Anyone who has visited a physician or professional aesthetician’s office seeking to improve the appearance of his or her skin has likely heard of or received a recommendation to use professional skin care products. Excluding prescriptions covered by insurance, the price of the products may be surprising.
Why purchase skin care products from a physician rather than a drug store?

It’s a good question to ask, and the reasons are worth understanding if you are serious about tackling issues such as melasma/dark spots or acne, as well as the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and the host of problems caused by photoaging.


Consider value in the decision to purchase topical skin care. Products containing greater than 2% HQ that are indicated to treat hyperpigmentation and melasma, for example, are available only with a prescription. Non-hydroquinone cosmetic alternatives may not work as well, and therefore, repeated purchases may end up costing more than a well-formulated product. Similarly, this added value applies to clinically-tested physician-dispensed acne products and certain cosmetics.

Clinical Results
The best physician-dispensed skin care is clinically tested for positive results, so you can be confident that such products are backed by real results. Before and after photos should give you an idea of typical results. Clinical study engagement is one cost in the development of good skin care products.

In-Depth Product Training/Education
Because the products are part of a skin care professional’s recommended regimen, practitioner training and instructional materials are provided by the manufacturer. Some professional skin care products may cause side effects in some patients; proper and continued education by the practitioner is critical for patients’ proper use and success. Doctors and aestheticians who recommend specific products will guide patients during their continued use to address any questions or concerns that may arise during the treatment course.

Consumers, Be Cautious
Some may still wonder why purchase physician-dispensed skin care products instead of those available through mass-retail, which often advertise big promises. Products sold through mass retail skin care often make claims that haven’t been scientifically supported, so it’s often up to consumers to educate and protect themselves. Consider a quote from the FDA: “If a product seems too good to be true, it probably is.”1

Do you have a question for the Obagi team? Send it to with the subject line “Ask Obagi”, and your question may be featured in an upcoming blog!