what dermatologist tested means

What does “dermatologist tested” mean? Every time I read the words “dermatologist tested” on a skincare label, I think of a man in a white coat handing a new cream to an unsuspecting patient who has no idea she’s being picked to be a free guinea pig for a giant cosmetic company…. Who knows what’ll happen to her skin?… Ok, that’s not probably how it goes. But… how does it go then?

Do skincare brands send dermatologists random stuff to review for free or do they pay them a pretty penny for the privilege of stamping those two little words, “dermatologist tested” on the labels? Do dermatologists test the products themselves or do they ask their patients to do it? Or do they simply take a look at the ingredient list, see nothing toxic in it, give their stamp of approval and pocket the check? Mmm….

The more you dig, the more this claim stinks. What you thought was a pretty professional and trustworthy claim at first is turning out to be anything but…

What Does It Really Mean?


“Dermatologist tested” is one of those terms (like hypoallergenic) that is not regulated in any way.

Of course, if you want to print “dermatologist tested” on the packaging, you need a dermatologist to test your product. But, with no standard test a product must pass to get this pledge of honour, a company can do any test it wants.

Usually, these tests are pretty shallow. Often, a dermatologist simply applies the product either on her skin or on a patient’s skin. If nothing bad, like an irritation, happens, the company puts “dermatologist tested” on the label.

Think that’s a joke? Wait, there’s worse.

You know what happens when there’s a negative reaction? Too often, the company doesn’t care. It prints “dermatologist tested” on the label anyway.

Wait, what? How can they get away with this crap?

Because there is no regulation that defines what the term means. There is no law that says that a product must pass the test. It just has to be tested. By a dermatologist.

So, if a company goes ahead and prints “dermatologist tested” on a product that failed the test, it’s not lying. The product was tested by a dermatologist.

Oh, wait. Sometimes this IS a lie. Anyone with a PhD can lend their support to a product. But not everyone with a PhD is a dermatologist. They may be doctors, but how well do they know skin and what it needs?

Related: Are Hypoallergenic Products Really Safer?

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Are Dermatologists Paid To “Test” Skincare Products?

You bet they are. Whether a product passes these tests or not, the dermatologists do pocket their share.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all dermatologists are dishonest and would promote anything to make a quick buck. Lots of skincare products out there are truly amazing and any dermatologist would be proud to promote them.

But, whenever money exchanges hands, people must know. Bloggers are required by law to disclose sponsored posts, so why should dermatologists get away with hiding the sponsorship? It’s not fair.

The bottom line

“Dermatologist tested” is a meaningless claim. Don’t pay any attention to it. Instead, learn about cosmetic ingredients and which ones your skin needs. I know, it’s a lot more work, but it’ll save you lots of money and skin woes in the long run.

Do you buy beauty products because they are “dermatologist tested”? Share your thoughts in the comments below.