Glowing, healthy skin is top of our beauty wish list; whether its taking action against ageing, busting acne once and for all or triumphing over hyper-pigmentation, we want to see results. However, with so many products at our fingertips, it can be hard to know where to start.
Over-The-Counter vs Medical-Grade
Especially at midlife, choosing the right ones for our mature skin can be tricky; most of the time, products sold over-the-counter might not affect the skin as much as we would expect as they are often unable to penetrate its upper layers. Thus, they are labelled as “cosmetic.” In fact, the active ingredients found in the most commonly purchased beauty products are designed to treat the average person and can’t reach a higher concentration of bioavailable ingredients (which help transform the skin from the cellular level). As a result of that, we need to use more of these to get near the same performance as achieved by medical-grade products.
Those interested in transforming their complexion should seek medical-grade skincare products to achieve optimal results. Formulated by highly experienced physicians, biochemists and chemical engineers to target skin conditions and restore skin health in a major way, they differ from products you can buy at the beauty shops and retailers as they contain ingredients that are capable of penetrating below the top layers of the skin. They are also dispensed by medical professionals trained to evaluate whether the formulation is appropriate for each client. This means that you’ll only be recommended products that are suitable for your needs and ideal aesthetic outcomes, so you don’t end up wasting time and money on products that aren’t right for you.
The role of bioactive ingredients
With regular use, active ingredients can increase skin cell turnover and collagen production to promote plumpness and elasticity of the skin, preventing the occurrence of fine lines and wrinkles. Consultant Dermatologist Dr Helen Robertshaw of Southface Dermatology Clinic who works with medical-grade skincare brand AlumierMD suggests ingredient percentages used within your product are the key to a radiant complexion.
Research studies define what percentages of ingredients in a final product are effective – Dr Helen explains-. As a physician practising evidence-based medicine, I only want to use products in a percentage dilution that are proven and that will provide results for my patients. For example, we know that retinol is great for its anti-ageing benefits but if it is used in a form that is too dilute then it is not going to give the results we want.
In particular, bioavailable ingredients in medical-grade skincare mean they can deliver longer-lasting aesthetic results; they can be used immediately by the body and are able to have an active effect in the skin.
This is important to bear in mind when purchasing products with active ingredients like vitamin C – she says-. Pure vitamin C is known for its multiple anti-ageing, antioxidant and skin brightening effects. But not all vitamin C products are created equal or have the ability to penetrate as deep into the skin as we want them to. For the best bioavailability and therefore longer-lasting results, vitamin C needs to be in the bio-available form, L-ascorbic acid, ideally at 15% strength and in a solution with a pH of less than 3.5.
According to dermatologist, intelligent delivery systems play an essential role in the efficacy of skincare products. “The skin is a complex organ and acts as a robust waterproof barrier to external elements – she continues-. Our skin doesn’t absorb everything we place onto its surface – if that were the case, it would absorb all our makeup, washes and products.”
Ready to make the swap for medical-grade products?
While many medical-grade products require a prescription, most products are available for sale at your local medspa or dermatology clinic. After you schedule an appointment, you’ll meet with a specialist, who will assess your skin concerns, review your goals, and guide you to the best products for your skin type. You might notice that medical-grade skin care products cost more than the average OTC product, however, this investment will ultimately be worth it as you will achieve the desired effect and you will save financially in the long run.