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Medical-Grade Skincare vs. Over-the-Counter

August 23, 2021 | 2 min read
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    In the world of skincare, there are a lot of options. Over-the-counter skin care products are sold everywhere: from cosmetic retailers like Sephora or Ulta, to your local grocery store, and every drugstore in between. At Amara Med Spa, we carry our favorite medical-grade skincare lines: ZO Skin Health, SkinMedica, and Alastin. But with so many options on the market, purchasing a skin care regime can get confusing. Before you make a decision, you should understand the differences between medical-grade products and over-the-counter products. That’s what we’ll explore today.

    The most obvious difference between the two is where they are sold. Medical-grade skincare products can only be sold by businesses that operate under a physician’s license (ie. medical spas, dermatology clinics, etc). These products have been developed and researched to be effective, with the highest amount of active ingredients in their purest form. The potency of the formula allows the products to penetrate deeply within the dermis, facilitating real results and changes to the skin. A more potent formula yields a greater risk to the general public, meaning that certain products must be used with care and are not for everyone. This is why medical-grade products can only be sold under the guidance of a licensed professional. Over-the-counter products can be sold anywhere. They are designed to accommodate the general public so the concentration and potency of active ingredients is lower.

    Medical-grade skincare products are FDA-regulated and most are marked as pharmaceuticals. By law, they must have 99.9% pure active ingredients. Before they can be used by the public, there has to be scientific evidence showing that the skincare product is beneficial and that it does what is advertised. Over-the-counter products are not FDA-regulated and usually include filler ingredients. They don’t require clinical studies that prove effectiveness in order to be sold.

    Some of the pros of over-the-counter skincare products are that they are often more affordable, easily accessible, and can be used to improve minor, surface-level skin conditions. The pros of medical-grade skincare products are that they are deeper penetrating, clinically proven to be effective, and that the cost is derived from a high concentration of pure, active ingredients.

    We highly recommend scheduling a skincare consultation if you’re trying to determine a skincare routine. Certain over-the-counter products may be a great choice for you depending on your skin type, concerns, and the product itself. It’s important to see a professional who can help you decide what to invest in and what over-the-counter products are safe to use. We can help you work out a skincare regime that works for your skin and your budget.

    We offer complimentary skincare consultations. To schedule, visit our website at or reach us by phone at (904) 686-7525. You can find us on instagram at @TheAmaraMedSpa or on Facebook at

    Elase Team

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