Thursday October 25, 2012
A marriage of convenience in skincare
By SANDRA LOW
With an ageing population that wants fast, but easy results, the promise of hybrid skincare sounds more appealing than ever.
SKINCARE used to be straightforward. It was created simply to keep one’s skin properly moisturised and healthy.
Then, as lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking, environmental pollutants and stress factors affected the skin, it gave the beauty industry a lucrative reason to offer men and women the solution to delay ageing.
A new category, “cosmeceuticals”, was created, which is basically a marriage between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The term was coined by Raymond Reed, founding member of the US Society of Cosmetic Chemists in 1961, to describe “active” and science-based cosmetics.
By offering anti-ageing benefits without invasive procedures such as Botox, collagen injections or surgery, cosmeceutical products have become very appealing to consumers.
Many brands are independently created by dermatologists and aesthetic surgeons while some beauty companies collaborate with doctors to create their cosmeceutical range.
Commonly dubbed “doctor brands” or “anti-ageing topicals”, what differentiates these cosmeceutical brands is the distribution channel as many are sold exclusively through physicians, clinics and medical spas, and not through retail.
They purportedly do more than common skincare brands as the improvements are claimed to go beyond the superficial, based on extensive research and development to ensure efficacy.
Some of the brands available in the market (not all are available in Malaysia) are Neogence, Neostrata, Ultraceuticals, Skinmedica, Skinceuticals, Obagi Medical Products and Revaleskin.
Among the brands available in Malaysia include Dr Sebagh and N.V. Perricone, MD Cosmeceutical, both created by doctors.
Dr Jean-Louis Sebagh, a well-known aesthetic surgeon based in Paris and London, started his practice in London in 1994 and pioneered the use of Botox, collagen and vitamin injections.
He created Dr Sebagh Advanced Anti-Ageing Skincare because he felt that “today, beauty is not about looking perfect. It is about looking fresh, healthy and glowing at any age”.
On the other hand, Dr Nicholas V. Perricone is a dermatologist, award-winning inventor and author of several anti-ageing books, and he launched his own coscosmeceutical products in 2000. One of his star products, Cold Plasma, is claimed to address 10 signs of visible ageing, ranging from enlarged pores, dryness, wrinkles, loss of smoothness, discoloration, loss of radiance, uneven skin tone, redness, loss of firmness to impurities.
“Cosmeceutical are claimed to be cosmetic products with biologically active ingredients that assert to have medical or drug-like benefits,” Dr Sebagh explains in an e-mail interview.
Do cosmeceutical products actually have anti-ageing properties?
“These products, which claim to be cosmeceuticals, have a different family of active ingredients such as hydrators (hyaluronic acid), anti-oxidants (vitamins, enzymes), anti-ageing peptides, growth epidermal factors and cell energisers, so the product is anti-ageing if the formulation contains anti-ageing peptides or growth factors,” he explains.
As soon as one starts ageing, Dr Sebagh says “one needs active cosmeceuticals to prevent or fight the process. Before cosmeceutical products, there were only cosmetic skincare containing oil, water and fragrance. The only goal was to restore the essential lipidic skin barrier, with no additional anti-ageing, hydrating or anti-oxidant protection.”
“What makes cosmeceuticals different from regular skincare is that it contains very effective ingredients that are comparable to, but do not replace, pharmaceuticals,” Dr Perricone explains in an e-mail interview.
The term “cosmeceutical” is used by the cosmetics industry to refer to cosmetic products that have medicinal or drug-like benefits, but it is not a term recognised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it is a category that doesn’t exist in its regulations.
According to the FDA website, drugs are subjected to a review and approval process by FDA, but cosmetics are not approved by FDA prior to sale.
The Malaysian Health Ministry does not recognise the category either.
“Perricone MD is categorised under ‘cosmetics’ and adheres to standard requirements to ensure safety for our consumers,” says Dr Perricone.
As for the Dr Sebagh Advanced Anti-Ageing Skincare range, Dr Sebagh says, “It has been developed to meet and exceed the requirements of all European Community legislation relating to skincare and cosmetics, as well as the legislation in place in all international markets, including Malaysia and the United States, where it is sold.”
“I don’t claim that the benefits of my own skincare range qualifies it to be labelled cosmeceutical, rather I have strong views with regard to what skincare products are able to achieve for the customer,” he explains.
“I believe that good skincare is essential to keep the skin looking and feeling its best but I would, on this occasion, agree with the FDA and say that any product which truly has medical impact on the skin should not and cannot be made available as a none prescription topical product.”
Since there are currently no regulations, what should a product include for it to be regarded a cosmeceutical?
According to Dr Sebagh, there are no prerequisite concentration for the product, but a good one will possibly have high efficient concentration of key ingredients.
“At the moment there are no guidelines, but for a brand, there are requirements to undergo testing and ensure safety under the cosmetics category,” Dr Perricone explains.
He stressed that Perricone MD products undergo safety testing and is manufactured in accordance with industry standards and practices.
Some beauty companies may be jumping onto the cosmeceutical bandwagon because more people want immediate results without invasive beauty procedures.
“Perhaps so, but that is not for me to elaborate.
“The public needs to be aware that topical creams and ointments will not achieve the same or similar results to treatments performed by an experienced and reputable cosmetic doctor,” Dr Sebagh says.
Dr Perricone believes that the trend is going in this direction and explains: “Consumers are getting more information and they understand their own needs even better. We all want the best solutions to our problems, so we are working continuously to search for answers.
“However, skincare no matter how good it is, will not replace the need for selected non-invasive cosmetic procedures to allow the skin and complexion to retain certain youthful characteristics,” he points out.
According to a recent Bloomberg News report by Anna Edney, a top US official overseeing the cosmetics industry said that “wrinkle creams with retinol and a growing crop of beauty treatments that are partly pharmaceutical may need to be regulated as drugs (This stems from the claims companies make that the products contain active ingredients so it may classify them as drugs)”.
The report also quoted Michael Landa, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition as saying: “The category of products that straddles the line between cosmetics and drugs presents new regulatory challenges, as the use of such ingredients is increasing and we expect this trend to continue.”
Until the FDA and the individual country’s regulatory bodies come up with specific regulations for cosmeceuticals, it falls on the beauty company to regulate itself.
So for now, consumers must rely on the word of the beauty company on the safety and efficacy of products that they call cosmeceuticals.