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October 5, 2007
Posted in: Beauty,Skin Care by cindypk @ 11:01 pm

Cosmeceuticals ‘ – the latest buzzword in the industry – reflects more than just the current trend in cosmetics. It mirrors growing concerns over how to classify beauty treatments, which promise to ‘reverse’ the effects of ageing.

The term is not recognised by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The law defines ‘cosmetics’ as products not intended to affect the body’s structure or functions, and ‘drugs’ as products that do. But new ingredients in cosmetics are blurring the distinction.

The crux, however, is not the ingredients listed on a product label, but the claims that label makes. John Bailey, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colours, explains that a cosmetic can claim to make skin look younger. But one that says it reverses the ageing process would be classified as a drug. The efficacy and safety of a cosmetic does not have to be demonstrated by a manufacturer, but getting a drug FDA-approved is a costly and lengthy process.

Although the FDA believes most products ‘as now formulated and when used according to directions’ are largely safe – based on the relatively few adverse reactions reported – there is cause for concern. More than 5000 ingredients are currently in general use and, in general, long-term data on their safety is lacking.

(JAMA, 1998; 20:1595-6)

What’s in your face cream?

The reasoning:

Vitamins C and E -
As oral supplements, these are effective antioxidants – so why not add them to moisturisers?

Vitamin A (retinol) -
Topical retinol apparently shrinks sebaceous glands and unclogs follicles. In moisturisers, it is a humectant, drawing water in to fill out fine lines.

Alpha-hydroxy acids -
AHAs irritate the skin and accelerate exfoliation. ‘A little inflammation isn’t bad. It improves skin colouring and evens skin tone,’ says Paul Lazar, professor of clinical dermatology. And ‘a little oedema puffs out fine wrinkles.’

Botanical additives -
High on consumer appeal, natural ingredients such as green tea and aloe vera are promoted as unlikely to cause adverse reactions.

The research:

‘A bit of a jump,’ says the FDA’s John Bailey. Vitamins C and E actions when applied topically are still unclear.

According to Nia Terezakis, clinical professor of dermatology, retinoids rebuild collagen infrastructure, and therefore could effect lasting improvements – even once treatment is discontinued.

Guidelines on AHA use have been established. Sun sensitivity is increased in some people by up to 50 per cent, which has led to questions about photoageing and skin cancer.

Botanical additives vary considerably from site of origin, processing and batch to batch. Little research exists on their safety.

The result:While they may not cause harm, the benefit of vitamins A and E applied topically is unproven.

According to Terezakis, consistent use from a client’s teen years onwards would improve the skin’s appearance. However, photosensitivity does occur.Long-term phototoxicity studies will take a few years. Meanwhile, the FDA advises people to check on the AHA concentration in products and to use daily sun protection.

The FDA has placed wild yam extract – said to be similar to topical oestrogens – high on its list of current concerns.

PROOF! – Vol: 2 Issue: 4 At The Organic you will find chemcial-free natural and organic skincare, haircare and cosmetics, click here for some specifically for the Face.

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