Review: PocketDerm

If you saw my “Take Two” post, you saw that I’ve been struggling with acne issues lately that have gotten in the way of any makeup attempts in my life. Specifically, once I got deeper into my half-marathon training about a month and a half ago (I finally ran the race this past Saturday, I’M FREEEEEE), I noticed that my pores were appearing more clogged than normal, particularly on my forehead, until it seemed as though every. single. pore. on my face was clogged.

Now, I have health insurance thanks to my job, but over on /r/SkincareAddiction, I’ve heard some horror stories of derm office visits, and I was hesitant about the possibility of having to shell out some serious cash for a potential prescription treatment.

Enter PocketDerm. The service has caught on like wildfire over on the subreddit in the past couple months. PocketDerm is a form of telemedicine (medical practice performed via electronic communication) founded by Dr. Nancy Satur and Dr. David Lortscher, both board-certified dermatologists based in San Diego, CA. For $19.95 a month, you will communicate with either Dr. Satur or Dr. Lortscher regarding your acne issues. Included in the $19.95/month fee are the consultations with your dermatologist and the shipment of your personalized prescription product.

Considering PocketDerm has a referral program where you can use someone’s referral code to get your first month free, and how desperate I was to find a solution to my acne woes, I took the plunge and signed out.

The registration process is very simple. After creating your account, part of which involves identifying your state of residency (PocketDerm is sadly not available in all 50 states and is not available outside of the US), you are matched with your dermatologist–Dr. Lortscher is mine–and, after giving them your credit card info, are asked to fill out a simple questionnaire that asks questions about your skin, any medications you’re taking, allergies, etc., the standard medical questionnaire. You are also asked to upload photos of the affected areas. This includes three shots of your face–front, left side and right side–as well as back or chest shots if you have acne in those areas. Once completed, the information and photos are sent to your selected dermatologist who will review the information before giving you your prescription.

I finished my profile around noon on a Thursday and heard back from Dr. Lortscher roughly two to two and a half hours later at which time I received my prescription as well as information on the active ingredients in my prescription. He also discussed the role my birth control plays in my acne (mine doesn’t really do anything to help, sadly) and gave me positive feedback on my current skincare routine that I decided to provide when asked for other information that wasn’t addressed directly in the questionnaire.

My prescription was shipped out that same day and arrived two days later on Saturday.

The adorably wrapped package.

The bag within with all the goodies.

The packaging is nice, neat, simplistic. I really enjoy the PocketDerm logo. 10/10 for presentation.

Inside the little goodie bag are your prescription and some recommended samples.

Itty bitty samples!

What I like most about the samples is that they are drugstore products, not anything obscure you would be unable to get without further assistance. My samples were from the Eucerin brand, which can easily be found at Target, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, any other drugstore.

The prescription bottle.

Again, very simplistic and neat package with their logo. This is your actual prescription.

Thou shalt (not) say my name

The active ingredients in my prescription are treitinoin, clindamycin and azelaic acid. All three ingredients require a prescription, and would normally each require their own separate prescription. Treitinoin is a retinoid that is used for treating acne, and clindamycin is an antibiotic as is azelaic acid, with the later helping to reduce inflammation. Your PocketDerm dermatologist can also suggest an oral medication in addition to this topical treatment, and will send a prescription to your pharmacy if you decide you’d like it as well. However, the amount for the oral medication is not covered by the $19.95/month fee, and you will have to pay an additional fee for it at your pharmacy. If you have insurance, you can use this to help pay for the medication. Dr. Lortscher recommended spironolactone for me but I declined for the time being due to potential side effects that I was worried would interfere with my training.

The topical is meant to be applied after cleansing and can then be followed by moisturizer after waiting a few minutes. If applying the topical soon after cleansing proves to be irritating, they recommend waiting 20 minutes in between cleansing and applying the topical, but I have had no issues with it. The topical applies really smoothly to the skin and has a nice, matte-like finish. My skin actually feels pretty soft after applying it.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my PocketDerm experience so far. The consultation with Dr. Lortscher was quick, easy and painless, and my prescription shipped to me very quickly. For getting the first month free, this has been a great deal! If I do continue with PocketDerm, I will have to pay the $19.95/month fee, but the nice thing about the referral code is that it not only gives someone else a free month but it gives me a $10 credit in return when someone uses my referral code.

As I stated above, the $19.95/month fee covers your scheduled consultations and product shipments. After your first consultation and shipment, your next of each is scheduled three months later. However, if you need to schedule a consultation sooner, or need your prescription sent to you sooner because you finished it before the three months are up, you can request either – for free. That’s right, extra consultations and earlier shipments are covered in that $19.95/month fee. No extra charges. You will also get plenty of follow-up emails from them filled with tips regarding your new prescription.

If you currently have a dermatologist and have an established relationship with them, I would not jump to recommend this service to you. There are just some things telemedicine cannot cover that an in-person interaction can. However, if you live in a rural area where access to a dermatologist means driving over an hour, or you do not have insurance and dermatologist visits would normally run you over a hundred dollars even before prescriptions, I would highly suggest looking into this service if it is available in your state. (Important note: Currently, PocketDerm is only for treating acne, not other skin conditions. Also, depending on the severity of your acne, they may still advise you to see a local dermatologist. YMMV).

Interested in trying PocketDerm and would like your first month free? Click this handy dandy link to the /r/SkincareAddiction megathread of referral codes!

What are your initial impressions of PocketDerm? Have you tried it yourself, and if so, what has your experience been like? What do you think of these moves towards teledermatology/telemedicine? Will this be the way of the future? Leave your responses in the comments below, as well as any questions you may have about PocketDerm. Hopefully I can answer from my experience so far!

Until next time dearies, stay well, stay beautiful! xx


The importance of rituals

My original plan was to post this yesterday, but in light of the death of Robin Williams, I’m glad that I pushed it off for another 24 hours. Before we begin, I’d like you to take a moment to give your loved ones a hug, whether that be your parent, your significant other, your children, your roommate, your friend, your pet, any or as many of the above as is close by. If no one is around, give them a call or send them a text, reminding them how much you love and care about them.

Life is hard, plain and simple. Each and every day, there are many challenges we face. You, my dear readers, are probably in school, or work a fulltime job, or are a stay-at-home parent (which should also fall under the “fulltime job” category), or are a mix that draws from all three categories. On top of the daily challenge that comes from having a set schedule of waking up, proceeding to do [insert occupation here] for how many hours out of the day, and then attempting to find a reasonable time to get to bed and regenerate before doing it all again, we get those curveballs thrown at us: unexpected bills, our car breaking down, something breaking in our residence, someone or ourselves getting ill, etc. Even during the weeks when we experience relatively smooth sailing, going through a more or less stagnant routine can be draining enough.

I’ve made the transition from fulltime student to fulltime employee and I still feel this. I feel the dread of the weekday life every Sunday evening, and this past Sunday was no exception. Made worse by the fact that my long distance boyfriend had to return home 150 miles away after being with me for the weekend, I couldn’t escape my tanked mood until I remembered, “Wait, it’s Sunday night! That means it’s masque night!” And that was the moment I realized how important my rituals are in carrying me through the monotony and helping me be ready to tackle another day.

For me, it involves setting aside time to pamper myself. As I’ve shared recently, I’ve been struggling with the condition of my skin on my face (updates on this to come soon), and one of things I’ve incorporated into my skin regimen thanks to /r/SkincareAddiciton is the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque every Sunday and Wednesday evening. I chose these two days because I view Sunday as the end of a long week, which for me at the moment includes a lot of physical training for my half marathon that definitely grimes up my face, and Wednesday is the perfect middle of the week day where I can do this, get over the hump and see myself through to the weekend. In addition, while the masque hardens, then once I follow it up with a mineral (baby) oil massage to help get out more gunk, I catch up on videos from my favorite beauty gurus on YouTube. The 15 minutes it takes the masque to harden is the perfect time to watch a tutorial or a product review.

You might think, “Jaimie, if you do this every Wednesday and Sunday, doesn’t that make it a routine, not a ritual?” While I do it routinely, the reason it is a ritual is because the focus is not on getting it done but about making it something for myself. My consistent focus every day is to treat my skin well by sticking with a beauty regimen that works, and technically I don’t need to do the masque and oil massage to keep my skin healthy, but it is a good added step and, more importantly, it is a way to pamper myself. I make sure to put this time aside on Wednesday and Sunday evenings to focus on things that I enjoy, which is learn more about beauty and makeup, while also taking care of myself. Not only am I doing something good for myself physically, but also mentally and emotionally by allowing myself to unwind, shut out everything else, focus on my interests, and do something that makes me happy.

It really is the little things in life that mean the most. Taking an hour two days out of the week to do this may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but trust me, it makes a world of difference. It’s not my only ritual. Another of my top rituals is, when I’m having an especially rough day, I will put aside my phone and computer, take a bubble bath if I can (which I unfortunately can’t do right now because of the state of the bathroom in this new house…you know, let’s just not talk about it), grab some sort of comforting snack and throw in one of my favorite movies before I reconnect to the world. Last night, after hearing the news of Robin Williams’ death, that was dark chocolate covered strawberries and Mrs. Doubtfire. It gave me time to unwind, process, and reflect on the wonderful career of an actor who was a huge part of my childhood.

What are rituals that are part of your life? They can be beauty related, food/cooking related, or anything you’d like to share. I’d love to hear about the things in your life that you do specially for you! If nothing comes to mind, I highly suggest adding some you-time to your schedule. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe only a half an hour once a week. The important thing is that it’s about you and only you, and can help give you just the right boost you need to make it past all the chaos and the bullshit that plagues our lives every day.

Until next time, dear readers, stay well, stay beautiful! xx

While the main focus of this blog is beauty and food, the constant focuses of my life that tie in very well with these two topics are wellness, positivity, and above all self love and maintaining personal health. The recent loss of Robin Williams has given us another opportunity to recognize the importance of these topics and the reality of mental illness. Please know there is absolutely no weakness to be found in seeking help, only the strength within you to fight for yourself and your right to exist. Always remember that you are not alone. If you are in the US and would like to talk to someone, or know someone who could use this service, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For international readers, please visit this link to be connected with someone in your home country.