The Difference Between Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetics

9 min read
The Difference Between Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetics

Ever wondered if there really is a difference between cosmeceuticals and cosmetics?

Or perhaps you’ve never heard of a cosmeceutical? Well, I’m here to tell you that there really is a difference between the two!

I’ve been testing and reviewing cosmeceuticals for many years now, in particular ones from the very talented therapists and educators at Advanced Skin Technologies, and since many cosmeceutical products will make their way into these articles and reviews at SAHM, I thought I’d better give you a rundown on what they are, who can or should use them, why you should use them, and some of the benefits you could expect. 

First up, lets look at the difference between a cosmetic and a cosmeceutical”¦

Cosmetics are products that are sold on mass at retail outlets like pharmacies, department stores and the ever-increasing online world. Cosmetic products will help maintain your skin by providing temporary results, but they will not help with the management of your skins well-being.

Although some cosmetics contain active ingredients, the levels of these active ingredients are significantly low, and won’t necessarily be able to offer long-term improvements and changes to the skin.

c12ae595d63d433492a7bc88649487cb | Stay at Home

Cosmeceuticals are often restricted to professional skincare professionals, where a consultation will be provided by a qualified skin therapist. These products may offer significantly higher concentrations of active ingredients and delivery systems, and are supported by scientific backing.

These results-focused products contain optimum concentrations of ingredients, along with the addition of complex formulations, and can help create visible change to the overall appearance of the skin. Cosmeceutical products can also support skin concerns at a deeper level compared to general cosmetics.

The best part of all of this is that cosmeceuticals are for everyone; men and women of all ages and skin concerns. In fact, my 14 year-old is about to embark on a cosmeceutical journey to try and fix you her problematic teenage skin. But more on that in another article once she’s finished!

The Cost Factor!

The initial outlay on cosmeceuticals may seem expensive, but in the long term, I would say consumers would be pleasantly surprised with the price point. Compared to some big named brands available, they are not as expensive as you would think!  And remember, you are purchasing high-grade, technically advanced products that have been recommended by a professional to suit your individual skin concerns.

giphy 1 | Stay at Home
via giphy

 Advanced Skin Technologies suggest that we do our research.  Don’t ‘buy’ into clever marketing; look for the research and scientific backing. Trust your therapist as they have years of extensive training and are regularly attending trainings sessions on advancements in skin health and skin physics. Skin care should be an investment. 

Are cosmeceuticals for everyone?

Yes they are, but in particular those who are concerned with aging skin, lines, wrinkles, pigmentation (dark marks on the skin), problematic, large pores, congestion, whiteheads, or rough textured skin. Even teens with problematic skin would benefit with good quality cosmeceuticals. 

These skin concerns are an indication that the skin is not functioning in an optimal way. It’s an indication that we need to support the skin with ingredients that are actually found within the skin but begin to deplete with age, lifestyle and environmental factors. Cosmeceutical skincare is very much about supplementing the skin with what it’s lacking. Cosmeceutical actives are bioidentical or biomimetic resulting in an efficient delivery into the skin layers and cells, and supporting the natural skin processes.

 Cosmetics primarily work the surface of the skin. Cosmeceuticals are designed to work into and within the skins layers and cells. This allows cosmeceuticals to work more effectively than cosmetics, and is also why they’re the preferred choice of skincare by professionals.

shutterstock 1192245094 1 | Stay at Home

How do I know I can trust that the cosmeceutical is the real deal?

This is another question I thought was important to get the right answer to, AST say that prior to a skincare product being sold in Australia, it must be approved by an organisation called NICNAS (National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme), which helps protect the Australian people and environment by ensuring products are safe for use. 

For cosmeceutical products to not only work effectively, but also feel, smell and absorb into the skin in an optimal way, requires a professional with a science background (such as a chemist) to formulate the product. 

There are so many intricate details to formulating cosmeceutical skincare that really isn’t seen by the end user. As a consumer, it’s so important to really trust the cosmeceutical products that you’re using. A great way to do this is to work with a trained skin therapist whom can recommend a trusted and reputable brand. When choosing a cosmeceutical you want to know that there are clinical trials to support its efficacy. You also want to know that the latest ingredient technology is being used at optimum levels to ensure effective results are seen.

As a consumer it’s important to ask your therapist the following questions: 

  • Do you have clinical trials?
  • Does it use chiral correction?
  • Are delivery systems used within the formulations, to ensure optimal absorption of ingredients into the skin?
  •  Are there any nasties in the formulations?
  •  Are the active ingredients at efficacious levels, to ensure best results?

It’s really important as a consumer to trust your therapist and the brands they stock to ensure you receive best results through your skincare and treatments. Looking after your skin is a long-term commitment and it’s essential to have trust and rapport with your therapist to ensure best results.

Cosmetics paulynn AdobeStock 197974130 | Stay at Home


Can I go it alone or should I see a therapist?

You certainly can walk on into many clinics and purchase their products straight off the shelf, but there are so many choices when it comes to skincare and so many places that you can purchase skincare including retail stores, a supermarkets, online, at a beauty salon or through a dermatologist, etc etc!

No one skin is the same, so when it comes to cosmeceuticals it’s a good idea that you have your skin assessed by a qualified professional, such as a beauty therapist, dermal clinician, nurse, doctor, dermatologist or plastic surgeon. (Again, I have a separate article coming on these assessments soon, if fact, I recently had one so I could write with fresh option just for this series of articles!) These professionals are experts when it comes to providing a thorough skin consultation and analysis and an individual skin care regime. By using skin care that targets your individual concerns, you will get optimal results.

There are some cosmeceutical ingredients that should be avoided at particular life stages for example, if you’re pregnant and breast-feeding. Then there are medications and environmental factors that should to be considered. If you can afford it, it’s a good idea to book in for a skin consultation before you start using cosmeceutical skin care to ensure you maximise your care therapist diploma 2 | Stay at Home

Key ingredients what should I be looking for?

Desirable ingredients include vitamin A in the form of retinol or retinaldehyde. Your skin therapist will advise which is the best form for your skin. Both forms have a normalising effect to the skin, which makes them essential for all skin conditions. Retinol also has the advantage of being able to increase cellular turnover. Cellular turnover starts to slow down as we age which can leave the skin looking dull and lifeless. Vitamin C is an ingredient that is scientifically proven to regenerate skin, so it’s an essential ingredient to use when it comes to anti-aging.

Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacinamide, has many skin benefits. It’s known as a “Berocca and booster” for any person’s homecare regime. It instantly hydrates the skin but also has so many additional benefits for all age groups, from anti-aging to assisting with hyperpigmentation while hydrating and reducing shine. All in all, vitamin B3 is essential for everyone!

Hydroxy acids are a type of exfoliator, and include ingredients such as lactic acid and salicylic acid. These ingredients work by having a dissolving effect of dead skin cells. Over time, our skin begins to see a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface. This causes the skin to look dull and lifeless, as well as pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles to look more prominent. Hydroxy acids are generally used in the evening and are left on overnight for them to work their magic. The result will be a smoother and more even, toned skin.

All cosmeceutical products should contain antioxidants due to them being so important for everyone to use on a twice-daily basis. Antioxidants work by neutralising external free radicals which, in excess, can lead to all sorts of breakdowns within the skin. You can never be too young to start using antioxidants. We’re constantly surrounded by elements that lead to free radical damage from sun exposure, to pollution, to smoking. Antioxidants are key for protecting our skin cells from this damage to ensure our skin stays looking young.istock 000081536221 medium 1 2 | Stay at Home

Can I really reduce or reverse the signs of aging?

The answer to this question from AST is a resounding yes, it is absolutely possible. The active ingredients found in anti-ageing cosmeceutical products are researched and clinically trialled to reduce the signs of ageing. Ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide, vitamin C, peptides, hydroxy acids, antioxidants and calming ingredients, are what you’ll need in a home care regime, if you’re concerned with ageing. 

Problematic teenage skin”¦

Cosmeceuticals are very commonly recommended for teenagers be it for problematic skin that is being challenged by breakouts, oil and congestion, or even a teenager with healthy skin they can both confidently use cosmeceuticals to keep the skin protected from environmental and lifestyle factors such UV rays and stress. 

a dermatologist is examining the woman s skin vector 23349263 e1569655645208 | Stay at Home

Don’t wait for the signs of aging to rear its ugly head!

A common misconception is a person should only start using active and results driven skincare such as cosmeceuticals when they start seeing the signs of ageing occurring on their face. We know that ageing begins to occur underneath the skin well before it shows up on the surface of the skin so the earlier someone starts looking after their skin the better! 

So, if you’ve made it this far you now have a basic idea of the differences between cosmeceuticals and cosmetics. 

I love them, I really do, but that doesn’t mean that given up on cosmetics, I love them too. After all, variety is the spice of life right? Well, so they say anyway.

If you have a specific question or topic you’d like address in these article then get in touch, I have the experts at hand and will cover any topic or concern you have!

The Difference Between Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetics | Stay at Home

About Author

Raquel Neofit

Assistant Editor for Vanilla Magazine. Freelance Writer for all things lifestyle. Recipe Developer.

Ask a Question

Close sidebar