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New Seal of Approval Initiative to Assess Skin Care Product Claims

Dermatology Review Panel

For the average consumer, choosing nonprescription skin care products can be confusing, time consuming and stressful. Personal care in Canada is a $5 billion industry that offers thousands of competing products, many of which make skin care-related claims. Advertisers inundate us with messages about what their products can do for us, but how can we be sure that the products we buy will actually live up to their claims?

Phrases such as “Dermatologist Tested” or “Dermatologist Approved” offer reassurance that a nonprescription skin care product has been reviewed by a professional and is likely to provide the desired results. But, in reality, there is no standard for what these phrases mean; they can, in fact, simply indicate that several dermatologists have tried a product at the manufacturer’s request.

For these reasons, several organizations have created seals of approval for products; for example, the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) created a seal of approval for sunscreens, much like the American and Canadian Dental Associations have done for dental products like toothpaste. Products that carry a “Seal of Approval” can take some of the guesswork out of selecting products.

In response to this consumer confusion, a new professional review process for over-the-counter skin care products has been formed. In July 2007, the Dermatology Review Panel (DRP) was established to provide professional reviews of skin care product claims. The overall purpose of the DRP is two-fold. First, it will assist consumers and medical professionals to easily identify nonprescription skin care products that meet independent approval standards with regard to product claims. Second, it will encourage manufacturers to engage in more clinical research.

The Review and Approval Process

The DRP is comprised of leading dermatologists from across Canada. The Panel provides independent dermatological assessments of the available scientific data supporting the skin care-related product claims in order to ensure that they meet the criteria set out by the DRP.

Manufacturers are invited to submit skin care products to the DRP for review. The DRP accepts applications for Canadian over-the-counter skin care products and other consumer products that make skin care-related claims. Each product’s scientific data is reviewed by a minimum of three reviewers, who are chosen from the panel depending on their expertise in a relevant product area. The reviewers independently assess each submission to verify that there is enough scientific data to support the product’s claims. Evaluations are tabulated and a final decision is rendered by the Board of Governors, which is comprised of three additional nationally recognized dermatologists.

The Dermatology Review Panel Seal of Approval is only granted to products that meet the criteria set out by the DRP. The DRP seal is easy to recognize and can be prominently displayed on approved products; its visual impact is meant to encourage Canadians who want to make educated choices about their skin care products.

Using the Seal

Manufacturers can display the Seal of Approval on a product’s packaging, advertisements, and any other promotional vehicles within Canada. Prominently placing the seal on products and promotional materials can help consumers and medical professionals easily identify products that have been reviewed by professionals and meet the criteria set out by the DRP.

The DRP Seal of Approval has received a number of submissions to date and several products have already received approval. For more information about The Dermatology Review Panel and to learn what products have been approved, go to www.dermatologyreviewpanel.ca.