Why Clinical is King: Dermatologic Skin Care Dominates Aesthetics at SCALE 2024

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If I could point out one thing that stood out most to me at this year's Music City SCALE meeting, it would be the ever-present dermatologic and clinical focus in both sessions as well as on the Exhibit Hall Floor. In many cases, the two ended up intersecting, with presentations on the latest clinical research relating to ingredient and formulation advances, as well as those focusing on the causes of certain skin conditions coming to light and advances in technology that are making skin diagnostics and determination of proper treatment and skin care recommendations easier than ever, related to the latest products being launched from brands on the Exhibit Floor.

Related: ASLMS 2024 Spotlight: Next Gen Aesthetic Product Innovation

More than ever, we are seeing the merging of professional and over-the-counter brands focusing on providing clinically proven results, a focus on research and rigorous study when it comes to any treatment, dermatological and clinical expertise guiding treatments and skin care and patient-centered mindset and approaches to the providing the best care possible to those that need it, including accessibility to proven skin care and skin solutions for patients that can't afford professional skin care products. Beautiful skin and proven treatments for improving skin health are gradually becoming a staple for more and more individuals instead of a luxury available to the few. 

Clinical is King: The Dermatologic Skin Care Era in Aesthetics

One major trend highlighted at SCALE 2024 is the continuing rise in dermatological-focused skin care across the board. We had the chance to discuss this movement towards dermatologist-backed/guided, clinically proven formulations amongst the over-the-counter (OTC) skin care brands with a variety of industry giants leading this change, many of which have been fighting this good fight for decades.

Clinical is King: Derm-Guided OTC Skin Care

Eucerin just launched its Immersive Hydration Face Line containing multi-weight hyaluronic acid technology and antioxidants. This new facial skin care line consists of “a routine of a nice gentle gel cleanser followed by a daily lotion with SPF 30 and then a night cream. The daily lotion and the night cream have multi-weight hyaluronic acid as well as the antioxidant complexes. The benefit of the multi-weight hyaluronic acid is the low molecular weight, 52 kilodaltons, which allows it to penetrate into the upper levels of the epidermis, pulling in moisture and plumping the skin. The antioxidant complexes are designed to stimulate the endogenous production of hyaluronic acid within the skin.” A recent clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (March 2024), entitled Evaluation of Antioxidants’ Ability to Enhance Hyaluronic-Acid Based Topical Moisturizers, demonstrated the significant benefit of adding the key antioxidants contained in Eucerin’s new product line. The study concluded that adding bioactive glycine saponin to topical moisturizers helps stimulate endogenous HA synthesis, while the addition of glycyrrhetinic acid helps reduce the degradation of HA.

CeraVe Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF for Face & Body, Hybrid FormulaCeraVe Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF for Face & Body, Hybrid FormulaPhoto courtesy of CeraVeThe name says it all. The “Cera” in CeraVe is representative of the three essential ceramides (ceramides 1, 3 and 6-II) contained in the products to hydrate and replenish skin’s natural lipid levels and restore skin barrier balance. The “Ve” refers to the Multivesicular Emulsion Delivery Technology (MVE), which gradually releases the active ingredients into the skin over the course of the day to provide continuous hydration and barrier-restoring ingredients to enhance skin health and radiance. CeraVe’s dedication to restoring the skin barrier touches upon the incredible importance of the skin barrier to maintaining skin health, a topic that has been of rising interest in the world of aesthetics and skin care over the past few years. In her session titled, Skin Barrier Function in Acne: Implications for Treatment and Skin Care Recommendations, Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd discussed the importance of proper skin barrier function, particularly as it relates to our skin’s ability to fight off skin conditions like acne, among others. The key factor that sets this brand apart in the OTC space is its longstanding relationship with dermatologists as a derm-guided brand that has been “developed with dermatologists” from the beginning. CeraVe’s latest product, the Hydrating Sheer Sunscreen Broad Sprectrum SPF 30 for Face & Body with a hybrid formula combining mineral and chemical sun filters, was one of the many exciting new and improved sun protection formulations featured at this year’s SCALE meeting.               

Bioderma, the creators of micellar technology, will be celebrating 30 years as a dermatological OTC skin care2Photo courtesy of Bioderma brand next year. Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O Micellar Cleansing Water is an ideal cleanser for use pre- and post-treatment on patients with sensitive skin. It can be used pre-treatment to “get all of those impurities off the skin, even pollution particles, allergens that might be trapped on the skin.”  It contains cooling, skin-soothing cucumber extract to cool down any flushing, redness or heat sensation the patient may experience post-treatment. The complementary Sensibio Micellar Cleansing Oil is perfect for daily cleansing to ensure makeup and impurities accumulated during the day. Bioderma also has products that are safe for use on infants as young as one week old, provided they are not premature, indicated by the baby carriage on the label. Through this wide variety of dermatological, clinically proven OTC skin care, Bioderma is another brand seeking to provide, “dermatological skin maintenance.” Their specific product lines for various specialized skin needs are, “what makes it exclusive to the dermatologists, allowing practitioners to have that connection with their patient before they leave.”       

Other notable OTC brands focusing on derm-guided, clinically proven skin care are Avene and La Roche-Posay, which we will cover in greater detail in our second SCALE 2024 Trends highlight tomorrow.        .  

Clinical is King: Skin Care-Infused Cosmetics

Clinical skin care isn’t just taking over in the OTC skin care category, but crossing into the cosmetics arena. Consumer demand for products that benefit the health of their skin has expanded to include the makeup they wear during the day, accounting for a significant percentage of our lives overall and a major loss of opportunity to make a difference to our skin health. This trend really follows in the footsteps of the overall industry movement towards a more global and holistic approach to aesthetics. Since wearing the wrong makeup can end up thwarting much of one’s efforts to improve skin health, particularly when it comes to skin conditions like acne, eczema and any other skin sensitivity, ensuring patients wear the appropriate cosmetics can vastly improve treatment results and skin health in general. 

G5xpnb1bPhoto courtesy of CliniqueClinique is one such brand that has been innovating both dermatological skin care and makeup solutions since the beginning. Founded by a dermatologist and dermatologist-guided to this day, from the very beginning, “everything that Clinique does from skin care to makeup is very rooted in dermatological expertise, as well as science and research, and embedded with dermatologist guided solutions,” says Ida Wong, VP of Global Product Development for Clinique, who we had the pleasure to speak with at length at SCALE 2024.

I have had incredibly sensitive (I always called it “picky” to be honest) skin my entire life. When acne made its appearance in my teens, this made treatment and at-home care rather challenging to say the least. At that time, I don’t remember my dermatologist giving me any advice on what to put on my skin apart from the medication he prescribed. I don’t recall it being all that common for dermatologists to recommend an at-home skin care regimen and advise patients on what products to use and not use to help patients’ skin remain clear, let alone advice on what makeup to wear. This meant going through a torturous trial and error period to find the right skin care and makeup for my skin.

Wong speaks to this issue and the need for patients to have guidance when it comes to their skin care regimen as well as the need for accessible skin care options that are effective, clinically proven, dermatologist-guided and affordable for patients that don’t have the option of purchasing the more expensive professional products. She stated, “Post-care and pre-care is super critical, if not as critical as the treatment that patients are coming to the office for. If you do all the wrong things after you go home, you're not helping your case. Accessibility is very critical. In this world, nobody should be denied great skin. Clinique believes great skin can be created. Because whatever the skin concern, Clinique has safe, clinical solutions. Informed by decades of experience, working with dermatologists, scientists and ophthalmologists. Formulated with the perfect balance of ingredients for powerful efficacy with rigorous safety. Our unwavering dedication is why millions around the world trust their skin to Clinique, and have for over 55 years.”

I think we all know that whether we like it or not, patients are going to wear makeup to cover up the imperfections being treated until they are gone, even if that makeup counteracts or hinders the progress and treatment results meant to improve their skin health. I know I did, and making my way through the different makeup brands until I found the one that didn’t make my face break out was a nightmare. Every time I wore the wrong one, I had to then deal with the consequences and tend to my unhappy skin. I remember very clearly that I wasn’t until my mother had me try Clinique that I finally found makeup, and especially foundation, that I could wear without worrying about how it might affect my skin. In addition to having foundation my skin didn’t react to, Clinique’s other makeup products that are safe for sensitive skin. In my case, having eyeliner that didn’t make my eyes constantly water was also a huge relief. Finding Clinique in my teens was personally a somewhat lifechanging experience, or at least a skin-changing experience. 

This complete approach to providing skin care and makeup solutions is what makes Clinique so memorable, and a brand that has certainly made an impact on my life from my teens all the way to today. Wong discussed Clinique’s long-time dedication to providing not just skin care but, “makeup that is also derm-guided to help kind of camouflage and give patients a boost of confidence. That's where the makeup solutions come in. Clinique offers, solutions not just in skincare, but then also in the makeup arena, all tied together with the education that comes behind every single product. We provide a 360 degree care approach based on derm-expertise combined with science, research, clinical testing and rigorous safety.”

Clinical is King: Supporting Dermatologic Expertise

Of course, the rise in dermatologic skin care wouldn’t be possible without the dermatologic expertise guiding these brands. Just as skin care is evolving to provide more OTC derm-guided products and expand accessibility to quality skin care for all patients, and in turn, giving practitioners more home-care options and tools they can use to provide optimal patient care, increasing business support providers and expanded practice options designed to simplify the business side for physicians is also steadily rising. The overall support of dermatologists/physicians and dermatologic expertise on the skin care and business ends of aesthetics is just one sign of the decreasing stigma against medical aesthetics and the rising understanding of its equal importance in medicine and individual health (mental health, skin health, longevity, etc.).

Image002 (5)Photo Courtesy of Forefront DermatologyForefront Dermatology is one such example of the expanding business support in both business management as well as practice options and structures that fit what different physicians need in their professional life on an individual level. Forefront Dermatology is a national dermatology/group practice. They serve board certified physicians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, P.A.’s and N.P.’s; have 250 locations in 28 states; and cover everything from traditional medical dermatology, to surgical, MOHS, aesthetics and more.  “We provide back-end support for physicians that don't want to worry too much about issues like dealing with insurance companies, negotiating HR, billing, coding, compliance, legal, real estate, market research, etc. We do all that kind of stuff.”

Forefront is also physician-led, with the different committees responsible for making decisions within the group being headed by physicians. “Those committees all roll up into our physician board of directors, and then that rolls up into our physician president, so we are completely physician-led. It's ultimately our physicians that make the decisions, so we have really good satisfactory rates with our clinicians that practice with us.” This focus on the clinicians results in better patient care and a very patient-centered practice approach. “They (the clinicians) are always thinking about our patients, so we really are a patient-centered practice. We make all of our decisions based on whether or not it's taking care of our people the way they should be taken care of.”


1. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., et. al., Evaluation of Antioxidants’ Ability to Enhance Hyaluronic-Acid Based Topical Moisturizers, Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (JCAD), March 2024; 17(3):48-51. 

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