By now, you have probably heard of ZO skin-health and other medical-grade skincare brands and their cult following by both celebrities and us mere mortals alike. But what makes skincare medical-grade, why can't you buy it in-store or online, and what are its benefits?
What is medical grade skincare and how does it differ from what you can buy over the counter?
As the name suggests, medical-grade skincare is designed to target specific medical skin conditions such as wrinkles, pigmentation and acne. Although their indication is medical, they can have both medical and cosmetic benefits. Unlike shop-bought products, they have been tested, clinically, for the effectiveness of addressing the skin problems they are designed to 'treat'. Medical-grade skin care products contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than over the counter skincare - even if you are using expensive products. This is due to the requirement of medical-grade products to contain ingredients that are 99% pure. A standard that shop-bought products do not need to adhere to, therefore often then contain filler ingredients.
The outcome - actual results in less time.
For this reason, provision of medical-grade skincare can only be via a trained and authorised provider. Previously, a face to face consultation was required to determine a treatment regime to provide medical-grade skincare. However, many providers have taken their consultations online, more so during the COVID 19 pandemic to improve accessibility and reduce face to face contact.
Another huge difference with medical-grade skincare is that they have been developed to enhance the delivery of active ingredients to the correct layers of the skin. Though a popular shop-bought cream that states to be 1.5% retinol, the actual active retinol content is more like 0.3% - and the percentage delivered to the ideal depth is lower again. This is because without FDA approval, over the counter products cannot penetrate beyond the very outer layer of skin.
To summarise so far medical-grade skincare, unlike over the counter products, are able to make claims to treat medical skin conditions such as ageing, wrinkles, acne etc. Furthermore, they can penetrate way deeper into skin layers to do so.
So why the red tape surrounding products?
Due to this medical-grade status and stronger ingredients, treatment plans are bespoke and tailored to the individual. For example, the ZO skin health range has over 50 products in it. The products that are right for you are based on age, skin type, skin concerns, sensitivity, and the medical concerns you have that you are aiming to treat. Every skincare regime is bespoke hence the need for a consultation before treatment. Like ourselves, most providers carry out this consultation and treatment planning aspect of treatment free of charge. The same applies to the three monthly check in to reassess your skincare needs. This means treatment is designed exactly to fit you and with the instruction of a trained provider, you can ensure you are using a regime to get your results that pack a punch.
So what are the benefits?
Results are longer lasting. The skin is a robust organ acting as a barrier to external elements. For this reason, the skin does not simply absorb everything that we place on it - if this were true, it would absorb all make up as well as topical products. As previously mentioned, due to regulation, over the counter products cannot penetrate deeper than the most superficial skin surface. Medical skincare brands have spent years developing their products, utilising intelligent delivery systems that deliver active ingredients to the level they need to go to create actual results.
This is particularly true when considering Vitamin C. I love Vitamin C serum for its well documented antioxidant, anti-ageing and skin brightening effects. However, for a Vitamin C serum to truly be effective, it needs to be in its bioavailable form to penetrate deep into the skin and create long-lasting results.
Buying medical-grade skincare is super convenient.
Thanks to virtual consultations and an assigned professional to monitor your results, medical-grade skincare has never been so convenient. After an initial consultation to determine which products are best suited to you, the products are posted to your home next day delivery. Although we check in with you regularly to see how you are getting on with products, if you feel you are running low on any item, drop your practitioner a message, and we can have your products delivered straight to your door.
They may be more affordable than you think.
Medical-grade skincare, as you might have guessed, comes with a price tag—possibly more than you might expect to pay than your drug store or beauty counter items. There may be an initial upfront investment. However, medical-grade products only need to be used in small amounts because of their higher concentrations of active ingredients - therefore they last you longer. My ZO skin health cleanser lasts me just shy of 6 months used twice daily - which is actually no different to the shop bought one I struggled to commit to previously then got bored of.
If you are anything like me, before I started using ZO skin health, my skincare was all over the place. I was a sucker for something new and shiny and would use products for a short period of time, get bored of them and leave them half used because I wasn't seeing results and move on to the next new thing.
When I started using ZO skin health, I stopped using all of my other products. I spoke to my friend Dr Rosanna Petch, "I feel bad I've got lots of expensive products that I want to use up first before moving on to ZO", "OK" she replied, "you can keep wasting your time using products that won't work and prolong the time it'll take to get amazing skin" - and there it was a told. Relegated to use on the body went the rest of my products. Including my Fabulous Oil from Aesop - £40 for 25ml - on to my body it was slavered - I have no regrets, I felt fabulous and in no time after converting to medical-grade skincare so did my face too.
As you can probably tell, I am a complete convert to medical-grade skincare. Like anything in life, there's no one-size-fits-all skincare regimen.
I am a great believer that good skin is the foundation for all great aesthetics. Unlike that miniature designer bum bag you convinced yourself you needed, you wear your skin every day and personally I feel that's an investment worth making.