What Exactly Is A Cosmeceutical?

Cosmeceuticals are all the rage in the beauty and anti-aging market right now with 2012 sales expected to exceed 9 billion dollars. But what does this term even mean? The word is meant to convey the idea of a “cosmetic pharmaceutical”. In other words, it’s a beauty aid that supposedly has the strength and corrective ability of a prescription grade pharmaceutical product. The term is used as a catch all for everything from over the counter topical “wrinkle reduction” creams to FDA approved injectables like Botox and dermal fillers.

The FDA does not consider “cosmeceuticals” a term with any relevant meaning. The agency categorizes all products as cosmetics or drugs with some products (such as makeup that contains a sunscreen) qualifying as both. There’s a lot of gray area since many topical “anti-aging” cosmeceutical products are really just cosmetics and have little or no real effect – as disappointed customers can attest.

Here’s what the FDA says about this kind of marketing:

“Certain claims may cause a product to be considered a drug, even if the product is marketed as if it were a cosmetic. Such claims establish the product as a drug because the intended use is to treat or prevent disease or otherwise affect the structure or functions of the human body. Some examples are claims that products will restore hair growth, reduce cellulite, treat varicose veins, or revitalize cells.”

So, if a company is making extravagant claims, they had better be able to back it up with FDA approved clinical trial data. If they can’t do this, you are probably looking at a product that is just another cosmetic.

Tags: Health and Beauty