How do you know what you are using is right for you?


I’ve been using the Clinique 3-step skin care system for more years than I can remember. Both my gran and my mom were Clinique users and their products were always well advertised in the magazines I read, so when it came to me setting a skincare routine in my 20’s I naturally gravitated towards Clinique.


As the years went by my skin went through changes and what always bothered me was that when I went to a counter to ask one of the sales ladies to help me determine what products were best for me, there was no educated answers.


They asked me if my skin was dry or oily and gave me products based on my uneducated answers rather than analysing my skin to assess what I really needed.


When I entered my thirties, skincare became one of my primary concerns. I realised that if I wanted to age gracefully I needed to make sure that I was using the right products for me, so I set out to look out for an expert.


I came across Cherie Cochrane, the owner of Dermology in Morningside and upon reading her profile I knew she was who I wanted to seek answers from.Cherie specialises in Laser Rejuvenation and Chemical Peels for Anti-Ageing, Tightening, Pigmentation, Acne, Redness, Scarring, Lesions and Dark Skin Specific Treatments.


She has over a decade of experience in skin, laser and aesthetic treatments, but it wasn’t her speciality in treatments that caught my interest. It was a few words at the end of her profile; “After having your first consultation at Dermology with Cherie, you will leave here educated and with a proper plan to get the best results for your skin.”


An educated view and proper plan for my skin was what I sought and when I met with Cherie, she agreed with my sentiments that in order to set a skincare routine that is best suited for you, you need to seek out professional advice.


“If skincare is not your profession you need to go to somebody who is a professional in skincare. A skincare clinic is the best place to go. You also need to find out what the qualifications is of the person you are getting advice from, because that’s where it all starts.”


We began our discussion with over the counter products found at your local pharmacy, Clicks, Pick ‘n Pay or Dischem.


“There are lots of over the counter products that you can choose from that come in fancy bottles. There are even products that promote that they have gold dust sprinkled into their creams, which is all fare and well but what is gold going to do with enhancing the nutrients in your skin? There are lots of different marketing gimmicks and it’s not all about price either. It doesn’t mean to say that if a product is expensive that it is good quality for the skin.”


Step one, before purchasing any products, should be learning about skincare ingredients and seeking advice from someone who knows about skincare. “You need to trust them to advise you on the correct treatment plan.”


The first thing Dermology does is look at what type of skin you have and what your concerns are.


“Most people know about the normal ones from oily, combination and dry skin but then we go on to look at the skin further. Yes, you might have combination skin, but, do you have acne scarring? Do you have pigmentation problems, sun spots or sun damage? Do you have fine little broken capillaries? These are all things we need to take into consideration when choosing somebodies skincare.”


Despite cautioning about over the counter skincare products, Cherie was clear that they aren’t necessarily bad for you.


“They don’t do any harm really because the quality of the ingredients is low and they’re not very active. But for the same reason they don’t cause any harm, they don’t cause much good either.”


Cherie and Dermology recommend Pharmaceutical grade products as definitely much better for you.


“With pharmaceutical grade ingredients, as opposed to cosmetic ingredients, you can treat certain skin conditions more effectively, like your acne, sun damage and improving fine lines and wrinkles. But, because the ingredients are stronger, you need to be advised how to use it. Some products can only be used at night; they are not to be used during the day. Certain ingredients you can only use a certain amount, not a whole big scoop. You need to be instructed.”


Pharmaceutical grade products are not found in your retail stores where you can just go in and buy, you have to go to a medical practice, skincare clinic or a skincare professional to get them.


“I don’t believe that anyone who walks in should just be able to get any products. At Dermology we do complimentary consults for anyone who just walks in and is confused about what to use. We identify their concerns, what they want to improve and their budget as well. We have different ranges, some are more expensive, some midrange and some cheaper. It doesn’t mean to say that just because it’s expensive, it is good. We also find out what the person’s lifestyle is. How much are they willing to invest in their skin and how much time have they got? Some people don’t mind using 6 or 7 products, others, especially men want to keep it very basic. You have to tailor it to the person. There is no point in giving a guy whose very active and sporty 6 products when he’s only going to use 2.”


At a basic consult level, Cherie immediately picked up 2 issues that I would want to work on; pigmentation and skin texture. She also observed that due to my age I’d want to start working on premature aging and said that for my age bracket, the work should start ideally before now.


“For most of us, when we turn thirty we want to improve lines and wrinkles. Our skin starts to change a little bit, elasticity isn’t quite what it used to be, when we wake up in the morning we can see the sleep lines. The main thing with women in their thirties is to keep the skin hydrated; we need to put you onto high potent antioxidants to protect your skin against the sun.”


We spoke more about products and Cherie shared her insights on cleansers, moisturisers and retinols but before she got into any recommendations she introduced me to the next level that Dermology take in determining a skincare routine.


“We do a Digital Skin Analysis. A Digital Skin Analysis is a machine that looks into your skin, it takes photographs and analyses. As a professional, I can tell [what it is going to pick up] but it is nice to show you what I am seeing on your skin and what I mean by “you have sun damage/pigmentation.” It also takes a photo of your skin quality, analyses that area and shows you how you compare to your gender and age all around the world.”


When Cherie described the Digital Skin Analysis, I knew I was intrigued but I was not fully prepared for what I was about to see.


First, before my face was washed to remove my makeup (as I lay down), Lourette, Dermology’s practice manager, tested the oiliness of my skin. She took two samples by placing a little strip of oil absorbing paper on different areas of my face. First shock of the day, my skin was actually oily rather than combination as I’ve always been told.


Once my face was washed, the Digital skin analysis could begin. I was given an iPad to hold as Lourette stood aside me and guided me through what I was seeing.



The analysis went through the following areas; Moisture, Sebum, Pores, Melanin, Acne, Wrinkles and Sensitivity. As we went through each, she held a small photographic device to different areas on my face and took a snap. The image immediately showed up on the iPad in a very microscopic zoomed up fashion and graded whether I was good/ bad in the area and how I ranked to the average female in her thirties worldwide.


How to choose your skincare routine


After recovering from how creepy my skin looked up close and personal, the next shock came when they looked at sensitivity and did a scan over a pimple I had recently accidentally scratched in my sleep – seeing the damage I had caused to my skin in such an enlarged way, showed me why skincare professionals will always tell you that the worst thing you can ever do is pick your skin.


How to choose your skincare routine


Sensitivity in skin was not an area I knew about or had considered when deciding what products to use for my face. Lourette explained that sensitivity on the face could be visible as flushing (especially on cheeks/forehead) and as visible veins on any area of the skin, most typically around the nose corners, on cheeks and/or chin


“We all have different skin types. Some are more prone to sensitive skin than others. Dietary Ingredients, drinks, vigorous exercise, corticosteroids and of course SUNLIGHT are just some of the many factors that will trigger skin sensitivity. Therefore we always recommend to follow a healthy lifestyle, drink enough water and wear your sunblock every single day!”


After we finished the analysis, before jumping in to what she thought should be my skin concerns, Cherie asked me for my insight into what concerned me about my skin. Only after that did she say what she would tackle (mixed with what I wanted to tackle) and recommended a skincare range I had never heard of.


A few days later, I received a detailed email containing the Digital Skin Analysis, the full regimen she recommended – including treatments I could try if I wanted to intensify results (products can only take you to a certain point, she says) and I also received a quote on what the range would cost me.


As I emailed back and forth with my questions and concerns, they were all met with answers that satisfied my need to understand before doing. Very soon I’ll be starting a whole new skincare routine and for the first time in my life, I’m certain it will be the right one for me.


Want to get a Digital Skin Analysis at Dermology? Depending on the depth of the assessment, a session will cost between R350-R600. Read more about what they offer here and you can contact them on +27 11 883 1031.

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