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Pharmaceutical vs. Cosmetic Grade Products Detroit

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) divides skin care products into two separate categories: cosmetic and pharmaceutical. Pharmaceutical grade products you apply topically penetrate through the layers of the epidermis and affect the function and structure of the skin. Pharmaceutical products undergo rigorous testing that can go on for more than 10 years and cost millions of dollars. Pharmaceutical grade products are only available through a licensed professional. These products not only contain a higher percentage of active ingredients, but a higher quality of each ingredient. According to the FDA, Pharmaceutical grade products are required to be 99% pure, where Cosmetic grade products are only required to be 70% pure. Active ingredients are those that can make a change in your skin such as (reducing wrinkles, pigmentation, alleviate acne, etc.).

The FDA defines cosmetic grade products as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkle, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance…” Cosmetics are not required to prove the claims they make, but they are allowed to cite “scientific studies” of the ingredients being used in their products. This means that the formula doesn’t technically have to prove efficacy or safety, but it can contain an ingredient that may cause activity in the skin.

You’ll find countless cosmetic grade companies out there who will try to draw you in using fancy buzz words, or catchy phrase: “Clinically Proven,” “Clinically Tested,” or “Dermatologist-Tested.” It is important to approach these words and phrases with caution because cosmetic companies are not required to prove efficacy claims, and the special “active ingredient” they’re advertising only has to appear somewhere on the ingredient list – ingredients are listed in content order, from highest to lowest percentages. So if you see that “active” ingredient toward the bottom of the list you know you’re only getting a tiny percentage, which most likely not enough to be effective.

Over-the-counter, or cosmetic grade products are manufactured in large batches, and they contain almost as many preservatives as they do “active” ingredients. Along with that, most over-the-counter cosmetic products just do not and cannot penetrate the outer most layer of the skin. Pharmaceutical grade products are able to penetrate the epidermis to the dermis. The dermis is where all of our new skin cells are produced as well as where collagen, elastin, and pigmentation are formed. Aging in the skin is caused by the loss of collagen and elastin so it is vital that the products we put on our skin are able to reach that level.

“I look at my “before” photos and can’t believe I waited so long. Now I can finally wear dresses without a bra, and I’m proud of how I look in a bikini.”

- Natalie T.

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