As a consumer, it’s easy to get caught up in sales pitches, marketing ploys and the desire to try the newest trend on the market. As a Licensed Clinician, hands-on experience, education and product knowledge are the best weapons against the media hypes. Cosmetic companies have smartened up by using allusion and buzz words like “clinical” or “doctor” in their advertising campaigns and even directly on the labels. Perricone and Murad are great examples of doctor-created brands which, in theory, would perform as well as professional-grade products while being conveniently available at the cosmetic counter. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although both are reputable authors and pioneers when it comes to skin health education, their products were created for the retail layman while being remarkably over-priced (Murad’s Intensive Wrinkle Reducer is a whopping $150 with its main ingredient being Glycolic Acid; however, the pH level is not low enough to actually penetrate the epidermis). Another company who loves facades is Clinique. These ladies prance around in their white coats, dazzling you with their “clinically-tested potions” and fragrance-free vials of goop after merely talking their way through two interviews and memorizing lipstick shades. Was that insulting to say? Absolutely. But, so is assuming the common consumer will eat it all up and not see past the gimmicks. Rodan and Field’s is another white whale in this industry, along with their annoying little brother, Proactiv. Their pyramid scheme sales, abusive social media marketing and ridiculous monthly replenishment programs make them look like deadlifting Girl Scouts on steroids. Just think, if a company had *that great* of a product line, Dermatologists would be selling it in their offices and probably save thousands on overhead costs and liability insurance. Instead, they skip the B.S. and utilize prescriptions and cosmeceuticals in the clinical setting.
There is a tier of product politics, ranging in efficiency and potency, in descending order from prescriptions to cosmeceuticals to cosmetics. Licensed Estheticians, whether in the clinical or spa setting, cannot legally recommend or supply prescriptions. They’re not doctors. They can, however, utilize cosmeceuticals to their hearts’ content (usually these lines require on-site training and/or certification in order to qualify for this privilege). Scientifically speaking, cosmeceuticals contain pharmaceutical-grade active ingredients and/or delivery systems with appropriate pH levels and percentages allotted for Clinician/Doctor use and distribution to obtain some type of cosmetic change. Popular brands include Obagi, PCA, Bion, Skinceuticals, and Neocutis. Only prescriptions and cosmeceuticals can cause a biological change in the skin, aside from merely hydrating the epidermis or drying-out acne lesions, at which cosmetics may actually be great! On that note, Sephora, Ulta, online sales reps, department stores, etc. cannot legally distribute cosmeceuticals; only cosmetics. Nope, not even QVC. And quite frankly, why would someone want them to have that ability? Nordstrom is known for its shoe department, not for chemical peels. That oh-so-pretty little jar of La Mer’s $310 wonder Creme smells good, feels good and is being sold by someone who is just trying to meet a sales goal. However, they’re still making promises and charging (way over) professional prices.
Bottom line, if a change in the skin is desired, a Licensed Clinician needs to be utilized and the cosmetic counter (physical or virtual) should be the last place you go for facials, topical correctors or advice. Name-dropping and luxury prices do not hold water in matters of skin health and treating conditions that plague those who so desperately want to see a change. If you trusted every person wearing a white coat, you’d get your moisturizer from the Butcher Shop. It sounds absurd, but so is believing everything you see.