Professional vs OTC

I am always asked about drugstore type products. As an esthetician, I only want to recommend products that I believe in and that I know will be good for the skin. The professional lines that I use and retail were chosen because of the research I did. I didn’t just pick them because they are professional but because I know they will do what is expected. I know that the products I retail are high quality and results driven. I know there are a lot of active ingredients that will make changes in my clients skin. And by looking at some of the over the counter products (this includes places like Target and Nordstrom), the prices aren’t always higher for a professional line, especially the ones I use and retail.

So let me tell you the difference between professional lines and the over the counter ones…

Professional Lines

  • Made in small batches
  • High levels of active ingredients
  • Chirally Correct- meaning only those ingredients that are molecularly appropriate for the human body to use
  • Does not contain colors or dyes
  • pH adjusted- meaning the products help keep our skin at a healthy pH
  • Smaller molecules so that the good ingredients can get in and do their job!

Over the Counter Products

  • Made in large batches and preservatives are added so they can last longer
  • Usually have lower percentage of active ingredients because they are sold as “for all skin types.” This means that the products need to be more basic and simple so as to not cause issues.
  • Formulated by chemists (not estheticians or those who have worked closely with skin)
  • Contains fragrances, colors and dyes to make products look and smell better for the consumer but can irritate the skin
  • Contains fillers and low quality, inexpensive oils that can clog pores.
  • High SPF numbers that mislead people into thinking that they are more effective with there is no scientific proof. So more chemicals, not more protection
  • Just because the bottle, jar or tube says that there is an ingredient in it, doesn’t mean there is enough to do anything for the skin

So let’s talk about some over the counter favorites.

Cetaphil– Cetaphil has sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which is one of the most overused synthetic cosmetic ingredient that strips your natural lipid barrier. This surfactant and how it effects the skin makes you more susceptible to external irritants, increases internal inflammation while your skin cells become stressed, intensifying redness and possible breakouts as it negatively impacts your natural pH. It’s important that our skin is pH balanced since it’s first thing protecting us from bacteria.
It says that the Cetaphil cleanser is pH balanced, which it just might be, in the bottle. As soon as it comes in contact with our skin, it interferes with our own pH.

St. Ives Apricot Scrub– The walnuts used in this scrub are too big and with jagged edges. They will tear at your pores, enlarging them and also spreading bacteria from one side of your face to the other. Please never buy this again. If you currently have some, use it on your feet.

CeraVe– Some are ok to use, some products contain pore clogging ingredients and some can trigger rosacea flare-ups. I know they are all about barrier support but there are ingredients that can cause problems but not for everyone. If you went on vacation without your moisturizer, I would probably suggest this line.

Micellar Water– If you like it, it’s fine to use but only a pre-cleanse or makeup remover. I wouldn’t use this as your only cleanser.

Biore Strips– Are people still using these? Please don’t. It looks very satisfying when you pull that strip off your nose because there is stuff on it but guess what? That’s only getting the surface and not what’s under the skin. Just wait 2-3 days and it’s all coming to the top again. Go see a professional and get extractions. That’s what will help your blackheads!

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