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Dr. Kathy Fields ’79

Skin Care for All

Kathy FieldsDr. Kathy Fields began her studies at Northwestern University but transferred to UF, where her late twin, Kenneth ’79, and sister Connie ’77 studied. She was intent on mastering the pre-med curriculum, spending long hours in the lab for a neurobiochemistry degree and, along the way, developing an interest in formulations. While at UF, an advisor once told her, “Marry a doctor because you’ll never get into med school.” He was wrong – fortunately for millions around the world whose lives are better because of her medical expertise.

She and Ken attended med school at the University of Miami, which she says represented their happiest years together. She went on to a dermatology residency at Stanford University, where she met Dr. Katie Rodan.
Rodan observed that a lot of adults had acne. “Everyone believed you’re not supposed to get breakouts after 21,” says Fields. “We realized that the 3 percent of adults cited in the literature either all lived in San Francisco, or the number was way off.”

She continues, “Concurrently, HMO gatekeeper medicine arrived in the early ’90s. Access to care for acne was often denied. The emotional and physical scars could be devastating.” They saw a huge need and were compelled to create an over-the-counter regimen that worked. “We were in a unique position,” says Fields. “We understood physiology, we understood the chemistry, and we also wanted luxury skin care.” Together, they created Proactiv, still the leading OTC acne medication. “This was a paradigm shift for the treatment of acne,” says Fields. “Tens of millions have benefitted worldwide over the past 22 years.”

In 2008, the doctors launched a second company to tackle sensitive skin, sun damage, and aging: Rodan + Fields. Their goal is to give people the best skin of their lives and the confidence and self-esteem that comes with it. “We have enjoyed tremendous satisfaction empowering others to live well in their skin,” says Fields. Rodan + Fields is now the No. 1 skin care brand in the U.S., with more than 200,000 consultants selling the products and millions of customers. The journey has been extraordinary and difficult. “Overnight success took years,” says Fields. “Good thing I paid attention in organic chemistry.”