Costa Ricans suffer from the highest rates per capita of skin cancer in the world. We spoke to Laura Muller Steinvorth of DermatALLogy — a Costa Rican organization focused on skin safety — about her mission to increase awareness about sun damage among the Costa Rican population, and about how they’ve been working with the country’s dermatologists since 2007 to provide high quality products focused on skin and sun protection.
How did DermatALLogy start, and why the focus on skin cancer?
DermatALLogy was started 12 years ago by my mother-in-law, Marina Ramirez, under the advice of one of the most respected dermatologists in Costa Rica, Dra. Hernandez. For many years, now, Costa Rica has been suffering from one of the highest rates per capita of skin cancer in the world. In 2016, Costa Rica was the number one country in terms of rate of skin cancer incidence per capita (Australia being the top country in absolute numbers). Every four hours, a new case of skin cancer is diagnosed in the country, and many dermatologists agree that this is an underestimation.
What do experts think is the reason for this high rate of skin cancer in Costa Rica?
Unfortunately, most if not all Costa Ricans do not apply sunscreen. If they apply any, they apply it only once, early in the day in a non-homogeneous manner, and many times using just a small quantity, and often of a lower-quality sunscreen. DermatALLogy was created in 2007 with the mission to increase the awareness of the Costa Rican population about sun damage, and to provide them with a way to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful radiation.
We see that same problem in several other countries. Thank you for helping to raise awareness about not only how important using sunscreen is, but how often to apply, how much to use, and what quality of protection to look for!
It’s why DermatALLogy started with a strong focus in sun protection, offering solutions ranging from UPF (SPF) 50+ clothing and accessories, oncological head-wraps for cancer patients, to the highest quality of dermo-cosmetics.
We know that DermatALLogy has since begun to offer other types of care for the skin. Tell us more about that.
We diversified into broader skincare that focused on additional issues such as skin allergies and anti-aging solutions. Studies show that 1 out of 4 people has a reaction from contact with common ingredients in cosmetics — in Costa Rica it is 1 out of 3.
Each and every one of DermatALLogy’s products is recommended by dermatologists, the Skin Cancer Foundation and/or the Melanoma International Foundation. We do not carry all SKUs from a given brand, but rather the SKUs that dermatologists recommend as the best for certain conditions. DermatALLogy is a “support store” for dermatologists and patients who know that by entering DermatALLogy, they will find the best care for their specific problems.
How does DermatALLogy work with top dermatologists from the country?
The idea of DermatALLogy came from one of the very top dermatologists in the country. Dermatologists had been asking for years for such products to start being imported into Costa Rica. Now, DermatALLogy products are sold in many of the top dermatology clinics all around Costa Rica. Some dermatologists even ally with us by setting up a DermatALLogy store within their clinics. We regularly visit doctors to:
- Sell them DermatALLogy products
- Have them send patients to DermatALLogy stores
- Ally with them commercially on a deeper level
- Ask them for advice on DermatALLogy portfolio improvement
- Participate in national events with dermatologists
- Register with the Health Ministry products they wish to have in Costa Rica
- Send them new patients
- Create marketing campaigns and awareness events, ask them to participate with us on National TV/Radio…etc.
- Go with their medical teams to international conferences/events.
DermatALLogy is a company that imports and distributes UPF50 + and other products recommended by dermatologists. Their mission is to provide Costa Rican consumers with high quality, safe and effective skin care products, aspiring specifically to contribute to a culture where Costa Ricans take care of their skin by protecting it from the sun. Laura Muller Steinvorth is also a painter and landscape photographer.