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Can a Virtual Consultation Help You Get Better Skin From Your Couch? I Tried It


Writer Janell Hickman

Photo: Courtesy of Janell M. Hickman

If 2020 had a word, it would be “pivot.” Almost overnight, COVID-19 swept in and put everything on pause—from doctor’s appointments to weddings. Anxiety, stress and overall uncertainty about the future caught up with me, and my typically well-behaved skin was 100% freaking out. But going to the dermatologist was off the table, at least until reopening plans solidified.

Then, I started getting emails about skin care services going “virtual” and I was intrigued. Could I still get glowing skin without setting foot in an office? With nothing to lose (and TBH, no place to go) I decided to give it a whirl with Lakeisha Dale, a licensed esthetician, makeup artist and owner of MelaskinStudio in New York.

I asked Dale why she decided to extend her one-to-one service outside the walls of her newly opened Manhattan studio, which temporarily closed during the citywide shutdown. “[Virtual services] weren’t always a part of my offering … but then COVID-19 happened and I had to hurry up!” she explains. “It was something that I wanted to offer anyway, because I had clients outside of NYC or unable to get a facial immediately. This way, I can still build a relationship with new and existing clients.” Here, I share a play-by-play of my experience, plus Dale’s expert product recommendations.

Before The Appointment

After selecting a date and time to chat with Dale, I was prompted to fill out a pretty extensive pre-consult intake from. Here I detailed what my skin was like, pain points I was experiencing, current products I was using (hint: a lot!) and attached three photos of myself to help her assess my skin. The whole process took roughly 15 minutes including a few trips to the bathroom to grab my current products.

I inquired to Dale about why she starts with such an extensive pre-appointment form. “It gives me insight into what you’re using, your habits, what needs to be taken away, or if someone needs a full routine because they aren’t doing much.” Dale extensively researches each product clients share they are using to look at key ingredients.

The Consultation

To start, Dale asked me what prompted me to book an appointment (outside of writing a story), and I explained that I was experiencing a mix of breakouts, dryness and even a little dullness. From there, we jumped right into our 30-minute Zoom session.

From my pictures she noticed fine lines on my forehead (I miss you, Botox!). “[When I saw your images] I said ‘she’s probably experiencing some dehydration.’ Also, you shared that you drink one to two cups of coffee per day—coffee is a diuretic so it pulls out moisture. You need to make sure you are replenishing [water] accordingly,” she explained.

My current routine was a mix of two face washes (foam for a.m. and cleansing gel for p.m.), a hyaluronic acid serum that was on its last leg, a toner I didn’t love, a vitamin C serum and a botanical-based serum. Dale quickly pointed out that my routine was in good shape but missing a proper moisturizer, which would benefit my typically dry skin. “The oil [in a moisturizer] can seal in your other humectants like your HA serum,” she said.

Another suggestion: Take a closer look at the order in which I was applying my products. Dale recommended using my vitamin C serum not just at night, but during the day in tandem with sunscreen. Because it’s an antioxidant, vitamin C protects skin from free radical damage caused by environmental factors like sun and pollution. Using vitamin C under a broad-spectrum SPF that protects against UVA and UVB rays helps boost protection against concerns like hyperpigmentation.

Since I complained about dullness, we also discussed my exfoliation routine—which was inconsistent at best. Dale prefers acids for exfoliation, but used only as frequently as your skin type can tolerate. “I love the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel Pad Packettes. Those are great to add in two or three times per month,” when you feel like your skin looks dull or if you have a special event coming up, she says.

After the Appointment

Within 24 hours, Dale sent me a note outlining changes I should make to my routine and a few products that could make it better. She suggests her clients add one new product to their routine at a time to see how their skin responds, and she also follows up with each client roughly four weeks to check on their progress. Below is a sneak peek into my new skin care routine. 

Morning Routine

Cleanse: Cleanse for 30 seconds using your current face wash.

Tone: Spray a hydrating toner on a cotton pad and swipe across your whole face. Then, spray into your hands and press into your skin.

Serum: Add the Paula’s Choice Hylauronic Acid Booster to your current vitamin C serum and massage it into your skin.

Moisturizer: Next, massage the Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer into your skin.

SPF: Apply your SPF [note: I’m currently obsessed with Soleil Toujours Organic Set + Protect Micro Mist SPF 30 if you are going outside or if you do most of your work at home by a window that exposes skin to direct sunlight.

Evening Routine

Cleanse: Cleanse for 60 seconds using your current Emma Hardie Moringa Light Cleansing Gel.

Tone: Same technique as a.m. routine.

Serum: Massage Paula’s Choice Hylauronic Acid Booster into your skin.

Moisturizer: Massage the Paula’s Choice Water-Infusing Electrolyte Moisturizer into your skin, then add your current face oil on top.

Exfoliation: Exfoliate once a week, alternating between your current exfoliant and IMAGE Skincare’s AGELESS Total Resurfacing Masque. (“T​his exfoliant has beads in it, so I suggest only applying it as a mask and letting sit for 5 to 10 minutes total,” adds Dale. “There’s no need to manipulate with circular motions. You will feel some tingling due to the glycolic, lactic and salicylic acids.”)

With all this info I was 100% ready to get glowing. For those on the fence about booking a virtual consultation, I would encourage you to do it. Beyond being in the comfort of my own home, I also felt like I had Dale’s undivided attention, and I could ask as many questions as I wanted within the 30-minute timeframe without worry. But, for those with medical skin issues like acne or an allergic reaction, in-office appointments with a board-certified dermatologist remain your best bet—there’s only so much you can treat through the screen.





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