Like many people, I used to buy my skin care products at discount stores or pharmacies because I thought that purchasing products from an MD’s office would just mean I was paying inflated prices for products I could buy elsewhere. I did my research (mostly in monthly fashion and lifestyle magazines and beauty-related segments on TV programs) and thought I knew what was best for my skin. Armed with just enough mis-information to be dangerous, I would head to the same store where I shopped for almond milk, printer paper and cat litter and stand in the cosmetics aisle, scanning the shiny bottles and jars and looking for whatever miracle ingredient I had just learned about. Eons later with the ice cream melting in my cart, overwhelmed and frustrated over which magic potion would best remove all my wrinkles and freckles and restore my youth, I would finally just grab the most appealing package and head to check-out, hoping I had chosen correctly.
Somehow, I never did.
Most of us have spent thousands of dollars over the years on skin care based on false promises and sexy marketing, and most of us have seen no results. We push those pricey products to the back of the cabinet or drawer to be replaced by more products and more empty promises, and so on and so on. According to beauty retailer SkinStore, the average American woman spends about $3,000 per year on products, and our sisters in the Northeast spend about $4000!
So why aren’t we all looking younger than our daughters already?
Here's what I figured out when I switched career paths from Anesthesiologist to owning and operating a Laser Med Spa/anti-aging medicine practice. I started with serious research and study into skin, dermatology, lasers, skin rejuvenation and anti-aging. (And this all makes perfect sense so I don’t know why I didn’t figure this out before, except that I was trying to save money, and nobody tells us this stuff…) Ready for it? You get what you pay for. Although that's also not completely true because I have also discovered that the best skin care products are NOT the most expensive ones. In fact, the truly good, effective products are not much more than what I used to pay at the discount stores… AND I get serious results! I no longer push half-used jars to the back of the bathroom cabinet and keep buying more, always searching for that holy grail of night creams. Now I know exactly what to buy. I get real results and I use every last smidge of product before I throw that empty jar away, and then I start with a new container of the same thing because (in my 50s) I've finally discovered what skin care products work and and I love my skin!
Why do my professional products out-perform the over-the-counter stuff so well? Think about our litigious society (meaning prone to lawsuits); suppose you read in a magazine that dermatologists recommend everyone over the age of 35 be on retinol. Suppose you have Rosacea but don’t know it. Suppose you go into your corner store and search the ingredients of the shiny bottles and creams until you find one that has retinol in it. Suppose you buy it, take it home and slather it on your face. And what if you wake up NOT looking 20 years younger as promised, but like someone lit your face on fire while you slept? Suppose you decide to sue the corner store or the skin care company or the magazine because you used an ingredient that was actually bad for your particular skin? (Not every great ingredient is great for everybody.) THIS is why OTC products are ineffective; skin care companies cannot put enough of an ingredient into a product to make it effective because if it is the wrong ingredient for you, it could hurt you. They put trace amounts of good ingredients into their products so they can include it on the label, but not enough that you can hurt yourself (They are not going to put themselves in the position that they can be sued). On the flip side, there won’t be enough of those great ingredients to help your skin, either. OTC skin care is ineffective. You will not see changes in your skin and are, therefore, wasting your money.
Purchasing products online is even worse than buying over the counter. Not only is it a waste of money, it can be dangerous. There are many online sellers and almost any brand can be found there at discounted prices. However, beauty products have become a huge source of scams online, and even worst, have become a serious safety issue. There are a frightening number of reports of patients with chemical burns, infections and scarring from using beauty items purchased online that appeared to be legitimate, well-known professional skin care. Task forces are in place to try to shut down these counterfeit sellers, but the unethical vendors and stores appear faster than they can be regulated. If you purchase these counterfeit items, you will probably not be able to tell that they are not legitimate. If you are unlucky enough to suffer a bad reaction or outcome from using an online product, you will have no recourse and you may not even be able to reverse the damage. In the name of safety, please don’t purchase beauty products online; it’s just not worth it.
Purchasing products from the office of an MD, however, means that you can be getting prescription-strength cosmeceutical ingredients . In addition, you will be benefitting from the expertise of qualified professionals that will know what products will be best for your skin type and how to use them to help you achieve the results you are looking for as quickly and safely as possible.
Good news: most professional, prescription-strength products are probably less expensive than you think. The cost of good, effective products should fall somewhere between what you would pay in a “big-box” store and a department store. (Don’t fall into the trap of thinking more expensive necessarily means better. There is a popular crème sold in a high-end department store that costs $800 a jar! It feels luxurious, smells divine and all but promises to take you back to your high-school days. People are fooled by the well-known brand name and all the pricey marketing, but unfortunately it contains nothing but filler and perfume). A couple of the popular, well-known brands carried by some dermatologists have gotten very expensive because they have been around a long time and have a large following. They are good lines but haven’t changed their formulations in many years so there are actually several newer, better and less expensive cosmeceutical brands that are just marginally over what you would pay at the discount stores and far less than what you would pay at department stores. In addition, if you purchase the correct professional skin care products, you will be paying for effective ingredients rather than perfumes, fillers and expensive marketing. Because the ingredients are so effective, you use less product and It lasts longer. Best of all: you will finally see the changes you want to see in your skin!
Wondering what products to start with? It’s as simple as ABC!
Check out this article next: What is Retinol? - The ABC's of Skin Care