many of our new clients come to us with the same questions, so we’ve provided the FAQ’s below to hopefully help answer any questions you may have. before booking, please thoroughly read our FAQ’s page to make sure we are the right fit for you – working with us is an investment in time, daily effort and resources for all involved. if after reading this thoroughly and carefully, you still have questions, please email us at frontdesk@skinsalvationsf.com so that we can better inform you of our process.

what makes skinSALVATION different?

for starters, we were the first holistic skincare clinic to specialize in adult acne to open in san francisco back in 2008 – which means we’ve been doing this for over 10 years.

we only hire the best estheticians in san francisco, who then go through a very thorough and rigorous 4-8 week training process. we have hired new esthetician graduates who’ve said that our training program is tougher than actual esthetician school itself. from theory to hands-on, we are neurotic about the details.

most, if not all, our team have had acne that’s now – with our program – successfully under control. so, we completely understand what you are going through, because we have gone through it too! AND, our work has been so life-changing that several of our team members are actually clients turned-skinSALVATION employees.

our team is not paid on commission, so there is never any sales pressure. if and when our estheticians recommend a product or resource (like seeing a naturopath or acupuncturist), we do so because we feel strongly that you need it – NOT because we are trying to get a cut. our #1 goal is always to get you your healthiest and clearest, and we are truly looking out for your best interest, whether you are a client of ours or not.

we sell products that we have tested to be truly acne-safe – meaning that none of our products will ever break you out, or clog your pores, unless you are actually allergic to a specific ingredient within the formulation. with our expert treatments and close guidance and support, you will be in the best care our industry has to offer. (some of our products are made by manufacturers that change their formulas – usually to non-acne-safe ones – of which is out of our control, but do adapt and make changes to our offerings in these cases).

our goal is to empower you with the knowledge you’ll need to stay clear once we successfully purge all the acne you’ve come into our clinic with.  you won’t need to be married to regular skin treatments for the rest of your life, so long as you understand and employ the philosophy of the acne-safe lifestyle, so that you can make informed decisions (and maybe even compromises), and know how your skin will be affected.

how can i become a skinSALVATION client?

we are excited to be able to help clients that are motivated to do what it takes to get clear. this is NOT a problem that you can just throw money at, and will go away with little to no effort or patience.

we have several approaches on how to become a client of ours, whether you are local to the san francisco bay area, or miles away. in any case, please thoroughly read our FAQ’s page to make sure we are the right fit for you – working with us is an investment in time, daily effort and resources for all involved.

  • for those local to SF, you may book an in-clinic, 2-hour initial consultation appointment, using our online scheduler.
  • if you are not able to come into our clinic (or are tight on time), you may book a 1-hour remote consultation, conducted via skype or phone.
  • either way, you can get started on your journey to clarity by using our signature acne-safe skincare products available in our online shop.

many clients have found clarity using our products and our online library of acne-safe lifestyle resources on their own (via our blog, instagram, & pinterest), but this approach requires even more of your time, diligence and self-discipline. booking a consult with us will make things much more efficient and your clearing process, faster.

all new clients looking to work with us to clear their acne must complete an initial consultation appointment, however one is not mandatory if you are looking to purchase skincare products.

what happens during the consultation?

whether in-clinic or remotely, we pride ourselves on our in-depth, no stone left unturned, intake process.

during your initial consult appointment, we will teach you exactly how acne works (so that you understand your daily choices and how it affects acne formation). we’ll then go over your skin, acne and health history, your current lifestyle (including stress management, hormone and gut health, diet, etc) in order to discover which imbalances are creating and exacerbating your acne. after that, we’ll create a treatment plan for you to correct those imbalances to clear you up, and teach you the tools needed in order to stay clear for life.

this appointment will create the foundation upon which our treatments and products are built upon, which will truly be the key to getting clear for the long term.

for consults held in-clinic, we’ll also cleanse and analyze your skin, take baseline photographs to track your progress, do a few test extractions and test products to ensure no allergic reactions. time permitting, we may also conduct an audit of your current skincare products to identify which ones have been problematic, and how they may have been affecting your skin.

the average duration of the in-clinic appointment is 1.5 to 2 hours, and the remote consultation is 1 hour.  PLEASE NOTE that a full treatment is not included within these appointments (see below for an explanation why).

i'm coming from another acne clinic. do i still have to have to go through the consult process?

in one word – yes.  different acne clinics have different philosophies.  after all, if you were already clear, you wouldn’t have to come see us, right?  we have found that these clients more often than not need to be reeducated on the acne safe lifestyle that is so necessary for clarity to be achieved, and skincare regimens reevaluated.

what we offer these clients is this: you can book a consult, and if the intake process is more of a quick review, we will allot the rest of the scheduled time for a full extraction session (sans chemical peel).  however, if the intake process is more like an entire reeducation, then we will proceed with the rest of the consult appointment as scheduled (read: an in-depth skin analysis will be had, not a full extraction session). 

why isn't a full extraction session included in the consult appointment?

you have to understand, that the skinSALVATION philosophy is quite a paradigm shift from the old-school emphasis on treatments & home care products. emphasizing treatments and products alone will only afford you short-term results.  only when the two are combined with employing the education we empower you with during your consult, will you achieve the long-term clarity you seek.

on the topical level, there are several reasons for not jumping right into a full extraction session at our first meeting.

the first reason being, most commonly, is that the skin is simply not ready for the incredibly thorough extractions our treatments include.  at the time of the consult, clients’ skin is most often imbalanced, compromised and/or sensitive from products and/or medications that they’ve used prior to coming to sS.

second, the skin needs to be prepared with a proper skincare regime for at least 2 weeks for a successful extraction session, much like an athlete needs to train prior to a victorious marathon win.  at your consult, we put together a skincare regimen bespoke to your complexion which will offer the correct exfoliation & moisture levels your skin needs for an effective follow-up treatment.  also, inflammation is often at it’s highest, so employing the regime & anti-inflammatory lifestyle for a couple of weeks prior to treatment will help bring it down, making for more effective extractions and faster healing.

third, because we have never worked on your skin before (and given the nature of our extraction-heavy signature treatments), we want to give your skin a couple of weeks to get to a healthy baseline and acclimate to the skincare regime, which will also allow us to negate any possible adverse reactions associated with those basics of the program.

what do the treatments consist of?

our corrective treatments are very thorough, and therefore, extraction heavy. depending on what your skin needs that particular day, we may include some sort of exfoliation (either with steam + enzyme, or a dermatological grade chemical peel), and/or a moisturizing, healing treatment. we may also suggest adding on an LED-light treatment, to help reduce inflammation, and encourage faster healing time.

we will adjust your homecare regimen as your skin progresses, and support you on your acne-safe lifestyle changes to make sure you remain on the path to self-sustainably clear skin. there are many bits and pieces that can drastically affect your long-term clarity, so it is our goal to continuously reinforce these details to keep you your clearest.

how often should i come in?

this will be part of the treatment plan we will create for you during your first visit, but typically new clients come in every 2-3 weeks until the acne is under control. then, as the skin clears, the time in between appointments lengthens. after clients reach clarity, some do fine without follow-up treatments as long as they adhere to the acne-safe lifestyle and skincare regime; others with more active, oily skin or other imbalances will need to continue getting treatments to maintain clarity.

most often, once clients are clear, they only need to come in for quarterly ‘tune up’ treatments to maintain their clarity. you may continue on with our signature acne treatments as you and your esthetician see fit.

how long until i have clear skin?

there are many factors that go into answering this question, so there is no simple answer – the human body truly must be evaluated on a case by case basis.

however, depending on your compliance to the acne-safe lifestyle, skin care regimen and keep your regular treatment appointments, the average client sees marked improvement after 1 month, and clarity after 3 months.

if the skin is slow to heal, purge, or if there is a systemic imbalance present, the time to clarity may be longer, more like 6 months, or until the systemic issues are addressed. we will alert you of any foreseeable delays if and when we feel it is a possibility you may have a more challenging case, and communicate to you what additional tools and resources may be necessary to get you clear. it will then be up to you to employe our recommendations, for the best results possible.

do you accept insurance?

we currently do not directly bill insurance companies. however, many of our clients have had success in using their flex spending (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA) health insurance providers, which allows you to spend your pre-taxed income on healthcare costs. this turns out to be an average savings of about 30%.

you can approach this two ways:

  • the easiest way would be to use your FSA/HSA debit card at the clinic for your purchases, which directly deducts from your health savings account.
  • the other way you can try is to submit your receipts for reimbursement from your provider.

most all clients have straightforward success with this process.  a few cases where it required a few extra steps: we’ve only had one client whose treatments but not products would be covered.  another client had his debit card decline about 4 times before it finally got approved.  and another had us help her fill out some paperwork, which was approved.

let us know how if you need assistance with your plan administrator, and we are happy to do what we can to try and get your treatments and products with us approved.

how much do treatments cost?

the in-clinic initial consultation and skin evaluation appointment is 90-120 minutes long, and costs $295. the remote initial consultation is about 1 hour long, and $175. each follow up acne skin treatment is about 30-60 minutes long, and are $175 each.  keep in mind, that many of our clients have been able to successfully use their HSA/FSA debit cards for services & products with us, saving an average of 30%.  (see: do you accept insurance?)

i’m pregnant/breastfeeding - can i still get treatments and use your products?

yes – we can definitely alter your treatment plan to be safe for you and baby. we will simply make sure you stay away from topical retinoids (vitamin a products), salicylic acid, chemical peels and high-frequency treatments until you have given birth, and/or are no longer nursing. again, the lifestyle education we teach you will be key to getting and keeping you clear.

that being said, pregnant and nursing clients have successfully and safely received our signature acne treatments and continued to use our skincare products with just a little bit of baby-safe tweaking.

do the treatments fix scarring?

there are two types of scarring – hyperpigmentation (which shows up as dark spots, brown-ish spots or redness), and textural.

hyperpigmentation, or pigment scarring, look like brown or darker colored spots left over from old acne that’s healed. this type of scarring we can treat quite successfully with in-clinic treatments and at-home products. redness generally takes it’s own time to heal, without any extra skin care products. however, some stubborn pigmentation remains because a full extraction of the acne impaction needs to take place; if a pore is still clogged, the pigmentation will remain. our expert corrective acne-treatments will take care of this.

textural scarring is when the surface of the skin looks rough, or dimpled; ice-pick, ‘craters’, or pock-marks are terms often used to describe these kind. textural scarring is best treated with modalites currently not offered at skinSALVATION – either at a dermatologist or medical aesthetics practice via micro-needling with a micro-pen, platelet rich plasma, IPL and lasers.

that being said, regular extractions with our signature treatments while you are purging, will drastically reduce the chances of new textural and pigmentation scarring, and speed the healing of any scarring that has started to develop. it’s imperative to get your acne under control before beginning any scar treatments for the best results.

will i be red after treatments?

yes. with our signature thorough extractions, you can expect to leave our clinic looking red and bumpy – and may look this way for a few days post treatment. dryness, peeling, scabs and inflammation are common post-treatment side effects that you should expect, until we know exactly how your skin responds to treatment. it is for this reason we do not advise going out to parties or special events the day of, or few days following, your treatments. we emphasize taking the best care of your immune system while you are working with us, to optimize your skin’s healing capabilities. the good news is, the more treatments you get, the more clear your skin will be = lesser extractions needed = faster healing time.

HOWEVER, you may choose to add-on an LED light treatment to your acne face treatment, to reduce redness and drastically reduce healing. many of our clients say that the investment is worth it – and that their skin seems to skip to what normally would be day 2 or 3 of healing, the day immediately after post-treatment.

i am under 18 - can i become a client?

at skinSALVATION we aim to help as many people as possible – however, we have a few caveats for prospective clients aged 13 – 18. over the past several years, we have treated thousands of clients with an average success rate of 85-95%. however, teen cases are more difficult, largely due to hormones and their compliance to the program. if you or your teen are considering becoming an sS client, please carefully read this information below before booking your consultation to understand the possible limitation of our working with teen clients.

in short, the results working with teens may be much less successful than what we see with our adult acne clients, and we do not offer guarantees or refunds.

do i have to have chemical peels?

not necessarily, but we believe that it can greatly speed up the clearing process. the peels that we use are a newer generation of mandelic peels, which still offer the benefits of traditional peels (skin resurfacing, brightening + skin clearing effects) but do not, for the most part, have the negative downsides of traditional, old-school peels (tomato-red face, pain or extreme visible peeling).

if you are adamant about avoiding chemical peels, we can instead have you exfoliate at home with homecare products.

imagine your face is a garden bed, and all the acne present are carrot seeds. harvesting (extractions) and erosion of the soil (exfoliation) will help get all those carrots (pimples) out of the skin faster. we omit chemical peels for clients that are pregnant, nursing, or otherwise not fit for this type of treatment.

what is your success rate?

very high – at least 90-95%, as long as our program is given a fair shot. if we feel your case is going to take longer, or be more complicated, we will advise you of this as soon as possible, and be honest to whether or not we can help you and if so, how much we can help. we have a network of holistic practitioners to strengthen your regimen if we feel that the acne is just a side-effect of a larger, systemic problem. please keep in mind that we are not doctors and do not diagnose or prescribe; but we are educated estheticians that can evaluate and recommend.

i'm on accutane - can i still come in for treatment?

yes, but you will not be able to get traditional treatments (peels and extractions), and your home care regimen will not include exfoliants. instead, the focus of your treatment plan will include the acne-safe lifestyle education, along with negating any dryness associated with the drug via acne-safe topicals.

by working with us, even without the more aggressive aspects of our program, you will prolong the (hopefully) positive clear-skinned results you achieve after stopping the drug.

if you choose to go off of accutane, you will be able to start receiving full extraction and peel treatments 6 months after you have stopped taking it with written permission from your doctor. doctor’s notes must include your name, date, and say, “this client has not taken the prescription medication accutane, or any of it’s derivatives under other trade names, for at least six months. the client is allowed to receive full professional extractions and chemical peels.”

skinSALVATION has the discretion to turn away a client, deny extractions, and/or deny chemical peels if we, with our best intentions and judgement, see that the skin is unfit.

i have acne rosacea - can you treat that?

absolutely. we have had great success in treating clients that have received a rosacea or acne rosacea diagnosis from their doctors. the protocol is very similar to the acne program, but a bit simpler with faster results.

how much do the products cost?

many of our products are comprised of organic ingredients and are formulated to be chirally-correct. this means that the active ingredients in our formulations are engineered on the molecular level to optimize the ingredient’s activity, making it much easier for the skin’s cells to receive and utilize these ingredients to their maximum benefit.

our products range from $3.95 for a lipbalm to $115.95 for a high level retinolic + peptide serum. we also sell acne-safe makeup, which ranges from $21.95 (blush, bronzer) to $47.95 (pressed mineral foundation).

a full skincare regimen set with cleanser, toner, day cream, night cream and corrective products (serums, benzoyl peroxide) averages about $150-200 and should last about 2-3 months with twice daily usage.

you may peruse our curated selection of acne-safe, corrective products here and schedule a time to chat with one of our estheticians about which regimen would be right for you by calling us at 415-525-2458.