The difference between over the counter cosmetics, cosmeceuticals and paramedical skin care?

It’s often a question we are asked, how does cosmeceutical skin care differ from over the counter cosmetics? And it all comes down to two main things:

  • The concentration of active ingredients
  • The ability of the product to penetrate the skin

Over the counter cosmetics

The molecular structure of active ingredients in over the counter cosmetics is much larger and bulkier, rendering them less capable in regards to penetrating to the deeper layers of the skin (epidermis). While over the counter cosmetics provide many benefits, their ability to create any impactful structural changes in the skin or to deliver significant long term skin care results pales in comparison to their cosmeceutical and paramedical skin care counterparts. The extent of the difference between the categories is most evident in the treatment of more aggressive skin issues such as acne, photo damage, hyperpigmentation or severe sensitivity.


The combination of powerful active ingredients such as glycolic acids, lactic acids, retinol, antioxidants, vitamins and peptides in prominent cosmeceutical treatments create long lasting results beyond the surface of the skin. These higher concentrations of actives will improve the condition of the skin and its underlying health. ALIVE are proud to be able to offer a range of cosmeceutical ranges from leading cosmeceutical suppliers including Cosmedix, Aspect, Alpha-H, Medik8, SkinCeuticals and more!


Containing more active ingredients and in much higher concentrations. Paramedical skin care treatments are often based on medically and clinically documented blends of AHA’s, Retinoids, Vitamin C, Peptides, Antioxidants and SPF technology. Developments in the paramedical skin care field such as Chiral and encapsulated technology further enhances these activities, enabling the deepest delivery results possible. You’ll usually find that paramedical ranges require a consultation prior to use due to their potency – and you’ll find we have DMK paramedical skin care products (Danne Montague-King) online, available for purchase once a skin consult has been completed in your customer account.

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