What Are Cosmeceuticals?

The beauty industry is full of buzzwords. In fact, marketing and advertising industries in general absolutely adore a good buzzword and many a brand has capitalised on some of the more prevalent ones - think blue light, organic, serum and ingredient names like AHA’s to name a few.

Perhaps the biggest beauty buzz word doing the rounds in more and more concentrated quantities for the past 18 months is ‘cosmeceutical’. We’ve all heard it. We all pretend to know what it means and have every intention of googling it when we find time yet time and time again it comes up and we are left wondering…what exactly are cosmeceuticals?

In a nutshell…

Cosmeceuticals are exactly as they sound - a hybrid product group that sits somewhere between ‘cosmetics’ and ‘pharmaceuticals.' They are essentially cosmetic products that contain added bioactive ingredients which carry medicinal properties. One up on your cosmetic staple, yet containing ingredients not technically labelled as ‘drugs’, so not requiring the same level of monitoring and approval before going to market, cosmeceuticals yield much more effective results when used correctly.

Why they are great…

Cosmeceuticals, whilst not technically a beauty industry category recognised by any governing body, are a great tool for combatting common skin concerns such as ageing, sun damage, acne and pigmentation. The inclusion of bioactive ingredients means products can more effectively work to improve mature or damaged skin if there is the correct combination of the most effective, symbiotic ingredients, present in the right concentrations, and in a stable formulation. To this effect, Dr Katherine Armour says “there are so many cosmeceutical offerings on the market today. But, to see real results you need to choose powerful ingredients that enhance each other’s efficacy. These ingredients need to be present in sufficient concentration and in a stable formulation so that they can get to where they need to be to rejuvenate your skin.”

What to be wary of…

In labelling a beauty product a ‘cosmeceutical’ simply for the sake of marketing, consumers can be caught up justifying inflated prices for products that don’t actually contain the bioactive ingredients necessary. There is absolutely zero monitoring of products labeled as cosmeceuticals yet the perception that they are run through similarly rigorous testing for efficacy and quality control as that required for medication for instance, is just that…perception. To be truly aware of what you are purchasing a basic understanding of some of the bioactive ingredients commonly harnessed for their combative and restorative properties is a must. A further understanding of how those ingredients should be topically applied (how much and how often), and what other ingredients present in your beauty regime may be negatively impacting them, is also an essential conversation to have with a beauty practitioner or dermatologist.

Some ingredients that you should look for in products labelled as ‘cosmeceuticals’…

  • Niacinamide
  • Retinol
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins 
  • Hyaluronic Acid
  • DNA Repair Enzymes
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Liquorice Root Extract

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