How to evaluate MD-formulated skin creams

March 15, 2012

Physician-created skin care lines vary in effectiveness
Physician-created skin care lines vary in effectiveness

The March 2012 issue of Allure magazine tells you what to do when your dermatologist, plastic surgeon or other physician recommends that you start a skin care regimen using products they have formulated and sell in the office. Allure interviewed Louise, 35-year-old mother of two. When her doctor suggested that she purchase his $60 SPF cream, Louise went ahead and bought it even though she had a $12.95 drugstore SPF at home. 

According to Allure, “When doctors suggest that patients buy the doctor’s own skin care products, it feels like the ultimate endorsement.” But, when Louise compared the ingredients in her doctor’s SPF with those in her drugstore brand, she found that the ingredients in both were identical.

There are many different options available to doctors who want to formulate their own skincare lines. Some doctor-created skin creams get superior results that are close to in-office treatments and prescription topicals. Others may do no more for you than a basic drugstore cream.

To purchase the finest product, you want to know, “HOW WAS THIS PRODUCT FORMULATED?” The finest skin care lines are formulated by doctors who are also devoted scientists. Such a doctor divides her time between the office and the lab. While she may not be mixing ingredients in a beaker herself, she is extremely hands on.  At the other end of the spectrum, a doctor can simply purchase a premade skin care line from a chemist and put his own name on the label.

According to Allure, the first step in getting the finest products is to research the doctor’s credentials. Type his first initial and last name into pubmed.org. There you can see if your doctor has written research papers; a research-oriented doctor will be likely to test his products scientifically. Then, look for “Drug Facts” at the back of the package. In these facts, look for FDA-controlled ingredients, so you know such ingredients are in the formula and at what strength. Then look for “clinically proven” to be written in the box. Be wary of products that are good for everybody; they may be too mild to be effective. Finally, check for a money-back guarantee. You should get a refund if there’s no improvement; no product works the same for everyone.

To find a highly qualified skin care specialist who works in conjunction with a board-certified plastic surgeon, you can visit www.spsscs.org


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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