If we asked you to name five high-end, top-notch skincare brands you’d probably go down the La Prairie, La Mer or any other French-sounding route beginning with ‘La’, correct?
Or perhaps you’re a designer junkie and swear by the likes of Chanel, Dior and YSL.
Well, there’s nothing wrong with these brands for fragrance, makeup, fake tan and the like, but there’s a whole new world out there waiting to be discovered when it comes to serious, high-performing, results-oriented skincare.
If you have faith in everything you read in the glossies, it’s hard to believe anything can rival luxury department store brands, but in truth there are a select few that are even more potent and more powerful, which means they aren’t readily available in stores and can be found only at the doctor’s office.
Medical-grade skincare products contain prescription-strength ingredients that only physicians are able to dispense. This means that yes, they work, but no, they’re not necessarily more expensive than the stuff you buy over-the-counter at Nordstrom.
When you buy a luxe, designer branded ‘miracle’ cream, you’re not just paying for what’s inside the bottle, you’re also paying for the big bucks advertising campaigns, the pretty jewel-encrusted packaging and the celebrity ‘ambassadors’ who claim you’re worth it just as much as they are. And given the choice, we’d rather skip the frills and feed our complexions with high-performance active ingredients that promise powerful, clinically-proven results. Because the truth is, when skincare really works, it doesn’t need Jennifer Aniston to prove it.
To get you started, here are five of our current favorite physician-dispensed skincare brands. Etch these names into your brain. We promise, you’re going to love having them as part of your beauty plan for years to come.
Key Facts: Born over 20 years ago in 1994, Jan Marini Skin Research has gained deep respect and a huge fan base in the professional skincare world. And rightly so. By working closely with leading physicians to independently verify product efficacy through rigorous clinical studies, JMSR products are widely recognized as some of the best medical-grade skincare money can buy. The brand has also earned accolades for a number of industry firsts and proprietary formulas your beauty counter is bereft without, including topical TGF beta-1, cutting edge acne breakthroughs, the first lipid soluble form of vitamin C and the first cosmetic eyelash enhancer. To put it bluntly, your skincare plan needs this in its life.
We Love: The much-adored C-ESTA Serum… the brand new Hyla3D… the super-effective Bioglycolic Face Cleanser, what don’t we love? Our favorite may well be Physical Protectant Broad Spectrum SPF 45, however, which HintMD writer Georgia obsesses over. Why? Because it provides a non-shiny finish to her already slightly oily complexion, but doesn’t leave the skin with a chalky-white finish. In her words: “it’s a beauty miracle.”
2. PCA Skin
Key Facts: PCA Skin harnesses a powerful combination of the newest active ingredients and latest technologies to give you rapid, results-oriented skincare. Specializing in anti-aging and acne, the brand was founded in 1990 and began with just nine daily products, seven of which are still available and in high demand. It’s since grown exponentially and now caters to all skin types to cleanse, correct, hydrate, protect and leave your skin looking its balanced, radiant best. Only available through licensed skin health professionals, PCA Skin is also recognized as the gold standard in professional chemical peels.
We Love: PCA Skin R-OH Retinol Solutions, a group of three, specialized retinol treatments that target specific conditions: fine lines, discoloration and acne. Each comes with a patented delivery system called Omnisome, which carries a high concentration of stable retinol (0.5 percent) deep into the skin for superior results. This Omnisome system also has a time-release action which means your skin can reap the benefits of those skin-rejuvenating ingredients slowly and progressively rather than in one big, potentially irritating hit. A beauty plan must, whatever your skin concerns.
Key Facts: Known as ‘the skincare industry’s antioxidant authority,’ SkinCeuticals was born in 1994 after decades of skin cancer research led to key breakthroughs in the use of antioxidants in skincare. Made in the USA, the brand is all about improving your skin through advanced products that are backed by science – NOT glitzy celebrities. Why are antioxidants so important in skincare? Because they help prevent damage so often caused by environmental aggressors like pollution, alcohol and the like. The range is split into three categories: Correct, Protect and Prevent, which makes it ever so easy to incorporate the exact product into your plan to suit your skin type and needs.
We Love: The anti-aging game-changer that is Metacell Renewal B3. Not only does this serum reactivate cell turnover to tackle uneven texture and dull, sagging skin, but it has a lighter-than-air texture that simply does not compromise on feel – music to the ears of anyone who steers clear of anti-aging products because they’re too rich for their complexions.
Key Facts: ‘Proven results, based on science,’ is where SkinMedica likes to lay its skincare hat. This professional line of skin rejuvenating products is the result of 20 years of scientific research and experience. With over 40, easy-to-use products that go to work as soon as they touch your skin, key ingredients in the range include the powerhouses that are vitamin C and E, plus retinols, TNS® (a patented blend of growth factors), soluble collagen, antioxidants and matrix proteins. Together these work to create that end goal we all strive for: beautiful skin.
We Love: The fact that most of the products also come in travel-friendly sizes, so we no longer have to ‘make do’ with substandard skincare when we go on vacation. Other than the derm-favorite, TNS Essential Serum (aptly named ‘essential’ for a reason), one of our favorite products is HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator. With a proprietary blend of five different forms of hyaluronic acid, this super-serum provides long-lasting hydration and moisturization for a good eight hours. Apply it morning and night before your regular face cream for the best results.
Key Facts: ZO Skin Health’s philosophy is a simple one: to create and maintain healthy skin for life. And who wouldn’t want to get on board with that? Launched five years ago in 2012, the brand is the brainchild of top dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi after he sold his namesake company (Obagi) to develop a whole new range of products to work with the skin from the inside out. Using potent ingredients in super-high concentrations, the line includes everything from non-hydroquinone creams for hyperpigmentation to superior treatments for acne and rosacea.
We Love: That all ZO Skin Health products contain fractionated melanin to protect our skin against high-energy visible light (HEV light). This is the sun’s blue light which recent scientific evidence suggests may be just as harmful to the skin as UVA and UVB. Oh. My. We’re also big into the new ZO Medical Rozatrol, a gentle exfoliating treatment for reducing excess sebum and balancing red, sensitized skin.
Written by: Georgia Gould