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This column focuses on a cursed word in the cosmetics industry—cosmeceuticals. It is a word that I believe should never have been invented but that at least a few cosmetic colleagues claim to have coined.
The word suggests cosmetic products with a close-to-medical activity profile; however, a topically applied product is either a medical or cosmetic product, it cannot be both and it certainly cannot be in between. A product cannot be half medicinal and half cosmetic in the same sense that a woman cannot be half pregnant. However, there can be an exception to the above statement...
Oftentimes it is the claim that makes the skin care product medicinal, whereas without that claim, the product is classified as cosmetic. I am sure that many in the personal care industry would agree that this situation is a little absurd since it suggests that the active ingredient reads the label and subsequently decides whether it will cure or simply clean, perfume, change appearance, correct body odor or protect or keep the user in good condition.
I admit, we have very smart active principles today but this is giving our quasi-drugs a bit too much credit. An active ingredient is much like an average man and does what it does and nothing more; and what the average man does is determined by the quality of women surrounding him. Similarly, whether an active is active is determined by the excipients in the formulation surrounding it.
A certain type of man will always try to impress the women in his surroundings, irrespective of being married, single or tired, whereas another type of man will always be shy, dazed, timid or introverted. That is in his character. Certain types of active ingredients are very active, whereas others will do close to nothing--even if pushed into the skin by surrounding excipients. We call this intrinsic activity.