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Cosmeceuticals: Still Topical

By: Lakshmi Prakash, PhD
Posted: September 5, 2008, from the September 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

A cosmeceutical is an ingredient with medicinal properties that manifests beneficial topical actions and provides protection against degenerative skin conditions. The word “cosmeceutical” was popularized by Albert M. Kligman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, in the late 1970s. The term encompasses cosmetic actives with therapeutic, disease fighting, or healing properties—serving as a bridge between personal care products and pharmaceuticals.

The term “cosmeceuticals,” “performance cosmetics,” “functional cosmetics,” “dermoceuticals” and “active cosmetics” have become the buzz words in 21st century personal care, and U.S. cosmeceutical sales are now worth $16 billion and expected to reach $21 billion by 2012, according to Packaged Facts, June 2008.

Originally appearing in global markets in the 1990s as an off-shoot of the nutraceuticals revolution, cosmeceuticals are now recognized as a rapidly growing segment in health and personal care in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The results of this revolution are apparent in that cosmetics are no longer visualized as products that cover up or camouflage imperfections in personal appearance. Today’s healthful cosmetics strive for protective, healing and rejuvenating attributes as well. Note, however, that no “disease healing” or “structure altering” label claims are permitted to define cosmeceutical benefits. For example, a skin care product containing cosmeceuticals that help to reduce the signs of aging can only claim to “reduce the appearance of wrinkles.”

Several leading manufacturers of personal care products are active in cosmeceuticals, and they find niche markets that can be targeted with specific claims. The success these companies are finding and the phenomenal growth of the category is nurtured by the aging baby boomer generation, which has sought natural alternatives to cosmetic surgery. And within the cosmeceuticals category, antiaging cosmetics are the most popular segment.

More recently, the emerging trend of “beauty inside and out” is becoming increasingly popular, wherein orally consumed nutritional supplements (nutricosmetics) and topically applied cosmeceuticals work in harmony to promote physical appearance and well-being.

Antiaging: A Basic Ingredient Overview