Types Of Skincare Products
When it comes to skincare, there are three main different categories of products. The first is OTC skincare products, which are products that you can buy ‘over the counter’ at a drugstore (like Walgreens) or even at a place like Ulta. Brands that come to mind include Cetaphil, Olay, and Neutrogena. Secondly, there are prescription skincare products such as creams and ointments that you can only get from a doctor or a dermatologist. These are things such as antibiotic creams, hydroquinone, and some retinol formulations. And then lastly, there are medical grade skincare products, which are products that can only be sold by medical professionals and estheticians. A few lines that I think of when I hear “medical grade” include Epionce, Alastin, Skinceuticals, and SkinMedica, just to name a few.
These products are going to be the most affordable, hands down. Products found in drugstores typically range anywhere from $5- $40, and will last about 30 days. But with that lower price point also comes lower quality. These products are typically packed with fillers and other ingredients that are not “active,” meaning they don’t do anything to change the skin and can often build up in the pores. These skincare products are not only less effective because they lack the proper active ingredients to stimulate change in the skin, but they can also contain ingredients (like fragrance) that can lead to breakouts, congestion, and even irritation.
Prescription skincare products can only be purchased from a pharmacy once a doctor has written a prescription for you. These topical medications are generally very expensive, unless insurance knocks the price down. Typically, dermatologists or doctors will write a prescription to help tackle the problem at hand (like acne, rosacea, or a rash), but those prescriptions do not actually improve the health of the skin. For example, an antibiotic cream may fight acne bacteria on the skin, but it does not restore the skin barrier or properly hydrate the skin. So while prescription products absolutely serve a purpose and have their role, prescription skincare products cannot be the only answer when trying to improve the skin.
MEDICAL GRADE SKINCARE
Medical grade skincare products are ones that are typically not found in drugstores or beauty stores, and are only sold by medical practices or estheticians (online or in store). In some cases, you can find medical grade skincare products being sold by online businesses that are authorized retailers, but you will need to do your research to ensure that the online retailer is a trusted site (for example, if you are trying to buy Epionce from an online store, check Epionce’s Authorized Retailers noted on their site).The reason that medical grade products are sold only by skincare professionals is that the ingredients found in these types of products contain higher amounts of active ingredients, which penetrate deep into the skin to create change. This means that medical grade products are more effective, are often backed by clinical trials and research, and are typically safer to use as they have cleaner ingredients and less irritating fillers. While medical grade products have a higher upfront cost than what you get at a drugstore, these products typically last 3-6 months and end up being around the same price range as drugstore products in the long run.
WHAT SKINCARE IS BEST?
Well, it depends. If you are on a very tight budget and just need a super basic cleanser and moisturizer, OTC products might fit the bill. If you have a serious skin condition and have been advised by a doctor to use a prescription product on your skin, then that could become an important part of your skincare routine. And if you are someone who really wants to focus on good quality, effective products that promote change in the skin and you are willing to spend a little more upfront, then medical grade skincare products are the way to go. Am I a little biased? Absolutely. I am a skincare professional, I sell medical grade products, and I use them daily. But I only share things I believe in, and I believe in medical grade skincare because it has changed my life, literally! *My skin has been my largest insecurity since I was 12 years old when I started to develop acne, and the fact that I show my bare face every day to over 200,000 people on social media has truly been a dream come true for me.
In some situations, a blend of OTC products with medical grade skincare or even a blend of prescription products with medical grade products is necessary. Everyone’s skin is different and everyone’s needs (and budget) is unique to them. But what I will say is this: my patients who switch to medical grade skincare products never regret it! And they are always very impressed with the results that they see! My honest opinion her as a licensed medical aesthetician is this: Go with medical grade, because you deserve to love the skin you're in!