Updated: Apr 3, 2020
When patients come in for a consultation, we go over their current skincare routine. When I hear that they are using retail products, I usually have two things to say. First, I congratulate them on having a skincare routine. Second, I ask them if they’ve seen a change in their skin since they’ve started using it. Most will say “maybe a little bit” or “not really.” So why are you still using these products? If you’ve made it to my office, then you are looking for more change. I usually recommend switching out to professional products, but inevitably I still get the question, “What products are good that I can get at (insert big box retail store name of choice)?” Listen, I shoot straight from the hip. None of the products you get at big retail chain stores are going to make significant visible changes in your skin. I’m not saying they’re all bad; I’m saying that if you want to see visible signs that your skin’s health is improving, you need professional products with professional direction on how to use them.
Professional products, or cosmeceuticals, are products that are FDA regulated and can only be dispensed by a licensed skincare professional such as an aesthetician, aesthetic nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician. Why, you ask? These products have active ingredients formulated at a pharmaceutical grade level with delivery systems that work, and white paper clinical studies to support their claims.
Let’s explore that a little bit more. Notice that cosmeceutical manufacturers do significantly less marketing. No billboards, no TV commercials, and very few magazine ads. That’s because they are putting their money into research and development and clinical testing so that each product is FDA approved and regulated before it hits the market. Retail skincare products are NOT FDA regulated. Look it up if you don’t believe me. In fact, there is no regulating agency that keeps retail skincare companies from making false claims about what their product does. I have seen some of the before and after photos they use in their ads, and their results are amazing, but not possible from any topical product within the timelines they are claiming. Are you confused because your retail serum has retinol in it? Active ingredients, such as retinols and acids, are measured by percentage. The higher the percentage, the more aggressive the ingredient. It takes education and experience to properly titrate these ingredients into a daily regimen. Many retail skincare lines put buzz word ingredients into their products at a low strength making them safe, but not very effective. They know you are looking for those buzz word ingredients, but they are not able to use higher percentages unless they submit to FDA testing. That means higher costs, because good science is expensive.
This brings me to cost. Many of my patients are on a budget (me too), but there’s a difference between inexpensive and value. I don’t know about you, but I want value. What good is an inexpensive product that doesn’t really do that much for you and that runs out every 4 weeks? Anti-aging products that can be found at CVS cost as much as $30 for a one-month supply and, again, you are paying for their marketing and not their science. A good cosmeceutical product averages $100 for a 4-month supply that is results driven with clinical studies to back their claims. $360/year for little to no result, or $300/year for high end professional product. No brainer, right? The bottom line is, there are no miracles in a tube or jar. Healthy skin takes time and work and the advice of a professional who has studied and worked with skin...or you could take the advice of an accounting major that’s working seasonal retail.
Professional products can be purchased at Stephen P. Beals, MD Skin and Laser Center. If you need help with product selection, I am available for complimentary individual consults through this website's chat or via email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you already know what you need, follow the link: www.bealsmd.com to find the brand of your choice. To purchase products that don't allow online ordering, you can either stop by the office or if you are out of the area, order over the phone and we'll ship them out to you.
**Note: Products purchased from unauthorized third party websites may be counterfeit, expired, stolen, or tampered with. As professional medical skincare professionals, we are authorized retailers of cosmeceutical brands.