Dermatologist-tested means safety testing takes place under the supervision of a dermatologist. Safety testing performed under the supervision of a dermatologist can include RIPT (repeated insult patch testing), which tests the irritation and sensitization potential of a product, as well as safety-in-use testing which reflects typical consumer use and exposure to a product. During such testing, a dermatologist will observe, record, and evaluate any skin reactions to confirm or not the irritation potential or allergenicity of the product which ultimately affirms the product’s safety. A dermatologist, qualified in understanding the structure and physiology of the skin, contributes their knowledge in addition to the trained clinical staff, giving further reassurance as to a product’s safety. In order to ensure a fair evaluation of any product reactions, the review is completed by a certified cosmetic dermatologist in correlation with the clinical facility and not hired by the brand separately.
Does "Dermatologist-Tested" Mean That a Product is Safe for All Skin Types?
Dermatologist-Tested does not necessarily mean the product is “Safe for All Skin Types.” The labeling callout “Safe for All Skin Types” means that the clinical RIPT has included an additional panel (up to 200) of self-identified sensitive skin participants. This inclusion of sensitive skin panelists encompasses a broader demographic to ensure any potential reactions are captured and reviewed by the clinical staff and dermatologist; therefore, the claim “Safe for All Skin Types” comes from a specific type of RIPT testing while “Dermatologist-Tested” means a dermatologist was overseeing the testing being performed independent of whether or not there was a self-identified sensitive skin panel.
How Do Dermatologists Test Products on the Skin?
A dermatologist is utilized to further assess the results done by a 3rd party clinical facility. A Repeat Insult Skin Patch Test (RIPT) is a two-phase process that is designed to evaluate the irritation and sensitization potential of a product. In the initial phase, which is referred to as the induction phase, the subject’s skin is exposed to the product several times, through exaggerated exposure. The product is applied occlusively or semi-occlusive to skin on the back or forearms for 24 hours at a time. The subjects are then monitored during a two-week period resting phase. This time period is critical to allow the immune system to respond and produce antigen specific T cells if there is an allergic reaction. If a product is a potential sensitizer there will be allergic symptoms upon reexposure of the product in the second phase. In the second phase, or elicitation phase, the product is reapplied to a new site on the subject’s skin to determine whether the repeat application will elicit an inflammatory response on the surface of the skin or true allergic reaction. After the study is complete, the dermatologist reviews the subject reaction report quantified by the researcher and if all is acceptable, signs off on the report.
Another safety test that can be beneficial to perform under the supervision of a dermatologist is a safety-in-use test. This test more closely mimics typical consumer use of a product by having participants use the product as directed, at the site of expected use, and over a set period of time. Brands can also request this testing to be done on a specific demographic that is typically under a dermatologist’s care including participants with rosacea or eczema. While participants use the products, a trained dermatologist will look for signs of irritation, inflammation, dryness, and exacerbation of specific skin concerns. A product may not be intended to treat a skin condition such as eczema or rosacea but a dermatologist can advise on whether a product can be safe for use for those with that condition.
A dermatologist can also be the primary investigator or oversee phototoxicity, photosensitization, and cumulative irritation patch testing. In these studies, a dermatologist can lend authority to the validity of the testing results and provide reassurance to a brand as to the safety of a brand’s products before release on the market. This becomes even more important with the recent Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA) that requires brands to “ensure and maintain records supporting adequate safety substantiation of their cosmetic products” with data derived from scientifically robust methods. 1
Is "Dermatologist-Tested" a Marketing Term?
If the definition of a marketing term is to communicate the benefits of a product to a consumer, then “dermatologist-tested” does fall under that definition as it conveys relevant information to the customer. Although terms like “hypoallergenic” and “dermatologist-tested” are not regulated by the FDA, we follow established industry standards to support these claims. The purpose of labeling a product as “dermatologist-tested” is to provide as much reassurance to customers as we can the safety of a product and the reduced likelihood of topical skin reactions.
DISCLAIMER: All skin care articles are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational. Any reference to a specific patient experience is not a medical suggestion for treatment. Please note that any Prequel products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician advice and/or pharmaceutical product recommendations.