There is an astounding array of skincare products on the market, all making various claims about what they are able to do and how they do it. Some will make your skin look younger, some cleaner and some softer. Some are based around traditional remedies going back generations whilst some are based round the most recent research and are tried and tested in laboratories. As a consumer, knowing what to pick off of the crowded shelves is a real challenge.

Most people standing in the pharmacy do not know how to choose skincare products. They are not trained pharmacists, doctors or dermatologists, they therefore are not expected to know which products are just expensive concoctions and which ones will actually have some sort of effect.

In the 1980’s Dr Albert Kligman coined a new word, “cosmeceuticals”, a combination of the words cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It refers to a product that is more than a cosmetic but not quite a drug. Whilst cosmetics may clean up your skin and make it look better, they make no difference to your skin structure, the effect is only temporary. A cosmeceutical on the other hand has some active ingredients which the manufacturers can claim, has a longterm effect on the physical structure and workings of the skin.

It is important to note that cosmeceutical products, whilst they may contain active ingredients, can not be classified as medical as they have not gone through the rigorous testing that medical pharmaceuticals need to go through to prove that they actually cure a medical condition such as acne or dry skin. 

Cosmeceutical companies often like to make many claims on their packaging as to their effectiveness and they will often back it up with either their own tests or independent scientific tests. Companies such as ST Health Care based in Israel create a range of products for a range of conditions. They formulate face creams, foot lotions, ingrowing toenail softeners and so much more. For them it is vitally important that all their products are credible, so unlike many cosmetics, they are formulated by a qualified pharmacist and tested to make sure that they work.

The advantage of a cosmeceutical over a cosmetic is obvious, one has active ingredients and has a long term effect and one just cleans and conceals. There are also advantages of a cosmeceutical over medication as you can buy it over the counter and do not need to get a script from the doctor and the cost may be lower.

So next time you are staring at the shelves looking for an effective remedy for your skin condition, take a moment to read the packets. Do you really need a doctor to prescribe something, do you really want to try a traditional remedy or would you be better off looking for a product with active ingredients which has been tested to have a long-term effect on your condition?