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Germany’s Top Dermatologist, Dr. Timm Golueke, on His Anti-Aging Skincare Line (Royal Fern) and the Secrets of Healthy Skin

Plus his thoughts on Botox, sunscreen, must-have ingredients and more.
Royal Fern Dr. Timm Golueke

With a clientele that includes royalty and celebrities from Europe and beyond, Dr. Timm Golueke is in high demand.

The German dermatologist is renowned for his expertise in lasers, injectables and cutting-edge treatments like PRP [platelet rich plasma] therapy. However, he's not just a cosmetic doctor—he also treats acne, rosacea, allergies and other skin conditions.

So when he went to develop his own skincare products, his reputation was on the line. They HAD to work! 

After years of research and testing, he finally launched Royal Fern, a minimalist, gender-neutral range based around a surprisingly humble ingredient: the fern. 

Who would have thought that a common houseplant had powerful anti-aging benefits?

But it does—so much so that Dr. Golueke successfully patented the Royal Fern active ingredient complex, which is all-natural and infused in every product. Now, you can find the line worldwide at retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Violet Grey and Canada's Holt Renfrew.

I sat down with Dr. Golueke during his recent Canadian visit to find out more about Royal Fern and to learn his tips for healthy, youthful skin!

What's your background?

I'm the man behind Royal Fern, but I'm also a dermatologist. I've had my clinic in Munich for 15 years, doing not only aesthetic procedures but also general dermatology. 

Do you still have an active dermatology practice?

Yes.

What area of expertise are you most known for?

I am known for laser therapy. We have one of the biggest laser centres in Munich. I'm also known for general dermatology. I started when there was no Botox and no fillers.

I would say that today, aesthetic medicine is about 50 percent of the procedures I am doing. It's Botox, it's filler, it's PRP, it's laser, it's peels. We have cosmeticians in our clinic who do procedures like microneedling.

The other 50 percent is general dermatology for all ages and genders. Everything from eczema to mole checks to alopecia.

Royal Fern Dr. Timm Golueke

Dr. Timm Golueke at his clinic in Munich, Germany. (Photo: @royalfernskincare)

It seems like a lot of derms only want to do the aesthetic procedures now, since they're so lucrative. Have you noticed that?

Yes, it's very hard to find a derm who still does general dermatology. I get a lot of people not only from Munich, but who come from Switzerland, Austria and London to get classical dermatological advice.

Here, even family doctors and dentists are offering Botox.

Yes, everyone does it. It's not good that the Botox companies sell it to every doctor. It is destroying the procedure. It's a little bit like liposuction, which got destroyed. At one point, a lot of doctors did weekend courses because they thought it would be an easy way to make money. But it's still a human body that you are treating, and it's a medical procedure and there are risks.

With Botox, there is also a risk. And there is a risk that you don't like it. I don't like the fact that some people consider it "easy."

Would you agree that it's always best to get Botox or fillers done by a dermatologist, not a nurse?

Yes, you are totally right. The big difference between aesthetic procedures in the States and Canada versus Germany is that [in Germany,] nurses are not allowed to do them. Botox is prescription only. To get it you need to be a doctor, and to provide it to patients, you need to be a doctor.

It seems like Germany is having a real moment in skincare right now. I recently interviewed one of your colleagues, Dr. Barbara Sturm, who also has an anti-aging line. 

But she is not a dermatologist. Anyway, yes, Barbara is also a German doctor. I think German medicine is very well known because it is clear. So talking about me, for example, I am very straightforward about what I think would be the best solution for the problem, and I explain this to the patient very clearly.

Germans are very direct.

Sometimes it's too direct! It depends on the patient.

We might be offended?

Yes. Sometimes I am, too! But German medicine, it has a good reputation and people trust German science. Of course, we have to make money but it is not only money-driven. I would never recommend a procedure or test if I already know what the cause is. 

Do you have a lot of celebrity patients?

Of course, but you're not allowed to mention those. It's a doctor's secret by law. But I have a lot, [such as] royal families from the Middle East. That's why I'm also going to Dubai from time to time. 

Royal Fern Dr. Timm Golueke

Dr. Timm Golueke testing a new "aqua dermabrasion" machine at his clinic. (Photo: @royalfernskincare)

What's the most common skin concern amongst your patients?

I would say it's impurities and acne breakouts.

Adult acne?

Through all ages. People think that it can only happen in our teens, but you can also have this when you are older. Many things can lead to impurities. It can happen because of hormone disfunction, because of over-treatment of the skin, because of perioral dermatitis, or because of too much vitamin B.

Or it can happen because you use the wrong skincare. [The right products] are something you need daily.

I always got the impression that dermatologists don't want to talk about over-the-counter skincare products—like that is not serious enough to trouble them with.

Yes, you are right. But it's a daily business of a dermatologist that people come and ask what creams they should use. A lot of people just don't know. They get recommendations from the media, from girlfriends. They spend money, but they're lost in beauty heaven. If you go to a store, it can be very hard to find someone who really gives you honest advice. 

So whenever someone comes to me, I always ask, "What products are you using now?" And when they make the first appointment, I always ask our patients to bring their current skincare routine to look over it. Some of them bring tons of stuff [that was] so much money. I feel bad when I see that and they still don't look better, skin-wise. 

When you look at their products, are you mainly checking the ingredients?

Not to sell, just to see if this is right. For example, if you have rosacea, then a high percentage of vitamin A or a fruit acid peel might not be the right thing. 

Often people think they have acne, but it's rosacea. They're using peels, Clarisonic brushes and other devices, and it gets worse, worse, worse. Even educated people do this.

They get too aggressive.

Often they do too much. So no, patients should not be afraid to ask their dermatologists about skincare products. Not at all. 

Is that what got you thinking about launching your own skincare line, after seeing what your patients were using?

Yes, exactly. This was the idea of creating a skincare line, because the demand was there. This was seven years ago. 

Royal Fern Dr. Timm Golueke