Creating a solid skincare routine should be high on your list, but where to start? There are so many different products out there to choose from. The good news? Sydney Givens, Board Certified PA-C, is doing all the leg work for us.
She started Skincare By Sydney to help patients create medically-backed skincare routines and bridge the gap between medical dermatology, skincare and esthetics in a holistic way. We had the opportunity to chat with her about why she founded her company, how she is working to raise the profile of the PA-C, and balancing her career while being a busy mom.
Can you tell me a bit about why you started Skincare By Sydney, how it works, and what you hope to achieve?
What an honor to be chatting with you! The short answer is that I started Skincare By Sydney so I can better serve my patients. The long answer can be explained in six main points:
1. Working clinically as a Dermatology Physician Assistant (PA), I realized there is a disconnect between medical Dermatology prescriptions (for acne, rosacea, personal dermatitis, fine lines, etc.) and skincare, which has ingredients that are medically researched. Skincare is not part of traditional medical training even though it benefits medical conditions that also require prescriptions. Skincare products are adjuncts to prescriptions and then serve as the maintenance treatment once prescriptions are phased out. With that in mind, I found that patients need a strong skincare plan in order to discontinue their prescriptions without causing a flare up.
2. I also wanted to answer a common question, “Are the medical-grade products sold in the spa worth the price?” I started from an anti-aging standpoint, testing products myself beginning with eye cream. I wanted to help my patients answer this question- some products are worth the money and can’t be replicated, but why? And in which steps can I opt for a less expensive product? And which products are most effective?
3. Insurance was also a big factor in starting Skincare By Sydney. I regularly saw patients whose insurance wouldn’t cover topical medicines, but only antibiotic pills. This really kicked off my journey with drugstore skincare, which does offer wonderful treatments for acne, but with a much lower barrier for entry. For true success, topical and oral treatments need to be layered together, and then the antibiotic pills removed. Taking antibiotic treatments is not a long term solution in skincare treatment, and antibiotic resistance is a public health concern I take very seriously.
4. There is a huge segment of the population who wants to age gracefully, and while they aren’t having any particular skin concerns, they want to discuss their skincare while they are at their yearly skin check with their Dermatology provider. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t pay for skincare, so that extra time isn’t built into dermatology appointments. I wanted to be able to spend time with patients to answer questions and discuss preventative options like topical and laser treatments, which is impossible when you have 30-40 more patients to see that day!
5. Cost was also a huge factor in creating Skincare by Sydney. Insurance copays and billing are very high because Dermatology is considered a specialty. I disliked seeing someone have to pay for an actual medical visit when they were really only coming in to discuss skincare. So, I set out to create a space where I can offer patients more time and better information, for less than a typical medical visit.
6. Last (but certainly not least!) I wanted to increase access to factual skincare knowledge for people with busy schedules that could do a virtual consult, but not easily make it into the office.
My answer to these problems/frustrations swirling in my head was to create virtual consults through a website, sydneygivens.com! On the site, I created a page where you can select a 1-or-2 consult package, then take a quiz, then meet with me virtually. After our virtual consult, I create a personalized regimen for you, and link the recommended products directly in your account. I also created a regimen page for educational purposes to show recommended daily, weekly, monthly , and yearly routines.
Increased access to skincare knowledge and using hard-earned money appropriately is the ultimate goal.
Where do you most often recommend people start on their journey to creating their perfect skincare regimen?
Sunscreen all day every day for everyone! Next up is adding a retinoid (unless pregnant or breastfeeding), glycolic acid, physical exfoliation, and Vitamin C serum. Daily sunscreen, retinoid, and Vitamin C are often called the Holy Grail or Holy Trinity of skincare for healthy, glowing skin and graceful aging.
I like to add exfoliation to this because as we age, it takes longer for our skin cells to naturally slough off and renew themselves. Chemical exfoliators like glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid and retinoids are also great treatments for breakouts. I love the efficiency of these products.
After evaluating a patient’s skin, there is a list of ingredients that need to be added into the skincare routine at some point. This is what makes up a comprehensive skincare routine.
With winter fast approaching, do we need to change the products we use? Or can we stick to the same approach year-round?
Yes, it’s time to add more hydration. There are 2 ways to do this. One is in the moisturization step; another is in the cleanser step. Changing to a creamy or milky lotion cleanser is great to add into your routine either daily or as-needed. Personally, I like to have one cleanser in the shower and one at the sink. If you’re particularly breakout prone you can still use a cleanser and toner with active ingredients to prevent and treat because you’re hydrating in other steps. I have also found cleansing balms (my favorite is fragrance-free Pond’s Cold Cream) as a way to add hydration too, especially for those with naturally drier skin. Another trick is adding a hydrating mask into your routine. I love the Epionce Enriched Firming Mask because it can be kept on overnight and serve as a thicker moisturizer as needed.
You’re working to raise the profile of the PA. Tell us a bit about what it takes to become a PA-C, and why you hope to raise awareness for this profession.
PAs increase access to quality care. For example, growing up in small town Alabama there was a 6 month wait to see a dermatologist. With the addition of PAs, the wait time decreases and patients are ’screened’ so to speak, so that they are seen by trained and experienced eyes. The PA profession is a win-win for everyone.
PAs are taught in the medical model like physicians, and collaborate with physicians on a medical team. The sign of a good PA is knowing when to call in the physician for a second opinion. This is my guiding mantra as a PA.
You’re also a busy working mom, how do you balance it all?
For me, it’s impossible to do it all and truly take care of myself, but I’m trying! I left a very demanding job in February after months of trying to improve the schedule and travel. I took a financial risk to focus on Skincare By Sydney full time. The real secret is, because I left my other job, I am able to create balance I didn’t have before. Now, I don’t work clinically 5 days per week, which means I don’t have to work on Skincare By Sydney only during early mornings and late nights. I also gave myself the gift of working in an office that appreciates me and does not treat me as replaceable- it works wonders for your mental health!
Balance is a constant goal, which means constant adaptation. I’m not 100% hands-on in everything like I prefer to be, but I’ve learned I cannot not waste time second-guessing and feeling guilty about decisions. I have an extremely helpful family and husband that I lean on a lot. I really enjoy my role as mother and want to outsource that the least.
My favorite form of self care is a skincare mask and hot green tea. It doesn’t take much time and helps me feel balanced. Lighting a candle is a simple pleasure I add when I remember!
Where can we connect with you or sign up for a consultation?
Sydneygivens.com/consult takes you straight to the consulting page and the options are explained there. I also schedule through the Southern Institute of Plastic Surgery. The electron medical record allows virtual consults no matter where a patient lives. This is an added benefit for patients living in AL or FL, where I am licensed and able to write prescriptions. It also allows me to have medical history on file, as this information can affect treatment for some skin conditions.
I encourage everyone to schedule yearly skin exams with their local Dermatology group and understand prescription options as well, which is the benefit of talking skincare with a Dermatology PA, like me. A personalized skincare routine is key for success, so it’s never a waste if a consultee could benefit from prescriptions, wherever they live.
Lastly, I am available via email to answer questions, offer encouragement, and ensure success!