Health & Wellness

The Difference Between Over the Counter Products and Cosmeceutical Grade Products

By January 23, 2021No Comments

One of the most common questions from clients who visit a medical cosmetic clinic is — “What is the difference between the professional skin care products available at the clinic and those available at a supermarket or pharmacy?”

The key difference is the kinds of ingredients that these products are allowed to include. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) limits over-the-counter products to a certain number of active ingredients, with a limited potency. This is because products with high levels of active ingredients (known as “cosmeceuticals”) can permanently change the skin.

The average consumer does not have the training necessary to select and use cosmeceutical products. Additionally, untrained shop assistants do not have the expertise necessary to prescribe these kinds of products over-the-counter.

Unlike over-the-counter products, which typically affect the top layers of the skin, cosmeceuticals can penetrate deeper into the dermis. While an over-the-counter product mostly affects the dead skin cells that make up the stratum corneum (the skin’s top level), cosmeceuticals can make a deeper biological change to the lower layers of the dermis.

Only trained professionals like physicians and cosmetic nurses can correctly prescribe cosmeceuticals and their mis-use can potentially lead to damaging side effects. They must be carefully prescribed to match the condition of your skin, any skin conditions you may have and your overall health.

Advantages of Using Cosmeceuticals Prescribed by a Trained Professional

There are many advantages to using cosmeceuticals that have been prescribed by a trained professional, including:

Tailored to Your Requirements

A medical professional or skin care clinician can ensure the products you are prescribed are right for you. A professional will look at your overall health and skin condition before deciding which product is both safe and effective for your skin. They examine both the active ingredients that a product contains and the dosage of those ingredients before recommending a product.

A Strong Dosage of Active Ingredients

The number of active ingredients in a product is important because they are the component that is capable of permanently changing your skin. While many OTC products use “trendy” or “novel” ingredients to give consumers the impression that they are more effective than other products, it is usually just a marketing gimmick.

Cosmeceutical products contain active ingredients that can permanently change your skin and correct conditions including Hyper-pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, sunspots and Melasma.

Cosmeceuticals Are Rigorously Tested

The active ingredients that go into cosmeceuticals are rigorously tested and precisely formulated. The effectiveness and safety of cosmeceuticals is assessed using in vivo and in vitro clinical data. Because cosmeceutical products are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the ingredients must be of a very high quality and the product’s formulation must be very precise.

The Focus is on The Product — Not Branding

Over-the-counter products rely upon advertising and marketing to increase their sales. Companies that develop OTC products will spend most of their operating budget on obtaining celebrity endorsements, improving branding and buying advertisements. They tend to spend much less money on product development and more on adding “gimmicks” into their products that gives them some product differentiation in the marketplace.
Cosmeceuticals are less focussed on advertising and more on delivering a product that is highly effective. Health professionals can access clinical data that demonstrates how effective each product is before choosing the most appropriate product for their client.

A Trained Professional Offers The Best Advice

Staff working in a supermarket are not trained to diagnose and treat skin conditions. A trained medical professional or skin care consultant has much better knowledge of the active ingredients that a product contains. They can use this knowledge to educate and inform their clients, helping them make better decisions.
A trained medical professional or skin care consultant can also help a client develop a holistic plan that improves the quality of their skin. That can include tips for healthy eating, exercise and skin care routines. Instead of walking away with some OTC products which “may” work, a professional can give you a comprehensive plan for improving the quality of your skin.

Skin care professionals also understand the synergy between different cosmeceutical products, because they understand how different components interact. They understand that retinol should not be used with products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) or l-ascorbic acid, because it will become ineffective. These complex interactions will be a mystery for most shop assistants!

You can trust a skin care professional to provide the best advice, while an untrained shop assistant may recommend products that are completely ineffective and a waste of money.

Cosmeceuticals prescribed by a health professional have proven effectiveness and can dramatically change the quality of your skin. Their use can achieve some dramatic results and the benefits of using cosmeceuticals is very clear.