Many beauty products make big promises about the results they offer, but is it worth sourcing medical grade skincare versus over-the-counter products? We asked the experts at Skin Renewal Aesthetic Clinic, Umhlanga, about the differences.

 There is often a question around whether medical skin care products are really any better than products that can be bought over the counter, explains Skin Renewal Aesthetic Clinic; they should know, after many years in the aesthetic business.

There is a difference between the two; medical skin care 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.

Over-the-counter products are sometimes sold with advice from a salesperson, but often consumers are left to their own devices, making their selection based on the packaging or claims that are made in the advertising. “Cosmetic” products are just that, and while they do contain beneficial ingredients, their efficacy is not as good as medical grade.

Price is also not necessarily indicative of how good a product is. They might be more widely available at a larger supplier of stockists, but there are many over-the-counter products that are expensive too.

“Price is also not necessarily indicative of how good a product is.”

There are three very simple reasons why the two differ:

  1. Active ingredients

Active ingredients are formulated to address particular conditions, but with over-the-counter products being formulated for everyone, the use of active ingredients in these products is very limited by law. This includes both the number of ingredients used, the grade or quality of the ingredients, as well as the concentrations or dosages.

Generally, the active ingredients in medical products are much higher – both the number of active ingredients used, as well as the concentrations thereof, hence making the products much more active. These products can only be prescribed by medical doctors, who will ensure that a specific condition is addressed, and best results are achieved.

  1. Penetration into the skin

Secondly, with limited active ingredients, less sophisticated delivery systems and lesser concentrations of actives, the over the counter products may not penetrate as deeply into the skin, thus the difference in the results seen.

The active ingredients are formulated to reach the deeper layers of the dermis. It is at this level of the skin where collagen is restored, elastin is affected and the causes of skin ageing are seriously addressed.

  1. Scientific backup

It is scientifically proven that medical products give results and improve the skin, as these products are able to back up their claims with clinical data. This clinical data is based on testing the complete product, not a random ingredient here and there as is often the case with some other cosmetics.

The active ingredients reach a deeper layer of the dermis, where all the important transformative functions are being performed. Medical products are the only products that can in fact ‘change’ the skin. While over-the-counter products have their place, (and it’s not that they do ‘nothing’), the effects of medical-grade products are far more noticeable.

Visit Skin Renewal online, shop the products at, or call 0861 SKIN SA.


1. Lamelle Corrective Vita-C Lipid Serum, R849

Contains a unique form of lipid-soluble Vitamin C (tetrahexaldecyl ascorbate) at a remarkable yet safe 20% concentration, along with soothing Jojoba and Ginger Root.

  1. Lamelle Luminesce Brighter Day and Evening Glow, R840 and R995

Added powerful antioxidants (including glutathione reductase) better protect the cells and their nuclei, to prevent sun-induced pigment production and worsening. Luminesce Evening Glow contains the same amount of pigment-inhibiting peptide as Brighter Day, but combined with retinol (vitamin A) and other exfoliating ingredients in a slightly richer formulation.

  1. NeoStrata Skin Active Tri-Therapy Lifting Serum 30ml, R1 035

Formulated with a triple anti-ageing complex to help volumise and sculpt skin, filling the lookof deep wrinkles and improving appearance.

4. NeoStrata Skin Active Dermal Replenishment 50g, R1109                                             

Helps to reverse dehydration and visible signs of ageing.

5. Heliocare 360 Mineral Tolerance Fluid SPF50, R495

High photoimmunprotection full spectrum 100% mineral with fluid texture and invisible skin feel.

6. Heliocare 360 Fluid Cream SPF50 R425

High photoimmunprotection full spectrum protection for dry and dehydrated skin.