Why Medical Skin Care Products – Cosmeceuticals?
They are based on medical science.
They are Prescribed by skin professionals
They work – and you’re tired of trying cosmetics that don’t work
You are still wearing make-up to cover your skin flaws
Your skin is looks older than your age
And because – IT WORKS!
When it comes to social relationships, skin acts like a business card. Ailments come with more or less visible skin manifestations. An improper diet triggers an unhealthy skin appearance and lack of sleep leaves visible signs on your skin.
Pregnancy, rapid weight loss or weight gain, stress and daily habits affect your skin’s aspect by causing stretch marks, pimples and spots, dark circles, finer or deeper lines and wrinkles, cysts, discoloration and changes in skin’s texture and smoothness. Your skin’s hydration level is influences by your dietary and lifestyle habits and aging comes with significant effects for skin as well.
Everything that you eat and drink, all your actions and daily activities impact your skin so it is crucial for you to take proper care and treat it with the best products. This is in order to maintain its elasticity, firmness and tone, hydration level and smoothness.
Fortunately, the pharmaceutical industry has developed hundreds of products with specific actions on skin. However, some of these can only be purchased with prescription or have side-effects that often outweigh their benefits. This is why lots of people prefer replacing regular cosmetics or pharmaceutical products with cosmeceuticals for their skin care routine.
What are Cosmeceuticals and how do they work?
Cosmeceuticals, as their name implies, are a combination of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. Unlike these two categories, they are not subject to FDA approval because the term “cosmeceuticals” and this class or products is not yet recognized by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
Being a mixture of biologically active principles and cosmetic ingredients, cosmeceuticals exert their effects once absorbed into the deep layers of skin, although they’re applied topically.
Based on the type of ingredients they’re most rich in, cosmeceuticals are classified into the following categories:
- Antioxidants-rich cosmeceuticals, claimed to prevent inflammatory processes, sun damage and even skin cancer by fighting against free radicals and their harmful effects on skin;
- Peptides-based cosmeceuticals, claimed to increase natural production of collagen within skin and to contribute to skin’s thickening by delivering small protein molecules to skin cells
- Cosmeceuticals rich in growth factors, acting like messengers between skin cells and claimed to stimulate cells growth and division as well as to sustain distribution of collagen and elastin fibers within the skin layers
- Mixed cosmeceuticals, incorporating antioxidants, vitamin C, growth factors and retinol and claimed to exert effects specific to all these ingredients
Cosmeceuticals are thought to restore skin’s youthful appearance. It does so by enhancing its smoothness, texture and tone. Their beneficial effects are the result of the powerful ingredients incorporated in these products. These are ingredients that are delivered directly into the deep skin layers where they exert their specific action.
By using this combination of pharmaceutical products and cosmetics, one can enhance their skin radiance and glow, minimize the effects of acne, stimulate skin cells regeneration and reduce wrinkles and fine expression lines.
To enhance their effectiveness, the natural ingredients incorporated in cosmeceuticals are chemically altered. But doesn’t this reduce the quality of these skin care products, you might ask? On the contrary, chemical changes of the active principles in cosmeceuticals make them more stable, as the natural ingredients can’t be incorporated in these products in their original state and form.
The more stable these biologically active principles, the greater their chances to penetrate the deep layers of the skin and to reach into the bloodstream. Once absorbed into the blood flow, ingredients in cosmeceuticals are transported to cells, where they exert their action.
And when exactly do their effects become visible? It generally depends on the ingredients and on the technology incorporated in cosmeceuticals. According to a recent study performed at the Monash University in Melbourne, the depth and number of wrinkles were reduced by 27% in 20 female and male volunteers within only one month of constant use of cosmeceuticals.
It’s therefore not a surprise that the popularity of these products continues to increase and huge amounts of money are spent worldwide each and every year on creams, lotions and ointments mixing cosmetics and pharmaceutical principles.
Potential side effects of Cosmeceuticals
Cosmeceuticals are virtually free of side effects as long as used according to labels recommendations. However, given that they contain not only natural ingredients but also pharmaceutical principles, these products can lead to mild adverse reactions, such as skin rash, dermatitis, mild irritation or allergic reactions.
These are, however, side effects that any cosmetic or pharmaceutical product can trigger in people with sensitive skin or allergies to the ingredients in cosmeceuticals. So unless you’re allergic to the content in most of these products, you should be able to use these versatile skin care products without experiencing unpleasant effects.
Some important ingredients in cosmeceuticals
AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid)
AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids, such as glycolic and lactic acids, malic acid, tartaric or citric acids, are mostly used for repairing photodamaged skin and normalizing skin’s thickness in conditions that cause over-thickening of epidermal layers. Also, they’re known to stimulate synthesis of glycosaminoglycans, compounds which are essential for maintaining skin’s youthful aspect.
AHAs can be derived from plants or obtained from milk, although most of the times they’re synthesized in laboratories. When used inappropriately, these ingredients can lead to mild skin irritation.
PHA (Polyhydroxy Acid)
Polyhydroxy acids are considered less irritating than AHAs and they’re thought to reduce appearance of wrinkles while enhancing skin’s elasticity and smoothness. Also, existent studies suggest compounds in this class are efficient in exfoliating skin cells. Having larger molecules than AHAs, these compounds penetrate the skin less easily, having fewer side effects yet more pronounced benefits.
Retinol, commonly referred to as vitamin A, plays a crucial role in skin’s health as it is involved in the functioning and development of all skin cells. Without this ingredient, cells’ division is altered therefore vision problems, digestive issues, immunity disorders and skin conditions are very likely to appear.
From all its benefits, this ingredient is mostly renowned for its ability of improving skin’s smoothness and elasticity, as well as for its role in strengthening one’s immune system. Vitamin A is one of the most common substances in skin care products, gels, moisturizers, night creams and sunscreen.
Besides the already mentioned effects, retinol seems to be efficient in reducing acne symptoms and scars, improving skin’s appearance in psoriasis sufferers, preventing premature aging and warts formation and stimulating skin’s regeneration.
Hydroquinone or quinol is a phenol with powerful antioxidant effects, which means it enhances skin’s health by fighting against the harmful effects of free radicals and preventing effects associated with aging. Also, this ingredient is used topically for skin whitening, being proven to have a powerful action in reducing skin’s coloration.
What is this useful for, you might ask? Mainly for treating disorders like rosacea, which cause skin redness, as well as for removing dark spots and treating hyperpigmentation. Less likely to cause dermatitis, hydroquinone was considered unsafe for a long period of time as studies showed it can lead to ochronosis, a rare condition manifesting through the occurrence of dark and blue patches on the skin.
Peptides are a class of compounds that are proven to be efficient in preventing and treating premature skin aging. They act by stimulating collagen production, sustaining synthesis of glycosaminoglicans, enhancing the body’s natural ability of fighting against pathogens and stimulating formation and regeneration of capillaries. In high concentrations, peptides reduce the formation of wrinkles, having similar effects to retinoids but acting much faster.
But despite providing numerous health benefits, these compounds have the disadvantage of being the most expensive raw materials used in cosmeceuticals and regular skin care products.
Widely used in anti-acne products, salicylic acid has strong anti-inflammatory effects, being efficient in exfoliating skin, opening clogged pores and helping in the removal of debris, bacteria and dead cells. Also, this ingredient neutralizes bacteria on skin, stimulates growth of new cells and it’s proven to provide relief from symptoms caused by psoriasis, acne, keratosis, seborrheic dermatitis and warts.
Vitamin C ( L-ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C that’s easier absorbed and metabolized by skin cells, possess strong antioxidant properties, acting as anti-aging agents. They improve skin’s tone and coloration, reduce sun spots, scaring and freckles, reverse sun damage and restore production of elastin and collagen. Also, by resizing pores and opening clogged ones, these ingredients prevent formation of pimples and fight against fine lines and wrinkles
SPF is the abbreviation of sun protection factor, a number used for determining a product’s ability of protecting the skin against the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation responsible for sunburn. The general acceptance is that SPF measures the time one can expose themselves to sunrays without experiencing unpleasant reactions.
SPF ranges between 1 and 45 or even 50 in some products, creams and ointments with a higher SPF being more efficient in protecting the skin from redness, burns, excess dryness and cracking. Obviously, the higher the SPF, the better protection offered by a product against sunrays.