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Home.Blog . Medical Grade Skincare vs. Over the Counter…Differences and Benefits

There are several differences between medical grade skincare that is purchased from a medical provider and over-the-counter (OTC) skincare that is purchased in a department or drug store. The photo below is of our nurse, Kim, who has reaped the benefits of a personalized medical-grade skincare regimen and quarterly Botox treatments. Let’s dive into the benefits and differences, such as price and formulation, and why they are important.  

Kim before and after medical-grade skincare

Medical grade skincare is typically more expensive than department store products.  While this might be a deterrent for some, there is good reason for that price difference.  Medical grade skincare generally contains a higher concentration of active ingredients, undergoes research and rigorous testing, and is continually monitored by the FDA.  Ingredients in medical-grade skincare have higher stabilized, active ingredients, meaning they are of better quality and will be effective longer than OTC options. Higher quality ingredients mean you can use less and have faster, amazing results. By law, products sold over the counter cannot have the same amount or concentration of certain ingredients or claim to “treat” skin conditions.  This is because over-the-counter skincare is considered a cosmetic product, which is only regulated by the FDA if there is a color additive.  There is no guarantee that those OTC products you are purchasing will work because the FDA is not evaluating their effectiveness, and those products are made for broad-spectrum use by consumers and must be safe for everyone that might pick it up from a drugstore shelf.  Medical grade skincare has scientific evidence to back up the claims companies make.  Many OTC products have only small traces of active ingredients and are otherwise full of synthetic additives such as lotions or fillers that cannot penetrate the skin deep enough to truly correct underlying issues that cause signs of aging. For instance, a popular OTC product claims to be pure retinol, a product used to treat fine lines and wrinkles, but when checking the ingredients, the retinol is only 0.3% concentration, while most medical-grade skincare includes 0.5-1% retinol concentration or higher.  Although some may see results using this concentration, others may benefit more from a medical-grade skincare line such as ZO Skin Health. So don’t let the initial sticker price of medical-grade skincare scare you away.  These products will be replaced less frequently and provide faster, visible results.  We all know the saying “you get what you pay for” and skincare is no different because to truly change your skin, you must treat the root of the problem.  

Overall, there is nothing wrong with using OTC skincare.  However, there are significant differences between OTC skincare and medical-grade skincare that should be considered before purchasing.  If you are looking for scientifically proven results, your best option is to reach out to a healthcare provider for a skincare consultation.  After evaluating your skin, your provider can suggest the best skincare routine for your skin and, unlike OTC skincare, tailor the routine to reach your personal skincare goals.  

Call us today at Prince Plastic Surgery to get started on your personalized skincare routine.