As anyone who’s ever engaged in slugging or flooding can tell you, social media is many things, but not always a source of truth for skin care. That’s why dermatologists Dhaval Bhanusali, M.D., and Muneeb Shah, D.O., have founded Aire, a platform that offers a three-pronged approach to skin care. Aire functions as an educational tool delivering data and research to dermatology residents (and eventually practicing dermatologists as well); a marketplace for dermatologists to purchase supplies and equipment, and a virtual skin store where patients and consumers at large can buy vetted skin care products and devices at discounted prices. Consider it a “shop my shelf,” if the shelf was stocked by medical experts.
Created to bridge the gap between a plethora of information and scientifically sound information, Dr. Bhanusali (he’s formulated products including Rhode and SkinMedicinals, and is at least partially responsible for Martha Stewart’s Sports Illustrated-worthy skin) and Dr. Shah (@doctorly on Instagram, where he has 992K followers) have combined forces to arm consumers with only the products and advice that will truly improve their skin.
Currently, the products that have been accepted to be featured on the consumer-facing skin store on airehealth.com are a mix of drugstore brands and physician-dispensed brands, including PCA, Sente, Heliocare, SkinMedica, Bioderma, Esthederm, and ROC, with more being added regularly. A panel of six dermatologists, including Dr. Bhanusali and Dr. Shah, decides what products are placed on the site. Brands must either have dermatologists as co-founders or have an advisory board that includes a dermatologist, as well as clinical studies supporting their products’ claims. Dr. Bhanusali describes it as a “science first approach. We won’t let brands on there unless there’s good research.”
Real-world experience is also part of what determines what brands make it to Aire’s skin store. That’s where the more than 1,000 dermatologists across the country who are already part of the Aire network come in, sharing the products they’ve found to be most efficacious among their patients. A good cream always, well, rises to the top.
Another issue Aire is hoping to tackle is doctors who push specific products because they have business deals with those brands.
“It shouldn’t just be me and what I carry in my office,” Dr. Bhanusali says. (Incidentally, Dr. Bhanusali doesn’t carry products in his office.) “I like the idea of everything being out there in the air. Product recommendations shouldn’t be driven by pressure to sell, but rather by what will best solve a patient’s skin issues. What we built out was to solve problems.”
There is an affiliate link where dermatologists can collect or donate any money they make off their product recommendations, but mostly the goal is to get products that work into the hands of people who need them — for less.
To that end, Aire is passing the benefits of bulk purchasing along to its consumers. Typically, what you’ll find on the site is discounted by 10% to 40% off average retail prices.
So, is this a case of social media and marketing versus science? Not exactly. Dr. Shah and Dr. Bhanusali are encouraging any doctor in their network to take to their social media channels to dispense accurate advice, the likes of which can be found on Aire. After all, “There are certain ingredients we all want our patients to use,” Dr. Bhanusali says.
All three channels of the site are active, if evolving, including the skin store, which is still receiving submissions from dermatologists and brands alike. But Dr. Bhanusali aims to scale slowly. “We want to be selective about who we bring on. It’s easier to have the right brands, not all brands,” Dr. Bhanusali says.