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Cosmeceutical: Natural Fact or Science Fiction

Posted by Patrick on

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  Recently my team and I have stumbled upon somewhat of a grey area in terms of how other natural skin care products were being defined and marketed. The new-found terminology of cosmeceutical was in many ways inevitable. Like most new terminology and slang, the term was surely coined from a growing global interest in organic foods and clothing leading health conscious consumers to seek out natural and organic skin care as an alternative to those that are chemically engineered (see also active ingredients). Additionally it became dire for the smaller locally grown companies to compete in the marketplace by accurately defining what their natural products can do without fear of penalty. After all, when expensive natural and organic ingredients are used in hand-made small batches- the margins tend to get a little tight when trying to stay competitive.

When typing cosmeceutical into Microsoft Word it is understood lacking any auto-correcting or red underlining. Google search seems to be all over this terminology of dermatology as well, no surprise there. So it must be legit then, right millennials? Let’s drill down a bit deeper to the very pores beneath the surface of cosmeceutical.

Lorraine Dallmeier Director of Formula Botanica and a Biologist defines cosmeceutical best:“A cosmeceutical is essentially a skincare product that contains a biologically active compound that is thought to have pharmaceutical effects on the skin. In other words, you might think that that lavender extract in your skincare is just there to make it smell nice, but actually the manufacturer might have included it for some of its active chemical compounds that have anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties.”

Now if you’re a government regulatory branch, or work in big pharmaceutical you’re screaming DUPLICITY right about now, and grousing about how misleading this is. Luckily you’re not one of them- you’re one of us, and you understand how profoundly accurate this statement is. You may even see the genius in this and how it could potentially be the loop-hole that natural skin care products need to succeed in a larger market.

As I just so subtly hinted to- the concept hasn’t pleased government entities responsible for medicinal drugs. Legally, the concept of a cosmeceutical has no leg to stand on. The US Food and Drug Administration does not recognize “any such category as ‘cosmeceuticals’“. So exactly how does something become approved to cure or prevent a disease or illness? The answer unfortunately has nothing to do with proven history.

For generations mom’s and grandmas alike have been prescribing oatmeal for everything from poison ivy to eczema, but it’s only been in the last 10 years that the FDA has approved it for such statements like “eczema relief”. This means that oatmeal (Colloidal Oatmeal) went through a gauntlet of expensive and rigorous tests and trails in a lab. Grandmas since time immemorial didn’t need to study the presence of different types of phenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. They just knew that it worked, and what was leftover received a few raisins before becoming a delicious cookie.

Now that you’re hungry here’s some food for a final thought- Is it really such a paradox to conceive that something biologically active can both smell pleasant and help your skin aliments? As Jazz Age acclaimed novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald said,“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”But until this revival we must hold fast and be creative in how we define ourselves to the consumer. Absent the cosmeceutical term, Morning Song Gardens has always and will continue to let our products and our loyal customers do the defining for us, because ya'll are great at it!
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