The big shift in skincare marketing: Authoritative doctor to skin health guide

Hamsini Shivakumar and Naheed Akhtar from Leapfrog Strategy Consulting emphasise the evolving significance of dermatologists as skincare shifts from beauty to health, from aesthetics to self-care, urging brands to recognise this transformation

Hamsini Shivakumar
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Societal views on beauty have evolved over time. In the past, there was often a narrow and conventional standard of beauty that most women felt pressured to adhere to. Beauty was all about physical appearance. However, as society has progressed, so has our understanding of beauty.  Today, in fact, there’s a shift from beauty to self-care. The concept of beauty has expanded to encompass a broader and more holistic approach to health and well-being. Today, self-care isn't just about looking good; it's about feeling good mentally, emotionally, and physically. It involves practices and activities that promote overall well-being, reduce stress, and enhance the quality of life.

Self-love is indeed a significant aspect of this evolution. When individuals practise self-care and prioritise their well-being, it often leads to increased self-esteem and self-worth. This, in turn, motivates them to continue caring for themselves. It becomes a positive cycle where self-care and self-love reinforce each other.

In this modern understanding of self-care, people recognise that taking care of themselves isn't selfish; it's essential for their health and happiness. It's about nurturing their physical and mental health, setting boundaries, managing stress, and finding balance in their lives. This shift in perspective has been a valuable step toward promoting a healthier and more compassionate approach to self-care.

Since there's been a shift from looking beautiful to looking your best self, in recent years, the role of dermatologists in the skincare industry has undergone a remarkable transformation. For a long time, dermatologists were seen as medical authority figures whose expertise was sought when individuals faced skin problems. Their word was considered final in matters related to skin treatments. However, with the rise of social media and the changing dynamics of consumer engagement, dermatologists have taken on various new roles.  These range, from being users and influencers to fun figures in the daily skincare narrative. We explore this development in greater detail below:

Dermatologists as an authoritative doctor

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A post shared by Sebamed India (@sebamedindia)

In this video, the Dermatologist assumes the traditional role of an authority figure in skincare.  He is steeped in professionalism and expertise. The setting is a clean, well-lit clinic, and the dermatologist/doctor is in formal attire, a symbol of medical authority. The video begins with the dermatologist confidently explaining a skin care issue (acne),  providing scientific information, and offering treatment solutions.

The dermatologist's body language exudes confidence and knowledge, using gestures to emphasise points. The white background is an indicator of the clinical setting, establishing trust and credibility. The primary signifiers here are the dermatologist's attire, the clinical environment, and the language used.

Dermatologist as a User

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A post shared by The Derma Co (@thedermacoindia)

In this video, the dermatologist takes on the role of a skincare user, sharing his personal experience with a product. The shift here is from authority to relatability and empathy. The video is shot in a casual, home-like environment, with the dermatologist dressed in everyday clothes. He speaks informally and candidly about his own skin issues and how the product has helped him.

The personal use of the product by the Dermat and the narration along with it, establishes a connection with the viewers, making them feel like the Dermat is just like them. The close-ups in the video provide concrete evidence of the product's efficacy. The Dermat’s willingness to share information openly about the ingredients creates authenticity and trust. The key signifiers here are the casual setting, relatable language, and personal application of the product.

Dermatologist as an influencer

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A post shared by Dr. Aanchal Panth I Dermatologist (

In this video, the Dermat dons the role of an influencer, endorsing a skincare product. Here we get to see consumerism and persuasion. The video features Dermat enthusiastically promoting a skincare brand, showcasing the product, and explaining its benefits. She delves into the product's ingredients, application process, and how it can address specific skincare concerns.

The use of phrases like "go to product”, and “do give this a try”  taps into the persuasive power of language. Her body language exudes excitement and positivity, enhancing the desirability of the product. The sunscreen here itself becomes a signifier of beauty and self-improvement. The influencer role is reinforced by the dermatologist's engagement with the audience, asking for comments and likes, and the presence of brand hashtags. Here, the main signifiers are the product, persuasive language, and engagement tactics.

Dermatologist as a fun figure

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A post shared by CeraVe Skincare (@cerave)

In this video, the dermatologist embraces a playful and entertaining role, taking a backseat to the skincare brand as the lead. The content here is marked by humour and lightheartedness. The video features the dermatologist in a miniature form as a supporting character in a skit, where the skincare product takes centre stage. The dermatologist's role is to provide expert guidance but in a fun and engaging manner.

The use of humour, props, and exaggerated expressions creates an entertaining atmosphere. The dermatologist's playful interactions with the product and his exaggerated reactions serve to make the product memorable and enjoyable. The brand logo and product packaging become prominent signifiers, as they are central and sacred to the storyline. Here, the dermatologist is a facilitator of the brand's narrative, contributing to the product's identity and appeal.

With the shift in the meaning of skincare, from beauty to health, from looking good to self-love and care, the relevance and role of the Dermatologist has undergone a sea change.  From sitting in the periphery, treating acute skin and hair problems, they have now come into their own.  They have found a role and relevance in the everyday skin care needs and routines of consumers.  This has in turn led to a change in their public/media persona, from being authoritative doctors to users, influencers, and fun figures.  They represent themselves more more as consumers’ friends helping build our personal skincare routines in a gamified way.

Understanding this key transformation is crucial for both dermatologists and brands aiming to navigate the evolving landscape of skincare marketing.

influencer Hamsini Shivakumar Leapfrog Strategy Consulting beauty skincare health skincare marketing doctor dermatologist