A patient recently asked me the difference between medical grade skin care and regular skin care that you buy at the department store or drug store. She said she was always told, “It doesn’t matter how much you spend. It is all the same.”’
But is It?
You can purchase medical-grade skincare at your dermatologist’s or plastic surgeon’s office. It can be more expensive than products purchased over the counter at the drugstore, but not always. The prices of some products are very comparable. But fundamentally, how is it different, and is it worth it?
- Better quality ingredients. The ingredients are purer, and there is less filler in the formulations. Think about the difference between good quality dog food and cheaper dog food – filler is the first ingredient listed in the cheap bag.
- Higher concentrations of the active ingredients. For example, hydroquinone (a skin brightener) usually has a 4% concentration in medical-grade products; the highest concentration in over-the-counter formulations is 2%. The same is true for retinol products – the concentration in the ZO retinol that we have in our office can be as high as 1%, while over-the-counter products are typically only 0.5%
- Medical-grade skincare has FDA oversight. In other words, the skincare products have to have research to support any claims regarding effectiveness.
- Medical-grade skincare is formulated to penetrate the deeper layers of skin and thereby be more effective.
- And finally, medical-grade skincare can only be purchased in your doctor’s office.
I would also be wary of purchasing look-alike products from Amazon. We all do it – it’s easy, it’s cheap, and there is free shipping.
But the formulations may be different, and some products may be dated – hence, the cheaper price. My hairdresser informed me that this is also true of hair products purchased on Amazon vs. at the salon. Interesting…
So, I encourage everyone to care for their skin – it is like maintenance – like brushing and flossing your teeth. And as we approach the holidays and the New Year, we have discounted all of our ZO Skincare kits by 20% for the month of December – they make great stocking stuffers!