What Does Dermatologically Tested Mean?

If you’re going to use a product on your body, knowing that it’s been properly tested gives you peace of mind. It’s nice to know that your skincare has been tested by a dermatologist or a similar professional before you’ve applied it. 

It would be wonderful if every product you used was thoroughly tested by a dermatologist and evaluated for the benefits it’s alleged to impart, but this isn’t always the case. Dermatologically tested products seem more appealing, but the term may inadvertently imply promises it isn’t making. 

Testing is an important part of the process, but your knowledge of the ingredients listed on the back of the bottle will tell you more than a single phrase without findings to back it up. 

What Kind of Products Can Be Dermatologically Tested?

Any product you apply to your skin can be dermatologically tested. Over-the-counter medicated products are required to have their primary active ingredient dermatologically tested according to the FDA’s standards. This is how we know that salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide-based acne treatments are safe to use, and the reason we have a limit for the active ingredient in non-prescription products.

Prescription medicated topical products undergo even more rigorous testing, as their concentrations of active ingredients are likely far higher than in a tube you’d freely grab off the shelf. 

Unmedicated skincare products, such as moisturizers, body washes, shaving creams, and lotions, are not required to be dermatologically tested

Some companies take the extra step to run dermatological tests, which allows them to use the phrase “dermatologically tested” on their packaging or in advertisements for the product. 

What Does Dermatologically Tested Actually Mean?

Dermatologically tested doesn’t technically mean anything. The claim isn’t regulated, and there is no official set of standards that companies need to follow regarding dermatological tests. 

They’re an optional process that a company can decide to pursue or not pursue. It’s not a question of what dermatologically tested does mean, but rather a question of what it can mean.

Anything dermatologically tested has to have undergone at least one test that falls under the umbrella of the medical practice of dermatology. It’s worth noting that “dermatologically tested” does not mean dermatologically approved. 

The professional who tested the products could have outright stated that they disliked them or didn’t agree with the formula. The dermatologist doesn’t have to like the findings in order for a company to use the term.

What Dermatologically Tested Might Mean

Although there is no universally accepted standard for what dermatological testing can or should entail, most organizations and brands tend to agree on a few core things. 

Dermatologically testing a product will usually involve testing the product for its potential to cause skin irritation or incite allergic reactions in a significant number of people. This kind of testing doesn’t necessarily affect the presence of a dermatologist. 

The brand can ask people to use the products and self-report their findings. While using the term “dermatologically tested” can be slightly misleading in this context, the scenario still qualifies as a dermatological test. 

Although the term technically works on an honor system, most trustworthy companies imply one thing when they label their products as dermatologically tested. The bare minimum you can assume is that the product has been tested on humans, the formula is generally safe, and most people don’t experience adverse reactions.

The Standards for Dermatological Tests

Most of the time, the public will never see how a test was designed or a full reporting of the outcome. 

Many skincare products contain ingredients that irritate sensitive skin or cause allergic reactions, and publishing the results of these tests might scare people off. 

If the product was tested on 30 people and 5 of them reported an adverse reaction, this isn’t a reassuring statistic. It means that one in every six people shouldn’t use their product.

There is no standard for the way that the product has to be applied, the amount that’s used, how long the study has to continue, the body parts used for testing, or what acceptable findings should be.

A dermatologically tested product could have been tested in a pea-sized amount on one person’s arm one time. That person may have developed hives as a result. This is still a dermatological test, and it gives the brand license to use the term. The results don’t need to be favorable, and the test need not be successful, as there is no defined way of determining success.

The Test Most Commonly Used

Most companies use a human repeated insult patch test (HRIPT) as the sole method of dermatologically testing their products. This test does just enough to support the “dermatologically tested” claim should it ever be called into question. 

The product is applied to the skin on a regular basis over a predetermined period of time. Test volunteers take time off and return to undergo the process again. 

The people administering the tests check for signs of irritation or allergic reaction. They don’t have to formally report their findings or disclose them, as these tests are not designed to determine whether or not a product is effective. 

Tests that Matter

Caldera + Lab is a skincare company with multiple certificationsDoing things the right way is essential to us and an underlying philosophy of the business.

When it comes time to test our products, we wanted to structure a real test to observe and report data concerning our product, and we wanted to make that knowledge public.

At Caldera + Lab, we did something far better than a “dermatological test.” In fact, we did a full-on clinical trial. We used expert clinical grading, Clarity™ Image Machine for instrumental assessments, and offered our participants questionnaires. We wanted the opinion of professionals and users of the products and objective imaging to verify their reports.

Having tested our serum on 53 participants over a period of 60 days, we categorized participants by skin types: normal, combination dry, and combination oily. 

We checked for the following criteria and produced the following results at the end of our testing period. The percentages reflect all skin types combined.

  • Reported healthier-looking skin: 96%
  • Reported smoother-looking skin: 91%
  • Reported less dryness: 91%
  • Improved skin radiance and luminosity: 89%
  • Showed more even skin tone: 85%
  • Improved appearance of fine lines and wrinkles: 87%

If you use the product daily for eight weeks, you should have fairly high confidence that you will experience healthier looking skin, and reasonably high confidence that you will experience smoother looking skin and less dryness.

The odds are heavily in your favor for improved radiance and luminosity, evening of the skin tone, and reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Improve the Health of Your Skin

Caldera + Lab has a simple skincare routine that everyone should be able to follow with ease. Cleanse your face with The Clean Slate cleanser, and blot dry. Apply a few drops of The Good serum and allow your skin to drink it up. 

Top off with The Base Layer moisturizer, and you’re good to go. You can use Caldera + Lab with confidence, knowing how it was tested and what the findings actually were. 


Product Testing of Cosmetics | FDA

What is a dermatologist? | American Academy of Dermatology

The human repeated insult patch test in the 21st century: a commentary | PubMed