If you regularly see an aesthetic practitioner, or you’re a big fan of skincare, you’ve probably come across at least one medical grade skincare brand. But what exactly does ‘medical grade’ mean, and why would you consider spending your hard earned cash on it? I spoke to Dr Ana Mansouri of Kat & Co Aesthetics to find out how medical grade products differ from your general over-the-counter skincare.
Hi Dr Ana! What are your thoughts on medical grade skincare?
I’m such a big believer in medical grade skincare and how it can change your skin and the way it behaves. I’m prone to oily skin, and I suffer with hyperpigmentation and hormonal breakouts, but using medical grade skincare has really helped me get on top of my skin concerns.
You have gorgeous skin. What medical grade skincare products do you use?
I use a mix of Obagi Medical and ZO Skin Health products, but the same principles can be used with any medical grade skincare products. I cleanse every morning and double cleanse in the evening, and I use chemical exfoliants with AHAs and BHAs, on a daily basis. I also use vitamin C in the morning - and I never skip this step. This is great for helping with anti-ageing, brightening, and evening out skin tone.
SPF is another must - especially if you're on a medical grade regimen, as you will probably be particularly sensitised to UV exposure as a result. I really wish I’d known about it years earlier, but since I’ve been including it in my skincare routine, I’ve noticed a big difference in my skin quality. I use SPF 50 every morning and I top it up every four hours throughout the day, using a brush-on powder SPF. Then there’s retinol, which is my anti-ageing superhero. I use this every evening to help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. It basically acts to speed up cell turnover and, therby, has the capacity to repair UV damage.
It can be pricey, so why should someone consider spending money on medical grade skincare rather than over-the-counter products?
Many people end up spending a lot of money on high street skincare products, so, in a lot of cases, there isn’t much of a difference when it comes to how much they pay. Even if you’re on a budget, there are medical skincare brands, such as Environ, which are more affordable, so I think there’s something for every price point.
Why do you swear by medical grade skincare over high street products?
The reason I swear by medical grade skincare products is that they are backed by science. There's robust evidence for the benefit of the active ingredients used as well as their doses and molecular formulations, so they're results driven - effective and predictable. They have a much higher percentage of the active ingredient they include, and their molecular configurations mean they have the capacity to reach deeper into the skin.
High street skincare products simply sit on top of dead skin cells and, while they polish those layers, making them look and feel good over the short term, they aren’t actually doing anything beneficial to the skin that’s alive, and have little impact over the long term.
With medical grade skincare, you may find that your skin looks worse for the first few weeks, but this is a good thing as it means everything is coming to the surface instead of being masked. It tells me that something is happening and that the products are doing their job. Your skin works in a six-week cycle, meaning that when new skin starts to emerge, you’ll begin to notice the benefits and see how great your skin looks.
There’s clinical evidence to show that many of the ingredients used in skincare products are extremely beneficial. For example, vitamin A can be used to repair sun damage and, effectively, turn back time, fixing damage caused on the occasions where you didn’t wear an SPF when you should have. So, you want to make sure you’re using a product that includes as much of that ingredient as required, in a formulation where you can actually absorb it efficiently. This is where your practitioner needs to guide you in order to take you through the first few weeks of reactions and then monitor your regimen to ensure you're getting the most out of it, without unduly irritating your skin.
If you do want to invest in good skincare go for medical grade. In my opinion, the rest is simply not worth bothering with.
Thanks, Dr Ana. We're convinced!