Forget Over-the-Counter Skincare: Here’s What Derms Recommend


When it comes to skincare, getting the results you want can come at a cost not everyone is prepared to accept. Investing in your skin—and that’s just what you are doing—is important for long-term gain. Medical-grade skincare products get lasting results. By opting for over-the-counter skincare products, you are playing the short game. You may save money on the front end, but you won’t get results worth your time.

Think about it. You go into a drug store and there are hundreds of tiny bottles of skincare products promising the cure for aging or the immediate clearing of your acne problem. For under $10 you can remove wrinkles forever? Amazing. But the truth is, when it comes to over-the-counter skincare products, the old adage is right. You get what you pay for.

The Truth About Over-the-Counter Skincare

Over-the-counter products are great for someone who likes to self-diagnose and isn’t ready to call in the experts. Let’s explain why that’s doing more harm than good. The reason OTC products are available to anyone is that their active ingredients are minimal. What you end up buying is a lot of filler and water.

OTC products rarely penetrate even the outermost layer of skin. The cream or lotion simply sits on the top of the skin. For acne, sunspots, and lines you need a product that can penetrate into the deep layers of skin in order to work its magic. Real skin change happens at the dermal level, not on the surface.

Another fact about OTC skincare products, or what the FDA considers “cosmetics,” is that they are not required to have clinical studies done. They simply are not held at the same standard as medical-grade products, which are subject to extensive testing and years-long research. They can make a lot of claims on their packaging, but can they back it? Not likely.

Medical-Grade Skincare is a Safer, Smarter Approach

If you have an illness, you should call a doctor. The same rule rings true for your skin health. If you have a dermatological issue, call a dermatologist. By seeking professional guidance from a board-certified derm, you can set an attainable goal using advanced techniques and clinically proven, medical-grade skincare products that will help you every step of the way. What makes medical-grade skincare products better? Everything.

For one thing, while OTC products use low amounts of active ingredients, medical-grade products are known for their high concentrations. They are specially formulated to reach the deepest levels of skin to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, acne scarring, and help with collagen and elastin production.

Also, unlike OTC products, medical-grade products are considered drugs and are regulated by the FDA. There needs to be adequate scientific evidence that the product you are buying does what it says it does. Companies that produce these products typically pool a team of experts including pharmacologists, biologists, physicians, and geneticists to develop product lines that are backed by third-party clinical studies. When you consider that these products are being applied to your face, that’s the kind of assurance anyone would want.

So, the next time you are reading label after label from the backs of OTC skincare products at your local drug store, consider where your time and money are best spent. If you want results, call us at (973) 571-2121 or Request a Consultation with The Derm Group’s board-certified dermatologists in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania.