‘Medical grade’ vs. ‘Prescription’ skincare


‘Medical grade’ vs. ‘Prescription’ skincare

28 April 2023

Medical grade skincare is a marketing term and there is no strict definition. It’s a term used by brands to imply that the product is more effective than ‘normal’ skincare products, often by referring to active ingredients. However, most skincare brands now use ‘active’ ingredients – vitamin C , retinol, hyaluronic acid etc. So are they all medical grade? Well there isn’t anything stopping them saying that because there isn’t any legal definition. The point is, ‘medical grade’ is an unregulated term.

What is ‘prescription skincare’?

This is more straight forward. Prescription skincare is in fact a legal term and it is a regulated term. It refers to products that require a prescription from a medical professional. Prescription creams or tablets have to undergo independently run clinical trials to demonstrate efficacy. The same regulations don’t apply to non-prescription products. That isn’t to say that non-prescription skincare is ineffective. It can work really well for a lot of people. There is however, a lot of medical jargon thrown around in skincare that is confusing!

What about ‘cosmeceutical skincare’?

This is a similar situation to ‘medical grade’- there isn’t any strict definition. It is used by brands to imply more potent ingredients – ‘evidence backed’ or ‘more deeply absorbed’. It’s a clever term as it is a cross between the words cosmetic and pharmaceutical. In reality, all ‘cosmeceutical’ ingredients or products are cosmetic products, not prescription products.

So which should I choose then?!

That is up to you and your skin. And if you are confused ask a dermatologist. All skincare is science backed to a certain extent. Some people are absolutely fine with non-prescription products. But if you find you aren’t responding to these products as well as you would like, then prescription grade skincare may be worth exploring. In the end it’s up to you as an individual.


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