Pharmacy U

Pharmacists go beyond “skin deep” in skincare category


Not just the body’s biggest organ, skin is also a big market growth area for pharmacy.



By Jack Kohane


Skincare services represent an emerging patient opportunity in the health space, according to Aaron Sihota, a pharmacist and a clinical instructor with a focus area of dermatology at UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Visible aging in our society has sparked a renewed focus on the role of skin health and the impact on how others perceive us as well as how we see ourselves,” he says.

Sihota lauds pharmacists as trusted health advisors with a significant opportunity to increase growth in the skin space. “A pharmacist’s understanding and knowledge of the complementary role the cosmetician can play creates a value-added experience for the patient and recommendations of related products.”

Sihota argues that increased prescribed therapy adherence and enhanced patient care of underlying skin conditions for patients can be achieved through strong collaboration between the pharmacy and cosmetics team. “Have joint seasonal events that reward your most loyal patients and educate patients on new treatment modalities as well as allow them to try products for a more clinically oriented experience, better outcomes, and increased brand loyalty.”

Asked how pharmacists can get the skinny on the category, Sihota replies that “there isn’t much out there in Canada. Likely, the most comprehensive in the country is what we have for our fourth-year students at the UBC Faculty of Pharmacy, the cosmetic dermatology and topical compounding program for senior student pharmacists. Based on the demand, we are looking to build online modular based accredited dermatology education for pharmacists across the country.”

Chantelle Reid, pharmacy medical relations leader for La Roche-Posay (a division of L’Oreal), agrees. She points out, “There are opportunities for pharmacists to learn more about skincare. In my opinion, it all comes down to linking skincare to key pharmacy practices. For example, say a pharmacist is filling a prescription for benzoyl peroxide for a patient with moderate acne; they will of course counsel the patient on use, any potential side effects and recommending a daily moisturizer. Most patients put a lot of weight on a pharmacist’s recommendation.”

Skincare – opportunities abound

Pharmacist recommendations and a rapidly aging consumer population are key drivers in the skincare category. Over the past few years, there have been innovation trends, including oils, masks, and essences that many brands are launching, thus diversifying the market. “Overall, consumers are becoming more open to innovation, trying new textures and formats,” says Kristen King, brand marketing manager for Montreal-based La Roche-Posay. “But I think that there’s a flip side: trying something, but also going with a trusty staple, such as daily moisturizers. Consumers are spending more within the category, purchasing an innovative product along with their everyday staples.”

Skincare in Canada grew by four per cent in Canada in 2015 to reach $2 billion, according to Euromonitor International, a UK-based market research firm. It also reports that the category will be driven primarily by new product innovations with new and convenient product formats, and technologies providing consumers, particularly anti-agers (about a quarter of the world’s population), with plenty of choices in the “longevity economy.” That new economy includes cosmeceuticals, with an estimated growth rate of 7.7 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

Cosmeceuticals not only focus on correcting the skin, but protecting the skin and preventing damage, notes Rebekah MacLaren, education director for Di Morelli Skincare Products, headquartered in Vancouver. “Preventing damage is much easier than correcting damage. Pharmacists are well positioned to educate their customers on the importance of using cosmeceuticals.”

Pharmacists can get involved with the various skincare lines sold in their pharmacies, affirms physician and company founder (in 1999) Dr. Robert Di Morell, who offers customized product knowledge training for pharmacy staff (either in-house or via webinar). “We provide a training manual consisting of product function, key ingredients and an overview of common skin conditions. Our education team partners with our pharmacists and cosmetics managers to host skin clinics, focused on educating customers on ways to target specific skin conditions, giving pharmacists more ways to build their relationship with the customer.”


Pharmacist Aaron Sihota views skincare as a robust revenue-generator. “The category has tremendous growth potential and an opportunity to demonstrate the pharmacist’s clinical expertise and value to the patient.”


Skincare tips

  1. Engage patients in a skincare conversation. Ask patients with certain skincare medications or conditions what they are currently using to manage symptoms or adverse effects.
  2. Recommend and educate. Recommend a product but also provide the education on how, why and when to use it.
  3. Keep staff knowledge up to date. Maintain training for all staff, both pharmacy and beauty, so relevant, educated advice can be offered to customers.
  4. Know what’s hot. Give prominent facings to brands being most heavily advertised. Stay ahead of trends and offer your customers the latest information.
  5. Group products together. Focus on companion sales and recommend a complete line of skincare products.
  6. Keep some products behind the counter. That way you can engage in conversations with patients instead of leaving all interaction to beauty staff.





According to Euromonitor’s Skincare in Canada report:


Anti-pollution skin care products are growing in popularity as urban consumers are becoming more concerned about the effects of pollution on their skin, particularly in terms of premature skin ageing. Many beauty companies are thus launching new products and solutions to protect skin from both UV rays and hazardous chemicals in the air.


Korean skin care practices and products are attracting attention globally, with this trend inevitably having an impact on skin care in Canada due to the country’s increasing number of Asian immigrants and generally rising interest in natural skin care. Demand for Korean skin care products has been growing rapidly in Canada, leading to some Korean brands moving into the mainstream.


The anti-agers category is expected to continue to perform well over the forecast period, with sales driven by the growing ageing population in Canada. In addition, younger consumers are also increasingly looking to incorporate anti-ageing products into their skin care routines for early prevention.



 Aaron Sihota will be presenting at Pharmacy U Vancouver. For more information, visit Pharmacy U