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AAD Suggests Key Items to Look for in Cosmeceuticals

Posted: December 11, 2008

When it comes to cosmeceuticals, consumers are bombarded by marketing claims that often fail to live up to their hype. Banking on promises that a product can “reverse the aging process” or "deliver the results of a face lift" leads consumers to spend billions of dollars each year to try an array of anti-aging skin care products. Their hope is that one day they will find a product that actually lives up to its claims.

Speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology’s academy, dermatologist Patricia K. Farris, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, discussed how to separate fact from fiction when evaluating cosmeceuticals and tips for gauging the validity of product claims.

“When consulting with our patients, dermatologists can suggest skin care products that have strong science behind them and that have been proven to be safe and effective in human studies,” said Farris. “The biggest problem with cosmeceuticals is not that they don’t work, but that their benefits are greatly exaggerated.”

Cosmeceuticals can be divided into categories based on their active ingredients. Antioxidants represent the largest category. They are followed by peptides--small proteins that stimulate the production of collagen and thicken the skin; and growth factors-- compounds that act as chemical messengers between cells and play a role in cell division, new cell and blood vessel growth, and the production and distribution of collagen and elastin.

More recently, Farris noted that the new trend is toward combination products. For example, cosmeceuticals with multiple antioxidants, retinol plus antioxidants, growth factors plus vitamin C and other unique combinations that are now being mass marketed. Consumers tend to favor combination products, embracing the philosophy that if one ingredient is good, then two must be better.