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.