Medical Grade vs. Over-the-Counter Skincare: Is There Really a Difference?

Woman Examining Cosmetic Product

People researching skincare products in Denver are lucky to have a variety of options available, and this freedom allows for several purchasing avenues. You can buy skincare products online, at the local pharmacy, through your neighbor’s latest and greatest MLM company, at the department store beauty counter, in a natural food market, in a mall kiosk, from your gym, or even from your optometrist, etc. 

How do you know fact from fiction with all of these skincare product options?


What you may not know is there are BIG differences between medical grade skincare and over-the-counter “OTC” skincare. OTC products invest in attractive marketing to sell their skincare products aimed at targeting your pocket book. When we see the beautiful, bold Kate Winslet advertising the latest Lancome product, why wouldn’t we buy it? She is flawless, smart, and put together. These celebrity sponsors are skillfully positioned to entice you during prime time TV hours or while you read an article out of Real Simple magazine.

However, have you ever wondered if science and research are behind these “main stream” products? Have they been created in a lab or a boardroom? Do the big Johnson & Johnson brands care deeply about your skincare results or are they trying to formulate a “one-size-fits-all” approach?

Medical Grade “MG” skincare is formulated with high-quality, stable ingredients such as Tretinoin (vitamin A, tends to be a bit more aggressive than retinol.), vitamin C, and peptides at higher levels than OTC products. MG products are formulated in a lab and have research and double-blind tests behind all products. In fact, medical grade skincare has such high levels of active ingredients that all of these products must be sold under a physician whose staff directs the usage for each patient.

Furthermore, the cost of medical grade skin care isn’t much more expensive than products you find in a department store. MG products must contain the purest ingredients in non-synthetic form. Take vitamin E for example: “The natural form of vitamin E is called “D-ALPHA TOCOPHEROL,” and is made from vegetable oil. The synthetic form is DL-alpha tocopherol. Not a big difference in name, is it? Alpha-tocopherol is considered the most active natural form because it is the preferred form of vitamin E transported and used by the liver. Synthetic vitamin E does not come from a natural food sources and is generally derived from petroleum products.”

Read your labels at home and Google the real names of ingredients such as, vitamins C, E, and A. Before heading out to the department store or shopping on Amazon, develop a relationship with one of our trusted medical aestheticians who will analyze your skin and recommend an AM and PM regimen that is sure to give results backed with science and experience.

See below the differences between medical grade skincare and over-the-counter skincare:

Medical Grade Skincare Products

  • Products are FDA Regulated
  • All active ingredients must be 99.9% pure
  • Formulated in a lab and highly tested to effectiveness
  • Each product is developed for a certain skin type or skin issue
  • Made to treat skin issues and give visible results
  • Must be sold under a doctor and prescribed by a trained/licensed skin care nurse or aesthetician

Over-the-Counter Skincare Products

  • Can be sold by anyone
  • Products are mass produced
  • Made with less science and more marketing
  • Ingredients are high in synthetics and fragrance
  • Contain high levels of preservatives to maintain a longer shelf life
  • Contain small amounts of active, pure ingredients
  • Made to look, smell, and have nice slip when applied

Rejuvenate, our non-surgical side of the practice, only offers medical grade skincare products. Our staff is compiled of RNs and licensed aestheticians who are passionate about helping patients change their skin.  

Do you want to change your skin? Schedule a Complimentary Skin Care Product Consultation to see what products are best for you.

2 Responses to Medical Grade vs. Over-the-Counter Skincare: Is There Really a Difference?

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are required.