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Over-The-Counter Versus Medical Grade Skincare

Posted by Dan Narsete on

"I regret taking good care of my skin."
-Can't find anyone to cite

We have heard it all. People giving all kinds of excuses as to why they don’t use medical grade skincare. “I have my own skincare regimen and it works for me”… “I can just go to the store or order from Amazon”…or “I don’t need any ‘special skincare’.” If this is you, you’re not alone. But you could be doing more harm than good. In this article we look at the myths and realities of skincare.

What is “medical grade” skincare?

The FDA does not regulate what is put into skin care. I know, that’s crazy, right?  Fortunately for us,  there are several pharmaceutical companies that do. In fact most pharmaceutical companies that manufacture skincare will not ship any skincare without a physician signing for it. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Medical grade skin care is more potent. Because of this, less is more. It’s true, the strength of skincare sold through a physician’s office is typically much stronger than what you can get at the store. Physicians have specialized knowledge and can diagnose, treat, and help various skin conditions, so this is why it is stronger than the products at the store.
  2. Millions of dollars in clinical research has been put into studying the effects of various cleansers, serums, moisturizers and even sunscreen for efficacy. Ever notice TV ads saying 4/5 women prefer this over that? That’s because a few women (maybe as little as 5 ;) chose those products. Medical skincare is studied in labs, under microscopes, and tested on real people before it gets to you. So, you know what you are buying is real and not just clever marketing.

Blessing the tank

You very well might get decent results from something bought at a retailer. It’s doubtful though, because the salesperson who sold it likely has little or no background in the science behind skin care. Anyone can sell skincare so what does that mean for you, the consumer? A lot of clever marketing phrases to get you to purchase their products. Also something important to keep in mind: since there isn’t a regulation on how potent or strong chemicals can be in these products, manufacturers can put whatever amounts they want in it. Oftentimes  a manufacturer company will put very small amounts in their lotions with what is called “blessing the tank.” This means that they can literally put a few drops of vitamin C or E without any regard to whether it will work or not. All they have to do is list the ingredients. Sound crazy? It is. And, it’s a waste of your money. On the flip-side with medical grade you know what you are getting, and since you use less of it, you will end up saving money. 


Many store-bought lotions are very good at moisturizing. You put it on your wrinkles and suddenly “poof!” They are gone. This is until your skin gets dry again. Or you stop using that particular product. Then, it’s back to the wrinkles. What isn’t happening is new collagen formation or dealing with any underlying issues. This is why you need medical grade skincare from a licensed physician. They can put you on the appropriate cleanser, serum, and sunscreen that actually corrects the problem instead of covering it up. Need a place to start? We can help. Try our personalized skin care quiz to help get you started on the right path. You can thank us later.

To getting you on the right skincare path,

Team Reflect


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