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A Digital Dermatologist Appointment Helped Me Finally Get A Grip On My Rosacea

get harley
Is The Future Of Dermatology Digital?add Getty Images - Hearst Owned

The appearance of your skin shouldn’t affect your mood, confidence or quality of life – but in reality, when a bout of acne or rosacea appears it can be hard to keep your head held high. We may be edging slowly towards a more skin-positive world but, for many, a spot sticker is still only a plaster over a deeper wound.

While a dermatologist appointment has always been the best way to get to grips with whatever’s going on with your skin, coming face-to-face with an expert doesn’t come cheap – and for many, it’s entirely out of reach.

This is exactly where GetHarley comes in. Named after London’s legendary aesthetics hub, the digital service connects clients with the UK’s most acclaimed dermatologists (as well as aesthetic practitioners, facialists, plastic surgeons and skin doctors) for a one-to-one virtual consultation.

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Let’s get straight into the best part: a 30 minute appointment costs just £40, or £150 to get in front of a senior-level consultant dermatologist: a mere fraction of the cost of a traditional in-person booking.

So, what’s involved? Essentially, your consultation is much the same as an IRL appointment – you may be sat on your sofa, but the service is every bit as professional.

Your practitioner will start by asking a series of questions to get right to the root of your skin concerns and medical history, then prescribe the best course of action, including a suggested at-home product regime containing cosmeceutical products from a range of brands. (As no practitioner is associated with one single brand, you know you’re getting the most genuine recommendations for your skin and your budget.)

If you choose to purchase the products in your regime (it’s entirely optional, and you can just leave with the advice if you'd rather) you can do so with a few quick clicks, and a neatly packed parcel will arrive on your doorstep in a matter of days.

'The birth story of GetHarley comes from a disgruntled consumer, and that was me,' founder Charmaine Chow tells me. 'I couldn't access a clinician or clinical skincare easily and I thought: why is this industry so antiquated? So I created a platform and service that connects the general public with the best clinicians in the country at the click of a button, with bespoke product regimes delivered to your door. I call it no-nonsense skincare.'

If, at this point, this is all sounding a little too good to be true, trust me when I say the service is every bit as helpful as it sounds. I called on GetHarley when a recent rosacea diagnosis left me baffled as to what skincare I should actually be using.

The journey began with a questionnaire, which aims to ascertain your skin goals. On completion, I was presented with the option to upgrade to a consultant dermatologist appointment. (These are generally recommended for more complex issues such as cystic acne, dermatitis and rosacea).

On completion of the questionnaire, I was matched with Dr. Alia Ahmed, a dermatologist who specialises in chronic skin conditions. I'm already feeling hopeful – Dr Ahmed is a familiar face, and I know both how brilliantly knowledgable she is, and how in-demand her physical appointments are.

Within a week, I’m face to face with Dr. Ahmed and ready to bombard her with my every skincare conundrum. Can I use a retinoid? (Yes.) Should I exfoliate more? (No!) In the space of half an hour, she’s reviewed my current skincare regime (switch the cleanser, add an antioxidant), given me pragmatic advice on managing my skin concerns, and put together a new product routine for me to order through the site, involving prescription formulas (an Obagi retinoid and a high-strength azelaic acid treatment), essentials from Meder and a moisturiser from La Roche-Posay.

I choose to order the lot (it’s not often you get a dermatologist to custom-build your regime), and two days later it’s in my hands, along with the most detailed usage instructions from Dr. Ahmed. Safe in the knowledge that she is just a message away – and I can reorder any products from my account at any time – any anxiety I had about my skin’s condition has all but evaporated.

More than a quick fix for a flare up – although my consultation certainly ticked that box – the service set me on the right track for a total skin upgrade, with faded pigmentation, more even skin texture and amplified radiance all on the cards.

Of course, there are limits to what a dermatologist can do with confidence through a digital screen: Dr. Ahmed tells me that, while rosacea and acne are generally ok to advise on virtually, other skin conditions such as acute eczema do require an in-person appointment. (Don’t panic: your questionnaire will determine whether you can be treated digitally before you’ve parted with your cash.)

You might also choose to book in for more general skincare advice, or simply to ask a few questions. Essentially, the time is yours to use however you wish, and there’s no pressure to continue on to purchase any products.

This lack of commercial agenda – combined with access to the very best in the business – is exactly what makes GetHarley such a wise investment. You can stack up an expensive collection of over-the-counter skincare but, when it comes to more intricate complexion issues, the solution often lies in the pragmatic guidance (and sympathetic ear) of a qualified expert. To get that for less than the price of a prestige serum is something I highly recommend jumping on.

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