By Aaron Sihota and Dr. Alan Low
The beach, cool drinks and beautiful sunshine are now a distant memory. Summer is the season we most typically associate with the need for protective skincare. But as we transition into winter, believe it or not, you and your patients have to be just as mindful, if not more, of the UV exposure you receive on a daily basis.
Photoaging, the most common form of skin damage caused by UV exposure, is present even during cold, cloudy weather and is one of the single leading causes of accelerated and premature skin aging. This occurs via damage to skin connective tissue, melanocytes, and the microvasculature. Hallmark features include fine and coarse wrinkling of the skin, dyspigmentation, and loss of skin elasticity, essentially accelerating the normal aging process. Skin health restoration is an emerging area of pharmacy practice that pharmacists can be trained in as patient demand for specialized and accessible anti-aging skincare service is a big market trend.
A pharmacist-led skincare consultation service in your pharmacy can improve the skin health of your patients and also your bottom line. This winter:
Tip #1. Have at least one of your pharmacy staff trained on photoaging and sun protection. Connect with your clients and validate your local market to see what products are of interest and stock appropriately. Patient education is important. Everyone wants to have younger looking skin. Have a seasonal winter skincare education clinic or evening in your pharmacy to raise awareness of the impact of UV damage on skin and appearance. Regular sunscreen usage should be recommended for daily usage, even indoors, as UVA rays can pass through glass, including your vehicle’s side view windows unless it has all laminated glass.
Tip #2. Focus on product placement and position. Try displaying some premium skincare and suncare lines behind the dispensary counter and make sure the pharmacist is counselling the patient on these products. Too often we find cosmeceutical lines displayed on shelves outside the dispensary for self-selection with patients not valuing or understanding the full therapeutic value associated with them. Experiment with moving some retinol-based products behind the dispensary that can be recommended as part of a bedtime anti-aging regimen. Keep in mind that many medications, including retinol, can increase the sensitivity of skin to UV rays. Fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides and tetracyclines are just a few that can result in phototoxic reactions.
Tip #3. Carve out a “Winter Photoaging Skincare” section that also includes complementary moisturizing agents (occlusive or humectant agents which contain ceramides, fatty acids, cholesterol) to combat dry skin and to hydrate the stratum corneum during this time of the year as environmental humidity drops. Some humectant agents such as topical hyaluronic acid draw water into the skin, plumping the stratum corneum, and giving the perception of smoother skin with fewer wrinkles. These can be marketed as anti-wrinkle agents even though they do not have long-term anti-wrinkle effects. Also keep in mind that many products now also include added ingredients which protect against sun damage, so always read the labels before you stock.
This winter, make preventive photo aging skincare education part of your pharmacy’s business DNA. It can translate into a sustainable financial opportunity for your operation as well as a chance to be more involved with the care of your patients. We rarely, if at all, see pharmacies integrating pharmacist-led skincare services and addressing the important role they play in accelerating patient skin aging, especially during the winter. Take action!
Aaron Sihota BSc., BSc.Pharm (UBC), RPh. and Dr. Alan Low BSc. (Pharm.), Pharm.D., RPh, ACPR, FCSHP, CCD are co-coordinating and teaching Cosmetic Dermatology and Topical Compounding for Pharmacists at UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. It is the first course of its kind at a pharmacy school in North America that focuses on the specialized assessment, management and therapeutic monitoring of skin aging with a focus on wrinkles, photo aging, scarring, and uneven skin tone by the pharmacist including techniques for topical cosmeceutical compounding.