The Stein sisters share more than the same genes — they also have a passion for all things skin! The self-dubbed “Skin Sisters” talk about how they both got into dermatology, and even launched a blog all about skin, beauty and more in this week’s Who The Folk?!
I’m just so interested… you guys both went into the same field? Did you guys always know you wanted to go into dermatology?
Lauren: So I always did. And I went to Physician’s Assistant school knowing I wanted to go into dermatology. I did rotations in dermatology; I’ve only practiced dermatology for a long time now. But Brooke had a different experience.
Brooke: I worked in public relations and corporate communications for about five years after college and then did a major turn-around. I actually went in to do my public health master’s, and then did physician assistant, thinking I would go into emergency medicine, for a lot of the reasons I now like dermatology — a lot of procedures, fast pace, a lot of different variety throughout the day. But I moved cities, and a dermatology job kind of found me and I really liked it.
How long have both of you been doing this?
L: I’ve been practicing almost 11 years.
B: And I’ve been practicing just over three.
Do you think she copied you?
L: (laughs) I tried to influence her…
B: So after PA school, I moved to Cincinnati because my husband was doing some training, and Lauren was like, “just apply to some derm jobs,” and one of them was like, “yeah, come work for us,” so I did.
I totally forgot to ask, are you guys from around here?
B: Yeah, we grew up in Edina.
And you came back.
L: But we both lived elsewhere. I lived in New York City for a long time, and Brooke lived in D.C. and San Francisco.
What made you want to come back to the Cities?
L: I always wanted to come back. I was in New York City, working, living my life, but always knew ideally I’d come back here. And then I ended up marrying someone from New York, but he actually really wanted to come back here, so it worked out really well. So we came back here 5-and-a-half years ago.
B: I married someone who really wanted to live in a mid-sized city. I mean, I’m very happy to be back home and I’m sure I would’ve ended up here anyways. But my husband really wanted to live — he’s from Indiana, and wanted to live in one of the two cities where we grew up, be around family, something a little smaller than D.C. So we moved back three years ago.
Do you work together?
L: We job share. So we are —
B: We eclipse each other. If I’m in clinic, Lauren’s off, and if Lauren’s in clinic, I’m off. We work in the same practice.
Oh. I’ve never heard of that before. That worked out nicely for you.
I want to know how the whole Skin Sisters blog began.
L: We’re so excited about it. We’ve been talking about it for forever. As soon as Brooke went into dermatology, our husbands started calling us the Skin Sisters. So we were always like, “we should do something.” And then one day this spring we were like,”we should do something today, let’s just start it.” We felt like there was so much out there to write about; there are beauty bloggers who write about a lot of things but they don’t necessarily have the science behind it. We really wanted to combine what people want to know about … your skin, and beauty and skincare procedures, but with actual scientific knowledge you’d get if you went into the dermatology office, but in an accessible way.
How long has it been?
L: We started in May. So six months.
What have you been doing with it so far?
B: You know, we’ve just been kind of sharing timely topics that come to mind or that people ask us about. And then, sort of disseminating the knowledge.
L: So what happens is, Brooke will be — it’ll be really dry out and she’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, four of my friends asked me today, what’s the best moisturizer for this weather?” Okay, that’s a topic people want to hear about. We take what our real life is, which is being scientists and being medical professionals, but having friends being part of that and taking it to our audience. And I think it’s been well received — we review products, we talk about science things, we talk about stupid stuff.
B: Life as a PA, we talk about what it’s like working as a PA in dermatology, day in the life of a clinician, those types of things. Those are fewer and more far between; I think people really like product recommendations, because there’s so much out there in terms of skin care, hair care, nail care. It’s nice to be able to try something, know the science behind why it works and really narrow things down for people and for them to make choices from that.
What are the things that you’re doing on a day-to-day basis in your jobs?
B: It’s a little different for both of us. Two days a week, I assist in skin cancer surgery, which is called Mohs surgery, where we remove skin cancer from the face, from the hands, the groin; and then we do the repairs when people need stitches. And I see mostly medical dermatology, like rashes, acne, toenail fungus, … hair loss, and then a little bit of cosmetics, like botox and fillers, things like that.
L: I don’t do much surgery, but we do very similar jobs. I have two young kids now, so I work very part-time, which is why the job sharing works pretty well. I do a lot of medial dermatology and some cosmetic dermatology, which is like injectables, laser, even skincare, stuff like that.
What do you think is the best part of the job? What do you like the most?
B: I like seeing patients over time. A lot of skin conditions are chronic and you need to see a patient periodically over several months and it turns into several years; establishing that relationship with them is really fun. Also, I think there’s 14,000 different conditions of the skin, so you see something absolutely brand new every single day.
L: I like that people can relate to it. I’m not caring for a part of the body that people can’t see themselves; I’m caring for skin, and people have a vested in what we’re doing and they’re really engaged and motivated to get better or do whatever. It’s not like they’re just along for the ride, they’re active participants.
B: They can see their progress, versus internal medicine — you can’t see your diabetes. Well … you can, but it’s a little different.
So that makes sense then, that the blog came along so naturally.
L: It was! People ask me all the time, “how long does it take you to write those posts? It must take hours.” But, no, this is life for us. We’re just constantly sharing information; it’s what we do at work, and it’s what we do with our friends…
B: And we’re constantly learning; medicine, no matter what field you’re in, especially a field like dermatology, there is always a new treatment for this that’s getting approved by the FDA, there’s always a new study showing that you can use this for that. It’s continuously changing; we’re always going to conferences and doing extra learning in a textbook or online. People want the newest, greatest, best.
Where do you see the blog going? Do you have plans to keep it growing?
L: We want to! We really want to grow it.
B: We’d love to expand our readership. Of the 1,500 people it’s all over the country, and some international, which is really cool. But I think if we looked really big down the line, the ultimate dream would be being a Q&A person for a magazine or an online outlet, like ‘Ask the Skin Sisters.’ Or perhaps having a product line one day.
Favorite Jewish holiday?
L: I would say my favorite Jewish holiday is Hanukkah because I love being in the house with the kids. Lighting the menorah is the most beautiful thing. And making the latkes, and are we going to use the shredded potatoes or not is the biggest fight of all (I like the pre-shredded). And then celebrating with a different part of the family or friends every night. Even though it’s not a super religious holiday, I just love it.
B: I have always loved Passover. I love the Seder, I love the ritual of it, I love the stories. Our grandparents used to host this insane — how many people, 50?
L: I don’t know, I used to always just hope I didn’t get called on…
B: Well you always, did, because you were the oldest grandchild. Even thinking back about being so scared about being called on for the four questions, because there are four kids in our family, and we always did it — I’ve always loved Passover. And it’s spring time.
Favorite Jewish food?
L: My favorite food is probably latkes. Is that too classic?
B: Favorite food is very difficult to narrow down. You’ve got Israeli Jewish food, you’ve got American Jewish food… If I really had to pick what I would consider a Jewish food, it would be the Lincoln Del matzah ball soup. Or, our mom’s brisket is just extremely amazing.