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What are cosmeceuticals and how can I use them in my skin care regime?

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Have you ever heard of cosmeceuticals? If you haven’t, you’re not alone, after all, they do have a pretty unusual name as far as skin care products go. 

But the chances are, you’ve probably used them in your daily skin care regime at some point. Especially if you’re keen on all the latest skin care trends and scientific sounding ingredients. You may even have a bathroom cabinet or dressing table full of them, without you realising. 

In this post, we’re going to discover what these strange sounding skin care products are, what they do and how we might use them. 

What are cosmeceuticals?

The word ‘cosmeceutical’ is a relatively new word, made up of two words. Like all the best pairings the world has seen; avocado on toast, gin and tonic, Jennifer and Brad, etc etc, cosmeceuticals are a blend of the best bits of cosmetics and pharmaceutical topical drugs meant to benefit the skin. 

So, think of a foundation or a tinted moisturiser, with added ultra hydrating hyaluronic acid or exfoliating salicylic acid. Or a lipstick with added antioxidants to help support healthy, smooth lips. 

When were cosmaceuticals first developed?

Despite it being a relatively new buzzword, this new category of skin supporting makeup was actually first developed way back in the 1980s. 1984 to be exact, when the first Mac (or Macintosh, as it was known back then) was unleashed on the world and Band Aid releasedDo They Know it’s Christmas

Cosmaceuticals were first developed byDr Albert Kligman of the University of Pennsylvania. They’re universally accepted to “exert a pharmaceutical therapeutic benefit but not necessarily a biological therapeutic benefit”. 

This means that cosmaceuticals are sold as topical preparations. That is, products that are designed to be applied directly to the skin, as in, makeup, that has a benefit more than just that of a cosmetic, but more of a pharmaceutical, or medical benefit. 

Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs, such assalicylic acid that help to exfoliate the skin,collagen boosting vitamin C and ageing skin supportingretinoids are all examples of ingredients that can be used in cosmeceuticals. 

How do I look for cosmaceuticals?

So, we can see, using cosmeceutical products can be really beneficial for the skin. Here, we understand what it is to have non conformist skin that gets stressed out and spotty, oily, dry or any other type of contrariness at the merest hint of something irritating to the skin. 

No one more than us knows the appeal of skin care products that promise to soothe and nourish our skin as well as impart the benefits of makeup. Be that covering up our stressed out skin, enhancing our features or giving us that ‘just made up’ feeling that makeup gives us. 

But finding cosmaceuticals can be tricky, not least because the word ‘cosmaceutical’ isn’t generally used on product labelling. This is due to labelling laws here in the UK and globally, and presumably because something so medical sounding might put potential skin care product loving customers off. 

This doesn’t mean that they’re impossible to find, however. We just need to put our label reading hat (or glasses) on and work it out for ourselves. 

Skin care brands need to be careful what they promise. If a product promises to “banish wrinkles”, that’s a pretty bold statement. To make this claim, the product must have gone through rigorous, and extremely expensive,clinical trials to prove this claim. 

So most of them make claims such as “approves the appearance of wrinkles and the other telltale signs of skin ageing”. Which in our book, is absolutely fine. Because products that contain certain ingredients, such as retinol, salicylic acid or vitamin C, contain ingredients that generally have been through scientific testing toprove their efficacy

When you’re out shopping for cosmaceuticals, look for products that contain ingredients such as AHAs, retinols, hyaluronic acid or vitamin C. These are all cosmaceuticals, because they contain ingredients known to have skin supporting properties and pharmaceutical type benefits. 

How can I boost the work of cosmaceuticals?

The best way to support and nourish your skin, whether you have ‘normal’ skin or skin that’s prone to acne, dryness, oiliness or conditions such as psoriasis, is to get down to basics. 

Ourrange of skin care products includes a creamy cleanser, a day and night time moisturiser, a serum and our brand new face mask. They’ve all been developed to support all skin types and are based around alkalising silica salts and are filled with antioxidant rich plant botanicals. 

Use our range to support your skin and then use your cosmeceutical products on the top. After all, what’s makeup without a fantastic base to put it on? 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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