Are therapeutic moisturizers labeled OTC drugs better?

February 18, 2016

Some therapeutic moisturizers are considered OTC drugs rather than cosmetics. Read and find out more.

Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.Are therapeutic moisturizers labeled OTC drugs better?

Some therapeutic moisturizers are considered OTC drugs rather than cosmetics. Whether a moisturizer is an OTC drug or a cosmetic depends on whether it contains any ingredients on the skin protectant monograph. If the moisturizer contains ingredients from the skin protectant monograph, it is automatically considered an OTC drug and the packaging can list active ingredients at the top of the back panel and other ingredients at the bottom of the back panel. 

Read: Is it possible to fill in large facial pores with cosmetics?

One of the most widely used ingredients from the skin protective monograph is dimethicone. Other less widely used ingredients include shark liver oil. The skin protectant monograph is quite old and many ingredients that are no longer used are found while many newer ingredients are not present. Therapeutic moisturizers that are designated as OTC drugs are not necessarily better than those that are designated as cosmetics.