Skin Saavy

Over-the-Counter vs. Cosmeceuticals … what’s the Difference

“So what is the Big Difference between Drugstore and Cosmeceutical skin care?” This is a question that many of my patients ask me. And I have responded to this question with, “You Get what you Pay For”, more times than I would like to admit in the 22 years I’ve been a doctor. But it is so true!

The following is a brief explanation which I hope will clear things up for you, as one of my patients.

How are they Made?

Over-the-Counter products are made in large batches with many filler ingredients to preserve the shelf life, so you know the product will be the same exact color and quality if you buy it this year or two years from now.

Cosmeceuticals are made in smaller batches and contain higher levels of active ingredients. Often, Organic Based Cosmeceuticals might vary in color or scent due to natural ingredients not always being exactly the same.

How does it Smell, Feel and Look?

Over the Counter skincare smells will be very inviting and have special ingredients added to the products for precisely this reason! The feel is nice on the surface of your skin, as they also add “softeners” to provide a luxurious feel – but with no benefit to your skin. In some cases, color is altered to make a product more inviting.

Cosmeceuticals do not always have an enticing aroma because all the ingredients are intended only with the health of your skin in mind! Adding additives to create a smell can sometimes cause skin irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.  With the “feel” of a product, it can be hard to immediately differentiate between over-the-counter and medical-grade cosmeceuticals. But after a few weeks of use, you will be able to see the difference! Medical grade products are made with smaller molecules that are designed to penetrate deep into the skin. Over-the-counter products are controlled by the FDA and are not allowed to penetrate the deeper layers of skin – so the results are not as impressive.

Who is it for?

Over-the-Counter skincare is made to work for the generalized population. Knowing this, we recommend people with very minimal skin problems under the age of 25 to use this type of product.

Cosmeceuticals are often prescribed and customized to fit different needs including: severe acne, under eye dark circles, and anti-aging. Anyone that has a skin problem or is serious about taking care of their skin should use medical-grade cosmeceutical skincare that best suits your individual needs.

At Skin MD and Beyond we carry Fiona Wright MD Skincare, along with other renowned product lines. All of the skincare we offer to our patients is developed and formulated by internationally recognized chemists working together with a board of physicians. Since 2004, I have been committed to making Fiona Wright MD Skincare products unique and effective. My antiaging and corrective skin care solutions are backed by scientific research and developed with premier ingredients, natural active botanicals and formulated to the highest standards following G.M.P (Good Manufacturing Practices) guidelines that ensure purity and quality.  Learn more are