The Surgeon Minute

Are Skin Care Products Hype, or Will they Work?

Are Skin Care Products Hype, or Will they Work?

Consumers are faced with the daunting task of selecting beauty products that work – a daunting task. It’s tough to know if you are buying what’s best, or being taken for a ride. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin Smith explains how to sort through the hype and find a product that will live up to the label.

Skepticism is Good

Your grandmother probably instructed you not to believe everything you read. As it turns out, granny knew what she was talking about. When it comes to the vast choices in beauty products – especially skin care, it’s a good idea to be skeptical, shares Dr. Smith. “Everyday we have to make decisions about what products we purchase. We’re inundated by industry claims and it’s really important to be able to evaluate industry claims,” says Smith, a surgeon at Charlotte Plastic Surgery in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Smith says it’s a good idea to question the ingredients on the label and the claims being made about the product. Many times, he says the product may not live up to the hype. “I think it’s important that we have a healthy skepticism about what companies are telling us about how their products work, especially when it comes to skin care products,” he says.

OTC vs Medical Grade Products

Walk into any department or drug store and you’re hit with row after row of choices promising to ‘firm and tighten’, ‘erase lines’ or even smooth out uneven skin tone’; no wonder it’s overwhelming picking a skin care product that’s right for you. Women’s bathroom shelves and drawers are filled with cast-off products – the result of bad choices that didn’t work. How do you start to find the right product for your skin type?

Smith says it’s begin with understanding industry claims. “There are so many industry claims. We know that many of the over-the-counter (OTC) products are expensive. They have great claims about making your skin look 20 years younger, but there is no real scientific evidence behind them to show that it works.”

He says it’s easy to spend a lot of money and see minimal results. “If a patient is going to spend money on anything, especially skin care – then those products need to be effective.” Products that do often live up to the label are medical-grade skin care products. Those are products that a patient obtains through a physician’s office. “Physicians sell these products to patients,” explains Smith. “I think patients can and should rest assured that physicians do their due diligence and these are products that actually do work.”

A Trusted Brand

Smith says its important to realize that some industry claims have the science on board to back up claims. He points to SkinMedica as one label that goes the distance to prove it’s products work. “They’ve gone so far as to develop a model of skin using live cells in a laboratory. They apply the cells to the top of the skin and then on the other side you can see the effect of that product,” Smith says.

Smith says SkinMedica, a part of the Allergan company, uses scientific proof as a basis for many of it’s labeling claims. “For instance, with their branded TNS serum, we know that there is statistically a significant increase in the messenger RNAs, or those body signalers that make things happen and grow collagen and elastin. We know that in their skin lightening products, there is a reduction of pigment cells.” He says its also important to consider the labeling for what doesn’t work. Smith indicates that sometimes ingredients are combined that cancel each other out, or even have a negative effect when used together.

“When you’re looking at industry claims, there are ingredients that we know do not always play well together when you mix ingredient A with B – so the formulation is very important.” Smith says that’s why it’s a good idea to stick with products recommended and often used by your board certified plastic surgeon. “We know what works,” he concludes. “Trust your physician to do the due diligence on the science and they will have a good idea what will work best for the patient.”

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