SKIN DOCTORS GET A SITE

Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — MySkinMD.com is marketing skin care lines with the help of the medical community.
The Web site, which is due to go live this month, is a combination of online diagnosis of skin care issues and soft-sell marketing. To date, the Tampa, Fla.-based site has signed up 28 brands including Peter Thomas Roth, Phytotherathrie, Stephen Knoll Hair Care, Yon Ka and MD Forte. It’s also introducing some new names, such as a sun line from Australia called Blue Lizard.
“We wanted to create the online resource for skin care that is comprehensive and solution-focused,” said Keith Henthorne, president and chief executive officer of MySkinMD.com.
The site is meant to be consumer-friendly but also medically sound. It has a network of 3,000 dermatologists, all of whom have certification from the field’s premier board, the American Academy of Dermatology, said Henthorne. These doctors will handle questions coming from users, and if the users want to make an appointment, the site will choose from this network when sending addresses out to its users.
In addition, the site itself has an “advisory board” of five doctors who helped in its design as well as monitor its contents, said Henthorne.
“They wanted interactive functions, grounded in science,” he said. The doctors look at all the products that are sold through the site, he said.
Visitors can get information a number of ways. There’s a demographic choice, which is broken into men, women, seniors, teenagers and children. Each area broaches topics common to that age group, including wrinkles, sun care or hair loss. Visitors can also go right to specific topics, or they can start shopping.
There’s also a lexicon of more than 6,000 skin care ingredients that explains exactly what each ingredient is made of as well as what it’s supposed to do.
In addition to the consumer part of MySkinMD.com, the site plans to launch a professional portion just for doctors later this summer, which will include “practice enhancement,” said Henthorne. “That will include how to add services, regulatory issues, new drugs, library services.” It will be called dermplace.
But MySkinMD.com is strictly aimed at Web surfers looking to get scientifically-backed information on skin and its care, whether that’s what to do about a sunburn or how to spot a suspicious mole early on. The site doesn’t balk at adding some intense information, though. It shows a formula comparing how sun protection factors, or SPFs, are calculated, for example, and has a map for travelers showing if ultraviolet rays are stronger in one part of the world or another.
The site first asks questions about the visitor’s facial skin, explained Howard Koch, senior vice president of merchandising and a former beauty retail executive. “Then it comes back with analysis and suggestions,” he said.
“At the end of that dialogue, the site will recommend three brands, which can be purchased at the site.” The service will always give at least three product suggestions, at various prices. Prices start at around $10 for a hand cream and go up to about $50 for many of the skin care items.
Visitors will also be able to submit questions to dermatologists anonymously, and the site promises to send back an answer within 24 hours during the week, or 48 hours if it’s over the weekend. But MySkinMD .com won’t exceed its expertise and try to diagnose a problem, Koch was quick to point out.
“The question may come back with a request for more information, or suggest an appointment with a doctor,” he said. In that case, MySkinMD.com would also include a listing of nearby doctors — including a photo, medical credentials, and driving instructions or a map — who are linked to its network.
The site prides itself on carrying unusual lines. In addition to Yon-Ka, which is French, and a few Australian skin care brands, there’s also St. Tropez, a spa line that only just started selling to a broader distribution channel.
For the moment, said Koch, a limited selection of color cosmetics are under consideration, “but they have to go beyond the typical idea, and offer some kind of skin care benefit.” There is no plan to add fragrance, he said.

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