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NOW READING Drugstore Or Doctor’s Office? Why Professional Grade Skincare Is A Wise Investment (Part II)
October 2, 2020

Drugstore Or Doctor’s Office? Why Professional Grade Skincare Is A Wise Investment (Part II)

Whether you’re just building a skincare routine or are looking to minimize the inevitable signs of aging, you probably wonder how professional skincare is formulated to maximize benefits.


In part one of our series, we covered some of the key differences between mass-marketed products and medical-grade skincare. Here’s why professional skincare is an investment in skin success. 


Professional skincare is an investment in skin success


You Get More Than A Product When You Purchase A Professional Brand


Although some professional skincare brands are sold directly to consumers without a doctor’s intervention, don’t shortcut the appointment process. Dr. Kay Durairaj, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon based in Pasadena and Beverly Hills, carries professional brands, so she can make skin-specific recommendations and offer the necessary education for using them properly. “Medical-grade skincare products are powerful and effective, and they perform best when the patient has guidance on how to incorporate them into their routine. It also makes it easier for the patient to follow up with me if they run into any issues down the line.” 


Dr. Kay Durairaj, a board-certified cosmetic surgeon based in Pasadena and Beverly Hills


Careful Monitoring Is The Key To Success


You wouldn’t take prescription medication without having a doctor monitoring your health. Skincare works the same way. You’ve heard the term “your mileage may vary” or “YMMV.” Your medical professional is your go-to source for monitoring and gauging whether or not your skin is tolerating a product well or reacting to it. 


According to board-certified nurse practitioner Jennifer Hollander, “Medical grade products are designed to do specific things for the skin. Take Vitamin C, for example. Certain skin types can cause a rash-like reaction or breakouts, but most consumers don’t understand this. As practitioners, we must educate and advise our patients. There is nothing worse than investing tons of money on products and then learning they’re doing nothing for you.” 


Board-certified nurse practitioner Jennifer Hollander


Compound Skincare Is Customized Skincare


If you think all skincare products sit on a shelf just waiting to be sold, this next piece of information may come as a shock. Much like prescription medication, skincare can be formulated to order based on an individual’s specific needs. Compounding is a process where pharmacists blend pharmaceutical ingredients to order based on a doctor’s specifications. Teledermatology services, like Curology, compound formulas and have made it possible to obtain customized skincare products that target your exact goals without setting foot into a doctor’s office. “I like what Curology is doing for the mass market,” Hollander says. “They’re able to reach a lot of people in an affordable way. Compounds,” she says, “are stronger and more effective,” plus they streamline the treatment process, so patients don’t need to purchase multiple products. “If someone has a rash in a sensitive area, I can call the compounding pharmacy and have something tailored to the patient.”


Popular Compound Formulas


Both experts work with certified pharmacies that are specially licensed to create products at the time a prescription is ordered. Customizing formulas to achieve a specific strength is key. “When you have pharmacists that know what they’re doing and have learned how to compound a medication that you cannot find conventionally, that’s a huge win because you will get a better outcome,” says Hollander. In her practice, hair restoration products and shampoos are compounded, as are products to treat acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation.


Retin-A (a.k.a. tretinoin or tret) is one of Dr. Durairaj’s most popular compound formulas. Since retinoid strengths vary, and not everyone can tolerate the same dosage, she “offers [retinoids] at varying strengths from .025% to 0.1%, so patients can minimize their risk of irritation while reaping the incredible benefits of a topical retinoid.” Her mothers-to-be can also benefit from “customized versions of pregnancy-safe skin-whitening ingredients.” 


Restorsea Rejuvenating Day Cream ($150)



Ultimately, the decision is yours, but Hollander’s wisdom definitely resonated for me when she said, “Consumers need to consider their skin a long-term investment.” 

Tracy is a "quality over quantity" word girl fascinated by eagles and life in a small SoCal mountain community. She believes in the now, has written professionally for 30+ years, and worships at the alters of serum and Sulwhasoo.




Verified Expert

If it's your first time purchasing professional products I would recommend speaking with a professional. They go to school for it to be able to educate you. Everyone is unique and needs a individual routine that will care to the specific needs. Once educated you can start buying products you know that will work for your skin. It's also important to follow up with the professional 4-6 weeks after starting your new professional routine to make sure it's working for you and not causing other issues down the line.


Verified Expert

Great point about following up with your skincare professional. This is one of the primary reasons why professional skincare isn't sold through mass retailers. Education and input is key to skin success. Thanks for commenting!


Verified Expert

I love medical grade professional products and I know the benefits, but it's very hard to explain to clients. I am glad for this article to help explain to clients and would like to learn more about curology and compounding formulas.


Verified Expert

Curology has a cult following, mendy, because of the teledermatology approach to individualized skincare. I have several friends who swear by it. I personally use a generic version of tretinoin (Retin A) gel made by a compounding pharmacy, and the cost is surprisingly reasonable ($35 for a 3-month supply from my derm). I'm glad my article was helpful. If you're ever curious about anything in specific, please let me know. I'm always open to new topics. 😊


Verified Expert

Hello, thanks Tracy that's just the kind of information I was looking for cost of compounding pharmacies. So is your generic retin A compounded with other specific ingredients for you? What could I have compounded for myself . I.e. my concerns are anti-aging and wrinkles... Under eyes and the other regular places for lines and wrinkles. Could I get a RETIN A with a moisturizer for normal/ combination skin... I'd say my skin is more normal. I hardly ever had a breakout in my adolescence or adulthood. I always try to make sure my skin is hydrated but when having... Read more


Verified Expert

Based on your concerns, a Curology doctor would probably recommend tretinoin (Retin A), niacinamide, and tranexamic acid (or maybe just tret and one of the other two). I use tret for anti-aging (targeting fine lines) and the other ingredients would address your sun damage. Let me know if you try it out. I'd love to hear your results.


Verified Expert

What an impactful article. I definitely believe that you will feel amazing once you are deeply invested into your skin. Maintaining your skin can be a hassle sometimes but your skin will thank you down the road.


Verified Expert

Thanks for sharing the part 2! Love this mini series.


Verified Expert

Curology is also another thing to try on my list. Thanks for sharing! :)