Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali’s office is in New York City. But, on any given day, he could be in Miami or Los Angeles, or just about anywhere else, working on one of the various side projects that keep him busy both in and out of the dermatology office.
Dr. Bhanusali has founded multiple companies including Skin Medicinals, a prescribing platform allowing dermatologists to custom-create formulas for their patients at lower prices than traditional prescriptions. There’s also HairStim Labs, which similarly aids in the creation of products helping patients experiencing hair loss, and Aire Health, which lets dermatologists create over-the-counter skin-care routines from vetted brands, at a discount. In addition, he’s an adviser to Ephemeral — the long-lasting, but not permanent, tattoo startup — and the dermatologist-in-residence for Hailey Bieber’s Rhode.
Dr. Bhanusali joined the Glossy Beauty Podcast to discuss his various businesses, including how he works with Hailey Bieber on Rhode and how he believes dermatologists can be most effective on social media. The excerpts from the conversation, below, have been slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
On working with Hailey Bieber to launch Rhode
“Hailey is a dear friend. We were introduced through mutual friends that we had known for a while. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of people come to me for formulation advice or consulting or whatever. And to be honest with you, most times — I’d say nine out of 10 times, if not more — we say no. … We did a Zoom back in 2020, just to meet each other. Within 10 seconds of talking to [Bieber], you know that she is incredibly brilliant, very normal and very passionate. … We were trying to figure out whether there was a good connection.
As somebody who has had perioral dermatitis and sensitive skin, she’s had a lot of skin issues that she has been open about. … I think, in the celebrity world, people are so terrified of not being perfect. And she was very vulnerable and honest with her followers and fans, and there needs to be more of [that]. … I’ve been so impressed by how all in she’s been. … She’ll send me research and studies and ask my thoughts. … It’s been fun to watch this little idea that was such an important thing to her grow into this large, beautiful platform.”
On how dermatologists should use social media
“What does that influence actually mean, right? [Social media] is a medium for you to hopefully spread positive messages to people who might be a bit lost. As a doctor, the white coat gives us a platform where people think that we’re more trustworthy, and that’s a positive. We might get more followers because of it. But the negative is that we definitely have more responsibility, and we have to take that seriously. So you can’t do things that compromise the integrity of our profession, our patients, our staff or ourselves. Rather than an opportunity to get new patients, I use it as an [opportunity] to educate people.”
On creating Aire
“What Aire has become is hopefully like a validation point. There are your Sephoras and Ultas of the world, there’s your DTC, social media, websites, influencers — and now [with Aire], we have this new vertical where [you’re getting products] through your dermatologist. We digitized the process. The average derm sees 30-50 patients a day and gives maybe two to three recommendations each — or maybe four or five, depending on the patient. And instead of sending them to Amazon or Duane Reade or wherever, we just have the product shipped to the patient and we can negotiate discounts on their behalf. … Brands have to apply to get on there. We have dermatologists vet the studies and vet the brands. They have to be science-oriented, and there has to be some sort of scientific basis for why you should be in front of millions of patients, potentially, and thousands of doctors. We’ve created this bar where you have to meet it, and the cream rises to the top.”