Image Source via Audrey Fretz
By Shilpa Bhim
If there’s been one silver lining to 2020, it’s the extra time that we’ve all had to really nail our basic skincare routines.
Now that you’ve got your basic skincare routine down pat, you might be thinking it’s to take things up a notch with the help of cosmeceutical products, which are supposed to target specific skin concerns.
In order to get the most out of your cosmeceutical skincare, it’ll help to know exactly what it is, how it works and whether it actually benefits your skin. That’s where we come in, Zovers! We’ve broken down the details behind cosmeceutical skincare.
WHAT IS COSMECEUTICAL SKINCARE?
A cosmeceutical is a product that sits in the middle of the cosmetic-grade to pharmaceutical-grade spectrum. Hence the term ‘cosmeceutical’, which is a combination of the words ‘cosmetic’ and ‘pharmaceutical’.
Cosmeceutical skincare contains active ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants and botanicals to help improve skin tone and texture, pigmentation and fine lines.
Like standard cosmetics, cosmeceuticals are sold over the counter and applied topically.
SO IS A COSMECEUTICAL THE SAME AS A COSMETIC?
Not quite! ‘Cosmetic' is a broad term to describe skincare and makeup products that contain no active ingredients.
A cosmetic product is described by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia’s regulatory authority for therapeutic goods) as a substance designed to be used on any external part of the body, or inside the mouth, to change its odour or appearance, cleanse it, keep it in good condition or protect it.
Cosmetics can contain beneficial ingredients and change the appearance of the skin, but they don’t contain actives (or a sufficient quantity of actives) which can actually affect the skin cells and change the function of the skin.
For example, The Australasian College of Dermatologists highlights that “Most moisturisers restore barrier function and water content to the skin, improving the appearance of aged or dry skin. Cosmeceuticals should ideally deliver the active ingredient in a biologically effective form to the skin and reach the target site in sufficient quantity to have an effect.”
Cosmeceuticals are formulated to be highly effective for topical use. Basically, your cosmeceutical skincare should deliver better results for your skin compared to regular, cosmetic, skincare products.
BENEFITS OF USING COSMECEUTICALSWe’ve mentioned that cosmeceuticals contain actives that deliver results for your skin. But what are the actual benefits for your skin?
Depending on the product you’re using, cosmeceuticals can improve:
- Sun damage - wear your SPF daily, Zovers!
- Pigmentation and scarring
- Dryness and dullness
- Wrinkles and fine lines
- Overall skin luminosity
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME! BUT DO COSMECEUTICALS ACTUALLY WORK?Yes they do! Cosmeceuticals are often backed by science and research so the benefits of the products or ingredients have been proven.
Ultimately, if you’re interested in trying cosmeceutical skincare, you’ll want to gradually introduce products into your skincare routine, based on the skin concerns you’re targeting.
You might also want to seek advice from your dermatologist to ensure the cosmeceutical products you’re using will complement your skin type and concerns.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M PURCHASING A COSMECEUTICAL PRODUCT?
Knowing whether a product is a cosmetic or a cosmeceutical can be tricky business as products are not necessarily labelled as a ‘cosmeceutical’.
However there are some common ingredients used in cosmeceutical skincare. Before you ask, we’ve broken these down for you!
COMMON COSMECEUTICAL INGREDIENTSSunscreens
These are probably the most important ingredients in cosmeceuticals because they protect against sun damage, photo-ageing and skin cancers.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), poly hydroxy acids (PHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) improve skin texture and reduce signs of ageing by hydrating the skin and promoting the shedding of dead skin cells.
AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid, citric acid and mandelic acid, PHAs include gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. Meanwhile, salicylic acid is the main BHA and is helpful for people with oily or acne prone skin as it is oil-soluble and can penetrate the pores.
Botanicals include plant extracts from leaves, roots, fruits, berries, stems, bark and flowers. They can have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and skin soothing properties.
Aka, retinol which is known as the holy grail anti-ageing ingredient! It promotes cell turnover and helps to reduce or soften fine lines.
Vitamin B3 or niacinamide, improves skin barrier function and can reduce fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation while also improving skin texture.
Get your daily dose of Vitamin C, and antioxidant which stimulates collagen repair, improves fine lines, and reduces inflammation and pigmentation! Vitamin C is difficult to keep stable in a formula when exposed to air, heat or light so be sure to follow the storage and use instructions for the ingredient.
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant and can reduce UV damage. It works well with Vitamin C in reducing collagen breakdown.
Peptides are amino acids that are the building blocks of certain proteins needed by the skin, like collagen and elastin. Peptides can support firmer skin.
Hyaluronic Acid maintains moisture in and hydrates the skin by binding to water molecules.
Thank you for coming to our TED Talk, Zovers! Our final thoughts on cosmeceutical skincare is that it can work wonders for your skin (some of the common cosmeceutical ingredients feature in our daily skincare routines), but you’ll want to gradually introduce products into your skincare routine, and you may want to seek professional advice to ensure you’re using products that are the most effective for your skin.
If you have more questions about cosmeceuticals, feel free to get in touch via Instagram or email us!
Shilpa is a freelance beauty and lifestyle writer from Melbourne, Australia. You can keep up with her adventures over at @skb.ontherun and check out her latest articles here.