What 'Dermatologist Tested' Really Means

If you've ever browsed through the skin care aisle in search of your next miracle cream, serum, or oil, you've likely seen the promotional labels on the shiny bottles boasting "dermatologist tested." We get why this can help sell a product. After all, how can the magic liquid inside have an adverse effect if it made its way past a professional and onto the shelves before you? A good selling point, yes. But what does dermatologist tested really mean?

If a product is boasting a dermatologist tested message on its label, it likely means there was a dermatologist involved in the development of the potion inside. "The expertise of a dermatologist is used to identify safe and effective products via case reports, clinical trials and case-control studies," says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Camille Howard-Verovic to Skincare.com by L'Oreal. Adding, "Some dermatologists may act as investigators in clinical studies and others may work as consultants in formulating skin-care or hair-care products."

You might not want to make it a requirement

It's arguably a plus to have the expertise of a dermatologist when it comes to developing a skin care product. But according to Brighton Dermatology, this promotional label doesn't always mean this is the case. The dermatologist tested claim doesn't have any regulations, and there is no uniform standard that assures the customer that a dermatologist was heavily involved in making or testing the product. Generally, it is accepted that this claim on the label means the product was tested on human skin and that it is relatively safe to use. However, the dermatologist tested claim doesn't provide information on where on the body the product was tested, supporting data, or how long or often the product was tested before distribution.

Other common labels like "dermatologist approved" or "dermatologist recommended" also lack detailed evidence, notes Practical Dermatology. And in some cases, these claims can be used when the opinion of only one dermatologist is given.

So what's the takeaway? Dermatologist tested and similar claims on a product's label are part of marketing strategy and can be placed there with very little involvement from a qualified dermatologist. It is in no way a negative claim. But perhaps don't make it a necessary requirement on the skin care products you purchase in the future.