The term “Cosmeceuticals” is  word derived from two different words “cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals”.

Cosmetics by definition are applied topically to improve the appearance of the face or body … so in effect they don’t have the ability to interfere with the functions of the skin. On the other hand, pharmaceuticals have drug- like qualities and  the ability to go beyond the Stratum Corneum ( skin surface) to deliver treatment or prevention of a particular skin function to produce desired results. So there you have it… it seems to me Cosmeceuticals are every formulators dream ingredients…. because they not only improve appearance but are able to change , initiate or inhibit the skin’s function to achieve desired results.

How to evaluate the claims / efficacy of a Cosmeceuticals

  1. It has to have the ability to permeate the Stratum Corneum and get to it’s target in the skin. The individual size of the particles of this active have to be small enough to do this, and in sufficient concentrations . Sometimes to overcome this challenge, some actives are encased in liposome which are delivery agents to ensure the actives get to their target. To read more about liposomes and skin penetration … Click here
  2. It has to have a known specific biochemical mechanism of action in the target cell or tissue in human skin.
  3. There should be published, peer reviewed, double-blind, placebo controlled, statistically significant clinical trials to substantiate efficacy claims.


Comparison of some common Cosmeceuticals…


Ingredient                        Do we know how it works? Does it penetrate? Does it show clinical significance?
Retinoids Yes Yes Limited Data


Yes Yes Yes
Green tea Yes Limited Data No
 L- Ascorbic acid Yes Yes Yes






















































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