Professional Skin Care vs. Drug Store Brands

Most people want to look their best, especially when it comes to their skin. However, with so many different products and options out there, it can be tough to know which to buy. There’s also a lot of debate about higher-end lines versus the familiar brands you see at mass retailers. Is there really a difference or are people who buy the expensive stuff really just paying for hype and marketing? Are the prestige lines worth the spend? Why does your dermatologist often recommend stuff you can pick up at the corner drug store instead of professional skin care lines? Which choice is the right one? Those are good questions, and ones worth examining.

In most cases, there really is a difference between spendier products and more economically-priced ones—and it’s not just in the packaging and the places in which you purchase it. The higher-end products generally contain better ingredients than their cheaper counterparts. You may protest, saying that a glance at the labels reveal nearly identical ingredient lists, and you know what? You’re right. But what the label probably doesn’t tell you is the quality of the ingredient or the concentration of it. Think of the difference between a steak at a diner and a steak at a renowned steakhouse. They’re both steak, but there’s no comparison between the two. You get what you pay for. Same goes for ingredients in facial products. The ingredients may have the same names, but the way in which they are formulated and delivered can be vastly different—and so can your results.

So, if the stuff the pros in spas are selling is superior, why does your dermatologist tell you to buy something at the drug store? There are myriad possible answers to that question, but here are some of the more likely ones. First of all: availability. Your derm doc knows the likelihood of you making a special trip to a spa to purchase a product is exponentially lower than the likelihood of you picking something up while you’re grocery shopping. Second of all: price. Unless it’s a prescription, your insurance isn’t going to cover your face wash and moisturizer, so your doctor is probably trying to do you a solid and recommend something cheap that is also decent. Is it as good as a professional skin care product? No. It will work okay, but the fact is, if you want serious results, you’re going to need the serious product.