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Medical Grade versus Over-the-Counter Skincare

As a medical provider, I constantly preach that medical grade skincare products are superior to over-the-counter products. Some may assume I just say this because I carry medical grade skincare products through my business, but my opinion has nothing to do with profit. Patients ask me all the time, "what is the difference between the skin care products you want me to use and the cheaper products I can buy at Sephora or Walgreens?" So, lets dive into the differences.

Medical grade, otherwise known as pharmaceutical grade, products can only be prescribed by a medical professional. These products are required to contain more potent and pure ingredients, meaning less filler or unnecessary ingredients are added. They are also proven to be effective through trials and repeated results. One size does NOT fit all which is why it is necessary for a medical professional to design your regimen and prescribe the products. A big part of this is changing course if needed. If something isn’t working, that medical professional is able to find something that will, similar to a doctor prescribing a different medication. These products are usually found at medical spas or doctors offices.

Over-the-counter products that are purchased at department stores, drug stores, or on Amazon, often contain high levels of fillers and weaker active ingredients. These are products that the FDA have deemed "safe for all" which is why anyone can buy them without consulting a medical provider. (Medical grade products are still cleared through the FDA, but are not deemed "safe for all"). Now if a product is truly safe for anyone to use, how can it truly be effective to address your specific concerns?

Another point to make is that medical grade skincare lines are designed to work together. For example, ZO Skinhealth products target specific skin PH levels for higher absorption and efficacy of each topical. I tend to see patients who are using a hodge-podge of different brands. Not to say that the products aren't working at all, but they may actually be working against each other in some cases. One example would be someone who uses a "calming" or "gentle" line of over-the-counter products and wants to introduce a high-potency Retinol to their regimen. The over-the-counter products have not prepared the skin for a Retinol and the purge will

Finally, medical grade products are not made popular by being endorsed by celebrities or heavy marketing campaigns. The results should speak for themselves. Celebrities have tons of skin care options available to them. It's a little unfair when a youthful-looking celebrity who has had a facelift, gets monthly laser treatments, and routine Botox claims that an over-the-counter hyaluronic acid serum is the answer to all of their skin concerns. Truly, is that individual even using that product? Or did they just hold it up and look pretty for the commercial? Your medical professional should be able to show you studies and pictures proving that the products actually work independently of other interventions.

I do want to clarify that this post is in no way intended to diss any particular brands. It is only intended to educate on the differences in ingredients and results. Hopefully it is a more clear to those of you wondering why I preach medical grade skincare so hard!

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