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Like many other skin specialists I am often asked ‘what’s the difference between cosmeceuticals and cosmetics?’ by both my patients and readers. The next question is, are they worth the extra cost? They may look the same and feel the same but there is a big difference between the two.

What is a Cosmeceutical?

Cosmeceuticals is a hybrid word created from ‘cosmetic’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ to identify a skincare product that is above cosmetics but not a pharmaceutical product. Cosmeceuticals can produce structural changes within the skin and are ideal for the treatment of skin conditions like acne, hyper-pigmentation and aging. Cosmeceuticals are not just skincare but rather skin medicine/prescription. Unlike cosmetics.

The ingredients in cosmeceuticals are stronger than your cosmetic-grade skin care products, but not as strong as pharmaceutical products. Therefore, they do not require a medical prescription to dispense, and can be used regularly on the skin without the major side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Differences between Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic products

The existence and the level of active ingredients

Cosmetics may but normally do not have active ingredients and if they do have active ingredients they are not at the scientific proven levels or in the correct delivery system to benefit the skin. Because consumers tend to “self-diagnose” and choose a skin care product that is easily available from a drug or department store. The cosmetics must be made safe because big cosmetic companies cannot afford to have masses of consumers having adverse reactions to their products. So, cosmetic skin care product will feel good and smell good, but it won’t have a deep effect on the skin or skin health.

To be classed as a Cosmeceuticals, active ingredients must be at the scientifically proven levels of concentrations that have a positive affect on the skin. They must be in a delivery system that ensures that the active ingredients can penetrate the skin correctly. A Cosmeceutical product differs by stepping up with higher concentrations of active ingredients and often a variety of these active ingredients combined. This stronger formulation has the ability to bring about visible changes to the skin making it a results-focused product

Results from using the products:

Cosmetics: These products are sold over the counter because they are safe. The only thing that can go wrong is if you have incorrectly diagnosed your skin type and purchase the incorrect products. Cosmetics cannot penetrate the epidermis to access the deeper layers of the skin. So, while cosmetics may refresh your complexion for a few hours, they cannot create structural changes or deliver long-term results. Cosmetic will effectively maintain your skin by providing somewhat temporary results.

Cosmeceuticals: when applied to the skin the active ingredients are able to reach the deeper dermal layers of skin to allow them to work on the skin and be able to make noticeable changes in the skin. These changes can include reducing acne severity, re-hydrating the skin, diminishing the appearance of aging and sun damage, and promoting a healthy, radiant complexion.

Cosmeceutical products have been scientifically developed to produce impressive, fast-acting and noticeable results to correct skin concerns to penetrate the skin’s surface to promote change on a cellular level and improve the skin in the long term. You don’t need a specific skin concern to use cosmeceuticals if you’re keen to maintain youthful, healthy skin for as long as possible.

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