What Are the Advantages of Cosmeceutical Skin Care Products?
I didn't always use cosmeceutical skin care products - I wasn't convinced they were worth the extra money. But I changed my mind after starting Masterpiece Skin Restoration. I needed high quality skincare products that I knew worked - so I could sell them with confidence. They needed to enhance the results of my skincare treatments. And they needed to work so well that my patients loved them.
I started doing research and found that some of the cosmeceutical lines, like SkinCeuticals, had clinical trials to back their products. I tried them myself and found that their products made my skin smoother and more healthy. So happy I did! My skin looks about a million times better!
Let me share with you a little of what I learned - that there are 5 real advantages of cosmeceutical skin care products. Things that make them well worth the investment. But before I start, I'll need to fill you in on some definitions. Sorry!
You may be wondering - what exactly is a cosmeceutical? Cosmeceuticals are skin care products with active ingredients that are expected to be clinically proven to change and enhance skin. (The "expected to be" in that sentence should tell you that not all cosmeceuticals are clinically proven.) Dermatologists classify most professional lines (like SkinCeuticals, SkinMedica, Skinbetter Science, etc.) in this hybrid category which lies somewhere between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
“Although this (cosmeceutical) label is not officially recognized by the FDA, it is used to describe products that may have biological actions on the skin below the stratum corneum, whereas a cosmetic by definition does not alter the skin's structure or function,” says Dr. Kim, a clinical research investigator at the Clinical Science Institute in Santa Monica.
As long as a product’s packaging and marketing don’t claim to mitigate, treat, or cure disease, or affect the structure and function of the body in any way, it is considered a COSMETIC. Retail skin care lines, like you find at the beauty counter at Nordstorm, Sephora or in a pharmacy, are considered cosmetics. Retail products are studied for safety and irritation, but are rarely proven in clinical trials.
Products that claim to mitigate, treat, or cure disease, or affect the structure and function of the body are considered PHARMACEUTICALS by the FDA. They are tested in clinical trials. Prescription creams must prove that their active ingredients penetrate the skin in high enough doses to have a physiological effect and produce results on a cellular level.
Anti-aging skin care products often have unproven or controversial active ingredients. Some even go so far as to claim, “Better than Botox,” or “actively repairing DNA damage,” but don’t back these claims with clinical evidence. The Federal Trade Commission, which polices health and fitness claims, has mostly ignored these claims.
How do you protect yourself from companies and products that make false claims? Look for a cosmeceutical line with double blind placebo studies (the gold standard of clinical trials) to back their claims.
Some cosmeceuticals brand themselves as “clinically proven” or “dermatologist recommended.” But these terms have no industry standard definition. So consumers - like you - have no way of knowing how the products were tested. “Clinically proven” can mean that a dermatologist had a few patients try the product and there were no adverse reactions. “Dermatologist created” may mean that a dermatologist was consulted. This terminology implies that these products are safer or more effective than other products. And it's not always true.
To make matters worse, there is an ongoing debate about integrity in dermatology and cosmeceutical skincare. In an attempt to gain credibility, the cosmeceutical industry has partnered with doctors who are paid as consultants and researchers. Some physicians have even created their own product lines (Perricone M.D. and Murad). This has spurred debate.
- Is it ethical for a doctor to recommend a product not backed by clinical trials?
- Is it ethical for that same doctor to then profit from the sale of that product?
Dr. Leslie S. Baumann, CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami, Florida, feels differently. She says:
“I was against selling skin care products for ethical reasons for several years. However, in 2005, I surveyed my patients, and 100% of them wanted me to sell products so that they could feel sure that they were purchasing the right products for their needs. In fact, my patients appreciate expert medical advice on skin care. As a practitioner, you can make more educated choices about skin care products and help them avoid products that don’t work or cause harm.”
Clinically proven cosmeceuticals do exist.
Another one of the advantages of cosmeceutical skin care products - cosmeceuticals bridge the gap between pharmaceuticals and cosmetics by using ingredients similar to those in pharmaceutical products, but in lower doses. They may also contain ingredients, like peptides or antioxidants, that are newer and have less research to back them - but still show great promise.
A great example is the FDA approved prescription medication cream, Retin-A. It is generically known as topical tretinoin or retinoic acid and is a strong, but irritating form of Vitamin A.
Cosmeceuticals like SkinCeuticals carry retinol formulations, which are less potent than Retin-A, but have strong science to support their effectiveness.
"In off-the-shelf formulas, the ingredient called retinol is the only derivative of vitamin A worth using," says Dana Sachs, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Medical School. "There's a lot of literature showing that while retinol is more gentle than retinoic acid, biochemically it does exactly the same thing—it may just take longer to see results."
Drug store brands like RoC and Neutrogena make retinol products, but the concentration of retinol in these products is much lower - about 0.25%. SkinCeuticals makes two retinol formulations to choose from: 0.5% and 1.0%.
There Are 5 Advantages of Cosmeceutical Skin Care Products:
Cosmeceutical skin care products offer more powerful solutions than retail products - at a better value.
1. There are more key ingredients in cosmeceuticals. Cosmeceuticals that you buy at a medical office have higher concentrations of active ingredients. Most retail lines have lower amounts.
2. Cosmeceuticals use more advanced formulas. Often they have the most promising new ingredients or the latest generation of more established ingredients. Sometimes these ingredients may not work in a retail product because of irritation; BUT in a medical setting, with professional follow-up, they work extremely well.
Although a product label lists the product's ingredients, it does not list the recipe (the amount of ingredients and order they were added, the pH, and other things that determine a product's final chemistry). Ingredients like vitamin C are expensive when formulated properly. Many brands will use the same ingredients - but their recipe is different - resulting in an end product that is also different.
3. Cosmeceutical skin care products are more likely to penetrate your skin. Scientists use the 500 Dalton Rule for Skin Penetration to ensure the molecules of key ingredients can get into the skin. Essentially, if the molecules are too large, the product may not work.
4. Cosmeceuticals offer a better value because they work. Often patients buy retail skin care products that are not based on good science – and then are disappointed when they fail.
Cosmeceuticals are sold in medical offices by skin care professionals who tailor a regimen and order of application specifically for you. The order in which the ingredients are applied to your skin is very important because some ingredients affect skin penetration – making other ingredients more or less effective.
Additionally, your skin care professional can educate a you on your particular skin condition. When you understand why some key ingredients are important, you're more likely to use them consistently and get better results.
5. Cosmeceuticals ensure your product is effective. Many skin care ingredients break down when exposed to light and air. The best manufacturing and packaging ensures your skincare ingredients don’t lose their potency.
If you read the Masterpiece posts, you'll notice I write about and recommend the SkinCeuticals skincare line. It was developed by a scientist and was one of the first cosmeceutical lines.
SkinCeuticals has a reputation built upon patents, published clinical studies, and first-to-market products. The SkinCeuticals products WORK! They made me believe in the advantages of cosmeceutical skin care products.
I recommend SkinCeuticals because:
- They use the highest, medical-grade formulations and only use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients.
- Their final formulations go through extensive clinical testing that prove they deliver on their claims.
- The products are produced in small batches and packaged under sterile conditions to ensure they remain potent and fresh.
- Their pharmaceutical-grade active ingredients are clinically proven to make a significant improvement in the health and appearance of your skin. Read more about the product SkinCeuticals is known for - C E Ferulic!
- The active ingredients are selected based on how they interact with each other, on your skin, and within the formula itself (The ingredient combination, delivery system, and formula of a well-designed product can optimize the effectiveness of its ingredients.).
There are lots of skin care lines out there. More and more popup every day. With so many lines - many making unproven claims - it can be very hard to find effective products and ingredients.
I hope this post clarified the advantages of cosmeceutical skin care products - and makes it easier for you to find skin care products that really work. Good luck!
How about you? Have you tried any skincare products that left you feeling like you spent way too much for a product that didn't deliver? Email me and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org I'd love to hear!
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. Amy loves research and constantly watches for new products and treatments to help you improve your skin’s health – because healthy skin is beautiful! To reach Amy, visit our contact page.
Masterpiece Skin Restoration is your online resource for all things medical aesthetics, skincare, beauty, and wellness. We keep you up to date on leading edge technology and the services available to help you restore your natural beauty.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!