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How She Glows: Dr. Erika Klemperer, Dermatologist
Dr. Klemperer

 

 

Wellness Interviews with Inspiring Women

 

Read Time: 6-8 Minutes

 

Fusing her expertise as a Stanford-trained dermatologist with over 25 years of clinical experience and her passion for healthy living, Dr. Klemperer offers a unique whole-body approach to your skin health that inherently promotes wellness, vitality, and beauty. I’m so excited to do this interview as part of MŪN’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration and know that you’ll all benefit from her insights. 


My first introduction to Dr. Klemperer was when she emailed me to find out more about prickly pear seed oil for an article she was working on. She later contacted me when she was launching WELL Dermatology, an innovative practice dedicated to you and your skin health, because she was interested in carrying our products. Since then, our Anarose Toner has become one of her and her patients' favorites. Read on for our one-on-one chat. 

 

Munemi: Dr. Klemperer, I’m so excited to have you here today. Thank you for your time. 

I think your dermatology practice is a truly unique model. It’s evident in everything from your whole-body approach to dermatology, to your natural skincare curations, to your patients. What inspired you to transition the way you practice at WELL Dermatology?

 

Dr. Klemperer: It’s my absolute pleasure, Munemi. I’m excited to have this conversation together. Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary!

 

I created WELL Dermatology 5 years ago. I’d been practicing medical dermatology for almost 20 years, but I became increasingly frustrated with the way we were caring for our patients. I was seeing more than 30 patients a day and it was feeling like factory-style medicine. I experienced the detriment of this system when I endured some medical issues personally. I couldn’t find the answers that I was looking for. It was then that I discovered functional and integrative medicine, which completely shifted my way of thinking. I came to understand the critical importance of lifestyle choices - how we’re eating, moving our bodies, sleeping, managing stress, connecting with others, etc. - on our health and well-being. 

I began to take care of myself and my family through this new lens, but I wasn’t able to do that in my clinical practice. I simply didn’t have time. That created a huge dissonance and felt completely out of alignment. And so I decided to open my own practice and do it differently. I created WELL so that I could have time with my patients and offer highly personalized care. So I could dive deep into lifestyle choices that I believe matter. So I could create true relationships with my patients. So I could bring the art and beauty of medicine back into my practice. And so I could rediscover joy in my practice.

 

M: In your bio, it says “She recognizes the skin as a truth teller, providing a magnificent mirror that reflects both our inner health and wellness and our external exposures and influences.” - can you please tell us how you see each of these things as connected and how they influence one another? 

 

Dr. K: The body is extraordinary. It is wildly complex and truly miraculous. Everything is connected. We’ve siloed our organ systems into separate specialties, but these systems are constantly communicating and interacting. For example, there is an intimate gut-brain-skin connection. Many skin diseases are associated with an altered gut microbiome (the trillions of microorganisms that make up the host community in our gut), in part due to modulation of our immune system and inflammatory pathways. This may include disorders such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, amongst others. In part, the gut and skin interact via neuroendocrine pathways and the central nervous system. It’s all connected! The skin offers us an incredible mirror, reflecting what’s happening with our gut, immune system, nervous system, and more. It’s an exceptional barometer of what’s happening internally. Our bodies are constantly trying to speak to us through manifestations on the skin. It’s so important that we listen. 

 

M: The “Philosophy” page on your website has a section titled “WE BELIEVE THERE IS A DIFFERENT WAY TO CARE FOR OUR PATIENTS” and there are 3 promises. I’m very interested to hear more about the first section - “A WAY THAT BRINGS THE ART AND BEAUTY BACK INTO MEDICINE.” This is so innovative - can you please elaborate?

 

Dr. K: I believe that medicine is both a science and an art. It is deeply rooted in hard science, but the practice is an art. Medicine has progressed exponentially in knowledge, research, and technology. And yet I believe much of the art has been lost. The art of medicine includes wisdom, personal judgment, intuition, and much more. Highly personalized care, which is the basis of WELL, depends on an alchemy of both science and art. I don’t believe in “cookbook-style” medicine. Such a formulaic approach does not serve our patients. Every patient is unique. Medical practice is indeed a highly skilled profession, but there is art to that skill, which is dependent upon a deep human connection between patient and practitioner. 

 

M: You use natural skincare yourself and have been offering natural skincare to your patients at WELL Dermatology. When did you start incorporating natural skincare into your own routine and what do you love most about it? 

 

Dr. K: When I began my personal health journey, I became acutely aware of what I was putting into my body. Initially that included what I was eating and drinking, but quickly expanded to what I was putting on my skin. Our skin is a huge dynamic living organ (the largest organ of the human body) with capacity for significant systemic absorption. If I’m choosing to eat organic, healthy foods, then why would I choose to feed my skin a battery of potentially toxic substances? I don’t believe all chemicals are “bad”. In fact, I utilize certain manufactured ingredients in my practice. But we know that some chemicals have the potential to impact our bodies negatively, such as endocrine disruptors, and I try to avoid those. I simply attempt to limit my overall toxin exposure. If I can choose glass bottles over BPA-containing plastics, then I’m going to do that. If I can choose organic produce from my local farmer’s market over produce exposed to pesticides such as glyphosate, then I’m going to make that choice. And if I can choose clean skincare that limits exposure to potentially hazardous substances, then I’m going to choose that too. This is important not just for my personal health but for the health of our planet.

 

M: Can you tell us about your curation process and philosophy for the skincare products sold at WELL Dermatology?

 

Dr. K: I’m committed to offering high-performing, luxurious, non-toxic products that are healthy for our skin, bodies, and planet. I hand pick all of the products in WELL Boutique. It’s a collection of many of my all-time favorites. I go deep down a rabbit hole when selecting new products, curating with a high standard of safety and quality in mind. I want the products to be as clean as possible, but as a physician it’s critical that the products be highly effective. I also look for innovation. I dive into the company’s sourcing, sustainability, ethics, and more. So much goes into making an exceptional product. I treasure the relationships we have with our makers. Those relationships bring a whole other layer of beauty to what we offer.

 

Furthermore, I believe that caring for our skin should be a pleasurable ritual of self-care rather than a chore.  I want everything about the product to be beautiful, from the packaging to the smell to the feel. And of course the results. 

 

M: You’ve carried our Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner for the past several years and we are so honored. Can you tell us what you love about Anarose and who you recommend it to? 

 

Dr. K: We’ve been carrying Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner since we opened our doors 5 years ago. It was in the initial line-up and is a fundamental offering. Munemi, you actually taught me much about toners. I certainly didn't learn about them in my Stanford training! I had personally never used a toner until I discovered yours. I’ve come to believe it’s an important step for many. Maintaining proper pH of the skin is critical to sustaining barrier function and supporting the skin microbiome. These are crucial for optimal skin health. Disruption of the skin barrier and dysbiosis of the skin microbiome are key contributing factors in a number of skin disorders, including acne, rosacea, perioral dermatitis, eczema, and others. I love MUN toner for many different skin needs. 

 

M: Can you tell us about “WELL Loft” and the inspiration behind it?

 

Dr. K: The Loft is our skin health + wellness + beauty studio. Through the use of nine state-of-the-art regenerative health technologies, it offers a whole new way to feel good in our bodies. We’re harnessing technology to optimize the health of skin, body, and mind on a cellular level. When we’re in vibrant health, then our skin reflects that. That’s true beauty.

 

The last couple years have been incredibly challenging, on so many levels. Our health and well-being have been profoundly affected. I’ve been committed to taking gentle yet powerful care of myself and others. The foundational pillars of healthy living - food, movement, sleep, stress resilience, purpose, connection with loved ones, etc. - are critical. But despite paying attention to these pillars, I was still feeling low energy, not sleeping well, not feeling my best. I dug deep and discovered these remarkable technologies that have the power to unleash our body’s innate capacity for healing and regeneration. They were a pivotal part of my recovery from COVID at the beginning of the pandemic. I wanted to share them and so we launched WELL Loft 2 years ago. It’s been a remarkable journey. This is my passion now. I absolutely love this work. And I can’t wait to share more!

 

M: We are so thrilled that our best-selling Aknari Brightening Youth Serum is now incorporated into WELL Boutique and WELL Loft, and that it has become a go-to product for ultra sensitive skin. What do you love about Aknari Brightening Youth Serum? 

 

Dr. K: I love the simplicity of Aknari’s formulation. Particularly for my patients with sensitive skin, limiting the number of ingredients is key. For many of those patients, more is not better, but quite the opposite. Prickly pear seed oil, which is high in linoleic acid and vitamin E, is anti-inflammatory and a potent antioxidant. It also helps protect barrier function, which is critical. I love it for inflamed skin and it’s a go-to for acne and rosacea prone skin.

 

M: What are the things you practice as self-care and maintaining your well-being?

 

Dr. K: I continually remind myself that self-care is not selfish. It’s essential to my health and well-being. I eat a whole-food, plant-based diet and include shopping at our fabulous Santa Barbara farmer’s market every weekend. I commit to regular exercise, including hiking our gorgeous mountains on weekends. Nature is my savior. Getting outdoors, whether it be hiking or walking along our beautiful beaches, is a top priority. It always brings me back to gratitude and awe. I’m crazy about protecting my 8 hours of sleep and I allow quiet time each morning. Of course, I treat myself regularly to the incredible restorative and regenerative treatments in WELL Loft! And I spend as much time as possible with my two extraordinary daughters, Sophia and Luna, along with friends. Connection with loved ones is vital. I try to laugh as much as possible and to always prioritize joy. And to stay curious.

 

M: Lastly, is there anything new on the horizon that you’d like to share with our community? 

 

Dr. K: Yes! I am incredibly excited to be in the midst of launching a new expanded version of WELL Loft. It’s going to be amazing. We’ll be harnessing the power of cutting-edge technology to unlock our body’s extraordinary potential for regeneration, optimizing skinspan and healthspan on a cellular level. We’ll have a gorgeous flagship studio here in Santa Barbara and then plan to open other distinctive locations. I’m ecstatic about this next adventure! It’s all about feeling fully alive in our bodies… so we can live our best lives. Life is precious. I want to live it fully.

 

 

Learn more about Dr. Klemperer, WELL Dermatology & WELL Loft via her website and follow along on Instagram via @WELLSantaBarbara for the latest updates. Be sure to check out Dr. Klemperer’s favorites - Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner and Aknari Brightening Youth Serum. We hope you’ve found this interview as informative and inspiring as we did and can apply some of these philosophies to your skincare, health, and wellness practices! 

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Munemi Imai, Founder
As an international makeup artist, Munemi sees many different types of skin, but she knows that every one needs nurturing, balancing and brightening to achieve that youthful glow. She also knows firsthand that our #MUNGLOW starts with a healthy and mindful lifestyle. She shares her tips and knowledge right here and in our newsletters!
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