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Dr. Fayne L Frey of FryFace: 5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Dermatologist

Compassion, patience and understanding. I try to put myself in my patient’s place as they are coming to me when they are most vulnerable. Patients are often fearful about having an unfavorable diagnosis.

As part of my series about healthcare leaders, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Fayne L. Frey, MD.

Commonly known as the Ralph Nader of the skincare industry, Dr. Fayne Frey is a New York-based, Ivy League-trained, board-certified dermatologist and skincare consultant and a nationally recognized expert in the effectiveness and formulation of over-the-counter skincare products. She frequently captivates audiences with her wry observations regarding the skincare industry, has consulted for numerous media outlets, including NBC, USA Today, and, the Huffington Post. and has shared her expertise on both cable and major TV outlets.

Dr. Frey is the Founder of FryFace.com, an educational skincare information and product selection service website that clarifies and simplifies the overwhelming choice of effective, safe and affordable products encountered in the skincare aisles.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What is your “backstory”? What led you to this very interesting career?

My career as a consumer advocate, and now an author, began decades ago. I’ve been a dermatologist for over thirty years and am the Founder of FryFace.com, an educational skincare website that simplifies skincare selection based on valid science. I don’t work for a skincare manufacturer nor do I sell my own line of products.

One afternoon a bright Ivy League-trained financier came into my office and dumped a bag of skincare products on the examining table. She asked one simple question, “How am I supposed to know what to use on my face every day?”

And it dawned on me, consumers have absolutely no idea what is in a moisturizer or in any other skincare product for that matter. The most important information on any skincare product is the ingredient listing, and even the most educated consumer, does not understand the chemical names on skincare labels.

So, I created FryFace.com. I received Invitations to speak on skincare, to clarify the sensationalism seen in the media and to debunk many of the skincare myths we see on a daily basis. It was after being a keynote speaker at a corporate event where I was dubbed “The Ralph Nader of the Skincare Industry.” I was asked to be a medical expert and contribute to media outlets such as CBS, USA Today, and Reader’s Digest. With encouragement from friends and patients, I decided to put much of this information into a book. The Skincare Hoax: How You’re Being Tricked Into Buying Lotions, Potions & Wrinkle Cream.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Many years ago, a representative from a very popular skincare company came into my office to promote a new hand cream. After the initial pleasantries, she handed me a tube of the new product and I proceeded to read the ingredient listing on the back label. After a brief review, I looked up at her and raised an eyebrow as the formulation looked awfully familiar. This new hand cream had the same ingredient listing as the Moisturizing Body Cream and the Moisturizing Body Cream for Baby. Her exact words were, “actually, it’s the same product, repackaged.” What bothered me wasn’t that the product was repackaged and called something different, but that it was sold at a much higher price per ounce. I wondered, how many consumers looking for a hand cream are going to realize this? My mission to educate consumers began.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Although I can’t recall any funny mistakes that I made, I can tell you a not so funny mistake many women make when it comes to skincare. After attending one of my speaking engagements many years ago, a patient came into my office and shared this story with me. Prior to hearing my talk, she told me that she had thousands of dollars of skincare bottles sitting on her vanity. She said she couldn’t find the time nor did she have the desire to apply them and felt guilty every time she saw those bottles and jars staring at her like an accusing mob. When she got home from the lecture, she went over to her vanity and with a sweeping motion, used her extended arm and swept all those creams and lotions into a big black Hefty garbage bag. She replaced that army of products with sunscreen and a moisturizer. During her office visit she thanked me. She said, “I feel absolutely liberated. No more guilt.”

Lesson learned: A simple skincare regimen is all you really need.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

The Skincare Hoax: How You’re Being Tricked Into Buying Lotions, Potions & Wrinkle Cream, my first book, is my latest and very exciting project. My mission is to help consumers select safe, effective and affordable skincare products that are truly good for their health based on valid science. I want to educate consumers so that they are mindful of the influences that beauty campaigns and marketing ads have on their psyches and cognizant of the messages that feed off of their insecurities, oftentimes making them feel inadequate. It is only when a consumer is knowledgeable about a product and has reasonable expectations will they be able to make truly informed decisions regarding skincare.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m a firm believer that no one finds success alone. My parents have been the guiding light and the wind to my back for my entire life. I’ve received support and encouragement from members of my immediate and extended family, in particular, my daughter Shay, who has shared her professional and creative expertise with me time and time again. And from too many friends to name here but they know who they are.

I’m grateful for those in the media who have allowed me to share my articles and my expertise with their audiences, in particular, Pat Salber, MD, Editor-in-Chief from The Doctor Weighs In and Leslie Farin publisher of 50PlusToday.

And for all the inspiring teachers I’ve had in my life, for my colleagues with whom I’ve had the good fortune to collaborate with and learn from and for the cosmetic chemists, editors, other authors, literary agents and publishing and marketing specialists who have guided me throughout this entire process. I feel especially indebted to my patients, who have shared their concerns with me for years which has allowed me to better understand the influences marketing has on all of us. And I have the deepest of gratitude for my dedicated office staff, for whom without I would not be able to do what I do.

Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?

When discussing skincare with my patients, the topic is almost always about anti-aging. That poor wrinkle, it has become such a scapegoat. What anti-wrinkle cream should I buy? What works? What doesn’t? The fact is, aging is an inevitable gradual process that occurs in every member of every species on the planet. Yet somehow, somewhere, it has become a battle.

Why this obsession with looking younger, as if youth is some sort of accomplishment. All too often, to feel better about herself, a woman will freeze her face and plump up her lips. She will purchase an ounce of an “anti-aging” cream for $60, $100 or $400…up to $6400 per pound despite the fact that science has yet to find a single ingredient or product that can reverse the aging process. We live in a culture with unattainable beauty standards, one that sends the message that an aging face is unacceptable but a frozen expressionless forehead and swollen lips are. If not for ourselves, then perhaps for our daughters and granddaughters, we should reevaluate and stop reinforcing these harmful cultural norms.

Joan Chittister wrote an enlightening book called The Gift of Years. I refer to it time and time again. It changes the face of aging from a battle to a blessed process. And reminds us of the benefits of living a long life and what good fortune it is to be able to do so.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve had the good fortune to meet thousands of fabulous women in my 30 years of practice. Stay-at-home moms, accomplished athletes, CEOs of major corporations and smaller businesses, volunteers, teachers, nurses, kind, giving, and forgiving women. Yet, almost all of them feel inadequate about some physical imperfection, some slight flaw they have absolutely no control over. It may be a wrinkle from having laughed for years, hair that is too curly, skin that is too light or too dark. In an attempt to change how they are feeling about themselves, I ask a few questions. Do you consider yourself a giving person? Are you compassionate? Have you ever cared for a sick family member, a friend, or a neighbor? More often than not, I see the positive affirmation, the best face lift ever, a smile. I see her perspective change, at least for that moment. I see my patient like herself for who she is, rather than dwelling on her perceived flaws. My goal: to help women realize how truly awesome they already are.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant to you in your own life?

The one quote that inspired me to complete this book came from my friend and role model, a woman of great character and talent, the late award winning New York Times best-selling author, Mary Higgins Clark. I met the idea of writing a book with much trepidation. I was too concerned with what others would think. I am an active person. I run five to seven miles every morning before I spend hours in a busy dermatology practice. I just didn’t think I’d have the time for such a formidable task. I made every excuse why I shouldn’t write the book yet the thought of doing so persisted. The media advocates for the media. Skincare companies advocate for their shareholders. I kept asking myself, who is advocating for the consumer? One afternoon I shared my thoughts and fears about the project and asked Mary her advice. With her quick witted charm and without any hesitation, she said three little words, “Finish the book.”

Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Dermatologist’’ and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Compassion, patience and understanding. I try to put myself in my patient’s place as they are coming to me when they are most vulnerable. Patients are often fearful about having an unfavorable diagnosis.
  2. Education. Patients deserve a physician who is well educated, who has medical and surgical skills that are refined and up-to-date. Medicine is a changing field. I continue to learn every day.
  3. Gratitude: As I detailed in a previous question, I’ve been blessed. And as I have learned over the years, gratitude brings happiness, not the other way around.
  4. Communication skills. I try to take the time to listen to the patient and be honest and kind with my responses. I also like to add a dose of appropriate humor as I’ve found that laughing often puts the patient at ease.
  5. Humility. Although I am a lifelong learner, I am honest with myself about my limits. I am willing to admit when I don’t know something and feel comfortable collaborating with another specialist or referring the patient elsewhere when I feel it is in their best interest.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a dermatologist? Can you explain what you mean?

Dermatologists are medical doctors who treat more than acne. They attend four years of medical school, an additional one to three years of training before they complete another three year dermatology residency. Dermatologists are the true skin experts who diagnose and treat over 3000 diseases of skin, hair and nails.

Regarding skincare, myths are abundant.

Let me clarify a few:

  1. You don’t need a silk pillowcase.
  2. You don’t need to drink eight glasses of water a day.
  3. You don’t need a night cream. Ingredients do not know the time of day.
  4. If you shave, the hair will not grow back thicker.
  5. “Natural” skincare ingredients are not safer than synthetic ones.
  6. You do not need to exfoliate your skin. The skin exfoliates all on its own.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

My movement would emphasize wellness over beauty and would begin with the belief system that self-worth is defined by who you are not by what you look like. That health comes from a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and adequate sleep. That optimal skin health and appearance comes from avoiding direct sun exposure and wearing sunscreen daily, liberally and often. That kindness matters. Gratitude matters. Health matters. And none of these things comes in a bottle or a syringe. And lastly, my movement would remind women that they are already awesome the way they are.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Oprah Winfrey, one of the world’s most respected philanthropists of our time. She has overcome unimaginable obstacles and is devoted her life to helping others. She is a true inspiration!

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

I hope your readers will visit FryFace.com and check out the blog where they will find helpful information. They can also contact me by filling out the Contact form on the site. I am also on LinkedIn

Articles and other valuable content can be found here:

FryFace | Facebook

FryFace/Instagram

Thank you so much for these wonderful insights! We wish you continued success.

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