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Medical Grade Skincare


So, what’s all the talk about medical grade skincare? Can the benefits outweigh the convenience of your local pharmacy, Target or even Neiman Marcus? Would a trip to the doctor’s office really be that much different?  Take notice- medical grade skincare is not just for today; these products may help preserve your youthful appearance for up to 20 years!  Learn how and why medical grade skincare can enhance your daily regimen and will take your skincare to higher heights. After all, medical grade skincare products are not always more expensive. Compared to “store bought” products, medical grade skincare products are comprised of better quality ingredients with higher strength formulations that can penetrate deeper levels of the skin. These products usually do not contain parabens, extenders, or fragrances, which stimulate skin irritation. Medical grade skincare allows you to achieve faster, better results for smoother, healthier skin.

Perhaps, Cleopatra had the right idea when she bathed in anti-oxidant rich red wine and milk plentiful in lactic acid. Or it could have been Dr. Eugene Van Scott who discovered the benefits of glycolic acid following a study that involved 50,000 women. Regardless, medical grade skincare is a long ways away from 69BC when Cleopatra bathed.

If you like the idea of Cleopatra’s lactic acid bath, you’ll probably like a medical grade skincare product that’s scientifically based and contains the highest concentration of lactic acid available in an OTC product at the doctor’s office. Lactic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid. Alpha hydroxy acid is used in chemical peels and is also available for at-home use in a lower concentration level with a low ph. The at-home version tackles anti-aging without burning, itching or stinging. This type of cleanser and toner at 1% percent can leverage the breakdown of dirt, oil and makeup. A night cream, gel or lotion that contains 15% percent lactic acid and an anti-irritant is far superior when compared to store bought skincare at 10% percent strength. Cosmeceuticals range from 10-20%  percent. Now, consider this- 10%  percent alpha hydroxy acid (aha) with 3.5 ph delivers 75%  percent more alpha hydroxy acid than 10%  percent aha with 4 ph. So, scientifically proven formulas offered in medical grade skincare can set you up for anti-aging success.  

If you like Dr. Eugene Scott’s approach, glycolic acid molecules can reach the dermis skin layer, exfoliate the upper layers and regenerate your cells for fresher skin. With the right molecule and strengths of 8% percent, 10% percent, 15% percent, or 20% percent, this variation offers a penetration level for any type of skin. In fact, there is an astringent 8% percent glycolic toner that have been touted to be great for acne.

The good news is that you probably won’t need more than one or two medical grade products. Too many products can confuse your skin and may be irritating.  Check out what you need to know about skincare products that may be purchased at a nearby aesthetic doctor’s office.

The Approach

There are many types of medical grade skincare products available. The difference between the products is in the formulation that is created by the companies’ scientists to ensure effectiveness. The goal of reputable companies is to combine stable ingredients that work the best with each other.  The science is based on eliminating the risk that the active ingredient will degrade when combined, which would cancel out the benefit of the active ingredient. Medical grade products that focus on enhanced combinations are more likely to deliver results because they are reviewed by scientists and physicians before the physician purchases them for the practice. People may choose from topical prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) skincare only available at a physician’s office, including: 

Prescription Retin-A or its sister OTC version Retinol (at lower strength) is known for assisting with acne, wrinkles and skin texture at the molecular level. 

Chemical Peel Ingredients at a lower concentration levels, such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid or trichloroacetic acid, accelerate the exfoliation process to regenerate skin that is smoother and help diminish fine lines diminishing.  

Proteins used in medical grade products, such as peptides and antioxidants, can be useful for smoothing skin, reducing fine lines, and enhancing skin tone.

Certain Antioxidants, such as that found in hydroquinone, can work as a skin lightener.

Natural Extracts, such as chamomile and green tea, can be highly beneficial in medical grade skincare. Chamomile is wise good for cleansing pores, reducing facial puffiness and to aid cell regeneration for wound healing. Green tea is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps protect from skin cancer and neutralizes free radicals to slow aging signs.

Vitamin Therapy, including A, C, and E, is a substitute for people with sensitive skin that becomes irritated with chemical peel ingredients.   Excellent for skin cancer prevention, vitamin energized moisturizers are helpful for skin rejuvenation. 

Medical Grade Sunscreen is offered in SPF 20 with the broadest spectrum to protect from sun damage, wrinkles, radiation, sun burns, and skin cancer. In fact, it can be cosmetically elegant- not greasy or oily. So, you’ll never have to experience that thick, white, opaque film on your face again.

Healing Remedies, such as ewe oil derived from ewe birds, is a great anti-inflammatory and healing agent for laser skin resurfacing recovery, burns, wounds and scars.  Human growth factors are also being included in certain medical grade products to enhance the wound healing process. There are also formulations with amino acids, trace minerals, electrolytes, nucleotides (RNA/DNA), nucleosides and much more to enhance wound healing.

Theory vs. Science

The FDA does not regulate “store bought” skincare products. It is the sole responsibility of these manufacturers to account for the safety and effectiveness of their products. These manufacturers operate on theories, but there’s no accountability for the scientific testing of their products through the FDA. There are two exceptions in which the FDA may regulate the product: 1) the product produces a change in the structure or function of the body or 2) the product has a widely known therapeutic use.

Cosmeceutical companies that sell medical grade products must be licensed. These companies often use the base formulation provided in FDA monographs to improve compounds sanctioned by the FDA in 1986. To accomplish their goals, they employ or contract work out to chemists and scientists. Cosmeceutical facilities may be FDA approved, meeting stringent FDA requirements for safety. Cosmeceutical facilities that are not FDA approved must still meet criteria set by the licensing agency.    

Validity of Claims

Reputable Cosmeceutical firms set up their own internal controls and conduct their own studies. One Cosmeceutical manufacturer outsourced a skin biopsy study to UCSD to identify that their product was safe for daily use, increased collagen and lived up to company claims. Another medical grade skincare manufacturer recruited many volunteers to test prototypes of their formulation. Then, reformulated the product based on study participant results to further improve its effectiveness. Some medical grade skincare companies secure patents on their products because their product has been identified to be unique in its own way. In order to secure a patent, a company must provide significant evidence that proves the validity of their claim.  There are two types of studies that you should be aware of: stability studies and double blind studies. 

Stability Studies measure formulation compounds to identify any product that is at risk for degradation and consequential ineffectiveness. Products that fail stability tests do not reach the market. Stability tests are important if you are interested in a product that has a long shelf life. Over time, skincare products can degrade. When we consider the time it takes to manufacture, distribute and stay on the shelf, you’ll want your product to have a 3 three year shelf life. In fact, some Cosmeceutical companies package ingredients in dual chambers to omit the risk of degradation when stability would be compromised if the ingredients were combined during manufacturing. 

Double Blind Studies demonstrate the validity of scientific claims, barring influence from bias. For example, one patient group in a double blind study receives the actual product. A different group receives a product that appears identical, but does not contain the active ingredients. The scientist is not made aware of which group received the product with the active ingredient. In this way, the results can be qualified and quantified without bias.

The Physician Take

Physicians that sell medical grade skincare are familiar with the chemistry behind the products they possess. They have investigated the products and have witnessed firsthand the safety and effectiveness of products. They understand how a skincare product must be packaged to maintain stability. They know that clear bottles exposed to sunlight lose effectiveness. They understand that an antioxidant with low ph will degrade, but certain high acid and low ph combinations can be the right formulations. They are familiar with what it takes for active ingredients to be microscopically delivered deeply into your skin. Select physicians also know how to diagnose your skincare needs and may customize your routine. 

Skin care at home, including: a daily two time skin cleanse, moisturizer following the wash, and a once daily toner may seem satisfactory. However, every so often, the traditional routine may not be suffice. Some people experience skin conditions that do not resolve and are only properly diagnosed by board certified dermatologist. Board certified dermatologists understand the skin and know how to properly diagnosis skin problems so you can receive the right treatment.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition.