I want to make a serious post calling out over the counter brands that make claims to TREAT your skin concerns when the ingredients will not live up to the promise!
When products are intended for public sale, they are categorized into 1. over the counter or 2. cosmeceutical skin care by the appointed authority (FDA in the USA or Medsafe in New Zealand). The categorisation of these products is determined by there intended use... so let me define that for you.
Over the counter
Over the counter products are sold directly to the consumer without a prescription from a qualified professional. This includes brands found at the super market, chemist, Farmers, department stores, Sephora and Mecca... yes I am calling out skin care brands at Mecca!!
- These products have the ability to cleanse and beautify but not effect bodily structure or function
- They are required to contain up to approximately 2% concentration in active ingredients
- Low concentrations of active ingredients have difficulty penetrating past the stratum corneum (dead keratinised cells) in the epidermis. Therefore they are not treating LIVE skin cells
- These brands often do not invest in researching fields such as pH balancing, chirally corrected ingredients or clinical trials to test the efficacy of the product
- Often diluted by silicones, fragrances and preservatives that are not biologically compatible with our skin causing irritation
Cosmeceutical products are sold to the consumer with a prescription or recommendation from a qualified professional and contain bioactive ingredients with medicinal or drug-like properties. Meaning they can actually TREAT your skin. This includes any brands sold exclusively by skin clinics and skin specialists.
- These products can contain a concentration of up to 70% bioactive ingredients
Higher concentrations can penetrate beyond the stratum cornuem (layer of dead keratinised cells) in the epidermis to communicate with live cells and CORRECT or TREAT skin concerns
- Millions of dollars are invested into researching and implementaing ingredient quality, stability, pH, chirallity, delivery systems (to transport ingredients into the cell nucleus) and enzyme catalysts. Some or most of these fields are REQUIRED to be safely classified as a cosmeceutical skincare
What is the result of using over the counter skin care instead of cosmeceutical?
- Altered pH, impaired barrier, irritation and inflammation
- Over time incorrect or unsuitable products can AGE you faster
- Initial visible improvement in skin condition - why? With exfoliation and hydration of your stratum cornuem via over the counter products, you can experience an initial improvement in your skin condition. BUT, because these products often don't penetrate past this layer it is not a permanent or effective way to repair, regenerate and treat the skin
Over the counter products do one of two things:
- Reflect the quality through price. A $20 serum is not going to cure your pigmentation because the price of the product reflects the low quality of ingredients, as well as lack of research and testing
- OR are way over-priced for the quality and concentration of ingredients. Anything close to $100 is day light robbery when we understand that they can only contain approximately 2% of actives compared to 70% of actives in the cosmeceutical equivalent
To put it simply... over the counter products DO NOT contain the same concentration of actives as cosmeceutical products! Therefore they cannot live up to the claims they make to IMPROVE and TREAT your skin concerns.
Not all over the counter products are made equal, and I know not everyone's budget can allow for a bathroom shelf full of cosmeceutical products. So here is what I would recommend if that is the case:
- Spend a little less money with wash off/maintenance products i.e. cleanser and perhaps moisturiser (products that aren't targeted to truely treat your concerns). Look for 'natural' brands and products with a SIMPLE ingredient list (avoid 15+ ingredients, fragrance and strong essential oils). The purpose of this is to minimise the possibility of reactions, irritation and adverse effects. BUT...
- DO try to INVEST your money into cosmeceutical/professional grade SERUMS. These are the products that are really going to transform and treat your skin concerns at a deeper level within the skin
The last thing to consider when comparing over the counter and cosmeceutical products, is the professional involved... or lack of. Consumers have free reign of all types of products, containing all sorts of ingredients without the knowledge of what is best for their skin, what ingredients can ACTUALLY be mixed together or what your skin type even is to begin with! When purchasing cosmeceutical skin care, you have a prescription or access to recommendations and advice from a professional who has qualifications and years of experiencing in SKIN.
My job, my passion and purpose is to help you diagnose your skin to improve your skin health and make you feel a million bucks! Something you can't buy alongside your over the counter products...