Cosmeceuticals vs Over the counter cosmetics

Pure Bliss Med SpaUncategorized

The difference between Professional Cosmeceuticals & Over-the-counter products

One of the most commonly asked questions in the skin care industry is, “Do I really need to buy professional products or can I get something just as effective at the drugstore?”

Sadly, the answer is: No. There are various articles online that suggest otherwise, claiming store bought products contain the same ingredients. The fact is over the counter products are not able to contain the higher strength, quality ingredients found in medical grade cosmeceuticals and pharmaceutical products.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) separates products into distinct categories,  “cosmetics” and “pharmaceutical/ cosmeceutical products”. The FDA does not regulate claims for over the counter cosmetics, but does regulate the claims of medical grade products such as cosmeceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

Cosmetics/ Over the Counter (OTC)– This is the majority of creams, serums, and cleansers found readily available in drug stores, department stores, or by skincare sales reps. These products have similar ingredients to cosmeceuticals with much lower percentages and INACTIVE INGREDIENTS. With its lower efficacy, the FDA does not require cosmetics to support their claims with research and adequate testing. So they can say and market whatever they want…“Hydrates! Fights breakouts! Refines pores!”. These are all claims of OTC cosmetic lines but with no required research or proof. Scary right?

Cosmeceuticals-  Cosmeceuticals on the other hand, undergo much more rigorous testing  to prove efficiency and accurate claims, some undergo more than 10 years of research and testing before being FDA cleared to claim structural changes to skin. Cosmeceuticals are made to penetrate the deepest layers of the skin to effectively restore and replenish skin. They contain ACTIVE INGREDIENTS that are FDA proven to be beneficial in some way. Antioxidants, peptides, and acids are examples of active ingredients, when added to products they are considered a cosmeceutical.

Pharmaceuticals- Pharmaceutical skincare products are available only through a licensed professional and are often the most effective. These products, are “FDA-regulated, must contain 99.9% PURE ACTIVE ingredients, must be backed by scientific studies, and must demonstrate beneficial effect on the  structure of the skin.” In other words, they are required by the FDA to GET THE JOB DONE!!!!  When it claims to reduce wrinkles, build collagen, repair sun damage, diminish hyperpigmentation etc, this has been thoroughly studied and proven with documented research to support these claims.

And what about those claims? What do they do differently?

To further clarify, OTC products only work with the live tissue on the TOP layer of the skin called the epidermis. So when you apply them to your face, they are only affecting what you see in the mirror at the surface. Pharmaceuticals & Cosmeceuticals go deeper and make CHANGES in the dermis, the deeper layer of skin. And that’s what we want, because that’s how we can achieve things like more collagen and elastin growth for younger, tighter skin, speeding up cell renewal, inhibiting tyrosinase and melanin production to reduce uneven skin tone and age spots, plump fine lines and hydrate the tissue for smoother, brighter skin over all.


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So does this mean OTC products do not work? If you have never used a skin care regimen before they may be effective, but only with a minimal result because they will only work superficially. Ultimately you will stop seeing results, throw them in a drawer or the trash and try something new. Definitely not cost effective.

Bottom line: The best way to get the best results for your dollar is to ask your trusted esthetician. Make sure they have a good understanding of the products they sell, and overall knowledge of product ingredients. Make sure they know your customized skin care needs and how to help effectively. Start with one or two products and work your way to a full line of effective products.

Pure Bliss is a particularly great place to start your skin care routine, our estheticians and aesthetic nurse practitioner are well trained on various product lines and can recommend the best cosmeceuticals after a thorough skin analysis. Call today for a free consult and start your path to beautiful skin!