The difference between Over-the-counter Skin care & Professional Cosmeceuticals:
One of the most often asked questions I get is, “Do I really need to buy professional products or can I just get something just as effective at the drugstore?”
Sadly, the answer is: No.
If you look online, there are some articles out there that swear its the same ingredients, that its just all marketing. Occasionally, I will agree. It can be confusing sifting out the fact from fiction. But one thing is fact: OTC products are not allowed to have the same effective ingredients in them that cosmeceuticals do. The reason is because the FDA does not regulate claims for cosmetics, but does for medical products. What that means is, as long as you don’t claim a physical change in the skin such as lessening wrinkles, lightening pigmentation, etc, they can say anything they want. “Hydrates! Fights breakouts! Refines pores!” all those things can be claimed with zero proof. Scary, right?
But for cosmeceuticals, a much more rigorous testing is done to prove efficiency and accurate claims.
And what about those claims? What do they do differently? Well, OTC products only work with the dead tissue on the TOP layer of the epidermis (skin layers) aka the Stratum Corneum or “horny layer”. So when you apply them to your face, they are only affecting what you see in the mirror at the very surface. Those products can soften the rough skin or slough off some of the dead cells, but no actual changes will change at a live tissue level. Pharmaceuticals & Cosmeceutical products go deeper and make CHANGES in the deeper layers of the epidermis. And thats what we want, because thats how we can achieve things like more collagen and elastin growth for younger, tighter skin, speeding up cell renewal, inhibiting tyrosinase and melanin production to reduce uneven skin tone and age spots, plump fine lines and hydrate the tissue for smoother, brighter skin over all.
One the main reasons consumers purchase OTC products is because they think they cannot afford medical grade cosmeceuticals. However, most OTC products you get from the drug store, department stores (Yes high end makeup counters and Sephora/Ulta included), independent cosmetic sales consultants or even a mall kiosk are often the same price or more expensive. You end up using more of the product and replacing it sooner. Also cosmeceuticals are more affordable per ounce, because they have a higher concentration of great quality ingredients, so they last longer because you do not use as much.
So does this mean OTC products do not work? If you have never used a skin care regime before… maybe they’ll be decent, but only with a minimal result. They will only work superficially and not fix the larger issues. And this is where you end up with multiple skin care products that you get tired of, because they do not work and you throw them in a drawer or trash can. So really….how is that a savings?
So bottom line: The best way to get the best results for your dollar is to ask your trusted esthetician and have a professional skin analysis. Make sure they have a good understanding of not just the products they sell, but ingredient knowledge overall. Make sure they know your customized skin needs and how to help effectively. Be wary of any professional who insists on you buying a full range of products and only one line unless its an esthetician you know and trust. Start with one or two products and work your way up to lessen the burden on your wallet and routine stress. And remember—nothing is a quick fix!
~Lindze Merritt, L.E.