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What are cosmeceutical ingredients, and why are they used in our shampoo, body wash, and face wash products?

Cosmeceuticals are skincare products that include biologically active chemicals that may cause physiologic changes in the skin. So stated, cosmeceutical skincare products do more than merely help your skin appear better; they may also cause changes in your skin.

They are used to treat aesthetic issues like hyperpigmentation, cellulite, big pores, and acne. However, the overwhelming majority of cosmeceutical products are designed to fight age—wrinkles, loss of suppleness and tone, and sun damage. 

While a typical moisturizer or serum will nourish the skin’s surface layers, cosmeceuticals operate on a deeper level, using powerful vitamins, minerals, and other helpful active ingredients to combat dryness and dehydration, dullness sun damage, acne, scars, and indications of aging.

Cosmeceuticals strike a balance between cosmetics and drugs

Albert Kligman, MD, invented the word “cosmeceutical” in the 1980s to describe a skincare product that performs more than a cosmetic but is not nearly a medicine. Instead, it’s a combination of the terms cosmetics and drugs.

Cosmeceuticals are much more than just cosmetics. Cosmetics, such as face cleansers and cosmetics, may clean and beautify your skin, but they do not alter the way it acts.

On the other hand, Cosmeceuticals include active chemicals that alter the skin’s physical structure and function. And they may have legitimate scientific evidence to back up their assertions.

Despite being referred to as “medical grade” skincare, cosmeceuticals are not medicines. Drugs are used to treat, cure, or manage a medical disease and are put to highly rigorous testing before being released to the public. Some over-the-counter remedies, such as acne treatments and dandruff shampoos, may seem to be cosmetics, but they are medicines since they address a disease.

Cosmeceuticals are unable to cure skin issues. However, they are used for cosmetic reasons and are a non-invasive method of improving the look of the skin. They are available without a prescription and may be purchased over the counter.

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels
Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

There are no established standards for cosmetic products

Although skincare experts generally agree on what defines a cosmeceutical, no set criteria or regulations define these products. Furthermore, there is no regulating organization that mainly supervises cosmeceuticals. So, in reality, the word “cosmeceutical” refers to a marketing phrase rather than a kind of skincare product.

This is when things get a bit complicated. Cosmeceutical products are not subjected to more stringent testing than conventional cosmetics. Cosmeceuticals are not subjected to stricter regulations. They aren’t even obliged to demonstrate that they do what they say.

In reality, the word “cosmeceutical” is not even recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration. Depending on the claims made by the product, cosmeceuticals are either cosmetics or OTC medicines in the eyes of the FDA.

Drugs may claim that they “treat” an issue, such as wrinkles. A cosmetic may claim to enhance, reduce, or soften wrinkles, but not to cure them. Getting a medication authorized, even an OTC one, is defined as problematic. Nevertheless, most firms choose to advertise their cosmeceutical goods as cosmetics. By doing so, they may bring the product to market faster and at a lower cost. Cosmeceutical claims are purposefully ambiguous to keep their marketing within legal bounds.

Important things to note about cosmeceutical products

While cosmeceuticals are not medicines, they do fill a role in the cosmetic industry today. They are used to treat aesthetic issues like hyperpigmentation, cellulite, big pores, and acne. However, the overwhelming majority of cosmeceutical products are designed to fight age—wrinkles, loss of suppleness and tone, and sun damage.

#1 You can obtain effective skincare over the counter

Do you see cosmetic problems with your skin that aren’t severe enough to need the use of prescription medication? Cosmeceuticals may reduce aesthetic issues such as fine lines, uneven skin tone, and a dull complexion. In addition, they may assist you in maintaining good skin without the requirement for a prescription.

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#2 Cosmeceuticals may be used in conjunction with topical prescription medicines

If you’re already taking prescription medicine, cosmeceuticals may help you get the most out of it. Ceramide-containing treatments, for example, may alleviate the dryness produced by topical prescription tretinoin. Ask your dermatologist if there are any products they suggest for you, and never add a product to your treatment regimen without first getting approval from your dermatologist.

#3 The risk is that your skin may get inflamed

Cosmeceutical products may contain high concentrations of active ingredients. As a result, they may irritate your skin. This is particularly true for exfoliating chemicals like alpha-hydroxy acids or retinol. If your skin gets red, itches, stings, or burns, discontinue use and see your doctor if the condition does not improve.

Choosing the most effective cosmeceutical ingredients to achieve the best results

Simply labeling a product as cosmeceutical does not guarantee that it will deliver on its claims. The easiest method to ensure you’re receiving an effective cosmeceutical product is to choose one with scientifically proven components. Some substances have been researched more thoroughly than others and have been proven to have real, biological effects on the skin.

Cosmeceutical components are generally unstudied in academia. The majority of what we know about them comes from research conducted by the cosmeceutical business itself. Nonetheless, there is strong evidence that some substances offer real-world skin advantages. Looking for these components in a cosmeceutical can help you obtain a high-performance, effective product.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have received a lot of attention in the scientific community. Glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid, and benzilic acid are among the most beneficial. Alpha hydroxy acids promote skin exfoliation, making your skin smoother, softer, and brighter overall. AHAs are also utilized to reduce the appearance of sun damage and moderate hyperpigmentation.

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant that aids in protecting the skin from free radical damage. It’s often used in eye lotions and serums because it may help with dark circles. In addition, ALA has been shown to improve skin firmness and minimize big pores.

Ceramides are an essential component of the skin’s structure. Their main selling point is their ability to keep the skin moisturized. Ceramides aid in the reduction of transepidermal water loss (or TEWL). This is a fancy way of stating that it retains moisture in your skin instead of allowing it to evaporate. It also reduces the appearance of fine wrinkles by moisturizing and plumping the skin.

Green tea contains a lot of polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has anti-inflammatory properties, promotes collagen synthesis, and protects against UV damage. This is not to say that green tea is a suitable replacement for sunscreen; it is not. However, sunscreens containing green tea extract may provide further protection against the sun’s harmful effects on the skin.

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the skin and decreases with aging. Hyaluronic acid maintains the skin’s hydration and firmness. Hyaluronic acid, like ceramides, makes the skin appear plump and smooth.

Another powerful antioxidant is niacinamide (vitamin B3). Niacinamide improves the skin’s moisture. It also helps to level out your skin tone by decreasing redness, blotchiness, and hyperpigmentation. In addition, this chemical brightens the skin and protects it from aging dullness.

Peptides are short-chain amino acids found naturally in the skin. Peptides can promote collagen synthesis, which improves skin firmness and texture while minimizing fine wrinkles. However, it is unclear if peptides can be absorbed deeply enough when administered topically in a cosmetic product.

Retinol and retinaldehyde reduce hyperpigmentation and fine wrinkles. (not confuse this with the prescription drug Retin-A). They also make the skin feel smoother and may help to prevent collagen loss. In addition, Retinaldehyde has been proven to decrease wrinkles, including deep-set wrinkles.

Soy is believed to defend against collagen loss and skin thinning that occurs with aging. But, according to careful research, it also promotes collagen synthesis.

Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant that may also promote collagen production (specifically L-ascorbic acid). However, it is precarious and rapidly loses its effectiveness once the package is opened and exposed to air. Therefore, the best vitamin C products are packaged in air-lock pumps (which prevent air from entering the bottle and contaminating the contents) or those packaged in single-use capsules.

Vitamin E is beneficial to sun-damaged skin and may help protect against elastin breakdown. It is most effective when combined with vitamin C. However, it, like vitamin C, may be unstable and deteriorate rapidly.

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