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MEDICAL GRADE PRODUCTS VS. OVER THE COUNTER PRODUCTS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Posted by Kristin Clark on

Here’s a question we get pretty frequently: “What’s the difference between medical-grade products such as the ones you sell on your website Dermavenue.com, and skincare products I find over the counter at drugstores or department stores?”  Surely, you’ve seen ads on TV or in storefront windows claiming that their skincare products work better than products you find at dermatologists offices or companies such as ours, at a fraction of the cost. That certainly sounds pretty appealing, I’ll admit, but are those claims really true? Read below as I delve into the differences between physician-dispensed products and those found at department stores, to help you decipher which products are going to give you the best results for your money.

Quality and Quantity of Ingredients
One of the big differences between medical-grade products and those found over the counter, is the quality and quantity of the ingredients used in each formula. Let’s start with quantity. And by that I don’t mean the longer the list of ingredients the better. What I mean is the percentage or dosage of each ingredient is allowed to be higher than regular over the counter products. For example, the physician-dispensed brand Obagi, offers a variety of Vitamin C Serums in 10%, 15%, and 20% strengths. Some Vitamin C products found at a department store may claim to have a high percentage of Vitamin C, but chances are it’s not the stable form used in physician-dispensed products and therefore, the full strength is lost before it even penetrates the skin. A more stable form and a higher concentration will bring the best results, and this can only be present in medical-grade products. 

Which brings us to quality of ingredients. When it comes to skincare the old adage “you get what you pay for” is absolutely true. Chances are when you find a skincare product claiming to make you look 20 years younger overnight for less than $10; it’s probably not going to work. And why is that? Well to begin, finding the right ingredients takes time and a lot of research. Sometimes the ingredients have to be harvested from far corners of the world and sometimes the best ingredients have to be developed by scientists and skincare professionals. A leading brand in the skincare industry called Neocutis has done just that. If an ingredient does not exist to address a specific skin concern, Neocutis scientists and researchers use their skincare expertise to develop novel, benefits driven ingredients. They have patented several proprietary ingredients such as PSP (growth factor) and Neo Peptide 7.5 in its MPC technology to help provide data driven results. When purchasing a skincare product always ask yourself: “Has this formula been clinically proven as effective by scientists and researchers?” “Are the ingredients in this product stable and tested to deliver the best results?”

Rule of thumb: Don’t take a chance on a product sitting on a shelf in your local store with the only “evidence” of its effectiveness is a testimony by a paid celebrity you saw on a commercial once late at night. Trust the skincare professionals and researchers.

 

Research and Testing
Simply put, over the counter products are not held to a certain standard that medical-grade products are. Medical-grade products are subjected to rigorous and extensive testing and clinical studies. What that means is that these products have years of research and data proving that they work, before they are even made available for you to purchase. Over the counter products do not have the have studies conducted or even years of research backing the formulation. An example of a physician-dispensed brand leading the way in research and testing is iS Clinical. iS Clinical assembled a world class team of experts including renowned pharmacologists, geneticists, biologists and physicians to help develop their line of skincare products. Their products are proudly backed by countless independent third-party clinical studies and the performance of their products can be easily proven because of extensive documentation.

Don’t leave your skin up to chance and luck, leave it to the experts and start letting products with proven, documented results take care of your skin.

 

Delivery of Product/Ingredients
A product can be formulated with all the best ingredients, but without an effective delivery method, the product cannot penetrate the skin, and therefore rendered ineffective. Over the counter products found at department stores and drugstores are only allowed to penetrate the surface of the skin and can’t address deeper skin concerns. Medical-grade products are designed with advanced delivery methods and technologies that have the capability to penetrate deep down to the deepest level of the skin, correcting your specific skin concern directly from the source. SkinMedica, a leading brand in the industry, has developed several products with time-release technology, such as their retinols and TNS line.  This allows for the ingredients to penetrate the skin gradually overtime, so that you can experience the full power of the product all day and night without any reapplication. With over the counter products, since they only sit on the surface of the skin, coming in contact with environmental factors is a given, so the product is only effective immediately after application. When choosing skincare products, look at what kind of delivery method they have formulated. Do they just sit on the surface of the skin, or are they going to penetrate deeply?


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