Cosmeceuticals – What are they? What they mean for you.

Cosmeceuticals  by definition are skin care products that contain active ingredients that make a difference in function & structure of the skin without it being a prescription product. In the last decade cosmeceuticals have greatly evolved into effective skincare and overall are healthier choices then over the counter skincare lines. Generally these are available through medical spas as many of these products contain prescription level concentrations that require direction and supervision of use.

Three critical ingredients Vitamin C and Vitamin A and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) have been studied extensively on the benefit, concentration and developed into topical preparations that reach the layers of the skin that matter. The difficulty and challenge with over the counter, that is nonprescription skincare products, is that they are not studied rigorously and are not supported by the same level of evidence as prescription products that have to pass Health Canada testing. As a result of this, doctors are reluctant to recommend product lines unless they have firsthand experience and are fully aware of active ingredients and the true benefit to the client.

(Dr.Richard Thomas, a Dermatologist in private practice in Vancouver and an Associate Clinic Professor at the University of British Columbia started an initiative to sort out claims being made by manufacturers of nonprescription skincare products). Because of this dilemma there is Canadian Dermatology Review Panel that involves six Dermatologists across Canada. It is a double blinded study where the name of the product and the manufacturer will not be revealed. These Dermatologists are going to work with these products to assure that they are doing what they claim to do. There may be a time in the future where skincare lines that carry the DRP seal will be recognized as approved product lines by Dermatologists everywhere.

Let’s now look at some of those basics needed in healthy skincare. One of the staples is moisturizers. At Laser and Skin Care Medspa we carry a variety of skin hydrators. Moisturizing keeps the skin barrier intake, replenishing the oils in the skin and improves water absorption into the deeper layers of the skin. Effective moisturization offers a huge benefit in the look and the health of the skin which becomes more of an issue as the skin ages and continues to gather further insults from light and oxidation damage. The term “free radicals” is often passed around in public information media and usually little understood by most people. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that have lost electrons through oxidation making them unstable. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to stabilize and render these harmless the free radicals will cause cell membrane damage, breaking down the proteins that support and plump the skin and accelerate aging. The body has natural defenses against free radicals but as we age we tend to lose these defenses rapidly. Free radicals are in our everyday living. We produce them when we metabolize food and even when we breathe. There is also environmental free radicals such as car exhaust, air pollution, UV radiation from the sun and cigarette smoke.

Lady running errands

Let’s now look at the vitamins important to skin health.

1)     Vitamin A- this term has been tossed around in skincare for several decades. It has been scientifically proven to do what it says it should do. Vitamin A products lines that contain more than 1% Retinol or greater work on reversing the signs of ageing, increase cell turnover and exfoliation of dead skin cells. This encourages the skin to stay on a path of rejuvenation. Because Vitamin A can be photo sensitizing it is always preferable to be applied at bed time. Laser and Skin Care Medspa has several products lines such as Zo, Alyria and Skin Medica, that combine Vitamin A with a hydrator to be less harsh on the skin.

2)     Vitamin C – Is not the same Vitamin C that people are encouraged to take orally especially when they are getting sick. Vitamin C topically has been placed in novel delivery systems that allow it to be stabilized and not breakdown. Vitamin C is known to stimulate collagen production, one of the skin proteins prone to free radical damage. Collagen makes up 75% of our skin, thus very important for skin support and volume. In sufficient concentrations Vitamin C can treat brown spots associated with aging of the skin. This does require a serum with a higher Vitamin C content. These serums are also effective in reducing discoloration around the eyes and forleveling out the complexion. Laser and Skin Care Medspa carries some Vitamin C options such as DCL, Alyria and Z.

3)     Vitamin B3 (Niacin)- This is another damage corrector, it is known to boost collagen production and reduce dark spots. It is important in general good health.It is found in greens, meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

Another common component of cosmecuticals is a combination of hydrators and sunscreen/sun blocks. In a previous blog I talked about healthier choices with physical blockers vs chemical blockers. Sunscreens are vital to protect the skin from dangerous ultra-violets rays. UV radiation causes aging even in dark skin people, and intrinsic cellular damage which at it very worse will develop into skin cancers. At Laser and Skin Care Medspa we offer physical sunscreen blockers that are easy to wear, start working right away to block UV, do not stain or become greasy, and best of all- are excellent for problem skin such as Acne or Rosacea.

Laser and Skin Care Medspa carries several product lines for all skin types that are combination hydrators and sunblocks- Skin Medica Total Defense & Repair SPF 34 & 50 and Alyria SPF 45.


Keep in mind when you are looking at cosmecuticals that if you have a skin disorder such as eczema, acne or psoriasis you need products beyond the usual OTC brands. Many skincare products profess to offer sun protection, moisturizing, exfoliation all combined and it can be difficult to know if the concentration of each of these gives you an effective product. It is unlikely that it will contain enough essential ingredients that you can be confident in the product. 

With internet marking it is easy to be overwhelmed with what might be a good choice. We welcome your questions if you are considering buying a product line through the internet or to bring your products you are using at the present for review.