over the counter skin care

By Laura Cook, Esthetician

What is the difference? Does it really matter? I have been working in this industry for almost seven years and I continue to receive these same questions from my patients.

We have all walked through the beauty aisles at Von Maur or Saks and been drawn to the beautifully displayed products claiming to do amazing things while you sleep, plump our lips for a night out, or drastically diminish all the fine lines around our tired eyes by the time we wake up. Or have you ever watched a L’Oréal commercial and thought that you need to immediately get your hands on the product they are advertising? The truth is, over the counter products will never be able to do what a medical grade product can!

Due to FDA guidelines, over the counter products are not allowed to contain the same amount of active ingredients as medical grade products. Let’s look at popular product every woman has looked for: Vitamin C. If you are searching for this serum to help brighten your skin and protect you from environmental damage, you could easily fall for the claims that the department store advertises, but those ingredients will not be the same as you would find in medical grade products. Only these products can contain a stable form of vitamin C and only a stable form of Vitamin C can penetrate through the surface level of the skin to reach deep into the skin and correct the issue.

The FDA also controls how deep OTC products and medical grade products can penetrate the skin. Legally, an OTC product can only sit on the surface layer of the skin. If a product is sitting on the surface of the skin, ask yourself, “Can it really correct my skin if it doesn’t penetrate?”. It is very unlikely. No matter how much you spend on that department store product you are not investing in a product that will benefit your skin. You may see a temporary change with the OTC product, but why pay for something that isn’t correcting the problem?

The products sold in our office and other medical offices can contain significantly stronger ingredients. Clinical studies are conducted to substantiate claims by the company and medical grade products require physician supervision. OTC products usually contain a high amount of filler ingredients and only a small amount of the active ingredient that you need. Think about this, how strong can a product really be when you’re purchasing it from a friend of a friend having a skincare party at her house? Then she delivers it out of a huge stash in her trunk. Personally, I’ll continue to buy my products in the medical office. Purchasing your products in a medical office means you will receive customized advice from a physician as well as a medical aesthetician.

How many products do you have right now that you don’t use but you bought them because you thought you were saving money by buying them in a department store? Then you quickly realize they just don’t work. Let professionals help you. We have studied skin, we have studied the products in our office, and we have used the products that we sell. Stop being fooled with the catchy commercials and free gift with purchase and invest in products that will really make a difference in your skin.

Medical-grade skincare will far outweigh the few dollars you may save! Remember it is FDA approved, it has an advanced delivery system to penetrate to the dermal level of the skin, it has been tested and used by physicians and dermatologists and it contains high amounts of active ingredients and fewer filler ingredients than over the counter products. That is why you should invest in medical-grade products