What the Pros Really Think About Subscription Skin Care

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Whether you hate the concept or you count on their delivery every month, subscription skin care services like Proactiv or Rodan + Fields are bigger than ever with their regimens becoming more tailored to specific skin types and their lines branching out into different beauty arenas. So with all the hype surrounding the topic (and negative views often associated with it), we had to ask the experts what their take was on these convenient mail days.

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Q: What are your feelings on subscription skin care services?

A: "These one-size-fits-all prescription skin care systems have become a major trend, and rightfully so,” says Arielle Panarello, medical aesthetician at Union Square Laser Dermatology, explaining that the appeal for these kits stems from taking the guesswork out of choosing which skin care products your skin needs. However, she also notes that it’s crucial to remember that there really isn’t such a thing as one-size-fits-all. “What’s good for your best friend may not be right for you,” she adds. "Everyone’s skin is uniquely theirs, and sometimes it takes time to find what really works for you."

Beverly Hills dermatologist Ronald Moy, MD, agrees, saying that systems like Proactiv and Rodan + Fields can help some people with their skin care problems, like how the benzyol peroxide in Proactiv will help those with acne caused by bacteria, but, for example, may not help those whose acne is caused by other factors like clogged pores, overactive sebaceous glands, diet or their hormones, or those who need systemic antibiotics or Accutane.

Another factor to consider with these systems is that innovative and specific ingredients aren’t likely to be housed in the tubes. “There are many new ingredients in topical anti-aging products such as DNA repair enzymes and growth factors that will not be contained in a subscription-type system,” explains Dr. Moy. “Patients who have bags under their eyes, fine lines, loose skin or sun damage all need different skin care ingredients.” Dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, says these kits are fine to use, but there’s a better option. “In-office dispensed skin care that is customized to the particular needs of the patient will almost always provide superior results.”

On the other hand, if you’re treating your skin with these products (or thinking about starting), don’t be afraid to look beyond the glossy labels and do your own research. “If you’re doing your homework and really looking into the different brands offering these types of services, their claims and their ingredients, go for it!” says Panarello, adding that it’s always the best policy to ask a professional for their advice before starting any type of severe treatment on your skin.

Verdict: While these one-size-fits-all systems are often marketed at a good price point and beneficial to some, office-dispensed skin care customized to your skin’s unique needs will always be the top solution. If that’s still not an option, a consultation from a board-certified dermatologist (they will tell you what your skin needs, and what you should avoid using on it) is the best place to start before diving in.