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Why You Need Medical Grade Skincare

woman showing client medical grade skincare at medical spa skin design aesthetics

You’ve heard of medical grade skincare, but what exactly does that mean? The difference between what you’re finding at Sephora/Ulta/CVS versus medical grade lines is, well, science. Many of us focus on the ingredients in skincare, but it’s the delivery system of those ingredients that really makes medical grade skincare superior. Think about it. The skin’s job is protection, to literally keep things OUT. For an ingredient to be effective and actually work in/on the skin, it needs to be able to penetrate INTO the skin. It needs to be smart. New skin cells are made in the deep epidermis, while collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid are made in the dermis. If we can’t get the active ingredients into those layers, they’re useless. And even worse? A waste of money. Medical grade skincare not only includes higher concentrations and more pure ingredients, but also the delivery system and technology to get those products where they need to go in order to be effective. How do we know medical skincare is actually accomplishing that? More science! Scientific studies that is. Medical grade skincare is studied and backed by research to prove that what it says it can do, it actually does. These studies are not only important to prove efficacy, but safety. Another plus for medical grade skincare- it’s regulated by the FDA. Over-the-counter (OTC) products, including “natural” products, are self-regulated, resulting in inconsistent results and questionable safety. 

Let’s take retinol for example. We often hear patients tell us that retinol doesn’t do anything for them or they’re allergic to it. This is rarely the case. What we find is that many OTC retinols may claim to contain a certain concentration of retinol, but there is no quality control to regulate this. Further, they do not have the technology to penetrate into the skin (ie: the deep epidermis/dermis), resulting in crummy side effects without results. Patients frequently report burning, irritation and itching, consistent with a contact dermatitis reaction. And the worst part? They suffer through this with no results. The takeaway: a 0.5% OTC retinol is NOT the same as a 0.5% medical grade retinol, from the ingredients themselves to the delivery system. 

At Skin Design we recommend and prescribe a lot of ZO Skin Health. Why? Because it works. ZO has the studies to prove it. I subscribe to the philosophy behind ZO and have adopted it as part of my own. The philosophy: we need to get your skin as healthy as possible before asking it to respond to treatments. Healthy skin will yield better results. Healthy skin will hold onto results longer. Healthy skin is better looking skin. An analogy? Think about the dentist you visit twice a year for a cleaning. Between those visits you maintain your oral health by brushing and flossing. Now think about your beauty treatments- maybe a laser or microneedling. Maybe Botox/Dysport. What you do between those treatments is just as, if not more important, than the treatments themselves. 

So, where do we start? We get the skin healthy by cleansing, exfoliating, controlling oil/sebum production, controlling inflammation, increasing the skin’s ability to self hydrate and protecting it (SPF! SPF! SPF!). This may sound daunting, but we make it easy. We choose your initial products based on your skin type- are you oily, dry, combo? Do you suffer from breakouts or inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea? What is your lifestyle? Based on your answers to those questions (and a few more) plus a skin assessment we choose a cleanser, toner, exfoliator, initial repair product and SPF. You’ll walk out the door with a little sticky note to put on your mirror with AM and PM directions, doses of each product and a follow up appointment. We take the guesswork and confusion out of the entire process and help you declutter your bathroom in the process. You will feel confident that you’re spending your money on high quality, effective and safe products that are meant for you and your skin. A true investment in your skin and yourself. 

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