Finding Balance – with Dr. Karen Doherty

Phil Dunlop
Aimee Croysdill
April Ru Wan

We’re all aiming towards being the best version of ourselves which might’ve led us to dabble a little outside of the box, whether it’s a diet, exercise or treatment – has anyone heard of a vampire facial? Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of discourse online regarding cosmetic procedures and when the boundary and striving for perfection goes too far. The most important part of fine-tuning yourself is to find an educated doctor whom you trust to take care of your needs while maintaining their professional standpoint. Meet Dr. Karen Doherty, specialising in cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics with the health and well-being of her patients being at the forefront of her work. Her journey into Aesthetics stemmed from her struggles with breakouts as she’s aware of how skin can affect one’s confidence and self-esteem. Scroll through our chat below as we discuss Dr. Karen Doherty’s routine, practice and how she stays grounded throughout her busy schedule.

April Wan: Part of your mantra is that beauty extends beyond products and treatments and  should be focused on sleep, movement & nutrition. What are some practices  you implement into your daily life that help you maintain healthy skin? 
Dr. Karen Doherty: Yes! I really strongly believe this, and it was only emphasised recently when we went  through a really busy period in the clinic, and my personal practices were compromised, it made me realise just how important they are to my routine, in helping me to stay grounded, present and healthy. 
I do Reformer Pilates at the gorgeous Studio Anatomy, I see a PT and recently started integrating a little Barre into my routine. I also do weekly Green Laser and Lymphatic Drainage – the perks of having the machines at my disposal. The mind-skin connection is so  important, and that to me comes from exercise – the link between the gut microbiota and the brain is really fascinating, so I’ll always prioritise exercise.
Nutrition also plays a huge part in overall skin health, so I try to maintain consistency with my diet and the foods I’m eating, that’s not to say I don’t indulge in sweet treats, but if I’m not eating the right mix of foods then my skin and brain will let it be known pretty quickly – manifesting in low moods, breakouts, etc. Feed your gut!
Sleep would also be a high priority for me, 8 hours isn’t always achievable with two children, but I track my sleep with my OURA ring and that helps to keep me engaged with how much rest my brain and body is getting.
AW: We often see new trends come and go at a rapid speed, especially when it  comes to cosmetic procedures. What’s your reaction when a client comes in  with reference photos of certain people they want to look like? 
DKD: It actually doesn’t happen as often as you’d think, more often than not, they’ll  see someone on social media who’s come to see me and say ‘I want what X had’, which is really gratifying, as you know you’re doing something right.
However, what works for one person might not work for someone else, so my approach is tailored to each individual and working on a treatment plan that feels achievable and  sustainable for them.
AW: How do you strike the balance between what the client is asking for and what  you see fit for them?
I’ll always treat and review every case and patient individually, sometimes a client will  come in with a specific treatment in mind, and actually once reviewing their skin concerns or issues I’ll make recommendations based on what I feel will work best to address those concerns. It’s definitely a balancing act, making sure they feel heard and keeping my medical opinion heard too.
AW: Have you ever had situations where you’ve had to turn clients away because of  aesthetic differences?
I’m incredibly honest and I see it as my job to advise you on what’s best given my experience. If I don’t feel something is right, I will say and discuss what I think is a better alternative. There’s been a few over the years, where perhaps a patient has come in and wanted more filler where I’ve felt it’s not needed. But saying this, my patients come to me for an understated look – I’ve become known as the Aesthetics Practitioner to go to when you’re simply looking to enhance your natural beauty rather than someone you might go to for dramatic aesthetic treatments. I’m not afraid to tell someone when they shouldn’t  be opting for a certain treatment or look and I think my patients appreciate that.
AW: Recently there’s been discourse on lip filler, especially the migration of them.  How do you stop migration from happening? Is it normal to have migration  build up over the years?
I’ve never been a big advocate of having filler every 6 or 12 months. I feel this is where you really run into trouble. The lips are such a small structure they simply can’t take a lot of product and we know now that filler hangs around way longer than the 12-18 months that the manufacturers advise. My lip augmentations are small and only aim to hydrate and replace the volume loss associated with aging.
AW: Can you share how your passion for skincare and cosmetic dentistry bloomed?
DKD: The empowerment of feeling good in your own skin is something that motivates me.  I’ve always had breakouts and really struggled to get the right advice. I know how much having bad skin can affect your confidence and self esteem. Being able to help someone and make them feel good really is the best job in the world. 
I graduated as a dentist in 2007, and have been a practicing Dental Surgeon ever since, my interest in Aesthetics grew from a natural synergy with Dentistry and Aesthetics, the two practices really go hand in hand, as you’re working with the symmetry and balance of a patient’s face. From a personal perspective, I’m incredibly interested in Regenerative treatments that improve the overall health and wellbeing of an individual –  there’s so many amazing advancements in technology and a growing interest in personal health, biohacking is beginning to emerge as a revolutionary movement in the way that we approach full-body and skin health.
AW: I’ve often heard of the term “less is more,” when it comes to skincare routines.  Do you think we should be limiting the amount of products we apply every day? 
DKD: Definitely. There’s a lot in the press at the moment, about tweens with ten-step skincare routines, overusing harsh active ingredients and ruining their skin barrier. I think we need to pair this back and be kind to our skin. A brand I’m really loving at the moment for this is AllSkin Med, their products, especially the Anti-Aging Growth Factor Ampoules, have really smart formulations that use their patented technology designed to act specifically on the different layers of the skin and deliver genuine results. The ampoules are derived from the purified secretion of the scientific snail, aka, Cryptomphalus Aspersa, they’ve been found to have powerful regenerative and repairing properties.
I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and not having a ten-step routine. Understanding certain ingredients and what works for skin conditions is key. I think sometimes when you have a problem you want to throw everything at it and the beauty industry is great for promising us the solutions with heavy marketing but a lot of the time, that really might not be the right solution or course of treatment.
AW: You’ve worked with a lot of celebrities to help them get red-carpet-ready. How  do you approach short-term procedures and long-term procedures, when evaluating options? 
DKD: I always say that I’m not the person that you go-to the night before a big event, I’m the person you come to a few weeks before to get your skin health and condition glowing ahead of time. Lots of the treatments I provide lean on the long-term focus of skin health, and that takes time and planning – for instance our NeoGen Plasma treatment requires a minimum of 3 sessions, spaced 4 weeks apart – so it’s very much a commitment to your long-term skin goals.
With that being said, we do also provide lots of great treatments that are suitable for  short-term impact, such as our new Dermalux Tri-Wave, a state of the art LED light  therapy – one 20 minute session will leave skin glowing and radiant, but it’s also incredible as a long-term treatment for conditions such as; Acne and Rosacea. We debuted this treatment at the BAFTA’s this year for our celebrity clients and the results were amazing when paired with our Growth Factor ampoules from AllSkin Med.
Ultimately, it’s about building a strong relationship with the client, celebrity or not, and  figuring out what their long-term goals are. My mantra is prevention over cure, every time.
Creative Director: Natalie Bell
Photographer: Phil Dunlop
Stylist: Aimee Croysdill
Makeup & Hair: Linda Andersson
Words: April Ru Wan