“I’m an unabashed napper, so I take rest when I need it,” Nashville, TN, dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Lee says with a laugh. With her jam-packed schedule, Dr. Lee’s need for quick catnaps to boost her energy makes total sense. After all, she doesn’t exactly work your standard nine-to-five job.
That’s especially true because REN™ Dermatology & Laser Center, Dr. Lee’s practice, is open for business outside of conventional work hours. In order to accommodate her busy patients, the Harvard Medical School® graduate offers early morning, evening, and weekend appointments. But even with the extra hours and a busy practice, she still ensures that she chisels out time for herself. “I like taking hikes with my dog and husband, Dr. Bill Stebbins, who just so happens to be a dermatologic surgeon,” she says. “I’m really fortunate that my husband is also in my field, so I often lean on him for insight.”
Dr. Lee asserts that her partner isn’t the only one who has been a source of encouragement and guidance throughout her career. Ahead, the board-certified doctor reveals more insights into how she’s become the powerhouse professional she is today (including the best career advice she’s ever learned!), as well as her own beauty and aesthetics routine.
Spotlyte: What’s a typical day for you in the office?
Dr. Jennifer Lee: I founded REN in 2013 and we now have two offices in the Nashville area, so my workdays are split between the two locations. My clinic days are filled with great variety, including skin cancer screenings, diagnosis and treatment; evaluating acne, as well as treating acne scars; injectable wrinkle reducer and filler injections; and laser procedures. In between seeing patients, I’m usually responding to emails, signing chart notes, sending off prescriptions for patients, and trying to post Instagram® stories of fun or interesting cases!
Spotlyte: Do you get injectables yourself? Have you tried other in-office treatments?
JL: I get injectable wrinkle reducer in the scowl [frown] lines between my eyebrows and around my eyes for crow’s feet. Typically my injections are done by my dermatology partners in my office. I also do an Intense Pulsed Light — aka photofacial — one-to-two times a year to treat my sun damage. [I get] Ultherapy® once every two years to help lift and tighten my face. I’ve had laser hair removal for the underarms, so I never have to shave. And I also get eyelash extensions before any major events, like television appearances.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions? Chat with a team of trained aesthetics specialists now.]
Spotlyte: What does your skincare routine consist of?
JL: I still deal with acne breakouts, but also have sensitive skin, so I tend to be loyal with products that I know work for me. I need products that are very hydrating but won’t clog my pores. In my morning shower, I use an exfoliating treatment like the SkinMedica® AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($47). With fresh skin, I apply Celavive® Perfecting Toner ($36), which feels more like an essence, and then layer Celavive Vitalizing Serum ($72). In the winter, if I’m struggling with dry skin, I will also use Neocutis® Bio-Cream™ Bio-Restorative Skin Cream ($160). I typically don’t wear foundation, so my final morning step is Laura Mercier® Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 ($46). It has SPF and helps me achieve a highlighted and dewy appearance in one step!
Spotlyte: Do you have a different routine for nighttime?
JL: At night, I use Celavive Creamy Foam Cleanser ($31) for a squeaky clean feel or Cetaphil® Gentle Skin Cleanser ($7) in the winter. Next up is the Celavive Perfecting Toner ($36) again for any residual makeup, and then I use Vaseline Healing Jelly™ ($3) as my eye makeup remover. I’ve been doing this since college because years ago, I read that Tyra Banks did it.
Lately, I’ve been using Differin® Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment ($15) at night, too. Differin is similar to tretinoin and for years was only available by prescription. I recommend it all the time for my patients, too. The final step at night is a silky moisturizer like Celavive Replenishing Night Cream ($64) or Neocutis Bio-Cream Bio-Restorative Skin Cream ($160).
[Editor's note: Retinol shouldn't be used by those who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.]
Spotlyte: Is there a specific skincare philosophy you try to live by?
JL: Skincare routines don’t need to extravagant or pricey to be effective. Even when I’m making skincare recommendations to my patients, I try to utilize their existing products and fill in the gaps. Similar to how I feel about fashion, I think mixing high- and low-cost products is just fine. For example, splurge on an eye cream that you love but use a drugstore brand sunscreen, or invest in monthly facials but save money on a cleanser.
And for sure, one size does not fit all. Sometimes it takes a while to find the product that feels great, smells right, and works best for you. Remember that skincare products take time to actually be effective, so don’t give up after just two days of trying a new product.
Spotlyte: Outside of the dermatologist’s office, what do you feel is an important component of skincare, in a general sense, that you wish more people would remember?
JL: I’m a proponent of [pairing] great skincare with a healthy lifestyle. We often spend so much money and time on skincare products and treatments for repairing damage, but neglect good sleep, careful avoidance of the sun, and a healthy diet. It’s important to wear sunscreen, drink green tea, avoid high-sugar and processed foods, get enough sleep, exercise, and take supplements like vitamin D and fish oil.
[Editor’s note: As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement.]
Spotlyte: Do you have any career advice for other women trying to start their own business endeavors?
JL: I have a few key things. First, when I think about how my career has progressed, I feel most grateful for mentors along the way, and of course this includes my parents and my husband, who are utmost supportive.
I still rely on people like my Harvard Medical School faculty, dermatology chairmen and attending [physicians], and Nashville mentors in business and entrepreneurship. I shamelessly seek other people’s input before making major business or career decisions. So, my advice would be to find people who are smarter or more experienced than you and try to absorb any wisdom from them.
Second, support others and be kind. The work we do and the journey we are on should foster community, not competition. There’s space for us all to thrive and succeed!
Finally, at the end of the day it comes down to this: work hard and do a good job. There are no shortcuts.
Dr. Jennifer Lee is a paid Allergan® consultant.
SkinMedica® is an Allergan®-owned skincare line.
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Allergan® may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this article.