It’s no secret that skincare can get expensive. With the sometimes rare and high-potency of ingredients in certain products, tons of celebrity brands on the market and the costs of marketing and packaging involved in the industry, high-quality products can often do some damage to your credit card. New York-based dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali set out to change that with his digital platform, Skin Medicinals.
The company, founded in 2019 and now used by more than 500,000 patients, aims to connect people with dermatology prescribers and improve access to affordable topical medications.
“There are a lot of gaps in how we function day-to-day, particularly in the medical world, and so with Skin Medicinals, the idea was to solve a simple problem: How do we get more affordable medications to people?” he tells SI Swimsuit. “There are obviously a lot of barriers in how the pharma industry works and so it’s not really easy to do, but I think sometimes you have to start somewhere and then see where it goes.”
The Michigan State University alumnus is also the founder and lead dermatologist at Hudson Dermatology and Laser Surgery center and the creator of facial services clinic, Aesthetica Skin Lab, both located in Manhattan.
Save on basics
He notes that while it’s important to get a custom retinoid from a prescriber, minimalist, clean and effective drugstore products do exist at a super affordable price point.
He loves cleansers and moisturizers from La Roche-Posay and Avène, as well as all the products in Hailey Bieber’s skincare line, Rhode, the latter of which he provides the science-backed knowledge and advice for.
Splurge on specific formulations
“I don’t think that prescriptions should ever be inaccessible for people,” he continues. “I think what you splurge is the specifics like in between. For serums, I do believe formulation and ingredients matter and so while dupes are great, I tend to be a bit more cautious.”
With products that fall in the in-between steps of a minimal cleanser and moisturizer routine, it’s best to consult a dermatologist and be mindful about topical skincare.
“I’m probably one of the biggest advocates of why formulation matters. I always joke, if you gave Martha Stewart and I the same ingredients, we would make two different cakes,” he adds, lightheartedly. “And that’s how formulation works, right? Like you can have vitamin C, but what does that mean? What kind of vitamin C? What concentration? What is it combined with? How is it stabilized?”
Dr. Bhanusali and the 2023 SI Swimsuit cover star are close friends—and he also partnered with the entrepreneur on her CBD skincare line 86 Elm.
“I think unfortunately there’s a bit of a haze in terms of the transparency of how formulations work and how skincare is done,” he admits about the industry. “Part of what [my office tires] to do is really lean into the quality and the actual science of things and do our best to be the, the right chefs in the kitchen to get people what they want. The most fun thing I’ve seen is how much people like to continue to use products—after they purchase it, it becomes part of their routine. I think that’s a testament to the quality of formulation, which is super important, especially nowadays where I think transparency wins.”