Updated: May 17, 2020
With an overwhelming number of skincare products available everywhere from online to the grocery store, it’s almost expected that one would be confused with understanding how and when to trust the claims and results promised.
We all want to have clear, radiant, imperfection-free skin. We want to bring our best face forward, but we don’t want to break the bank to get there. Have you ever dared to open up your cabinet to estimate how much dough you’ve dished out on the latest and greatest, only to acquire another dust bunny disappointment that has taken up valuable bathroom real estate? We all have. So how can we learn where to make smarter skincare investments? And is there REALLY a difference between the many options that surround us?
The truth is, there is a difference…a big one. If you’re lucky enough to be blessed with great-looking, flawless skin, then this may not pertain to you as much. By keeping your skin clean, hydrated and protected – you’re golden. But, if you’re more like the vast majority and want to improve your complexion, then your skincare choices are critical and, in the long run, will save you a ton of money – and real estate in your bathroom.
Medical grade is a term that is so loosely tossed. Though, in essence, it has a significant meaning when it comes to skincare. You may often find yourself asking “Is this really going to make a difference? Or is this just another brilliant marketing lure?” Quite honestly, the answer can be “yes” for both questions. But let me tell you a secret… you’ll know the difference when you decide where you’re going to buy it.
Department stores and drugstores offer appealing products. They smell nice, they feel nice and are, for the most part, quite affordable. Both offer over the counter (OTC) products.
A TRUE medical-grade skincare brand is unique. Though marketing claims are threaded through countless drugstore products, the unique classification of medical-grade products is that they are physician dispensed. This means that these products are sold by medical professionals in a clinical setting, or a med spa with a medical director who oversees product recommendations and patient journeys.
Today’s blog will discuss the differences between medical-grade skincare products and drugstore and department store products and ultimately, why you should pay extra attention when buying them, and understand truly what they are doing for your skin.
Since you’re reading this article, it means that you probably have some concerns about your skin. Your primary goal should be to gain insight from a skincare professional. Have you ever gotten ill, and tried to have Dr. Google diagnose your symptoms? Where did that lead you? Case and point. It is imperative to speak to someone who knows skin in depth, someone who has dedicated their professional career to looking at all sorts of skin types and conditions, and has a proven track record of positive outcomes. You also want to know that this person can explain what is happening inside your skin and why, as well as discuss the granular details with authority. This person is usually an aesthetician, medical aesthetician, cosmetic nurse, GP, surgeon or – of course – a dermatologist. Now if you consider these professionals, you will also notice that they usually don’t JUST sell medical-grade skincare. These healthy skin ambassadors usually take on a wider portfolio when it comes to treating the skin effectively, which includes technologies like lasers, IPL, microneedling and injectables to name a few. The reason for this is that these professionals are solution providers, pushing the envelope to enhance your results and help you maintain them long term.
Now, if a skincare professional was going to invest in these technologies – and trust me, investment is an understatement – they will ultimately want to ensure that their patients are using medical-grade skincare products for home care to enhance clinic results. We have established that medical grade means they are available from clinics and establishments that operate under the medical direction and licence of a physician. This is not to be confused with a brand that claims to have been developed by a physician or endorsed by physicians – that alone does not in any way make a product medical grade.
A secondary, yet critical component, which differentiates medical grade from OTC products, is the ingredients. This includes the purity, concentration, selective blend of actives as well as elements like pH. When you’re roaming through a pharmacy or department store scavenging through the countless products, just know that these products are designed to keep even the most sensitive skin types safe. They are designed for the masses. They contain lower concentrations and buffers to prevent potentially irritating the skin. Due to the fact that most of the time you’re fending for yourself out there, with your self-diagnoses, having medical-grade products with concentrated ingredients may, in fact, not be suitable for your skin and can potentially cause irritation if not used properly. Medical-grade ingredients usually have a punch. They are potent, pure and efficacious with the highest concentrations of active ingredients. And this is done with a purpose – to treat very specific skin conditions or concerns, under strict professional direction.
Let’s take a closer look at these two types of products. In one hand you’re holding a medical-grade serum which you picked up from your dermatologist and in your other hand, you have a serum you picked up at a drugstore or department store. Right off the bat, you can expect that the OTC product will most likely feel good upon application and bring hydration to the skin but when it comes down to performance, it doesn’t stand a chance. Your product from the dermatologist’s office will include active ingredients like pure actives, acids, humectants, peptides and enzymes to name a few. Many active ingredients have structural benefits, or work strictly on or inside the skin, with the ability to penetrate deeply offering a multi-layer approach to treatment. They also include advanced technologies like encapsulation which maintains the integrity and purity of actives as they penetrate into skin. Medical-grade products are strong enough to correct problems embedded deeper in the skin and help with prevention as well.
When you consider cost, you may feel like medical-grade products can add up. However, the brilliance behind medical-grade is that you usually require less product to achieve your desired results. When considering the times you have tried to get rid of the imperfections in your skin, and how much each OTC “solution” cost, I can guarantee that the overall cost would be much greater than purchasing the medical-grade serum from the get-go. PLUS you get your own skincare coach who will dive much deeper into understanding your skin. So, in the long run, medical-grade products are also easier on your wallet.
In summary, I will leave you with specifics to consider when shopping for your skin…
Medical-grade products will always offer stronger, active ingredients strategically formulated for your skin under the guidance of a professional who knows YOUR skin best.
Medical-grade products focus on correction and prevention. They are physician dispensed and backed by science. No angel dusting or buffers …
In the long run, medical grade will save you a TON of money.
And remember, physician endorsed is not the same thing as medical grade.