“Clinically Proven” on Skin Care Products: What Does It Mean?

Psst … It has nothing to do with FDA approval.

Loading the player...

The skin care aisle can be an overwhelming place to shop. Tons of brands offer a wide range of products categorized by goals and skin types. Many also have claims that they are “clinically proven.” That may sound promising, but what does it mean?

Unfortunately, “clinically proven” is not as reassuring as it sounds. You might believe that this phrase means the product went through rigorous testing and clinical trials, and then received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Spoiler alert: This is not the case.

What “Clinically Proven” Means on Skin Care Products

“Clinically proven” simply means that consumers tried the product, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. For example, a brand may have asked consumers to try out the product and see if it achieved the desired results. However, this is much different than a clinical trial. Unlike a clinical trial, the phrase "clinically proven" doesn’t tell us anything about:

  • How many people participated in this “study” or "test"
  • What the study entailed
  • How long the study lasted
  • What results the participants had
  • Whether results were replicable in different groups of people

This does not mean that the product is a “scam” or that it doesn’t work. You might try a product with this label and get amazing results! It just means that “clinically proven” is mostly a marketing term to help a product stand out in the crowded skin care aisle.

How to Find the Best Products

If you’re not sure how to pick the best skin care products for you, your best bet is to talk to a board-certified dermatologist. They can help identify what your skin needs are, such as fighting acne, moisturizing, or evening skin tone. Then, they can recommend the most reliable products for your needs.