My Sensitive, Acne-Prone Skin Was Out of Control Until A Virtual Consultation Changed Everything


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On March 20, as the threat of the novel coronavirus intensified, an official mandate passed that businesses providing beauty services would have to shut down temporarily to slow the spread of the virus, forcing many women—myself included—to look to the internet for assistance. The ’90s music videos in my YouTube queue were quickly replaced with DIY tutorials for removing gel manicures and installing passion twists. The thought of me skipping my monthly facials for a few months led me to dive face-first into unchartered waters: virtual beauty consultations.

Enter: EverBody’s virtual consultation, my first foray into the not-so-new phenomenon. EverBody is the self-described “haven for high-tech beauty services,” which allows customers to book beauty treatments through their site—botox, facials, body treatments, etc.—and see a dermatologist in hours at its SoHo or Flatiron locations, without the hassle of waiting for schedules to be open or any hidden costs. But since customers are unable to visit the site physically, the demand for EverBody’s free virtual visits has increased.

Here’s how it all went down:

Getting Started

Once you’re directed to EverBody’s consultation page, you choose a provider—all of which are board-certified nurse practitioners—a date and a time for your consultation. After you’ve filled out your details and confirm your appointment, you have the option of uploading photos of your skin and the products you’re currently using, so your provider can better understand your skin, and what products should be eliminated or added to your current routine. Then, on the day of your consultation, you’ll be sent a Zoom link to begin your session. I have sensitive, acne-prone skin that is currently going wild in isolation so I provided both pictures and a thorough breakdown of what was happening to my skin.

The Talking Stage

I clicked the Zoom conference link and met my skin expert of the day, Dr. Christina. What I expected to be a day of reckoning turned out to be an informative, 30-minute sigh of relief because, despite what I believed about my skin routine before my appointment, I had it under control. We spent the first few minutes going over my medical history. “Do you have any allergies? Are you on any medications currently? Any past medical history or anything of concern?” The list of questions the Dr. asked went as expected. Once we finished discussing my skincare journey, it was time to move on to my current routine.

Give It To Me Straight

“I love the fact that you’re using products with glycolic acid,” Dr. Christina said, referencing the photos of the skincare products I sent to her before our virtual meeting. Incorporating a glycolic acid, whether in your cleanser or toner, helps to exfoliate the top layer of the skin and “any surface pigmentation and blemishes that you get post-breakout.” After looking at the photos of my skin, Dr. Christina suggested I start focusing more on the reduction of acne and dark spots, and smooth texture.

Then, it was time to critique my current skincare routine products. To cleanse, I use Skinceuticals Glycolic Renewal Cleanser—a product Dr. Christina also uses in her lineup. Most days, I’ll follow up with Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, Ghost Democracy’s Lightbulb C serum and my Black Girl Sunscreen. While my current products have been doing a great job at reducing breakouts and dullness, Dr. Christina advised me to add retinol to the routine and sent a prescription off to my local pharmacy that very moment. My first experience with retinol, or its medical name tretinoin, was in college and was prescribed by a dermatologist who never instructed me on how to use the cream properly or warned me of the peeling that would ensue with frequent use. Dr. Christina broke it all down for me.

“Retinol is a really potent vitamin A. It’s the second most important product next to sunscreen for preventative and skin renewal. What it does is it turns on the receptors—collagen, elastin—and helps to renew the skin,” she explains. Retinol speeds up the process of skin renewal and pushes the new skin to the surface, which is why peeling occurs. Because of my sensitive skin, Dr. Christina prescribed the lowest dose of retinol (.025 percent), “but don’t mistake that for the strength,” she warned. “What you want to do is use a pea size and rub it on your face. You’ll look at it and say, ‘I should use more.’ Don’t use any more product because it doesn’t increase its strength; it increases the side effects, dryness and peeling.”

For my blemishes, Dr. Christina recommended Skinceuticals Blemish + Age Defense, which has five different acids in it to fight inflammation and limit the production of sebum (oil). “This serum works right away, whereas retinol takes a while to work,” she said.

To help brighten and fade dark marks, Dr. Christina suggested looking for vitamin C serums with powerful ingredients like kojic acid and tranexamic acid. She explained that I should use Skinceuticals Phloretin CF with Ferulic Acid because it has “three different brightening agents for pigment.” But how do you know what percent vitamin C you should be using on your skin?

“It’s very difficult,” she said. “Not only does it have to be pure, but what other ingredients are included to help absorb it and activate it.” I felt like I was speaking to my very own skincare encyclopedia. Any question I had, Dr. Christina knew all the answers.

What’s Next

The next and final part of our Zoom call was to discuss my diet. Everyone has food vices, and mine happens to be fried foods, cheese, and ice cream. But it’s the dairy part of my diet that has the most effect on my skin. “You want to eat foods that reduce inflammation and increase antioxidants like pomegranate seeds, sunflower seeds, carrots, and sweet potatoes.”

As my call with Dr. Christina ended, a representative from EverBody named Rachel joined the Zoom to wrap things up by confirming what Dr. Christina and I discussed earlier. After the call, Dr. Christina created a whole new skincare routine using her recommendations and sent me an email with the breakdown, plus what in-office treatments at EverBody I should look into once the lockdown ends. Even after our session, I emailed Dr. Christina a few questions, and she responded immediately, no automated message or secretary playing middle man, reassuring me that even amid the madness, my skin will be alright.

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