What’s the difference between over the counter, physician dispensed and prescription skincare? May 4, 2023 Over-the-counter (OTC) skincare refers to products that you can buy at your local drugstore, beauty store or high-end department store without a prescription. OTC cosmetic products aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medical-grade products can only use ingredients approved for OTC use, though many of them are backed by clinical studies and adhere to FDA regulations. Many medical-grade products, like the ones sold at Studio Essex Medical Spa, are sold exclusively through doctors’ offices, but they don’t require a doctor’s order. Prescription skincare products have been approved by the FDA and can only be prescribed by a licensed physician. These products have rigorous scientific backing proving their safety and efficacy for treating medical skin conditions. Most commonly prescribed skincare in aesthetics is Tretinoin.