Saaaayyy what? A cosmeceutical… is that a made-up word? Well, YES, actually it is, one that is now loved and use SO much that it is in the dictionary! Because you are BEAUTIFUL and you have BRAINS you’ve probably-definitely noticed that word is just an ‘amicable’ merging of ‘cosmetic’ and ‘pharmaceutical’. But what does it all mean? AND should you be looking out for cosmeceutical skincare? ‘Like, what does it actually do y’all?’. I have you sorted, this is all you need to know about cosmeceutical skincare…
1. WHAT IS COSMECEUTICAL SKINCARE?
When 2 nouns became an adjective that then became a noun! Whozer! Cosmeceutical skincare is a new species, there are no ‘rules’ for skincare that wants to call itself a cosmeceutical, but generally skincare will only be called cosmeceutical if it is HIGH DOSE of an ingredient known to be ‘biologically active’, i.e. it works on the body.
Cosmeceutical skincare is just a fancy way of saying this is super-concentrated stuff that ‘should’ have an effect, because we know X ingredient is needed in the body and we also did ‘some’ studies that we believe shows this effect…
2. IS COSMECEUTICAL SKINCARE A DRUG?
You know this, but at the same time you probably ‘don’t know’ you know this. If stuff is ‘officially recognized’ like A* type, scientifically proved to death, got a PASS in everything and is registered with every safety body/organization/regulating body out there – it gets CONTROLLED. Part of that means it’s HARDER to get your hands on it, because we know it ‘does stuff’ [yes – the scientific definition *wink wink*] and when something has a big effect… it gets called a DRUG!
Here is the thing about drugs… you need a prescription. Why? Because they are ‘powerful’ and powerful stuff can usually do ‘harm’ if not used in the right way. Imaging using a Retinol cream in the morning #OuchDontDoIt.
One of those ‘control’ things, is about where you can actually BUY it from. There’s the shop shelf (called very fancily ‘general sales’), there’s the pharmacy counter (called again, very fancily ‘OTC – Over the counter’) and then there are all those medicines that you need a prescription for (Rx, or prescription meds!). The MORE effective something is ‘proven’ to be, the tougher it is to get your ‘mits’ on it. It goes from being able to grab it from a shop shelf, to having to ask a pharmacist for it and possibly answer some medical questions to needing a prescription.
What does this all mean for cosmeceutical skincare? Is it a drug, and should you need a prescription for it? Or because we can grab cosmeceutical skincare without seeing a pharmacist, does that mean its ‘NOT’ drug-like effective? Good questions…!
Here is THE thing. Cosmeceutical skincare is MASSIVELY new, and to be completely honest, the regulations are not as ‘evolved’ for this NEW breed of skincare. So for the time being that means you can nab this from the shop shelves (obviously after paying ‘eh!). Here is the other thing, the ‘FINE LINE’ that cosmeceutical skincare companies tread. It is the ‘claims’ on the bottle that can turn a cosmeceutical skincare product from being available on the shelf to needing to be behind the pharmacy counter or even on a prescription.
A skincare product might say ‘helps to improve the appearance of skin tone’, whereas a more ‘medical’ skincare product would claim, ‘proven to reduce hyperpigmentation’. Have you noticed this when you pick up a supplements bottle? There are no ‘promises of effect on the bottle’, just leading statements.
So on one side, cosmeceutical skincare is like a drug because it has a HIGH dose of a thought to be ‘active’ ingredient, on the other side, it is not investigated and proven to drug standards AND there will be no ‘medical types claims’ or promises on the bottle. #TheGreySpace
3. WHY YOU SHOULD BE CAREFUL HOW YOU USE COSMECEUTICAL SKINCARE
Imagine this, you have an ear infection [ouch, super painful, big sympathy hugs!], you’ve tried letting your body kick-it-the-hell-out and it’s just not working. To the doctors it is! The doctor [after giving you sympathy eyes?] gets the prescription pad out and hands you a dose of antibiotics to ANNIHILATE all infection. This is no softly-softly stuff, oh no this is the big guns. #POW
That infection gets cleared up quick and you’re feeling all better, you don’t need those antibiotics anymore (of course, after you’ve finished the WHOLE course, you don’t want no left over bacteria becoming all anti-biotic resistant on you #NopeNadaNoSiree).
Antibiotics have an effect that you NEED sometimes, but you deffo’ don’t need it ALL the time. Plus there’s those pesky side effects too ‘eh!
Cosmeceutical skincare is like this. It has a BIGGER effect, a HIGHER dose than other skincare, so you need to treat a cosmeceutical ‘skincare wardrobe’ addition like the ‘treatment’ product it is. Cosmeceutical skincare is easy to over dose on and pick up some of those pesky side effects (redness, sensitivity, dryness…).
4. WHY COSMECEUTICAL SKINCARE ISN’T FOR EVERYONE
In the same way that it’s not healthy to be taking antibiotics every day for the rest of your life, cosmeceutical skincare is not a healthy skincare choice for everyone. The 2 skin types who should be SUPER wary of cosmeceutical skincare…
- Young skin. If your skin is young, it knows how to do stuff, it has its own antioxidant systems that work WELL, it has a good skin ‘reproductive’ system, and is generally healthy. By giving your skin stuff it doesn’t need or ingredients it can make on its own – there is NO benefit, the only effect is going to be negative. Why would you skin keep on making something if you’re gonna give it to skin? If someone was always going to cook for you, why would you learn to do it yourself? Plus if you already have your own chef in the kitchen, what’s that saying ‘too many chefs spoil the broth’…
- Sensitive skin (prone to redness, irritation, atopic skin types etc…). Cosmeceutical skincare is HIGH dose. That means it has the side effect of being irritating. This is not the kinda stuff that ‘sneaks’ onto skin without it knowing about it. A popular cosmeceutical skincare ingredient is vitamin C, usually these are at 20% [which is high!], Vitamin C has a low pH, is an exfoliant and is not ‘skin-identical’ to your top skin layers. What all that means is these guys can have a benefit for skin BUT only if your skin can handle it. If it can’t, there’s more bad than good done by cosmeceutical skincare.
Have you seen this new types of skincare about town? Have you been using cosmeceutical skincare?
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.