Skincare products 101

Pharmaceutical vs Over-the -Counter

Did you know there are about 25,000 skin care products? This is based on an article by The Beauty Issue in 2014 but by now I’m assuming that number has only grown. With so many product options and “guarantees” where does one even begin?

I’m not writing this to bash other skin care lines in order to sell my preferred skin care line; in fact I usually tell my clients if you like what you are using and feel like it’s doing the job then don’t change it. However recently I have found myself cringing on how many people tell me they are using Oil of Olay (sorry!) and I do feel it is my job as an esthetician to educate you the best I can about what you are putting on your skin. My goal of this blog is to educate you on the difference between over the counter (OTC) and pharmaceutical grade products.

1. Let’s get the whole money thing out of the way here first. Yes OTC products are cheaper maybe more convenient to pick up at the grocery store but do they give you the long term results you are looking for? When you are walking up and down the grocery store beauty isle you are pretty much “self-evaluating” your skin. How can you be sure you’re buying what your skin really needs? Medical grade products do tend to cost a little more but they are clinically proven and tested. Spend your money on something that will actually work. There’s that quote… “Invest in your skin it’s going to represent you for a very long time.” It’s true, so do it!

2. Pharmaceutical grade products are formulated by scientists and doctors with the highest concentrations of active ingredients. They are also only sold by licensed professionals who can recommend the proper products for your skin care needs. For example salicylic is a key ingredient used to target acne/oily skin. If you buy any product over the counter with salicylic there is only 0.5-5%, the remaining ingredients is 95% (or more) water and other fillers. So you’re mostly paying for water to fix your acne…that’s silly!

3. With these more active ingredients pharmaceutical grade products are also formulated to reach deeper layers of the skin where OTC products will just sit on the surface. If you have dark spots, wrinkles, or acne you want products to work at a deeper level to treat your concern.

4. Ok and here’s a biggie and it might sound harsh…don’t get sucked in by the sales associate at the beauty store. They are there to sell, sell, sell. You will hear it’s the latest and greatest but is it really? Chances are they did not go to school for skin care. So my biggest advice is to talk to an esthetician or physician and get a professional opinion on what skin care line is right for you. If you are looking for a new skin care line I’d love to make some recommendations on specific products. Here are some of my favorite lines: Image Skincare, SkinMedica, Revision Skincare, Epionce, iS Clinical and Elta MD