Cosmetics, Cosmeceuticals and Cosmedicals

When it comes to skin products, we are bombarded with many claims and promises. Is it possible that something from a supermarket can really deliver the same results as a product in a skin clinic? Is there an almost identical match between key ingredients and chemical formulations between products sold in a department store, supermarket, beauty salon or medi-spa? With that in mind, we provide the lowdown on the difference between cosmetics, cosmeceuticals and cosmedicals.

What is a “cosmetic” product?

A cosmetic can be classed as a skin beautifying product that maintains the surface of the skin. This includes cleansers, toners, masks and moisturizers. This category of product is unable to pass through the stratum corneum and therefore has no ability to create any structural changes. Don’t be fooled by the clever marketing tactics deployed with cosmetics; these products rarely deliver any long term results for treatment of more aggressive skin issues such as acne, severely photo-damaged, hyper-pigmented or severely sensitized conditions.

Often cosmetics have little or no medically proven, high-active ingredients and are designed to cater to a larger, “non-educated” consumer.

What is a “cosmeceutical” product?

Defined as the link between a cosmetic and a pharmaceutical, a cosmeceutical was the new breed of “doctor designed” products that emerged in the early 1980s. With the concurrent emergence of AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), cosmeceuticals generally combined the power of both glycolic and lactic acids with other active ingredients such as retinoid technology (including Retinol) to create skin changing results for dramatic and long last lasting condition solutions. With the ability to treat beyond the surface of the skin, cosmeceuticals, to this day, use a high percentage of active ingredients and are best prescribed by a skin professional. It is for this reason that true cosmeceuticals are usually sold in medispas and skin clinics.

What is a “cosmedical” product?

Cosmedicals are the newest and arguably the most effective category of skin products that can be purchased without prescription. Often described as an advanced cosmeceutical, Cosmedicals have the ability to target not only present and past skin damage, but provide the skin with some preventative capacity for the future. Usually based on a medically and clinically proven blend of AHAs, retinol, vitamin C, peptides, antioxidants and SPF technology, Cosmedicals are not only reliant on a potent percentage of active ingredients but utilize chiral and encapsulation technology to deliver benefits as deep as possible into the skin.

Cosmedicals are often described as the last step before a doctor’s prescription and will typically be prescribed by a skin professional in a medispa, skin clinic or medical practice environment.

Last Reviewed 13/Mar/2014

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