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What Patients Are Seeing in the Latest Cosmeceuticals

Are you reading the latest on skin care in the medical journals of Allure and Women’s Health? At his 2020 Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference presentation, Joshua Zeichner, MD, asked attendees if they know what information about skin care their patients are consuming in magazines. His presentation, titled “What’s New in Cosmeceuticals: Answers to Your Patients Questions,” covered a variety of topics concerning what patients are using outside of the office.


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Dr Zeichner detailed the problems with “clean,” “natural,” and “organic” skin care.  The concept of clean beauty products now account for 25% of total skin care sales ($1.6 billion in 2018). In a similar vein, natural skin care has no definition by the FDA; organic also does not have an FDA definition, and it is a term regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture for food consumption. There is no evidence to back up that clean, natural, or organic products are any safer for consumers than “chemical” products.

Essential oils are also a growing trend with consumers. These (carrot seed, frankinscence, geranium, lavender, tea tree, ylang ylang, pathchouli certainly do have benefits:

  • Hydrating;
  • Anti-inflammatory;
  • Antioxidant;
  • Brightening; and
  • Collagen-stimulating.

However, essential oils can also cause direct irritant dermatitis and may contain photosensitizing furocoumarins, putting patients at risk for photo contact dermatitis.

In a return to the concept of “organic” food, Dr Zeichner mentioned the trend of farm-to-table restaurants. “With these services, they bring it to our house, and we prepare the food and eat it right away. But this doesn’t really apply to skin care, because skin care needs to have a certain shelf life.” So, to address this, skin care needs to have preservatives to prevent bacterial contamination of the products. Parabens, which have recently earned a bad reputation, have only been found to cause contact dermatitis on patch test in less than 3% of patients with a history of eczema. Paraben-free products include phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, methylisothiazolinone, and grapeseed extract.

Cannabis (CBD) in skin care was also briefly covered in the presentation. Dr Zeichner noted that CBD oil is growing in popularity with the growth of legalization of recreational and medical marijuana. Studies show some positive effects with CBD in acne and pruritus. A few cases have been reported to show improvement in eczema and psoriasis, which could be due to CBD’s emollient property.

In addition, Dr Zeichner covered what he called environmental protection products, or products that help damage from blue light and pollution. He discussed that evidence shows blue light, those that come from the sun, light bulbs, flat screen monitors, cellular phones, and tablets, could be more damaging to skin than UV light. He highlighted that future studies will see the long-term effects of selfies as younger generations grow older. Blue light environmental protection products include antioxidants and mineral UV blockers.

He concluded his presentation with mentioning that dermatologists should recommend a simple skin care routine to their patients: in the morning, aim to protect, and in the evening, aim to repair.

Reference
Zeichner J. What’s new in cosmeceuticals: answers to your patients’ questions. Presented at: 2020 Winter Clinical Dermatology Conference; Kohala Coast, HI; January 20, 2020.

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