Professional Versus Consumer Skin Care Products

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What exactly is the difference between Consumer and Professional Skin care products?  According to the FDA’s definition, both consumer products and what we typically refer to as professional products fall under the same category. So, what differentiates a consumer product from a professional product? The answer lies in the question.

Let’s take a look at the word differentiate.

dif·fer·en·ti·ate verb (used with object)

  1. To form or mark differently from other such things; distinguish
  2. To change; alter
  3. To make a distinction
  4. To perceive the difference in or between
  5. To make different by modification, as a biological species
  6. To become unlike or dissimilar; change in character

In the world of esthetics, we tend to define a consumer product as one that is available in a retail establishment. Does it matter whether it comes from Walgreens, CVS, Target, Nordstrom, Sacks, Sephora, or Ulta? The answer is no. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a mass-market retailer or a prestige retailer. These products are all consumer, or over the counter products.

6 Facts About Consumer Skin Care Products:

  1. They’re made in large batches, and more preservatives are added since the shelf life will need to be longer.
  2. Most have less or a lower percentage of active ingredients since they will be labeled “for all skin types” and need to be more basic, simpler formulas. Since many consumers “self-diagnose” when choosing a skin care product to try, these products must be made safe for the masses. Big cosmetic companies cannot take the risk of having thousands of consumers develop issues from the improper use of clinically-active ingredients.
  3. They’re formulated by corporate chemists and sold to the public by marketing specialists. The hype and clever marketing trick consumers into making purchases.
  4. Most products are made for “one size fits all.” If you’re looking for results, it’s imperative that you use products formulated for the unique needs of YOUR skin.
  5. Added synthetic dyes, colors, and fragrances to heighten the sensory experience and aesthetic for the sole purpose of encouraging sales.
  6. Many use low quality, inexpensive oils with potential pore clogging properties including mineral oil and petroleum, which are forbidden ingredients by professional skin care formulators.

6 Facts About Professional Skin Care Products:

  1. They’re made in small batches with fresh and active ingredients that are proven to deliver results.
  2. They have higher quantities and percentages of active ingredients to make sure the product does what it says it’s going to do.
  3. They are formulated by cosmetic chemists and sold by an esthetician with hands-on experience and an informed understanding of the skin and its functions.
  4. They offer a range of products that address different skin types and skin conditions.
  5. There are no added synthetic fragrances, colors, or dyes, which lessens your chance of sensitivity and irritation to these unnecessary chemicals.
  6. They use high-quality ingredients that nourish the skin.

A common fear that people have of professional products is their cost. Any skin care regimen is going to be an investment. It’s better to invest in the right products with proper ingredients instead of spending your money on fancy packaging, fillers, and preservatives. Professional products are highly concentrated, and less is needed. A professional cleanser that ranges from $25-$40 is meant to last four to five months when the correct amount is used.

Another point to consider when comparing the differences between professional and consumer skin care products is the ingredient list. Two products can have the exact same list of ingredients, and one will be highly effective while the other is completely useless. The difference is the concentration. One product may use a minimal amount while the other uses a clinically active level. Unfortunately for you, there is no way to understand the difference. This is because all ingredients are supposed to be listed in order of the concentration used, but ingredients with less than 1% concentration can be listed in any order. There’s a big difference between .01% versus .99%, but you would never know from the label.

Choose a skin care company that you trust. If you are unsure of what line to use or where to even begin, entrust in a licensed esthetician, physician, or other educated skin care professional to guide you. We all work hard for our money, and there’s nothing worse than wasting it on broken promises.

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