It’s hardly surprising when the skincare shelves are more confusing than ever, with scientific jargon and ingredient percentages complicating the process of selecting your perfect product more than ever before. A steer from a medical authority figure can do wonders to reassure any concerns over a specific formula.
It seems that for every month that goes by, another doctor-led skincare brand launches. From stem cell scientist and regenerative medical expert Dr Augustinus Bader, to renowned dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting, to aesthetic medicine aficionado Dr Michael Prager, doctors are offering up their expertise in the form of efficacious skincare solutions for all to enjoy.
But with the influx of doctor-led brands comes the inevitable bandwagon of brands using medical terminology that is deliberately vague in order to jump on the trend. The words “clinical”, “professional” and “cosmeceutical” start to appear on labels and packaging of every brand of skincare, confusing matters further.
“It’s clear that consumers are becoming much more knowledgable about ingredients, whilst also becoming more sceptical about what a product promises,” states leading dermatologist, Dr Sam Bunting. “Today’s consumer is quick to call bullsh*t on products that are overly expensive and make exaggerated claims.”
To help to provide some level of clarity, we asked the experts to define what they mean by some of the commonly used terms, so you know what to look out for.
According to cosmetic doctor Dr Lauren Hamilton, founder of Victor & Garth Clinic, medical grade skincare is referring to prescription medicines. “This means evidence-based research and products with a high strength of actives and sophisticated delivery systems which penetrate the layers of skin.”
“I would prescribe a medical grade product to target a specific skin condition, for example acne, or to achieve a desired effect like anti-ageing,” she explains.
Some skincare ingredients that require a prescription include benzoyl peroxide for topical acne treatment, retinol with a strength of over 2% and Isotretinoin (Roaccutain) tablets for severe acne.
COSMECEUTICAL, PROFESSIONAL AND CLINICAL
“It can be confusing for people to differentiate,” says Dr Hamilton. “When I think of terms like cosmeceutical, I think of luxury packaging and marketing campaigns. These products claim to be beneficial and can be but are not approved by FDA and don’t need to undergo rigorous research; they have a lower concentration of biologically active ingredients compared with medical grade products.”
According to Dr Hamilton, cosmeceutical skincare products are best when used to support a dermatologically approved treatment regime, not to substitute one. “It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to maintain a medical grade only skin regime; mixing and matching with over-the-counter to balance side effects and results, works too.”