reliably assess facial aging, and better pair treatments to skin type. It is so well received that Neutrogena has chosen to use it in the development of their Healthy Skin and Anti-aging product lines.
Glogau spoke to Beauty in the Bag about his practice and his philosophies on treating the aging face.
Here’s what he had to say:
How do you define beauty?
Beauty is often a reflection of a person’s “outside” and “inside.” I am always impressed by how feeling good about one’s “outside” usually leads to better feelings about one’s “inside.”
How do you treat the aging face?
By replacing the lost volumes and softening the dynamic lines of expression. The goal is to restore one’s natural appearance, not change them into something that they are not.
Why do you love what you do?
It is great fun to make those years roll back. You can see first hand the impact that these things can have on a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Besides, it is a field that is constantly changing, always new techniques and products, never boring.
How did you get started in the beauty business?
I have been interested in the management of aging skin and the human appearance from the beginning of my training in dermatology. Professionally speaking, I have watched the whole progression of dermatology into the aesthetic business from the beginning.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
I have been training dermatologists in aesthetic techniques for many years, and helped define a scale for aging of the face known as the Glogau Wrinkle Scale, which has been widely adopted in cosmetic dermatology and plastic surgery to treat the aging face.
Speaking of which, tell us more about the Glogau Wrinkle Scale?
This scale is used to objectively measure how, where and why your skin is aging. It is widely used by dermatologists and plastic surgeons to better pair treatments with skin type, and maximize results. Neutrogena has even chosen to use it in the development of their Healthy Skin and Anti-aging product lines. According to the Glogau Classification of Photoaging, Group I shows mild signs of photoaging such as pigment changes, no keratosis, minimal wrinkles, around 28 t0 35 years old, and wears minimal to no makeup. For these patients, treatment focuses on preventing or slowing the signs of aging and includes the judicious use of sunscreen.
Who is your beauty inspiration?
I am fascinated by sculptors of the Renaissance whose mastery of light and shadow in the human face show us how changes in facial volume are related to the aging appearance.
What is your beauty mantra?
Keep it natural! No one should be able to tell.
What do you find most challenging about your job?
Educating patients about reasonable aesthetic expectations.
What charities do you support?
My wife and I are founders of the Glogau Teddy Bear Rescue Fund, for the benefit of children and their families at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The fund provides emergency financial support for a host of needs that are not covered by third-party payers.
Joel Schlessinger, MD, is a well-known dermatologist with a bustling practice in Omaha, Nebraska, a successful businessman who owns and operates one of the top skin caree-commerce sites in cyberspace, www.LovelySkin.com, and a prolific clinical trialist. He also has a pretty impressive curriculum vitae or CV.
Schlessinger completed a residency in pediatrics at the University of Alabama Children’s Hospital in Birmingham before doing another residency in dermatology at Barnes Hospital at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. He is the past president of the Nebraska Dermatology Society, the President Emeritus of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, and the founder of the Cosmetic Surgery Forum held annually in Las Vegas.
Despite this very full dance card, Schlessinger found time chat with Beauty in the Bag about his practice and how he balances all of these different endeavors
How do you define beauty?
It is something that everybody has in their own way. While many people define beauty as a movie star or person on the cover of a magazine, I see it as a way to enhance what you naturally have and make the best impression. We tend to have aspirations for beauty based on models that are airbrushed and live lives that are impossible for the average person to achieve and maintain.
How do you compensate for this in consultations with new patients?
“We use natural untouched models to bring a little bit of reality to the equation so we don’t end up sending a new generation of women and men to an unrealistic and dangerous place.
Tell us about your e-commerce site, lovelyskin.com?
“We started the website in 1998 and it was initially just to help customers and patients who had moved away and wanted our skincare products, but it became busier and busier. Now, it’s the 25th largest health and beauty website in the world and the recent winner (for the third year straight) of the Bizrate Platinum Circle of Excellence Award. No other skincare website has ever achieved this!
Sounds intense. How do you divide your time between your practice and the website?
“Essentially, I have two jobs. During the day, I am 100% in charge of taking care of my dermatology practice and patients and I spend the rest of the evening taking care of LovelySkin business. My wife, Nancy, has taken on many of the functions and helps me out greatly behind the scenes as does the rest of my staff. I couldn’t do it without their incredible help!
What is the secret to the site’s success?
Loyalty and history. It is difficult to start a website today and get traction because the cost of acquiring business is so huge. We started in 1998 and didn’t start making profit until 2002. We have hundreds of thousands of people who have used the site over the past 12 to 13 years. My staff and I view it as if we have pen-pals all over the world, which makes our customers feel like they are special.
Tell us about Advanced Skin Research Center, your clinical trial facility.
I have participated in about 250 clinical trials. At any given time, I have 20 or so clinical trials going on.
What’s in the pipeline that you are excited about?
Kythera’s ATX-101, an experimental fat melting injection for under-the-chin fat—and topical botulinum toxin, a potential option for Botox that could be applied rather than injected.
What is your beauty mantra?
I want to bring out the soccer mom’s natural beauty for the world to see—and focus less on the glitz and glamour. I want patients to achieve the best result in the quickest and most cost-efficient manner. The cosmetic treatments we do are really just making people the best they can be and that is something everyone should consider, just as we try to maintain our health in other ways. For some reason, the concept of minor ‘tweaks’ like Botox or fillers is controversial to some. For me, it is a natural desire for people to look their best. As long as that ‘best’ is something that they want for themselves rather than to fulfill someone else’s vision or desire for them, I am all in favor of it.
How much of what you do is cosmetic?
About 50 percent. I always enjoyed the medical aspect of dermatology too, and would never give that up as it is fascinating and allows me to see a wider variety of patients, from kids to my 105 year old patient who comes in to flirt with my staff. I love the variety.
What is the condition you find most challenging to treat?
Warts. Clearly there isn’t a solution yet as it is a common virus, but I do hope there will be options in the future that are more effective and less painful than freezing or lasers.
Any procedures that you find particularly challenging?
I often have challenging surgeries in my work as a Mohs skin cancer surgeon. Also, there are way too many tragic cases of individuals coming to our office who went to unlicensed or unqualified practitioners to have procedures done at a discount. Sadly, this is a common thing and it doesn’t just happen in the big cities. It is all over the place and affecting our field greatly. There are way too many cases of botched surgery in people who will now never consider cosmetic surgery again because they had cosmetic surgery by a person who did know what they are doing or were simply unqualified to perform the procedure.