Medical Cosmeceuticals

An insider Look - Second Article

By Dr. Mohamed Sobhi

What are cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals; A recent term that appeared in 1961 and was first launched by  chemist  (Raymond Reed), founding member of the American Society of Aesthetic Chemists, describing a new section of preparations that lies between topical medicines and cosmetics, then the concept was revisited in 1971 when Albert Kligman developed a formula to improve the appearance of u.v -affected skin using  Retinoic acid till the full picture was crystal clear in the 1980s and the concept of Cosmeceuticals was well established both industrially and commercially.

And this products category goes under several other names including:

  • Functional Cosmetics
  • Para pharmaceutical Cosmetics
  • Semi medicated cosmetics
  • Performance Cosmetics
  • Derma Cosmetics
  • Derma-Ceuticals
  • Active Cosmetics
  • Nutri Cosmetics
  • Active Cosmetics
  • Bioactive Cosmetics
Albert Kligman

However, the most famous naming as mentioned above is Cosmeceuticals which are in a general definition a hybrid local cosmetic combining both beauty products and topical medicines traits to improve the health and beauty of the skin, hair, and mouth.

The nature and the method of application of these products had an impact on the techniques upon which it is marketed so that the methodology and approach of such products are proximal to the  marketing  methodology of topical medicines and also influenced the choice of ingredients, its quality, accuracy of manufacturing and analysis thus positioned differently among consumers from regular cosmetics, Specialists, doctors, and pharmacists applauded this positioning and everyone felt that they are facing a whole other level of cosmetics

Researcher working with chemical samples in laboratory with HPLC system
Solvents on the agilent HPLC system for separation of organic compounds

This  encouraged manufacturers to do more as per quality, research, and choice of the maintenance of the components introducing cosmeceuticals  around the world in a different form and essence rather than  regular cosmetics, the differentiation is shown in terms of quality, purity of materials used, marketing tactics, packaging, and user indications

For example, cosmeceutical manufacturers tended to use pharmaceutical-grade ingredients rather than cosmetic-grade ingredients.

Manufacturers, as well as suppliers of raw materials tended to closely scrutinize medical cosmetics materials making the procedures of analysis and release strict, as well as research matching raw materials and finished products to the standard specifications prepared in advance in terms of quantity and quality, some of them went an extra mile and surpassed the limitations and requirements of regulatory affairs and release approaching those of topical medicines standards.

In this way, the finished product has become purer, more effective, and safer although this has affected the cost of raw materials and processes which was ultimately reflected on the prices of these products category leading to an overprice compared to regular cosmetics.

Vacuum Homogenizer Mixer
Modern Designs of cosmetics
Modern Designs of cosmetics

Cosmeceuticals quality and prudence were reflected on the design of their products so that it is not dependent on dazzling and bright colors but conservative ones.

Health authorities around the world were interested in monitoring marketing claims accompanying these products to ensure that false or misleading ones are not presented to the consumer while leaving some room for manufacturers and marketers to promote their products and attract customers.

The wording itself of such claims has taken a more convincing scientific form and moved further away from the dazzling phrases that address the emotional and psychological aspect of the consumer

The researchers noticed that in cosmeceuticals the indications and purposes of use have become more specific, accurate, and detailed than those used in plain cosmetics which are mostly addressing the psychological and emotional aspects of the consumer to attract the product, the researchers also notice the preference of some consumers for OTC products for their trust in the quality of such products, especially with increased consumer awareness and cultural awareness around the world adding to that the rare side effects and the efficacy mild to moderate cases for skin, hair or mouth care and protection.

Neutrogena Sunscreen USA
Listerine Mouth Wash USA

Cosmeceuticals types include skin moisturizer, sunscreens,  skin whitening products, anti-hair falling products, hair growth triggering products, anti-dandruff products, intimate wash, some oral products and dental care products.

Some of the most famous compounds  used in these products are :

  • Peptides – α Lipoic acid
  • α Hydroxy acids
  • Beta hydroxy acids
  • Aloe vera, Panthenol
  • Dimethicon, Retinol, Vit E
  • Vit C – Hyaluronic acid
  • Concentrated herbal extracts
  • Menthol -Comphor – Thymol
  • Eucalyptus – Plant oils
  • Essential oils – Silicon derivatives
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Boswellic Acid
  • Antioxidants
  • Melatonin
  • Catalase
  • Glutathione

Along with all the other active ingredients needed for the proper manufacturing of cosmeceuticals

It should be noted here that the regulatory authorities of cosmetics in the world still consider that cosmeceuticals are merely cosmetics that may have been distinguished. development and marketing-wise from traditional cosmetics yet there is no scientific justification to separate them from cosmetics in terms of definition therefore there is no difference in the rules of registration or trading of such products and this applies to the FDA and all the concerned authorities in Europe and most countries of the world, so what is the globally agreed-upon definition of cosmetics and that of medicine?

The general definition of cosmetics globally is any substance or stable mixture mildly affecting the human body applied by contact of various external parts of the body, teeth, or oral cavity for cleansing purposes, fragrant purposes or beautification purposes or improving the outer appearance or protection and preservation of wellness of the aforementioned body parts as well as rectifying the odor of the body.

As for the medicine:

It is a substance administered internally or placed topically to treat either a disease or medical condition, relieve the symptoms of an illness or a medical condition or used for diagnosis or prophylaxis, The drug often potentiates or downregulates a certain function in the body.

How does the FDA deal with cosmetics?

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have the power to issue cosmetic trading approvals in the United States except for the colors added to them which must be approved first.
  • According to U.S. law, the manufacturer holds the legal responsibility for fraud prevention of cosmetics ingredients or data-wise and the FDA can prohibit  trading a  product in the market if necessary and the procedures begin with a warning  letter, and then if necessary;   a recall of the violating  

Therefore, we can safely say that the ease of trading kick-off does not necessarily mean the absence of control and follow-up, these measures are not only applied in the United States but also in the European Union.

It is worth mentioning that the rules of the subject applied in Egypt with cosmetics registration, trading and regulation are mostly of European reference.

The Vaseline and Pond Stories :

Although the name “Cosmeceuticals” dates back about 60 years ago as we have mentioned earlier yet the deep digger in the modern history of cosmetics will discover that this science and this type of products had its first idea originating in the mid-19th century in America and Europe which was the case with  Vaseline products that were invented. In 1872, by American chemist Robert Chesbrough, the product was marketed at the time like how cosmeceutical products are marketed today which is obvious on the antique packaging of the product that has been circulating for more than 100 years and the marketing relied on limited medical claims along with the cosmetic effects of the product.

Vaseline was preceded by  Pond  in 1846, where the famous American pharmacist Theron Pond (1800-1852) was able to prepare a plant extract from   Witch hazel,  influenced by the history of this plant in Native Indian medicine and introduced into a famous lotion under the name Pond’s extract, which has been circulating throughout Sixty years, it was marketed with claims that would position it right between the topical medicines, disinfectants, and cosmetic products. 

Newspapers, and magazines used to issue promotional newsletters for this product accordingly some researchers believe that the  American pharmacist Theron Pond is the real godfather of the cosmeceutical industry.

To Be Continued…

Theron T. Pond
Pond's Extract Vanishing Cream
Pond's Extract old packaging
Robert Chesbrough
Vaseline old brochure 1920
Vaseline old brochure 1950
Pond's Extract old brochure 1911
Vaseline old Packaging 1930