5 Differences Between Cosmeceuticals and Ordinary Skincare Products

5 Differences Between Cosmeceuticals and Ordinary Skincare Products2

Some cosmeceuticals contain the word “medicine” or “medical,” which cause many people to see and/or treat them as medicines. Thus, they start worrying about misunderstandings such as “may contain hormones.” So is cosmeceuticals medicine or makeup? What kind of skincare products can be called cosmeceuticals? What kind of skin is it suitable for? What are the differences between cosmeceuticals and ordinary skincare products? We are here to answer the questions about cosmeceuticals. Keep reading!

What Exactly Are Cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals, also known as medical skincare products, refer to cosmetics applied by doctors to solve skin beauty problems from a medical point of view.

To put it bluntly, cosmeceuticals are medical skincare products that solve beauty problems from a medical point of view. They are in between medicine and skincare products and are very functional cosmetics.

They are products with both cosmetic characteristics and medicinal properties or are between cosmetics and external dermatological medicines. They use natural functional, active ingredients as raw materials and have specific curative effects.

What Are Cosmeceuticals Composed of?

Common cosmeceuticals are used for cleansing (generally contains no soap base, non-alkaline, mild, and non-irritating) and moisturizing (includes skin barrier repair ingredients).

They’re also used for oil and acne control (contains surfactants that clean the skin surface with excessive sebum) and whitening spots (contains active ingredients that inhibit or interfere with the synthesis and operation of melanin).

Cosmeceuticals can also have anti-wrinkle (contains cell growth regulators or antioxidants) and sunscreening (no pigments, fragrances, allergenic preservatives, high safety) effects.

For products that can be called cosmeceuticals, the formula ingredients should be fully disclosed. All active ingredients and safety must be proven by medical literature and dermatological clinical tests.

They should not contain recognized allergens; the formula should not contain pigments, flavors, or preservatives. Cosmeceuticals have chemical-source surfactants, higher contents of active ingredients, strong pertinence, clearer and more pronounced efficacy than conventional cosmetics.

They must be produced according to GMP pharmaceutical standards. Cosmeceuticals are not only different from ordinary cosmetics but also distinctly different from special-purpose cosmetics. Its safety and proven efficacy are its most essential features.

However, cosmeceuticals are not medicines and do not contain any hormone components. But manufacturers still need to strictly ensure and implement aseptic production per the requirements of pharmaceuticals.

It is first and essentially a skincare product. So, the formula’s ingredients are required to be fully disclosed.

Good brands of cosmeceuticals and skincare products will not add antibiotics or glucocorticoids that can quickly improve skin problems but have great hidden dangers.

Cosmeceuticals are additional treatment tools for problematic skin and a good helping hand for dermatologists. Essentially, it is necessary to ensure that there are no additives, so there will be no dependence on hormones.

However, nowadays cosmeceuticals are becoming more and more complex. More and more ingredients are used, and the mechanism and intensity of action are not clear.

The effective ingredients of cosmeceuticals mainly include antioxidants, growth factors, anti-inflammatory substances, natural plant ingredients, fading agents, lipopolysaccharide peptides, and many other functional ingredients.

However, you have to know that not all cosmeceuticals are 100 percent safe. Today, adverse cosmetic reactions caused by cosmeceuticals are gradually increasing.

What Are the Differences between Cosmeceuticals and Ordinary Skincare Products?

From the ingredients to the use effect, purchase channels, and the skin types they are suitable for, we will tell you the differences between these two products:

1. The Ingredients Are Not the Same

Cosmeceuticals: Cosmeceuticals have a relatively high content of active ingredients in its ingredients and strong efficacy. There are no non-functional additives; that is to say, all ingredients must have corresponding effects.

Ordinary cosmetics: Ordinary cosmetics generally contain bases, preservatives, colors, fragrances, active agents, additives, moisturizers, etc. Some useless ingredients are added, which are redundant and increase the risk of allergies.

2. The Use Effect Is Not the Same

  • Cosmeceuticals: Cosmeceuticals are products with specific effects that can achieve better results than ordinary products because they contain more effective ingredients.
  • Ordinary cosmetics: Ordinary cosmetics have more ingredients and more dispersed effects. After use, they are not as effective as cosmeceuticals.

3. Different Purchase Channels

  • Cosmeceuticals: Cosmeceuticals are generally purchased at pharmacies or professional drugstores. They are prescribed or sold in the presence of professional physicians and pharmacists.
  • Ordinary cosmetics: Ordinary cosmetics can be bought in supermarkets, counters, cosmetics stores, etc., without prescriptions.

4. For Different Skin Types

  • Cosmeceuticals: Cosmeceuticals are highly targeted and suitable for all skin types, especially sensitive or problem skin.
  • Ordinary cosmetics: Ordinary cosmetics generally need to be purchased according to skin type, and it is not recommended to use too many cosmetics for skin prone to allergies.

5. Allergies

  • Cosmeceuticals: There’s usually no guarantee that cosmeceuticals will not cause allergies. But generally, cosmeceuticals don’t quickly turn allergenic.
  • Ordinary cosmetics: Ordinary cosmetics have more ingredients, which are easy to cause skin allergies. Generally, the products must be carefully chosen when it comes to people with sensitive skins.

Who Are Suitable for Cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals can be used for normal skin or skin with disorders.

Although it is not necessary to use cosmeceuticals for healthy skin, if you want to reduce the burden on your skin, you can, of course, choose cosmeceuticals first.

If you have skin disorders of different severity, please consult the cosmeceutical use advice after identifying the skin disorder under the guidance of a specialist.

For skin problems that cosmeceuticals can help with, we will give you a few examples

1. Sensitive Skin

They can be helpful for skin damage caused by improper use of cosmetics and skin problems that respond to some medications. The types of skin disorders can include sensitive or intolerant skin,

2. Seborrhea Skin Diseases, Such as Acne, Seborrheic Dermatitis, Rosacea

The 2% niacinamide (vitamin B3) contained in cosmeceuticals can effectively inhibit seborrhea. Salicylic acid can dissolve keratinous suppositories. Also, tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide can reduce the adverse irritation of anti-acne drugs.

3. Dermatitis, Eczema, Etc.

Cosmeceuticals can have an anti-inflammatory effect. At the same time, it can be hydrate and moisturize the skin, restore the sebum film, relieve itching, and reduce the frequency of recurrence.

When combined with topical anti-inflammatory preparations, it helps to improve the efficacy, shorten the course of treatment, and reduce adverse reactions.

4. Light Skin Diseases

They are also suitable for light skin diseases, including photosensitivity dermatitis, polymorphic light eruption, chronic actinic dermatitis, skin photoaging which can lead to skin cancer.

For such problems, sun protection must also be used. Commonly used physical sunscreen ingredients are titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Commonly used chemical sunscreen ingredients are p-aminobenzoic acid and esters, p-methoxycinnamates, anthranilates, benzophenones and derivatives, and methane derivatives.

In addition, antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase and coenzyme Q10 can also reduce wrinkles and delay skin aging.

5. For Use after Plastic/Laser Surgery

Generally speaking, attention to sun protection after these operations can maintain the effect of the operation and reduce recurrence. Good medical concealer after the operation can reduce the short-term impact of the operation on health.

The activated organic spring water in cosmeceuticals contains selenium, calcium ions, and other ingredients. It has effects such as soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and anti-free radicals. It can relieve pain, itching, tightness, and other discomforts.

Some Examples of Cosmeceuticals

Health cosmeceuticals can be said to be divided into several major lines:

Cosmeceuticals for Sensitive Skin

The first category of cosmetics with medical actions for sensitive skin are made by brands such as Avène, La Roche-Posay, etc. They use mineral water as the main ingredient, with mild ingredients, which is essential to reduce skin irritation and relieve allergies.

Fruit Acid Cosmeceuticals

The second category is fruit acids, which are mainly used to treat pimples and scars. They work by peeling off the uppermost skin layer and controlling oil secretion to achieve a therapeutic effect. The most famous is AHA Fruit Acids.

Ascorbic Acid

The third category is Vitamin C or ascorbic acid cosmetics. They are made for clearer skins and for enlarging pores and acne-prone skin.

The effect is very good, and wrinkle removal has been clinically proven to be effective.

Levorotatory C or L-Ascorbic Acid

The fourth category is levorotatory C. It is an effective antioxidant for spots, wrinkles, and dull skin types. This can achieve the effect of whitening, firming, and glowing skin.


There is a difference between cosmeceuticals and ordinary skincare products. French cosmeceuticals are mostly advertised as thermal spring water, which is safe, mild, and rich in minerals. Some series use salicylic acid, vitamin A alcohol, and other ingredients to dissolve keratin, control oil, and anti-wrinkle to meet the needs of different skin problems.

Most cosmetics in the United States advocate simplicity and efficiency and strive to open the gap with ordinary skincare products and highlight professionalism. Therefore, the cosmeceutical needs to be used under the guidance of a doctor.

If you want to use cosmeceuticals for skincare, you must buy quality-guaranteed cosmeceutical products. Finally, not everyone’s skin type is suitable for cosmeceuticals. Choosing skincare products according to skin type is the best policy.

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