The word cosmeceutical was first used in the 1980s as the combination of the two English terms “cosmetics” and “pharmaceuticals”. It was created to fill the gap between the two and define something that is good for the skin, but does not have a therapeutic effect. Nowadays this distinction is getting less and less defined as many so called cosmetics (and defined like that by the FDA for example) are actually able to prevent and treat skin aging and other skin problems, being biologically active and having a drug-like effect.
Goals of Skincare 1
Regardless of biological age, skin type, skin problems and sex there are 7 basic goals in skincare.
- Preventing skin aging
- Slowing the effects of aging
- Reversing the effects of aging
- Treating specific problems
The skin must be cleansed and protected from the effects of physical (for example UV light) and chemical (for example air pollutants) factors and influences. It is the organ that protects our inner organs from these factors as well as it protects us from harmful bacteria and other microbes so it is very important to keep it healthy and functioning. Due to its barrier function, the skin shows up first the effects of all these combined attacks and the aging process here is most clearly seen.
Cleansing should be the first step of your regular skin care regimen. It should be performed every morning and every evening. The objective of this first step is to remove make-up, air pollutants, microorganisms, dirt and desquamated skin cells from the surface of the skin. Water alone is not enough to complete this step, as it will just remove 50-60% of dirt and oils. Too harsh skin cleansers though might compromise lipids, moisture level, pH and irritate the skin.
This first step is also important to allow the skin to better absorb other topical therapies, which might be applied later.
This second step aims at increasing the water content level of the skin, providing a protective film and restoring the skin’s barrier function. By doing this it is also reduced the amount of water lost through moisture evaporation.
UV Radiation is greatly responsible for skin photo-aging. Its association with skin cancer is indisputable and it is the main factor causing skin malignancies.
UV light is classified based on its wavelength into UV-A, UV-B and UV-C. The latter is filtered by the ozone layer of the stratosphere. For the first two types it is essential to protect the skin and this can be done in three different ways:
- Avoiding the sunlight
- Using protective clothing (long sleeves, hats, etc.)
- Using Sunscreen and other chemical/physical filters.
Sun protection should be used all year round regardless of how shiny the sun is. It should be applied 30 minutes before leaving the house on all exposed parts of the body and reapplied after a couple of hours or when the protection might be lost due to some activities (swimming, profuse sweating, etc).
Prevention and Treatment
To prevent and treat skin aging there are several classes of bioactive compounds available on the market. They can be divided into:
- Hydroxy Acids
- Phenolic Skin Lightening Agents
- Non-Phenolic Skin Lightening Agents
We will thoroughly discuss each class in the next articles.
Last update: 17/05/2018
1. The art of Aesthetic Surgery. Principles & Techniques. Second Ed. Chapter 10 by Inja Bogdan Allemann MD and Prof. David J. Goldberg MD