Medical skincare or cosmeceuticals are unique. They are skincare products that have both cosmetic and therapeutic effects. What does this mean? It means you are using products with a higher concentration of active ingredients than an over-the-counter product, but is not as strong as a pharmaceutical product (drug).
Medical skincare has a significant beneficial effect on your skin health and beauty. Like all cosmetics, they are applied to your skin, but the similarity stops here. Medical skincare contains active ingredients that influence your skin cell function. Consequently, unlike regular skincare, they cannot be sold on the shelves of a shop or pharmacy. Firstly, you can only purchase them after a consultation. This is usually with a trained practitioner with product knowledge who can recommend appropriate products. Secondly, some must be prescribed by a doctor. Unfortunately, prescription-only medication cannot be advertised to the public hence you may not be aware of them. Cosmeceuticals cannot be prescribed within the NHS.
Why am I getting these unexpected effects?
If your skin is not used to specialised, active, medical ingredients found in medical skincare, you may experience some unexpected effects. These include redness, tightness, tingling, dryness, and sensitivity. You may even have mild peeling or flaking. With acne treatment, you may expect a ‘purge’ at the beginning. You are experiencing an entirely normal and expected response.
This is called an ‘action’ and not a ‘reaction’
What is an ‘action’?
Our skin is made up of multiple layers where the base layer manufactures new cells. These cells move up as new ones are made over a period of weeks. When they reach the surface, they slough off after a few days. This is called skin cell turnover. Your skin cell turnover slows down with age.
Medical skincare penetrates deep and influences the function of the base layer. Here, new cell formation is triggered encouraging faster cellular turnover. The cells reaching the surface are much younger and not yet ready to face the external environment. Hence, the barrier function of the skin is reduced. Consequently, you may experience dryness, tightness, peeling, or sensitivity. The body responds by increasing blood flow to the area bringing with it redness. Ingredients that cause exfoliation can make your skin may feel tingly or red. You can get dryness when oil production is reduced. The movement of congestion to the surface results in a ‘purge’ or breakout.
How can I avoid this?
You can avoid this by following a simple tactic. Start with gradually introducing the products to your skin. This will allow your skin to acclimatise. Once your skin has enough time to balance out and adjust to the products, it will settle. Nonetheless, this may take 4-6 weeks so be patient.
What is a true ‘reaction’?
A ‘reaction’ is when a product causes undesirable effects. These include lumps, bumps, swelling or hives. This may indicate a true allergy and you have to soothe the skin. You may have to avoid certain ingredients or products.
I normally encourage my patients to start with a few products. By avoiding too many ‘active’ ingredients, we can reduce the chances of unexpected effects. Once they are comfortable then the regime can be optimised with stronger ingredients. When using medical skincare I always advise the use of daily broad-spectrum sun protection.
While cosmetics can enhance the appearance of the skin without affecting cellular function, medical skincare is a hybrid between pharmaceuticals and cosmetic products. I find that once my patients have experienced the benefits of medical skincare, they are reluctant to go back to their old skincare no matter which celebrity recommends it!
If you are looking for a bespoke treatment plan for your skin, arrange a consultation in my clinic where I combine medical skincare and prescription products for maximum benefit.
Dr Tash Kanagasabai
📱07825 999 144 or
☎️ 01277 549 006
Website: Book an appointment