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Cosmeceuticals: Still Topical

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

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A radiant appearance is only a reflection of optimal health and well-being. This forms the underlying principle of current trends in the personal care industry. Cosmetic products no longer seek to cover up signs of aging. The root causes of skin, hair and nail damage are addressed externally by using cosmeceuticals and internally with nutraceutical supplements.

Vitamin and mineral deficiences, poor antioxidant status, impaired digestion and compromised immune functions are all reflected in a sallow complexion, lifeless hair and brittle or discolored nails. Oral intake of antioxidants such as carotenoids, selenium, proanthocyanidins (found in grape seed extract, apples and other plant sources) and vitamin E is reported to reduce the risk of DNA damage by ultraviolet radiation that leads to skin aging and skin cancers. A recent study reports that curcumin, the antioxidant pigment from turmeric is useful in the oral treatment of melanoma. In other studies, orally administered phytonutrients such as soy isoflavones and green tea polyphenols were found to offer protection against photoaging through inhibiting the action of enzymes that degrade connective tissues. And these ingredients and their impact support the “beauty from the inside out” concept.

Natural antioxidants that quench free radicals are an essential component of antiaging formulations. They potentially offer protection against damage to the tissues and against the detrimental effects of environmental and other agents. Biochemical reactions that accelerate the progression of skin aging have their roots in inflammatory processes, as inflammation generates micro-scars that mature into blemishes or wrinkles. Various types of inflammatory mediators may influence melanin synthesis by affecting the proliferation and functioning of melanocytes, pigment-producing skin cells, and natural anti-inflammatory agents are therefore included in antiaging formulations in order to soothe, heal and protect skin tone and integrity.

Technological Innovation Boosts Marketability

The expanding range of natural actives in mainstream cosmetic products is ample proof that the cosmeceutical revolution is here to stay. The demand for cosmeceutical products is expected to increase 8.5% per year to more than $8 billion by 2010 . The global cosmeceuticals market, initially dominated by acne therapies such as retinoids, is experiencing a sea of change. Innovative naturals have invaded the cosmeceuticals scene and found their way into well known branded cosmetics. Market research projections forecast that skin care products will account for more than 60% of the total cosmeceutical product demand in 2010, with the demand for antiaging products growing at twice the rate of other cosmeceutical products. Technological innovations in cosmeceuticals offer appearance-enhancing benefits for the increasing aging population.

As part of the category’s appeal, cosmeceutical interventions are noninvasive and do not jeopardize the recipient’s sense of identity. Invasive procedures such as Botox or other injected alternatives, besides potential safety concerns, may produce effects that are less than desirable and there for the long term. Significant alternative approaches to invasive procedures include pentapeptides (based on essential amino acids) and innovative micronized actives in the form of nanosomes and nano-dispersions.