Everything You Need To Know About Cosmeceutical Skincare

By Tara | Updated: 16/04/2024

If you are looking to elevate your skincare routine or you want to target specific skin concerns and you’re wondering what kind of products to buy, you may want to look at cosmeceutical skincare.

It may sound like just another clever tongue-twister marketing trick but the truth is that cosmeceutical skincare products can likely help achieve the results you want. In fact, you may already be using them in your skincare routine.

Let’s dive into more details about what this term means in skincare and determine if our skin can benefit from cosmeceutical skincare products.

Cosmeceuticals Skincare Explained

What is cosmeceutical skincare?

According to Dermatologist Dr. Asmi Sanghvi, “Cosmeceutical skincare refers to products that contain active ingredients that have both cosmetic and pharmaceutical benefits. These products are designed to improve the appearance of the skin while also providing therapeutic benefits”.

To put it simply, cosmeceutical skincare products are a ‘middle-ground’ between medical-grade skincare and cosmetic skincare.

“While they can be purchased over the counter without a prescription, they contain active ingredients that have a proven effect on the skin, such as antioxidants, peptides, and growth factors, which differentiate them from traditional cosmetic skincare,” Dr. Sanghvi added.

It’s no wonder they are often seen as the best of both worlds in the skincare industry.

The benefits of cosmeceutical skincare

Traditional cosmetic skincare products included cleansers and moisturisers that practically did what they meant: clean and moisturise. Cosmeceutical skincare does much more. It contains different active ingredients like acids, retinol and vitamin C which can positively alter our skin’s functions and appearance.

This broad group of skincare products can be used by everyone and targets any ‘minor’ skin conditions like:

Even though the term ‘cosmeceutical’ seems to be unregulated, the opposite is when it comes to concentrations. Many countries have mandatory rules/recommendations when it comes to the limit percentage of an active ingredient before It becomes ‘medical-grade’.

For example, salicylic acid can be used only in the range of 0.5%-2%, while glycolic acid can be used at a maximum of 10%; a greater percentage it’s considered a ‘peeling solution’ and can be only prescribed by medical staff.  

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Is cosmeceutical skincare medical grade?

Medical grade and cosmeceutical are two different things. Dr. Asmi Sanghvi explains what differentiates them: “Medical-grade skincare typically contains prescription-strength ingredients that are used to treat specific skin conditions under the guidance of a healthcare provider.”

These products can alter your skin’s functions and biology and normally address ‘major’ skin conditions and diseases. These products may have side effects on the skin and are considered drugs, that’s why you have to get them through a doctor.

Cosmeceutical skincare on the other side can be bought in stores by anyone without a prescription or having to do a dermatological consultation. They can improve your skin and target various skin conditions as mentioned above, but only minor ones. They can be a supplement to a medical-grade skincare routine, that’s why many dermatologists recommend them to their patients, but they can’t replace them. Even though they are not at the same strength as medical-grade products, they can still affect the skin with irritation, sensitivity and dryness. 

Does cosmeceutical skincare really work?

The short answer is yes! The more complicated answer is: yes if you choose the right products for your skin type and skin concerns and if you use them consistently. There are so many ‘ifs’ I know, but the whole purpose of this article and Beauty Space is to help you find the right ones.

One myth that circulates in the skincare world is that this type of skincare improves your skin temporarily and if you stop using these products, it will all turn back as it was (or worse). Facts show that cosmeceutical skincare can actually create changes in your skin!

If you create a skincare regimen that is suitable to your skin type, targets your skin concerns and you use it consistently, it can improve the functioning of your skin and the appearance. One thing to note is that the effects are much slower than medical-grade skincare, so be patient. 

Do I need cosmeceutical skincare?

If you are wondering whether you need cosmeceutical skincare products, ask yourself these questions: Do you have any skin concerns you’d like to target/ improve?

Do you want your skin to look healthier and with a more even complexion?

Do you want to target signs of aging and/or prevent premature aging?

If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, then yes you need a cosmeceutical skincare regimen!

How to choose and use cosmeceutical skincare

A skincare routine outline includes cleanser, treatment, moisturiser and sun protection. For each category, you need to find the right products for your skin type and concerns.

Cleansers are generally used 1-2 times a day and you should choose one that doesn’t dry or make your skin feel squeaky clean. You may find cleansers with active ingredients, but in my opinion, it’s not worth splurging on them since you only use them for 30 seconds.

Treatments include any toner, serum or mask that has active ingredients that target your skin concerns. There are dozens of skincare ingredients, but the most common ones include:

There are a ton of other ingredients with different purposes like plant extracts, niacinamide, peptides etc., but the general rule is to find 1-2 products and not overdo it.

Moisturisers differ in texture and finding the right texture for your skin type is essential. Sun protection, on the other hand, is cosmetically and medically important because not only it prevent many skin concerns like hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, but it also prevents skin diseases like lesions and skin cancer.

If you are someone who experiences a skin condition like cystic acne, eczema or rosacea, it’s suggested to consult a dermatologist on the best products to treat your specific concerns.

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What cosmeceutical skincare brands can I buy in Australia?

Finding the right products for your skin type can be challenging especially if you add the confusing world of skincare terms and marketing tricks into the equation. We can’t possibly know all the ingredients and the clinical studies behind them, so finding a trustworthy brand is crucial.

Luckily, in Australia, there are many great brands to choose from like Alpha-H, a pioneer brand in the use of glycolic acid, Asap, known for its simplicity and efficacity, Aspect, Liberty Belle, Aesthetics Rx and much more. 

Cosmeceutical skincare, even though it’s yet to be legally recognised and regulated, is a gigantic industry. Leaving aside the fact that many brands may abuse and not really live up to their claims, those who do, can make a difference on people’s skins.

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Tara Lusk is the founder and creator of Beauty Space
Tara Lusk is a Sydney-based beauty enthusiast and the founder of Beauty Space. She launched the blog in 2018 to showcase the best beauty and skincare brands emerging from Australia, while also providing insider tips and tricks for hair and skincare. With a focus on tried-and-true products, Tara puts the latest cult products to the test to separate hype from substance.

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