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Cosmeceuticals: Endangered Species?
Posted: April 8, 2008
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To further convince the industry of the similarities between men and active ingredients, just consider which of the two genders men generally think is most important, and what component that cosmetic marketers consider to be the most important in any efficacious cosmetic product. I rest my case; yet it still does not explain why I am so negative about the use of the term cosmeceutical. My reasons are actually quite pragmatic.
In all honesty, it is difficult to differentiate between a cosmetic and a drug, if we accept that the claim made for the product can determine in which category it belongs. The industry should be reminded that the original definition of a cosmetic or drug was established before the discovery of DNA in 1953. Of course, if the definition of a calculator originated from the time that we were still using the abacus, how could we anticipate multifunctional computers to fall somewhere within that definition? The problem should not be solved by introducing a "super-abacus," aka the cosmeceutical, but rather by changing the definition.
If the line between a medical and cosmetic product is fuzzy, why should the industry be able to differentiate between a cosmetic active and a cosmeceutical on the one hand, and a cosmeceutical and a drug on the other? The cosmetic industry should update its definitions for the terms cosmetic and medical to bring them into the 21st century; that should solve the problem. In my opinion, the term cosmeceutical is no longer sustainable and should be banned. The only question is: Will a new definition arise before the 21st century is over?
In the meantime, the cosmetic industry should shift its attention to completely different things. It is well-known that green chemistry and sustainability are of utmost importance today. Also, the cosmetic industry aims to be CO2 neutral. I have yet to hear anyone address the enormous waste that happens in the cosmetic industry. In my May 2008 column in Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine, I discuss how the industry wastes an average of 99% of all active ingredients applied to the skin. Why? Because on average, only 1% penetrates. If these ingredients are so important and hence so expensive, why do we allow 99% of them to be wasted?
And this is only the economical aspect; there is also an environmental aspect of wasting 99% of a raw material. Techniques are available to allow cosmetic formulators to optimize the skin delivery of an active ingredient, i.e., to get men to do what they are supposed to do--work hard for their money, if you allow me to continue with my analogy.