I recline my chair and pull on an eye mask. It’s 9am and I’m about to jet 13 000km across the world, from Dubai to Los Angeles, to meet with celebrity surgeon and skincare expert Dr Harold Lancer – for a facial. While this isn’t a common occurrence, considering the dermatologist calls Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian West, and Victoria Beckham clients, I’ll make an exception. Fast-forward 20 hours and there’s a swagger in my step as I strut down Rodeo Drive to his clinic. A Rolls-Royce glides by as I pass the Chanel and Giorgio Armani boutiques. Finally, I reach my destination: a marble lined corridor flanked by a red awning reading “Lancer MD.”
After I take the elevator up to the third floor, the doors open to what must be an art gallery. Picasso, Remington, and Klimt line the walls – some being gifts from his patients. His friendly staff greets me and after I fill out an extensive form, I am led into a room where my skin’s condition is evaluated by a Visia complexion analyzer. It captures, measures, and records the surface and subsurface of the skin, and the results will help determine my treatments and track my progress.
As a nurse asks me a round of questions – everything from whether I smoke to my ancestry – Dr Lancer enters. Donning a crisp, white lab coat, he is tall, with a white beard and kind eyes. He takes a look at my records and hands me a mirror to peer into. Friendly and relaxed, he looks up and asks, “What can I help you with?” Whether it’s a medical, surgical, or cosmetic issue, this question always remains the same.
With his conservative approach to skincare, his ethos is simplicity. “It’s a matter of education. This is what makes us distinctively different from other clinics,” he says. As he talks me through each of my concerns, which include oversized pores, uneven coloring, and signs of aging, I feel at ease. With more than three decades in the industry, he stresses, “I’m not a salesman. I’m not here to sell botulinum toxin or neuromodulators, I’m here to address the concerns of the individual.”
I recall the words of Nora Al Ramadhan, co-founder of Apotheca Beauty and a devoted Dr Lancer patient for several years: “I have seen first-hand the attention he gives to each of his patients, including the miracles he works on skin.” As for my assessment, my only adversary is the sun. For the short-term, I am prescribed his signature stem cell facial to promote collagen and elastin production. It also hydrates the skin, which is perfect post flight. Why not more? “We do the fine-tuning in the world of necessity and beauty,” he explains. “I believe in injecting, but there has to be a reason for it. You have to think of the risk-to-benefit ratio.”
For long-term results, I am introduced to “The Method,” which was made famous by the likes of Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, who have both spoken on their respective talk shows about using the trio of products. Dr Lancer has developed his own protocol, dismissing the normal cleanse, tone, and moisturize cycle which is, he says, “the most backwards thinking practice, it has nothing to do with skin physiology.” The Method flips the script. “Every organ needs medical rehabilitation. It involves some sort of exercise. The skin needs to be polished; that is its exercise,” he says of the first step. “Next, you cleanse the debris that the polish has lifted.” The final step is nourishing the skin, with the same concept being applied to the body. The innovative combination, which is available for normal, sensitive, and oily skin, helps to speed up cell turnover, supports natural collagen, and offers the dermis the essential nutrients it requires. “The life-changing part of it is diet, exercise, rest, and relaxation,” he says, putting emphasis on the latter.
Dr Lancer tests each product on himself before it launches and offers only the most cutting-edge technology. The products are then further pushed into the limelight by their celebrity fans. Victoria Beckham tweeted, “Loving this new Contour Décolleté by my friend Dr Lancer. Kisses from Los Angeles.” Recently, Kim Kardashian West appeared on her Snapchat alongside the doctor to share her love for Lancer Omega Hydrating Oil. “Dr Lancer has a loyal Middle Eastern client base and his patients travel to California simply to visit his clinic,” says Al Ramadhan. They have confidence in his opinion and treatments. This is why the majority of them are internally referred. “Pedestrian in appearance is not a good policy,” he says. “Many people come here for one reason – and by the end, that reason has disappeared.”
No matter how far you’ve traveled to see the doctor, the outcome will always be the same. A Dr Lancer client is someone who wants to be educated and follow a program of protocol, ensuring their look doesn’t get out of control. Rather, it will remain natural. You will be the best version of yourself. Dr Lancer will soon celebrate the milestone of treating his one millionth patient. When asked how he will commemorate this momentous occasion, he smiles. “I will probably take a nap.”