What makes skinSALVATION different?
For starters, we were San Francisco’s first holistic adult acne skincare clinic to open back in 2008. Only the best estheticians were selected to work for us, after successfully completing a very thorough and rigorous 4-8 week training. Our training program had a reputation of being tougher than actual esthetician school itself: from theory to hands-on, we are neurotic about the details.
We feel you. Most if not all on our team came to us with acne that skinSALVATION successfully got under control. We completely understand what you are going through, because we have gone through it too! Our work is so life-changing that many clients actually became skinSALVATION estheticians and employees.
No product commission means no sales pressure. Any product or resource recommendation (like seeing a naturopath or acupuncturist), is made because we honestly think you can benefit it – NOT because we are trying to get a cut. Transparency, efficiency and respect are our cornerstone values.
Our treatments are unparalleled. We are meticulous with our extractions, and make sure you get the most value out of every minute you spend interacting with us. We teach you the acne-safe lifestyle by helping you isolate hidden triggers, and implement effective solutions.
You’re here for a good time, not a long time. Our goal is to empower you with the knowledge you’ll need to stay clear once we successfully clear the acne you came in 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.
Rest assured that with our expert treatments, close guidance and support, you will be in the best and empowering care our industry has to offer.
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, nor 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 either 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. You will be able to book follow-up treatments after a consult is successfully completed.
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 more of your time, diligence and self-discipline. Booking a consult will make for a much more efficient and faster clearing process.
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 only looking to purchase skincare products.
What happens during a 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, how it affects acne formation and how long the process takes). 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 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 within 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 its 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 through in-treatment education, post-treatment "homework" emails and access to communicating with your therapist.
How often do I need to come in for treatments?
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. 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, but others with more active cases 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.
Marked improvement is often noted in about 2 weeks' time, and with treatments we typically see clients clear up in about 3 months, or 6 treatments. Depending on the severity of your case, your compliance to the acne-safe lifestyle, skin care regimen and keeping regular treatment appointments, you can see results in less or more time.
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 employ 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.
I'm pregnant or 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 - but then again, hormones will override everything we do externally, so you may not reach your fullest clear potential until after you've given birth and/or finish nursing.
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 its own time to heal, without any extra skin care products. If accelerated correction is desired, IPL is a good treatment we've seen work on our clients.
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.
How will I look immediately 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 that the more treatments you get, the more clear your skin will be = lesser extractions needed = faster healing time.
However, you may choose to add an LED light session 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 it speeds their skin healing by 2-3 days.
I'm 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 under 18.
Over the past several years, we have treated thousands of adult 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 your your teen is considering becoming an sS client, please have them carefully read this information below before booking your consultation to understand the possible limitation of our working with teen clients.
In short, though the results working with teens may be much less successful than what we see with our adult acne clients, the healthy lifestyle education they receive will serve them well into adulthood. That all said, we do not offer guarantees or refunds should our program not yield the results your teen is looking for.
Do I have to get chemical peels?
Not necessarily, but we've seen that it can greatly speed up the clearing process. The peels that we use are a newer generation of Mandelic acid 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 employ an enzyme mask, and/or 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 as 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, recommend, and share what we've learned and observed from our thousands of case studies over the years.
I'm on Accutane / Isotretinoin. Can I still come for treatment or use your products?
Yes, but we will adjust said treatments and plans to accommodate the drug. We'll also require a doctor's note that clearly states what treatments and products you are allowed to receive and/or use.
Typically, the contraindicated procedures, products and ingredients include: chemical peels, extractions or exfoliants.
The focus of your treatment plan will include acne-safe lifestyle education, along with negating any dryness associated with the drug via acne-safe topicals.
Even without our modified program, using the education you receive working with us 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 its 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. Do 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. Check out our before & after case study to see results we've gotten.
Is this program really going to work, even if I don't get facials?
For most cases, yes. Over the years we've had dozens of clients use our online resources, use our products and clear their acne on their own.
However, some clients did need some professional help. We are happy to help assist you in finding someone local, to administer chemical peels, extractions and support alongside the skinSALVATION program.
Additionally, we're always available in case questions that aren't covered on our site come up, so take advantage and contact us if need be.
Finally, everything our founder Kim has learned working exclusively on acne since 2008 is going into a book, that is coming soon. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to know our release date.
How long will it take me to get my products?
Our Northern California warehouse processes orders Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 6pm, and is closed on weekends and national holidays.
Orders received before noon will be shipped out the same day. USPS Priority is the default ship method, unless you choose UPS or Fedex.
If you are in the Bay Area, you'll likely receive your shipment in 1-2 days. If you are on the East Coast, more like 3-5 days.
We do ship internationally, but cannot promise delivery times or duties that will need to be paid, as these are dependent on each country's postal service and regulations. We are working on improving the international ship experience, and appreciate any feedback or questions you have about it.