Although they contain the same exact ingredients, generic skincare products are NOT necessarily the same as "brand" products.

According to the FDA's Cosmetic Labeling Guide and the cosmetic labeling regulations themselves (21 CFR parts 701 and 740), all over-the-counter (OTC) skincare products must have a listing of the ingredients contained in that product in descending order of predominance. And although the ingredients themselves are listed, the exact recipe or formulation is not. The information that is not listed includes:

  • The order that ingredients are added to the product.
  • The pH of the product.
  • The amount of each ingredient.
  • The temperature of the product or of the ingredient when that particular ingredient is added. 

This formulary information is considered proprietary and is often patented. Generic products, such as those sold by major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens, may use the same ingredients as the branded products but do NOT necessarily use the same patented formulation.

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