Skip to content

Cosmeceutical skincare products vs. drugstore: When the product is worth the money

Browse by

By: Dr. Corey Hartman, Skin Wellness Dermatology

Deciding on the right skincare products to purchase can be overwhelming and even put some people in a dilemma. Along with all the options, you first have to decide whether buying a high-dollar cosmeceutical product is really worth the money. At the same time, you don’t want to go cheap and not get the results you want.

It can be hard to know which route to take, but the first step is really understanding the differences between the drug store and cosmeceutical skincare products.

The major differences in drug store vs. cosmeceutical skincare products

Concentration of Ingredients

The concentration of active ingredients tends to be higher in cosmeceutical products, which is probably the most significant differentiating factor. The higher the concentration, the more effective the product is going to be.

Cutting-Edge Ingredients

Most of the research and development of the new, cutting-edge ingredients is done by the companies selling the cosmeceutical products.

Years later, the over-the-counter companies, sometimes owned by the same people, will follow with a version of that product that somewhat mimics that same cutting-edge ingredient.


In general, cosmeceutical products have more testing and whitepapers behind them than some of the over-the-counter products, and this is because they’re more heavily regulated by the FDA. When they start making claims that a product does XY and Z, then they have to back it up.

Packaging and Stability

With drug store products, packaging, stability, and sometimes tolerability will be affected. While there’s no doubt some great drug store brands out there, you just have to be aware that these things may be affected.


Nowadays, some of the drug store products cost almost as much as the cosmeceutical products, and you may not get as much.

Some people look at the dollar alone and not the value. But when you take a closer look, more often than not, you’re actually doing better by getting it from a doctor.


Cosmeceutical products tend to have more of an elegance factor as these products tend to be more well thought out and better designed.

In my opinion, are cosmeceutical products worth the money?

Do I believe cosmeceutical products provide more value for the money? Yes.

But it’s just like with fashion or anything else; you can go high, or you can go low. Maybe you’re big on designer jeans but aren’t as into designer shoes. Maybe you splurge on a purse, but your jackets don’t always have to be high-end.

It’s the same with skincare products. If you found a product that works for you, and you don’t have any issues, by all means, get your cleanser or sunscreen from the drug store. But then maybe you put a little more money into a cosmeceutical wrinkle cream because that’s where you really want to see results.

There are certain areas where you really want to splurge and other areas where you don’t really need to.

I try to tell patients to keep it simple. Then let’s put some money into the products that we know have value and are going to get us to a particular outcome.

Learn more about drug store vs. cosmeceuticals skincare products from Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, AL

At Skin Wellness Dermatology of Alabama, we offer cutting-edge skincare and dermatology services to our patients in the Greater Birmingham area, including Hoover and Homewood. At our offices in Birmingham & Chelsea, AL, our certified dermatologists are here to listen to your concerns and offer the individualized, high level of patient care you seek. We believe in making care accessible and affordable, and we will go out of our way to accommodate your visit. Give us a call today at 205-871-7332.