Professional vs Over the Counter Products

Skin care products provided by a licensed professional (pharmaceuticals) have significant advantages over the attractively packaged and well marketed products purchased at a department or drug store (over the counter).

Counter to popular beliefs, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has little involvement in over the counter products. FDA’s legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives. However, FDA may take regulatory action if it has information to support that a cosmetic is adulterated or misbranded. This is all after the fact regulation.

Manufacturers of products for licensed professionals generally comply with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines as directed by the FDA. Additionally, these manufacturers comply with the Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program (VCRP) for cosmetic establishments and formulations.

Cosmetic companies spend millions on advertising in contrast; professional product companies invest in scientific research and quality ingredients.

The following list shows other differences.

Over the Counter

FDA specifies guidelines and dictates percent of active ingredients


Purchased at retail stores, off the shelf without a prescription

Low percentage of active ingredients

Contain fillers

Cosmetic grade with high PH

Generally effect superficial layers


FDA regulates and inspects labs where products are manufactured.

Higher quality guaranteed

Can make safe, effective changes in the skin, therefore more cost effective.

Only available from licensed professional who recommend products and advise on proper usage.

Contain high percentage of active ingredients

Scientific studies back up the products

Pharmacy grade

Generally effect the deep layers of the skin

When making a choice in skin care products you can rely on professional products being help to a higher standard and being sold by a knowledgeable professional.

Tamara Boswell Petrucci is a licensed esthetician and has had her practice in north Orange County, CA. for 6-years. Her website is

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Author: Uzumaki Naruto

"I want to see this market as a sharing market. Where merchants and customers sincerely support one another."

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