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

Learn what the phrase “clinically proven” means on skin care products and why it’s not related to FDA approval.

Lauren Smith, MAPreeti Parikh, MD
Written by Lauren Smith, MA | Reviewed by Preeti Parikh, MD
Published on May 7, 2021

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.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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