A facelift can tighten and reshape, but it can’t change the quality of the skin. That’s where medical grade skincare comes into play. Boston facial plastic surgeon Jaimie DeRosa, MD says that whether you’re trying to maintain results from in-office treatments or you’re new to skin care, medical grade products are a great investment. “However, I’d caution those purchasing products online to make sure you buy from validated sites, such as a medspa, doctor’s office or the brand directly. Don’t buy from other places that may sell a variety of products or offer discounted skin care. There is no quality control for those places, and you won’t really know if you’re getting a real, non-expired product.”
Palo Alto, CA plastic surgeon Sachin Parikh, MD adds that most medical grade skin care lines are formulated so that the individual products work well together. “For instance, some key ingredients are highly desirable, but they’re not chemically compatible…that is, they can’t ‘live together’ in the same bottle. The formulator might decide to put them in two different products, expecting that they’re both going to be used to get the desired result. They also make sure to balance the functional ingredients between the different steps of the regimen. This ensures they won’t react on the skin in an unexpected way, or ‘overtreat’ and cause irritation.”
The Top Medical Grade Skincare Brands
“The medical grade skincare line we recommend most to patients is SkinCeuticals. We appreciate the science that backs the products and find the line has a wide variety for every skin type and issue.
One of our favorite skincare products is C E Ferulic. Its patented antioxidant combination not only protects against environmental damage, but also helps improve photodamage, loss of firmness, fine lines and wrinkles while brightening the skin. Nicknamed ‘liquid gold’ by our patients, it is considered the gold standard in daily vitamin C treatments.” —Pittsburgh plastic surgeon Leo R. McCafferty, MD
“I frequently recommend SkinCeuticals Simply Clean for regular cleansing. It is gentle enough to be used after laser procedures and also provides nice exfoliation.” —Richmond, VA plastic surgeon Ruth Hillelson, MD
“The SkinMedica TNS Advanced+ Serum is my personal go-to favorite medical grade product, and I highly recommend this to my patients. It’s the perfect pre- and post-facial rejuvenation product.” —Grand Rapids, MI plastic surgeon David R. Alfonso, MD
“We use TNS Serum before and after facelifts for general skincare due to its growth factor properties, which also helps with the maintenance of the surgical results. I also recommend Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum for hyperpigmentation.” —Houston plastic surgeon Henry Mentz, MD
ZO Skin Health
“I’ve recently been using the ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense as my daily moisturizer and I now recommend it to all of my patients. It smells so good and it’s perfect for the summertime with a lighter feel. All of my patients are also recommended to apply a good growth factor eye serum. My top recommendation is the ZO Skin Health Growth Factor Eye Serum, which reduces fine lines and has a nice cooling applicator.” —Grand Rapids, MI plastic surgeon Bradley Bengtson, MD
“As a plastic surgeon I founded MDSkin to elevate the skin-care experience by simplifying and empowering our clients to create a lifestyle commitment to SkinFitness. We partner with skincare brands that are committed to creating effective products backed by science; brands that promote skin health education and offer simple regimens that work.
One of our favorites is ZO Skin Health, as it is similarly committed to effective products that are innovative. It utilizes key ingredients such as retinols, antioxidants and growth factors that work to restore skin health and strengthen skin’s natural barrier and and function.” —Scottsdale, AZ plastic surgeon Bryan W. Gawley, MD
“One of my favorite cleansers is ZO Skin Health Hydrating Cleanser. Its creamy formula gently cleans the skin without leaving a residue. It also has sodium hyaluronate, panthenol and glycerin that act as humectants to help maintain hydration within the skin.
I also love ZO Skin Health Exfoliating Polish—it’s simply a treat to use. This physical scrub works well on all skin types with its nonirritating, ultra-fine magnesium oxide crystals that help to remove dead skin cells and debris and wash off without a residue. Added to the scrub is a vitamin C that in combination with the exfoliant results in bright, glowing skin.” —Dr. DeRosa
“There are a few key ingredients we recommend with which patients start their skincare routine. These include an SPF with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, retinol, vitamin C, and moisturizer. We recommend a brand called skinbetter science, which uses high-quality ingredients and has clinical research backing its products. It also avoids fragrance, parabens and sulfates, which is important in skincare.” —New York facial plastic surgeon Dilip D. Madnani, MD
“Skinbetter science is a great medical grade brand. I especially like the AlphaRet Overnight Cream because it improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as uneven skin tone and texture.” —Denver plastic surgeon Philippe A. Capraro, MD
“I remind all of my patients to wear their sunscreen. I like the sunbetter SHEER SPF 56 Sunscreen Stick for my personal use—it’s easy to carry and reapply. I also continue to recommend the sunbetter TONE SMART SPF 68 Sunscreen Compact. It has a high level of sun protection and adapts to all skin tones.” —Dr. Alfonso
“As far as retinoids, I will recommend AlphaRet Overnight Cream because it does not dehydrate the skin.” —Dr. Hillelson
“Jan Marini products are overall good quality and they do what they say they will. They help in the defense against aging skin.” —New York facial plastic surgeon Lee Ann M. Klausner, MD
“At L&P Aesthetics, it happens that many of our custom skin-care plans include medical grade products from Jan Marini. Her products are highly effective, but still gentle. Patients love seeing visible results, without irritation. As doctors, we consider that the best of both worlds!” —Dr. Parikh
“I highly recommend the use of a quality sunscreen that is broad-spectrum and mineral-based, which is foundational to any kind of skincare routine. The brand that I personally have the best experience with and recommend to all my patients is EltaMD.
Exposure to the sun can be an underlying reason why the skin has uneven texture, as the sun is a very powerful accelerant for the loss of collagen and elasticity. Two great everyday sunscreens are the UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ and the UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41 Tinted, which can replace the need for foundation. I suggest looking for lightweight, noncomedogenic, broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30. However, I truly believe that SPF 40 to 50 is even better.
EltaMD’s formulas are nongreasy, leaving your skin glowing, not shiny. They are also non-comedogenic, ensuring that they don’t cause blocked pores. They are sweat-proof and waterproof to allow you to enjoy your activities as usual, ensuring you’re protected from both UVA and UVB rays that cause aging.” —San Diego facial plastic surgeon Amir Karam, MD
“I like DefenAge skincare because of the science behind the products, which is impressive. The products are based on defensins that promote skin cell regeneration by waking up dormant cells to create brand new skin cells. This results in fresher, newer skin cells and a radiant appearance.
The science behind this line is akin to wound healing in that it promotes new skin cells to form. I’m a big fan of medical-grade skincare.” —Beverly Hills, CA facial plastic surgeon Kimberly J. Lee, MD.
“The 8-in-1 BioSerum is a favorite of mine. Between the defensins—molecules that act like a retinol alternative and help repair signs of aging—the skin really feels the clock reset.” —Dr. Hillelson
“After patients have had a procedure with us, we often recommend Alastin medical grade skincare products. Alastin Skin Nectar is a must for our post-laser patients, in particular. Alastin’s proprietary Tri-Hex technology is very good to soothe skin and support healing. We’ve seen great skin texture improvement and faster recovery when our patients incorporate that product.” —Palo Alto, CA plastic surgeon David Lieberman, MD
“At my spa we offer the medical-grade skincare line Alastin, as these products help maintain your results post surgery. They have key ingredients that help slow down the anti-aging process and help maintain a beautiful youthful glow.” —Houston plastic surgeon German Newall, MD
“The Lipid Serum is formulated with TSC, a small molecule that reduces inflammation, blocks UVA/UVB–induced damage, possesses antioxidant properties, protects collagen, and balances the skin’s microbiome. With only eight ingredients, the serum works to improve skin hydration, while retexturizing the surface of the skin for a smoother feel.” —Denver plastic surgeon Teresa C. Cunningham, MD
“HYVIA Crème, created with HYVIA, a patented chia seed oil extract, is a next-generation moisturizer that improves hydration on the cellular level while strengthening the skin barrier. This formulation includes several other active ingredients that enhance and help drive the actives deeper into the skin.” —Denver plastic surgeon John Samas, MD
“I always recommend FormRx medical grade skincare. It was invented by a plastic surgeon in an attempt to get ‘surgical level’–type results for patients. I think patients nowadays want more and demand more.
This company does a good job of trying to fill that void, and these products contain only ingredients that have been proven to work and are safe to use after surgical procedures.” —Salt Lake City facial plastic surgeon P. Daniel Ward, MD
“The Alphascience line of medical grade skincare products was developed in France with the strictest, most stringent standards for safety and the environment. The ingredients are formulated to be stable even at high temperatures, which is important because a lot of other products lose potency when exposed to heat.
The serums target specific skincare needs and are packaged in glass-stoppered bottles, so you really feel like you’re using a medical-grade product. The antioxidant serums all are also fragrance- and preservative-free, so they can be used on recently treated skin and are great for those with allergies.
These are a few of my favorite Alphascience products: Tannic [CF] Serum is my go-to for my patients who are interested in anti-aging and reversing fine lines and wrinkles. Alpha Bright Serum is great for those with oily or acne-prone skin because it helps to restore the proper skin oil (sebum) production.
Phytic [TC] Serum is my go-to for people with oily and acne-prone skin who are looking to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve brightness, while also helping to prevent pigmentation issues such as brown spots.” —Dr. DeRosa
“We also have our own line of medical grade skincare products that are specially made for our office and they are customized for our patients’ needs. Specifically, our line combats signs of aging using medical-grade ingredients to promote skin brightening and rapid cell turnover.” —Dr. Lee
Dr. Speron’s Natural Skin Care
“I might be a little biased, but at this point I recommend my own medical grade skincare line. It’s the first line to contain everything your skin loves, and our natural Scar Treatment is really amazing. It contains oxygen, probiotics, all the necessary vitamins, hyaluronic acid and peptides. There’s nothing on the market like it.” —Chicago plastic surgeon Sam Speron, MD
Iridesse Skin Care
“I love the benefits and effects of Iridesse Skin Care products. Because I created and developed the line, I know the enormous benefits the patients will get. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are powerful, but the Genesis Factor growth factor stimulants get the job done with respect to collagen and elastin stimulation.
For procedures such as radio-frequency fractionating treatments, I recommend the Omega Serum. The Genesis Factor and hyaluronic acid are very effective for recovery and rejuvenation.
Iridesse Night Nutrient, Day Brilliance and Eye Love It are performance products that help promote beautiful skin. These are all developing a cult following! The Kiss Lip Treatment keeps lips soft and plump while minimizing fine lines. I use this many times during the day and before I go to bed.” —Dr. Hillelson
“The KaramMD skincare line was originally designed for my surgical patients. Great skin is an incredibly important part of looking as young as you feel. However, my patients had challenges with too many steps, confusion on what to use, and cost, making it difficult to stick to the routine over time.
This led me to creating an easy to use, comprehensive yet simple, three-step routine. The results from the clinical studies were so significant that it led me to want to share it with the world.
The KaramMD Trifecta includes three breakthrough, medical grade formulas: Rinse Gentle Cleanser, Quench Vitamin C Serum and Illuminate All-in-One Anti-Aging Cream. They work in tandem to deliver the perfect dosage of powerhouse ingredients to provide rejuvenated, healthy, glowing skin.
Our latest product, Polish Enzymatic Resurfacing Treatment, is the perfect complement to the Trifecta. The at-home exfoliating powder is activated in water and can be used one to three times a week. The formula contains enzymes derived from papain and bromelain combined with ultra-fine rice powder, coconut milk, bamboo, and matcha to exfoliate and soften skin. The formula also contains vitamin C and azelaic acid for a brightening boost.” —Dr. Karam
Private Practice by Dr. Koo
“I make incisions every single day. I want these incisions to heal perfectly and for my patients to have their best skin possible, and you can only do that with quality skincare. Our retinol products come in four different levels of intensity, from 1,000 to 8,000 IUs of retinol. They address mild to deep wrinkles, uneven skin texture and enlarged pores.
All of our skincare products are cruelty-free, formulated with 100-percent medical grade, sustainably sourced ingredients, and never include parabens, phthalates, fragrance, gluten, dye, or eco-toxins.” —St. Louis, MO plastic surgeon Michelle Koo, MD