Cosmeceuticals: Miles to go before we sleep


Dr Rajat Kandhari    22 October 2017

The cosmeceutical industry is the fastest growing segment of todays personal care industry estimated at around $432million in India alone. The increasing popularity of cosmetology can be attributed to aging baby boomers, the growing obsession to maintain a youthful appearance, increasing consumer demand for natural products and noninvasive procedures, rising per capita disposable income including side effects of traditional depigmenting agents. Also, many dermatologists are being lured towards cosmetic dermatology as it seems to be more financially rewarding. I was recently asked to give a lecture on cosmeceuticals in pigmentary disorders at a national conference and I found it rather challenging to conduct a thorough research, as there is a glaring lack of undisputed references on cosmetic science. The advent of tetrahydrocurcumin in the cosmeceutical market in India has been huge but if you try to find references for this agent for cutaneous indications you will be amazed at the scarcity of data. We all use vitamin C serums but certain issues are still unanswered, such as penetration of Ascorbic acid across the skin might be expected to be poor and further if other forms are used how much of it is actually getting converted to active AA after penetration. These are just few examples. The obvious issue here is lack of evidence-based literature. A major reason is the FDA has different definitions for drugs and cosmetics. Cosmetic and cosmeceutical agents have not been researched in any standard way as they dont require FDA approval. So we have multiple companies where much research is performed but the data is proprietary and these companies are reluctant to publish or share this data in indexed journals due to the fear that their product might be actually labeled a drug which would then be followed by years of expensive trials establishing their efficacy and safety. As dermatologists we should conduct more research as it will give us a more in-depth knowledge about the products we are using on our patients.

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