Dermatologist Tested vs Dermatologist Formulated: What Do They Mean?

Dermatologist Tested vs Dermatologist Formulated: What Do They Mean?

Want to know what’s the difference between dermatologist tested vs dermatologist formulated vs dermatologist recommended skincare? Read on! 

With so many skincare products today, it can be daunting for consumers to choose products to buy. Yet, brands market their products as dermatologist-tested, -recommended, or -formulated to attract consumers. Most people immediately believe these products are the best and safest to use. However, that’s not the case.  

Skincare brands use these labels because they work to reel in customers. If you think about it, it’s an easy way to market a skincare product.  

When consumers see the word “dermatologist” on the packaging, it’s typical to think that a product has undergone rigorous testing. It passed and ended up being recommended by a dermatologist. But mind you, it can all just be a marketing ploy if you don’t know any better. 


What Does Dermatologist Tested Mean? 

When you see a product with a “dermatologist tested” label, do you think, “Wow, this product must be good because dermatologists tested it before it was sold to the public.?” Well, that is only partly true. 

This label can mean several things, such as: 

  • It was tested on human skin.
  • It could’ve been tested on animal skin.
  • One dermatologist tested the product for one feature; it could just be tested for sensitive skin, safety, allergy, effectiveness in moisturizing, etc.
  • It was tested but didn’t necessarily pass the test.
  • A dermatologist tested the product but didn’t like it. 

Additionally, there is no information on what “tested” means, like what types of tests were done, who the subjects were, the amount of product used in the test,  and, more importantly, what the results were. The data isn’t publicly available to consumers, so there’s no way to know the details. 

All these scenarios can take place; still, the product can freely use the “dermatologist tested” label because the product was indeed tested anyway. However, this doesn’t guarantee that all the claims of the products are valid.

What Are These Tests Anyway?

One of the most common tests done on products is called the Human Repeated Insult Patch or HRIPT. This test involves repeated application of the product on the subject. The results are also monitored during a rest period.

After the rest period, there is a “challenge phase” where the product will be applied again. Then, a skin assessment is done to check if the skin experienced any irritation.

There’s no question that companies know the importance of testing their products. However, not all brands know the proper scientific procedures that come with it. In some cases, these companies may even hire a third-party tester to conduct the testing because they offer a low rate for the service. However, it’s no surprise if they perform sub-standard testing.

It must also be noted that the first batch of products might only be the ones tested. Any new or succeeding formulas may not undergo the test anymore, and the company would still use the “dermatologist tested” label.  


What About Dermatologist Recommended?

Another common label attached to skincare products is dermatologist recommended. It sounds better, doesn’t it? It gives you that peace of mind that a skin doctor recommends the product you’re eyeing. But the question is, is the recommendation genuine? 

A “dermatologist recommended” is a step higher because the product was tested and recommended. It may seem more credible, but the dermatologist recommending the product could be working for the company in the first place. Another possibility is that the recommendation could be paid promotion. 

Of course, there is also a good chance that the product is honestly a dermatologist recommended skincare. The only issue is that there are no regulations on how brands can use this label for their products. Hence, it’s best to take it with a grain of salt still.


The Meaning of Dermatologist Approved

You may also see the label dermatologist approved. How is this any different? This label is often used interchangeably with dermatologist recommended, and they mean the same thing. A dermatologist approves the use of the product and has given it a thumbs up. 

However, seeing this label doesn’t mean you’re buying a real-deal dermatologist approved skincare product. It can just mean that a dermatologist or a group of them has a good opinion about the product. It’s a better label than dermatologist tested, but still, you can’t be too sure with the lack of data.


What Dermatologist Formulated Means? 

Now, this one holds more weight. “Dermatologist Formulated” means that a board-certified dermatologist had input in formulating a skincare product. He or she was involved in picking out the ingredients and testing the right combination of these ingredients to achieve the desired result.  

And since the dermatologist was involved in creating the product, there is a high chance that he or she also tested it and recommended it.


What Does the FDA Say? 

The Food and Drug Administration does not allow companies to label their products in a false or misleading way. Then again, regulations are not set in stone regarding the criteria that brands can follow before they use the labels "dermatologist tested" and "dermatologist recommended."  

In any case, the FDA can always request a company's evidence to back up its claims. However, for the FDA to do this, the product must be brought to their attention. This means that there must be many complaints (like thousands) about the product. This is why many skincare products can fly under the radar and get away with misleading labels. 


What Can You Do? 

The first thing to do is not immediately believe the labels and the claim. Bear in mind that companies will say what they can to sell their products, even if this means stretching their claims a little. So the next time you see on the label that it is dermatologist recommended skincare or dermatologist approved skincare, think twice or thrice before forking over your money. 

And to avoid falling into that trap, you must do your due diligence. Think about it. You wouldn't want to put something on your face once or twice a day, every day, for months to years without knowing what the product is! 

It would be best if you ask questions. Ask the skincare brands what they mean when they say their products are dermatologist tested, recommended, or formulated. Good brands will be more than happy to answer your questions. 

There are even brands out there that share this information on their websites. As more and more consumers demand transparency, skincare brands are forced to disclose information they usually hid before.  

For product testing, look into products that are tested by a sample size of at least 50 to 100+. Also, check out who tested the products. Are these independent clinics and dermatologists that do not have ties with the company? Clinical data and results will speak volumes about the quality of the product over these widely used labels.

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