Patients are spending big bucks on cosmeceuticals that include active ingredients that can affect the appearance of skin. An article published in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource cautions patients to beware before investing too much money or hope in these products because cosmeceuticals are not subject to rigorous testing for safety or effectiveness.

According to the article, the active ingredients in cosmeceuticals can affect biological processes such as the production or breakdown of skin cells, which can affect the surface appearance of skin. Some active ingredients include:

• Retinal, a form of vitamin A and an antioxidant used in nonprescription wrinkle creams. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are reactive molecules that can break down skin cells and cause signs of aging.

• Hydroxy acids act as exfoliants, removing the upper layer of old, dead skin and stimulating the growth of new skin.

• Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient that regulates energy production in cells and protects the skin from sun damage.

• Copper peptides stimulate collagen that keeps the skin taut.

Some nonprescription creams may slightly improve the appearance of skin over time or protect it from further damage. However, patients should keep in mind that over-the-counter products may not have a high enough concentration of active ingredients to have a noticeable effect and that expensive creams may produce no better results than inexpensive ones. Patients should also remember that improvement takes time. Even prescription products known to enhance skin appearance take time to produce results.

Look for PSP’s report on emerging cosmeceuticals in our September issue.

[www.newswise.com, June 5, 2007]