High street skincare vs cosmeceutical skincare – What’s the difference?
Good quality skincare is fundamental for a healthy, radiant complexion. The skin is the largest organ in our body. It’s our most significant natural defence against the outside world. It’s a living thing, and it needs constant care and nurturing.
Many people are reluctant to believe that skincare alone can change their skin. The key to getting the most out of your skincare products – in particular, those that are making some kind of promise to change the quality of your skin, and which have can be backed up by clinical trials – is to take it seriously and to use it like medicine. Skincare can be extremely powerful when it comes to treating concerns such as acne, pigmentation and ageing but the key is to look for results-driven cosmeceutical skincare which penetrates deeper than cosmetic, high street formulations to produce visible changes in the skin.
What is a cosmeceutical?
A cosmeceutical is a skincare product that’s halfway between cosmetic, available over the counter skincare, and a pharmaceutical prescription product. Cosmetic products will provide a quick result, such as a quick boost of hydration or a short-term glow, but they can only penetrate the first layer of the skin (dead skin cells) and therefore aren’t strong enough to make any lasting changes within the skin.
Cosmeceutical products are usually the sort of brands you will find in cosmetic clinics rather than in department stores. Some of the most well-known include SkinCeuticals, Neostrata, Obagi, Medik8 and Skinbetter Science.
Is it skincare, or is it science-based, clinically proven skincare?
The potency and effectiveness of a product is the key difference between a cosmetic product and a cosmeceutical. A cosmetic product can only penetrate the outer surface of the skin. It isn’t able to pass through the epidermis to the dermis, to directly treat a specific skin disease because the active ingredients are not potent enough. Although cosmetic skincare cannot penetrate through to the dermis, it can exfoliate, hydrate, clean and improve the appearance of the top layer of the skin to make it appear brighter and smoother.
Cosmeceutical skincare, on the other hand, contains active ingredients which enable products to take effect deep within the skin. They are results-driven skincare backed by a significant amount of science and research, and they can be used to treat conditions such as acne, pigmentation and rosacea, as well as sun-damaged and ageing skin.
The factors that make skincare more effective
Creating effective skincare is what every skincare brand is trying to do – cosmetic, cosmeceutical, or otherwise. What really makes the difference between an effective product and an ineffective product is whether it contains decent quality ingredients at sufficient levels of concentration to give a result, in a formula that gets those ingredients where they need to go. Whilst a moisturiser only needs to sit on the surface and hold moisture inside the skin, a serum that works to improve pigmentation, or to stimulate collagen production, needs to penetrate the skin to work on the lower layers.
The hero ingredients to look out for in your cosmeceutical products
Vitamin A: Vitamin A, otherwise known as Retinol in the world of skincare, is one of the most potent and highly effective ingredients you can add to your routine. From smoothing fine lines and wrinkles to treating acne, brightening pigmentation and giving the skin a radiant glow, there’s not much this ingredient can’t do.
Vitamin C: Antioxidants are key to a healthy complexion. Not only do they stimulate collagen production and lift away dark spots to enhance skin radiance, but they also help to protect the skin from further UV damage.
Hyaluronic Acid: When used in skincare products like creams and serums, hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant which continually draws moisture to the surface of the skin to keep it moisturised throughout the day.
Ferulic Acid: When used in skincare, ferulic acid is an antioxidant which helps to protect overall skin integrity by reducing the development of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles.
AHAs: AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acid. These products offer chemical exfoliation as an alternative to manual exfoliation, working primarily by dissolving the bonds between skin cells to allow the removal of dead cells and a subsequently smoother skin surface.
What to consider when you’re shopping for skincare
The internet, department stores and skincare clinics are filled with a mass of skincare products from creams and lotions to serums and gels and even tablets and injections. When starting your skincare journey, you should be clear about your skin concerns and your goals. Look for products that contain active ingredients and take some time to research and learn more about each one to understand how they can help your skin.
Whilst there are positive reviews about nearly every skincare product on the market, it’s still wise to get the advice of a skincare expert at the beginning. We are all unique, and certain products which may be suitable for one person may not be ideal for your individual skin type and concerns. Getting the advice of an expert can help you to understand the ingredients that will be most effective for you and where to slot them into your skincare regime for best results.
Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.