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Medical skincare products are worth the investment

As a medical doctor specialising in aesthetics and skin care, I'm often asked whether medical skincare products are more effective than those that can be bought over the counter. The short answer, more often than not, is yes.
Medical skincare products are worth the investment

First, let’s clarify the difference. Medical skincare products are prescribed and dispensed by doctors, whereas over-the-counter products are available in pharmacies, department stores, salons and anywhere that products are for sale without being prescribed by a medical doctor.

Over-the-counter products are often sold with advice from a salesperson that is heavily incentivised to push a certain brand, or simply doesn’t know enough about the biology of skin to give good advice. Ultimately, consumers are left to their own devices, making their selection based on what they see in an advertising campaign or simply what the product claims on the packaging.

There's also the price factor. The cost of a product isn't necessarily indicative of how effective or well formulated it is. A high price tag and superior quality are not mutually exclusive. Still, medical skincare products often cost more than what you can find in the aisles of a supermarket but there are simple reasons for that.

Active ingredients

Active ingredients are formulated to address particular conditions. Over-the-counter products, however, are formulated to suit everybody, so their use of active ingredients are often very limited and in a much lower concentration.

The active ingredients in medical skincare products are much higher – both the number of active ingredients used, as well as the percentages thereof. These products can only be prescribed by medical doctors, which will ensure that a specific condition is addressed and the best results are achieved.

Superior penetration

Having limited or no active ingredients, over-the-counter products often can’t penetrate the skin to reach the deeper levels where it's required to do their work. Medical skincare products, however, are formulated to target all the different layer of the skin. The superficial layer to stimulate the production of new healthy skin cells as well as the deeper dermis where collagen and elastin can be stimulated and restored.

Scientific backup

Over-the-counter products often claim to deliver certain results via glossy advertising campaigns. Many of these market themselves using pseudo-science, making claims such as “98% percent of women saw an improvement in hydration”, conveniently leaving out the fact that only ten women were in the test group and those assessing the results where the subjects themselves, not scientists using a particular set of measurements or tools.

Discover the difference

Ultimately, there are striking differences between medical skincare products and those that you can buy without the advice of a medical doctor. If you make the switch, you’ll find that the results can be quite dramatic.

To find out more about skin renewal and the medical skincare products we offer, visit You can also make an appointment to chat to one of our doctors who, after a thorough consult, can prescribe products containing the right active ingredients at the ideal concentration that can give you the very best results.

11 Oct 2019 14:11


About the author

Dr Pitsi Kewana is a general practitioner with a special interest in aesthetic medicine and weight-loss management. She is based in Gauteng and consults from Skin Renewal's Morningside, Fourways and Illovo branches. Besides being a doctor, she is also a qualified fashion designer.