Cosmetics vs Cosmeceuticals: The Difference

Cosmetics versus Cosmeceuticals

At a glance, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals are more difficult to tell apart than seals and sea lions, but are they actually improving your skin? Today we’ll be discussing the difference between cosmetics and cosmeceuticals and how they affect your skin!

What are cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals are a cross between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. They contain active ingredients to solve skin problems or benefit your complexion by altering the skin’s inner layers. The ingredients in cosmeceuticals are more potent than cosmetic skincare, but not as strong as prescription pharmaceuticals, meaning that they can be used routinely on the skin without the major side effects of pharmaceuticals.

1. Active ingredients, and how much?

Active ingredients are defined as pharmaceutical ingredients that have beneficial effects on living things.

Usually, cosmetics do not contain any active ingredients. If they do, it's only in light doses that would not be enough to make a big difference. Cosmetics are produced to sell to the masses; think big department stores and online retailers. As a big company, the last thing you would want is for masses of consumers to have adverse allergic reactions to your product, so only a small amount of anything that would cause major change is put into a product, or none at all. 

On the other hand, cosmeceuticals contain the right dosage of active ingredients that has positive effects on the skin without causing damage. The formula and manufacturing techniques of a cosmeceutical is adjusted to properly allow the active ingredient to penetrate the skin as well. In other words, effectiveness is key when creating cosmeceuticals, but without overdosing the skin.

2. The Product Development Stage

For cosmetics manufacturers, the concept and budget is first derived, keeping their target audience and the current trends in mind. This rules out ingredients and processing techniques that are too costly to mass produce and product ideas that might not sell. After a budget and concept is set, the ingredients are chosen according to what fits in the budget.

As for cosmeceuticals, manufacturers first find out how much potential an ingredient has. By focusing on that one 'star ingredient', they can develop a unique formula and manufacturing technique for bottling it as a cosmeceutical. Once product is completely finalised, then is the total cost finalised. This makes for products that are usually on the pricier side compared to cosmetics, but take the cake when the formula and ingredients are considered.

3. The Results

Formula-wise, cosmetics are only complex enough to work on the surface of the skin. Active ingredients and the way a product is manufactured makes the most difference in this one. In other words, cosmetics may smell and feel nice on the skin and perk up your complexion for a day or two, but only temporarily.

Meanwhile, because they contain active ingredients and have the right delivery system for them, cosmeceuticals are able to correct skin concerns by create the structural changes under the skin barrier and promoting change to the cells themselves, improving your skin from the inside out for the long term.

To Conclude..

Even though both cosmeceuticals and cosmetics are meant to be beneficial to skin, they are vastly different. Cosmetics might be easier to find in stores, cheaper and might give you that 'wow' factor the first time you use it, but they might not be improving the condition of your skin in the long term. Cosmeceuticals have the means to correct and improve your skin over time, but might be pricier and more difficult to source for. Most importantly, be sure to find the right products for your skin type!