Medical Grade Skincare vs. Over The Counter

Medical Grade Skincare vs. Over The Counter

Chances are, you have heard someone raving about how amazing the SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum is. You're also probably wondering why these products boast such a hefty price tag ($166). Or maybe you are wondering why brands like Revision and ZO Skin Health have such a cult following. However, if you went to your nearest Ulta or Sephora, you would be out of luck. These products are typically sold exclusively at Med Spas and dermatology offices. 

Even with the huge following that professional skincare brands have, you still may be wondering if medical grade skincare actually works or if it's worth the price tag. Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Vlad Groysman explains her stance on the topic.

What is Medical Grade Skincare

Medical grade skincare or "cosmeceuticals" are skincare products that contain a higher concentration of active ingredients that have been proven to have a positive effect on the skin. These products have gone through testing and have been determined to have a greater effect. The higher concentration of actives allows the ingredients to reach the deeper layers of the skin where they are most effective.

"I am very results driven, I never recommend a product to my patients unless I know it will help them. I am a fan of professional brands because they have actually been clinically tested", explains Groysman. "I personally have seen amazing results from some of these products with my own patients".

Medical-Grade vs. Over-the-Counter

When it comes to the differences between medical-grade skincare vs. over the counter, there are a few important differences to note. For starters, medical grade skincare used to only be available in a medical office. However, with the help of the internet, these products have become much more accessible. Even though this is the case, these products are still only available through medical facilities and certified online retailers, while over the counter products can be found in most drug stores.


Most medical grade skincare companies go the extra mile with the innovation of their products. More research goes into creating products that have the highest absorption rate possible, allowing them to reach the deepest layers of the skin and making the products much more effective. 

A Little Goes A Long Way

Medical grade skincare products tend to be much more expensive than over the counter products. The upside to this is that professional products normally have concentrations of active ingredients compared to over the counter products which tend to be more diluted. This means that you can use a smaller amount of the product to achieve the desired results, making the products last much longer. 

Unlike medical grade skincare, over the counter products are not allowed to make any medical claims or claim to fix a certain skin issue.

Why Should You Choose Medical Grade Skincare?

Dr. Groysman is a strong advocate for professional strength products, mainly because of their clinical testing. She says it is possible to find high quality products a a beauty store, but you need to understand exactly what's in them. Dr. Groysman recommends that even if you want to try something from one of these stores, it is best to consult your dermatologist to understand what effects it will have on your skin. 

"When I recommend a product to a patient, I need to know exactly what's in it so I will know what to expect when my patient uses it." explains Groysman. "With medical grade products, there has been clinical testing. We know what effects to expect. When patients come and ask me why certain products have caused their skin to have a negative reaction, it is normally because the ingredients are not suitable for their skin." she adds.

The Verdict

Medical grade products are the clear winner in Dr. Groysman's book. The clinical testing along with the higher concentration of active ingredients make these products a no-brainer. "There are a lot of times that I will recommend some of these products over prescription products for my patients, they are THAT good!" says Dr. Groysman. "Some of my favorite acne treatments are products made by Avène" she adds.

Before using any skincare products, you should have a decent understanding of what your skin type is and what products are most suitable for you. The best way to know exactly what products you should be using is to visit your local dermatologist or get a skincare consultation.

Here are some of our favorite products:

Avene A-Oxitive


Revision C+ Correcting Complex 30%


SkinMedica TNS® Advanced+ Serum

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