Do you know the difference between Cosmeceutical and over the counter products?



Our team often get questions about the difference between the products we sell and the ones you find easily over the counter.

So I decided to talk to the team and see what their opinions and suggestions are about the comparisons or differences.

Keep in mind that when I compare the products we sell in Oslo Beauty, I actually mean products called ‘Cosmeceutical’. Our clients ask us about Environ and IMAGE because these are the cosmeceuticals that we sell. There are other cosmeceuticals out there and if you are wondering what that actually means, cosmeceutical is derived from a combination of the words "cosmetics" and "pharmaceuticals"

The word describes a non –prescription product for cosmetic use, containing high-grade ingredients, which result in dramatic skin transformations. The word cosmeceutical entered the vocabulary in the 1990s when these professionals products started to be scientifically researched and tested to ensure they actually have an effect on the skin.

So I started talking to our skincare expert Siiri. Siiri has been with OSLO Beauty since day 1, so 3 years now, in our Mespil Road branch. She is a qualified beauty therapist with 7 years experience and specialises in doing facials, skin and laser treatments. 

When I asked Siiri about the difference between cosmeceuticals and over the counter products, her first comment was: ”Smells don't change the cells (this is a big phrase between serious beauty therapists) and this phrase best describes the difference between over the counter products and cosmeceuticals.” It is a fact that everyone loves a good smell but you really have to let this go if your main concern is the quality of the products and how many results you want to get from them.

Siiri also emphasized that the cosmeceuticals have active ingredients that are clinically proven to work on correcting the skin and can penetrate into the lower layers of the skin to create changes. She also says: “that is the reason why you should have a thorough consultation with a skincare professional before buying brands such as Image or Environ. Some over the counter products contain added fragrances to mask unpleasant smells but can also cause skin irritation and dryness. Science over smells!” 

When talking to Abi from our branch in Ranelagh, she emphasized the size of the molecules. Abi has been doing facials for 6 years now and has been on our OSLO team for almost a year now.

She said: “The molecules in cosmeceuticals are much smaller than that of cosmetics which allows the ingredients to work at a deeper level in our skin, giving us better results. Cosmeceuticals have higher concentrations of active ingredients such as AHAs, vitamins, peptides, etc. These are the concentrations that are needed to really make changes to the skin.

Cosmetic products, on the other hand, are not designed to make changes to the structure or function of the skin and if nothing is changing then you won't see results.”

If the size of the molecules and concentration in the product is higher or lower, this is going to reflect on the price.

So when you buy something a bit cheaper, you have to have in mind that these products can only change the appearance of the skin but they won’t really change and treat your skin concerns from a deeper level within the skin.

If the active ingredients are low in a product, this is firstly because they sell millions of them meaning its cheaper to have less concentration saving them on costs and second because there's no one recommending the right product to each skin type and concern, so this means that they can’t afford anyone having any reactions to the products. Having low levels of active ingredients is a good way to be safe and guarantee no one will have any irritations.

On the other hand, when buying cosmeceuticals you are also buying the cutting-edge technology into the creation of these products and you are paying for the years of research that can guarantee real results with no reactions because they were tested for months in different situations and skins.

Then, finally, I talked to Suzi from our Arnotts Branch, she was the very first employee in the company and manages our beauty team as well as being our resident staff trainer.

She said that working in a department store customers often ask ‘What makes Image so different from the likes of Clarins or Lancome’ because they see so many different brands there.

Suzi emphasized: “Unlike cosmetics, cosmeceuticals have the ability to change your skin and treat problematic skins. Cosmetics can be purchased practically anywhere, they can contain a lot of mineral oil,  parabens and petroleum. I feel cosmetics make your skin lazy and sluggish. With Image and other cosmeceuticals I always do an in-depth consultation.  It is vital to understand everything about your client's lifestyle and needs.  Cosmeceuticals are results driven and have the ability to change the structure of your skin.  I have not used a cosmetic on my skin in five years and I have no plans to.”

So, in conclusion, you are paying for what you get with your skincare if you want to see proven results as well as a specialised therapist to help you with your skincare journey, cosmeceuticals offer these long-term skin benefits. Cosmeceuticals or over the counter? It’s your choice.

Our Arnotts branch only offers IMAGE Skincare at the moment but it is the only OSLO branch with Our Skin Scanner Machine which analyses your skin deeply. The Skin Scanner consultation is €30, redeemable on products on the day.

At our OSLO Beauty branches in Mespil road and Ranelagh, you can book a consultation for €20 which will be also redeemable on products on the day. You can book either IMAGE or Environ consultation and the therapist will recommend the best options for your skin concerns and type.


We hope to see you soon in one of our salons.