What is a cosmeceutical?

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According to the FDA, reviewing a product’s intended use is the regulator’s way of determining whether it is a cosmetic or a drug. The technical definition of cosmetics is “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into or otherwise applied to the human body…to cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness or modify appearance”. So your lotions, perfumes, body powders, hair sprays, blushes, eye shadows, lipsticks, soaps, face washes, mascara and nail polish would all be lumped into this category.

Shifters, drugs, as defined by the FDA are “items for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.” So you have your COVID-19 tests, your yeast infection treatments, your headache medications, and your antibacterial ointments in this category.

Now back to the synthesis of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, which would be cosmetics that are supposed to provide a therapeutic solution, like a body lotion that uses an active ingredient like retinol to provide anti-aging benefits (via WebMD). While killing two birds with one stone, uh, product, seems ideal, guess what? According to the FDA, the word cosmeceutical has “no meaning under law.”


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