Cosmeceutical facts and fancies

A review of eight cosmeceutical product categories drew a large crowd Saturday during “Hot Topics.”

Innovation rules in cosmeceuticals. But innovative doesn’t always equal effective.

“Some of these new products are based on fact, and some are based on fantasy,” said Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, a dermatologist and consulting professor of dermatology at Duke University School of Medicine. “Some work, and some do not.”

Dr. Draelos examined eight product categories during the “Hot Topics” session Saturday. All of the products did something, but not necessarily what they advertised.

Korean paper masks are presoaked in treatment products and claim to brighten skin, tighten pores, minimize wrinkles, and more.

The masks work, Dr. Draelos said, largely because the paper provides an occlusive barrier to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The skin becomes overhydrated, and fine lines are temporarily reduced.

“But the effect is not permanent,” she cautioned. “TEWL resumes when you remove the mask, and the lines will slowly return to view.”

Digital beauty advisers hang on a bathroom wall, like a mirror. The user takes a daily photo to track improvements and, it is promised, gets appropriate beauty treatment recommendations.

In reality, Dr. Draelos said, the devices are personal data collectors and sales tools that allow purchases without leaving the bathroom.

Skin rolling is a consumer tool to induce columnar skin injury by rolling short needles across the skin. The goal is to trigger controlled collagen production during wound healing. Rollers are also touted as tools to apply hyaluronic acid, peptides, and other ingredients deeper into the skin.

“Skin rollers can work, but they can be problematic if consumers use them aggressively,” Dr. Draelos said.

Applied polymer technology uses polymer patches applied to different areas of the face to reduce wrinkles. Like paper masks, the patches occlude the skin, and the effects reverse when the patches are removed.

Silicone line improvers promise to hide facial lines and soften skin. The high-viscosity silicone film can mask shallow lines temporarily and leave the sensation of softer, smoother skin.

Botanical bioreactors use bioreactors to grow plant stem cells for cosmetic products. Once grown out, the stem cells are filtered, centrifuged, and lyophilized with the resulting powder added to cosmetic creams.

There are no living stem cells in the cosmetic, Dr. Draelos said, although the lyophilized ingredients may be of high purity. The real benefit is the high quality moisturizer vehicle.

Neck creams are another product category. The active component is the moisturizing base.

Dry shampoo is misnamed. Despite the name, it is not a substitute for shampoo, but it can increase friction between the hairs and improve appearance.

“Ignore the front label and go directly to the ingredients,” Dr. Draelos concluded. “Once you know what is actually in a cosmeceutical, you can evaluate how it might perform.”

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