What is the difference between cosmetic and medical skincare products?
The main difference between over-the-counter cosmetic skincare and medical skincare prescribed by a doctor is that the concentration of active ingredients is greater in medical products and they have been tested to be effective on specific skin conditions so they are generally more effective.
By law, cosmetics sold over the counter without medical prescriptions are not allowed to contain biologically active ingredients that can penetrate beyond the top layer or change the functioning of the skin. If they do, then they will be classified as a pharmaceutical and can only be prescribed by a doctor.
However, there are some ingredients that can penetrate the skin with only mild effect on the skin function and these fall in the grey area between cosmetic and pharmaceuticals and are sometimes called ‘cosmeceuticals’. These can be bought over the counter.
Seeking the advice of an aesthetic doctor for skincare issues has huge benefits, especially for conditions such as acne or wrinkles. The doctor can carry out a detailed examination of your skin and explore your skincare history, offering prescription-only medicines if appropriate that will target specific problems.
As well as medicated skincare products, procedures such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion and laser treatment can have a big impact on skin condition and can effectively treat skin conditions, often with long-term or with permanent results. Problems such as acne scars can also be treated to minimise their appearance.
What medical skin care products can the BCAM recommend?
BCAM does not endorse any particular brand of medical skincare products. However, the following advice should be followed for a good anti-aging skincare routine:
- During the day, products should be used that are designed to protect the skin. This is because our skin is exposed to damaging ultraviolet rays and the environment. Sun block of at least SPF 30 and antioxidants should be used during the day
- In the evening, skin should be thoroughly cleansed and the skincare products should be designed to stimulate the skin to repair. The gold standard for anti-aging ingredients are retinoids such as tretinoin
There are many other medical skincare products that can be prescribed by a doctor to reduce skin pigmentation, treat acne and acne rosacea and other skin conditions.