Guest Post: Medical-Grade Skincare vs. Over-the-Counter Products

This is a sponsored guest post brought to you by St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery. If you read other local blogs, you may have seen some of that team’s impressive work when my blogger bud Jenna tried microneedling to help ease her acne scars. Today, the team at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery would like to share details on the difference between skincare you buy from a doctor and skincare you buy at the beauty counter or drugstore. Read on for more information from the experts!

Medical-Grade Skincare vs. Over-the-Counter Products

By St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery

If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money to fight wrinkles, acne, or any other skincare woe, don’t you want it to work?

I do. And I’m betting you do, too. That’s why, in this post, I want to discuss the differences between over-the-counter and medical-grade skincare.

Over-the-Counter (OTC)

OTC skincare products are what you’ll see while shopping at drug or department stores. They usually look nice, smell good, and come in some kind of fancy packaging. These products can vary widely in price: from $5 to $100 or more. OTC products contain a combination of active ingredients, preservatives, and other fillers and fragrances. Usually, OTC skincare works on the top layers of skin called the dermis. They provide more superficial changes like softer, more hydrated skin.


Medical-grade skincare are those products that are only available from a doctor’s office or medical spa. Because they contain high amounts of active ingredients, they are regulated and available only through a licensed professional. Unlike OTC, medical-grade products work in the epidermis (the deep layers of the skin) to affect both the skin structure and function. This might mean boosting your skin’s collagen levels, lightening dark spots, or repairing skin cells.

So, Which Is Better?

What will work best for you depends on your needs and goals. But according to the skincare experts at St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery, a medical spa and plastic surgery practice in St. Louis, if you want more bang for your buck, medical-grade skincare is the way to go. That’s because medical-grade products contain higher amounts of active ingredients, so you will see more dramatic results sooner. (Um, yes please!) You also have science on your side: medical-grade products are backed by research studies and have been proven to work.

Of course, medical-grade skincare typically comes with a higher price tag. At least, it might cost more upfront. But when you buy OTC products that don’t work or that aren’t right for you, you’ve wasted your money and still don’t have the results you want. Investing in your skincare may come with some initial sticker shock, but you’ll reap the long-term benefits.

Another reason you might want your skincare from a professional is for an accurate evaluation. With OTC products, you are responsible for diagnosing your skincare issues and creating a treatment plan. This leaves a lot of room for error because we’re likely to pick out the wrong products for ourselves. A dermatologist, esthetician, or cosmetic nurse has the training and experience to more accurately assess your skincare needs so you get the right combination of products the first time around.

The Bottom Line

Deciding which product is right for you will depend on your budget, cosmetic concerns, and goals. While medical-grade products definitely provide more dramatic results, they may not be right for you if you don’t have real skin issues to begin with, or if your budget can’t support them. But if you’re looking to see noticeable changes and maintain your improvements, medical-grade products are your best bet.

Thank you for sponsoring this post and sharing this helping information, St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery. As a reminder, no post on this blog is providing you with medical advice; as recommended by St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery, only a medical professional can diagnose skin problems. 

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