What’s the Difference Between Drugstore Brand and Pro Skin Care Products?
A couple weeks ago I posted an article on drugstore brand skin creams for all skin types. At MagnifaSkin, we understand that not everyone has the budget for the products we carry. Medical grade skin care products, also called cosmeceuticals, are not available in drug stores and typically are more expensive.
So what’s different about them, and are they worth the extra cost?
The Truth About Drugstore Brands
Drugstore brand skin care products are made to work on all skin types with a very low risk of irritation or side effects. There are two good reasons for this.
First, almost everyone who buys drugstore brand products is self-diagnosing their skin. Manufacturers need to be sure that what they are putting on the shelf will not harm your skin if you choose the wrong product or use too much.
Second, drugstore brands are sold in huge volumes. This means that if there was any possibility of the product causing side effects or skin irritation, the manufacturer would be exposing both themselves and the store to ruinous class action lawsuits.
In order to be safe then, these products need to use very low concentrations of the active ingredients. This is good from a safety standpoint but often leads to people using products that are ineffective. This doesn’t mean that a drugstore brand won’t have some benefit, but sadly in many cases, their effect is extremely minimal or even non-existent.
Add to this the unfortunate fact that some drugstore brands are nothing but cream bases with color and fragrance added, and you are taking a chance that the product you’re buying won’t actually do anything at all.
How are Pro Brand Cosmeceuticals Better?
Remember those active ingredients? We can buy painkillers over the counter or off the shelf, and for everyday pain like a minor headache, they will work just fine. But if we have serious pain, such as migraines, we need something stronger. But because the active ingredients in the painkiller can be dangerous if overused, we need a prescription from a doctor. These prescribed drugs might have exactly the same active ingredients as the OTC brand but just have more. In other cases, they may contain restricted drugs such as codeine that are only available with a prescription. These drugs are very effective, but because they are effective they can also be dangerous. This is why it’s necessary that they be prescribed by a doctor.
Pro brand skin care products are only available from medical spas and salons for much the same reason. In some cases, they contain higher concentrations of the active ingredients found in drugstore brands. In other cases, they contain active ingredients that are only available in cosmeceutical brands. This is because active ingredients are a double-edged sword. You need enough to have a real effect. But if the ingredients actually work, then too much could be harmful.
When you purchase these pro products from a medspa, your skin will be diagnosed by a doctor or other certified skin care professional. Just as your doctor knows the right medicine and dosage for your body, so too we know what will work on your skin effectively while making sure you don’t use the wrong thing, or even too much of the right thing.
A Different Approach to Testing
While all brands these days are committed to ethical testing practices and especially to never testing on animals, drugstore brand manufacturers are approaching testing with a different goal than the pro brands. Drugstore brands are being tested to be sure they won’t harm anyone. Pro brand cosmeceuticals are tested to be sure they actually work. The manufacturers have to take this approach. If you’re going to charge $50 or more for a tube of skin cream and it doesn’t give a real benefit, your reputation will suffer and sooner or later you’ll go out of business.
So Why Do They Cost More?
We all know that prescribed medications often have a very high cost compared to off-the-shelf or over-the-counter. This is because the amount of research, development, and testing that must go into making truly effective drugs is exponentially higher than it is for medications that are known to be safe, if less effective.
By the same token, producing truly effective pro brand skin care products requires considerably more research, development, and testing than drugstore brands whose primary goal is to do no harm. Manufacturers have to recover this cost at point of sale. Also because they are sold in much lower volumes the manufacturer’s profit margin per sale needs to be higher. If you sell ten million tubes per year, you can afford to only make a dollar on each sale. If you only sell ten thousand tubes per year nationwide, you’re going to need to make more than that to stay in business.
It Needs to Work
We want our skin to look its best and to be as healthy as possible. If you’ve found a drugstore brand that does this for you, then you should definitely keep using it. However, if these products just aren’t meeting your needs, come and see us for a free consultation. You may be shocked to discover how effective a cosmeceutical product can be.
In a future article, I’ll discuss how our skin changes as we age, and what that means for our skin care needs.