Cosmeceuticals: Understanding an Evolutionary Progress

From the beginning, humans in almost every society have applied colored substances on skin to camouflage skin problems or to enhance their cultural norms.  In ancient times, topical applications with mud, urine, animal products, oils, and plant extracts were tried to maintain healthy skin or to treat skin problems.  Eventually, creams and gels were developed from inexpensive ingredients using simple fats, oils, emulsifiers or gelling agents with colors and added perfumes to disguise the natural smell.  In more modern times, businesses were built on selling “hope in a jar” with the latest ingredients promising eternal youth and beautiful skin.  These products created in a way surface barrier that reduced the natural loss of water through the epidermis and retarded the entry of noxious substances into the skin.  Simply put, cosmetics products refer to substances that cleanse or enhance the appearance of skin without any therapeutic effects on skin cell function.  

In the recent past, the cosmetic industry entered into a newer age of scientific research with topical products containing active and evidence-based ingredients, called “cosmeceuticals.”  The coined word cosmeceutical conveys the meaning of cosmetics that have a pharmaceutical effect on skin.  Thus, these topical creams and lotions have both cosmetic and therapeutic (medical or drug-like) effects and are intended to have a beneficial effect on skin health and beauty.  That being said, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) does not recognize the term cosmeceutical, even though they can help reduce skin damage, acne scars, wrinkles and dark spots.  Whether a product is a cosmetic or a drug under the law is determined by a product’s intended use.  Different laws and regulations apply to each type of product.  Firms may violate the law by marketing a cosmetic with a drug claim or by marketing a drug as if it were a cosmetic, without adhering to requirements for drugs.

Despite the confusion, cosmeceuticals have become a household word that introduced a revolution in skin care.  To claim that a product is a cosmeceutical,  at least three important conditions should be fulfilled:

Scientifically-proven active ingredients at concentrations that have a physiological effect and results in observable improvements of human skin.

At the Sasaki InnoVessence SkinCare Center, Dr. Sasaki, his highly trained skin care providers, and chemist provide a safe and effective skin care program for your individualized concens to maximize results and minimize complications. 

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