Skincare Products: Medical-Grade vs Over-The-Counter

by | September 19, 2019 | Acne & Blemishes Discoloration & Pigment Lines & Wrinkles Tone & Texture

skincare product
Let’s Face It we all want to have clear, beautiful, younger looking skin (#nofilter right?), but we don’t want to break the bank to achieve it. So, should we care where we get our skincare products? Does it really make a difference? While department stores have products that seem appealing, and most are wallet-friendly, you have to wonder- do they actually work? Today we are going to discuss the differences between medical-grade skincare products and over-the-counter (OTC) products and why you should care which you are purchasing.

What’s the Difference Between Medical-Grade and OTC (Over-the-counter) Skincare Products?

The primary difference between OTC and medical or pharmaceutical-grade skincare products is that one can only be prescribed by a medical professional. The cosmetic product industry does not have oversight by the FDA which means thorough product or ingredient testing is not required. Even though medical-grade products fall into the cosmetic product category, many companies that manufacture them using extensive research and only use pure ingredients, 99% pure to be exact. On the other hand, OTC products that you find online, or at your local department/drug store, do not hold the same standards. They also leave you trying to diagnose yourself and hoping you get the results you want. Not only do these products not have to be tested in a clinical study, they often contain random fillers! OTC products are generally formulated to work on everyone, no matter their skin type but using a medical grade product allows you to use products that are more tailored to your needs and skin type. 

Skincare Product Quality Over Quantity

This is something we have always heard but when it comes to medical-grade skincare products, you actually get both! What I mean is, when you purchase a medical-grade face lotion for example, you are not only getting a quality product, but a little also goes a long way.

Have you ever used a product from the drugstore and feel like you have to use a lot of it, thus causing you to run out more frequently? Well, the reason is because most OTC products only actually contain microscopic amounts of active ingredients (see: doesn’t work) and they typically only work on the top layer of the skin. Medical-grade products that have a higher concentration of active ingredients (hylauronic acid, growth factors, peptides, acids, retinols, antioxidants, etc.) are developed to penetrate deeper levels of the skin as well as help with cell turnover.

Face Off: Comparing a Medical-Grade and an OTC Skincare Product

OTC: L’Oréal Revitalift Pure Vitamin C Serum


The Revitalift has 10% Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) along with 12 other ingredients, some of which may be cause for concern and include:

Acrylonitrile – Known for being a respiratory toxin, overall health hazard moderate/high.

Isobutane – Multiple sources site this is a “volatile substance derived from petroleum and natural gas,” and overall health hazard as moderate/high.

Medical-Grade: iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum

iS Clinical’s Pro Heal Serum has 15% of Vitamin C and 15 other ingredients, including some botanicals:

Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract – a natural antioxidant that nurtures and supports compromised skin.

Retinol – This ingredient signals for cell turnover to improve fine lines, tone, and texture. When used improperly, such as on large surface areas of the body, systemic absorption can lead to Vitamin A toxicity. This is why some sites may review this as a hazardous ingredient.

I think the ingredients speak for themselves! We work so hard to make sure we are taking care of ourselves by staying active and eating right, why wouldn’t we look into the ingredients of these products to make sure we know what we are putting on our face? 

While you might spend more money up front on medical-grade skincare products, you will get better results and, because you need to apply less of it, the product will last longer. You don’t have to buy the most 

expensive products either, there are plenty of great products that are reasonably priced. It is important to do your homework on the products you are investing in and putting on your face. 

Put our products to the test and try something from any of our amazing medical-grade lines: Epionce, iS Clinical, and Skin Medica.

Look and feel your best.

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