The speed at which information now travels has favored the advancement of science and technology like never before. This is true for all aspects of life, including personal care. The industry’s understanding of skin physiological processes has progressed in recent years, and with deeper knowledge more sophisticated cosmetic products have emerged.
Over the past 50 years, cosmetics have evolved from camouflage makeup to the combined health and beauty products that currently predominate the market. In addition, cosmetic products now contain actives that modulate defined physiological processes. The frontier between cosmetic actives and drugs is thinning. In fact, the industry has been flirting so much with pharmaceutical science that their union has been celebrated with a new word, cosmeceutical. What can be learned from this association?
The recent evolution of pharmacological care has initiated a trend toward the development of combination therapies that simultaneously use a variety of drugs to eliminate or control the biochemical causes of a disease. Examples include combinations of antibiotics for tuberculosis, antiretroviral drugs for HIV, or chemotherapeutic drugs for cancer. With the recognition that the body has redundant mechanisms to control any given function, it seems logical to correct a health problem by simultaneously targeting several pertinent mechanisms. This approach was the basis for fantastic improvement in the success rate of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which is now successfully treated in about 80% of patients by the application of intensive combination chemotherapy regimens.
The same rationale could be applied to cosmetic care, particularly to antiaging cosmetic care. Throughout the human body, skin aging is a complex process that involves multiple mechanisms that clearly influence each other. A comprehensive integral antiaging approach is thus needed for sustained improvement of the skin. However, this comes with important challenges. An integral approach to skin care requires deep knowledge of the physiological basis for skin aging. It also involves the combination of multiple actives at sufficient concentrations and in a stable formula, a real formulating challenge. The final product also should be clinically efficient and safe—and despite all of this, affordable.