'Cosmeceutical' Is A Trendy Skincare Term - But Does It Actually Mean Anything?

In the world of skincare, there are plenty of terms and phrases that can easily confuse users. From lengthy ingredient lists to advanced scientific terms, there are a lot of phrases to understand if you want to get the best information about your skincare products. One term that's becoming more mainstream is 'cosmeceutical.' With many brands adding the term to their products more frequently, many are left wondering what it means and how it affects them. 


Cosmeceutical is a combination of the words 'cosmetic' and 'pharmaceutical.' The term is heavily showcased in marketing to give legitimacy to products and their benefits. But with little to no strict guidance on product labeling, it can be easy to get confused about which products are truly backed by research and which aren't. So no matter how many terms are used to describe a product, the only ones that matter are in the ingredients list. Therefore, when picking out your products, be aware of the ingredients in them to ensure that they are safe and healthy for you and your skin. 

What does cosmeceutical actually mean?

While cosmeceutical is meant to be a combination of 'cosmetics' and 'pharmaceutical,' it's not exactly what it leads you to believe. This trendy term was created to convince consumers that a cosmetic product has medical-grade skincare benefits and has been thoroughly researched for its use. Although all beauty products go through a certain level of research, they aren't necessarily tested in the same way as medical solutions. According to Formula Botanica, a cosmeceutical product could have benefits for your skin but isn't made to cure any type of condition. 


The concept of a cosmeceutical has grown in recent years, as more people are looking to solve the root of their skin issues rather than only treat their symptoms. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no category in its research for such products.

So, while the word cosmeceutical might sway you to make your decision on what products to get, keep in mind they may not make much difference to your skin compared with products that don't feature the word. Since the FDA has yet to recognize cosmeceuticals for their reported benefits, these products don't have to undergo a thorough vetting process, which allows companies and brands to be able to claim such benefits without having to prove them. Although your favorite product may have cosmeceutical on its packaging, it's worth taking a look at its ingredients and any clinical testing provided by the company to verify any benefits.


Tips for picking out the right products

Although many product terms and phrases can be misleading, there are ways you can ensure that the product is right for you. The first step to knowing what your skin type really is. Those with oily skin will have different ingredients to be on the lookout for than those with dry skin. If you have oily skin, the odds are that you will have to look for acne-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. If you have dry skin, you will need to look for more hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid.


Once you know what skin type you have and the ingredients needed to reduce your issues, always take a look at the product label closely. For example, if you know that fragrances or dyes make your skin extra irritated, ensure that there are no artificially scented or naturally scented ingredients included.

Also keep in mind that when looking at the ingredients list, the first couple of items listed will typically be the ones that are used in the largest quantity in the product. Once you know what ingredients sit well with your skin, the process of finding the right products for you will be much quicker and easier.