I can’t tell you how many times in the past nineteen years that I’ve been an esthetician that I’ve gotten this question: “Is there something cheaper that I can buy at Walgreens or Whole Foods that will work as well as your products?” And the answer is always an emphatic “NO!”
This doesn’t mean that you need to spend $50 on a cleanser…that’s just crazy. And I have yet to find a moisturizer that costs hundreds of dollars (can you say “La Mer?”) that is worth the money.
BUT, the truth is that there really is a difference between OTC (over the counter) products and professional products that you purchase from an esthetician. The biggest difference is in the active ingredients. These ingredients are the main reason you should be purchasing the product. Actually not so much the ingredients but what results these ingredients will give you.
Certain ingredients don’t even begin to have an effect in the skin unless they are at a certain percentage or concentration. Other ingredients don’t do anything for the skin unless they are used in a delivery system that can actually penetrate the stratum corneum (the upper layers of your skin). And certain ingredients like Vitamin C come in many different forms but only some forms are recognized by the skin, and THEN they need to be used at the proper pH or stabilized so they don’t oxidize and actually make your skin worse.
There are several reasons that OTC products can never give you the true results you desire. First, OTC products are sold in huge retail chains so the manufacturers are selling to millions of customers. These retailers assume that clients know what type of skin they have and what types of products they should be using. They are able to keep the costs down because 1) they are using a very low percentage of the active ingredients and 2) Most of the inactive ingredients are things you can’t even pronounce and probably don’t really want to put on your face.
These large manufacturers mean well, but they don’t want to put enough of an active ingredient in a product to cause too much of a difference in the skin. Why? Because if they put too much then someone can have a really bad reaction and they can get sued. Ingredients like glycolic acid and retinol and benzoyl peroxide MUST be prescribed by an esthetician so that you know how often to use them, what time of day, and when not to use. For example, retinol and acids should ONLY be used at night and if you’re not using something with SPF every day, there’s a real chance you can burn. Professional strength retinol products should generally be started every other night so the skin can build up a tolerance and then usage can be increased to every night. There is no one in Rite-Aid to analyze your skin, tell you how to get the results you want and how to use the products. This is how they keep costs down.
What if you are purchasing “all natural” products from Whole Foods? Well most of you already know how I feel about “all natural.” They may feel good and smell good, but they ain’t gonna keep you from looking older and they certainly aren’t going to clear up your acne.
Estheticians are also available by phone or sometimes email or text to answer your questions if you forget what order to put your products on and to advise you if you have a bad reaction. They can also monitor your skin’s progress and make adjustments depending on how your products are working. You don’t get THAT from Rite-Aid!
Professional products are very concentrated so a little goes a long way. Ultimately they end up being a better value for your money as they last longer than OTC products, but most important, they give you the results you want.
Any questions? Please feel free to comment or ask questions either on this blog or on our Facebook page.