Current cosmetics are undergoing an unstoppable evolution biotechnological active ingredients, surprising textures, very careful presentations, and revolutionary properties are linked to scientifically proven efficacy. Therefore, a review of the new solutions is necessary to correctly interpret the properties that are advertised. This article addresses the most striking actions of the most recent cosmetics, the novelties in the list of ingredients, and the symbols that appear on the label, to familiarize the pharmacist with the new cosmetic lexicon.
A long time ago cosmetics ceased to be a world of promises and illusion to become a science closely linked to research, innovation, and convincing results.
Cosmetic brands surprise us, almost daily, with formulas that offer solutions for all skin types and problems, with proposals for all budgets.
New cosmetic actions:
The cosmetics of the 21st century are not satisfied with moisturizing and protecting the skin. There is talk of regenerating creams, anti-aging, bio stimulant, oxygenating, that refine the skin, fill in wrinkles… and even “miracle creams” capable of erasing the traces of the passage of time. In a market full of products, for an increasingly informed and demanding public, the pharmacist must know the properties of the new cosmetics and the active ingredients that support them (Table 1).
Anti-pollution cosmetics neutralize oxidizing molecules from atmospheric pollution, which are deposited on the hydrolipidic film and also reach the deepest layers of the skin, destroying cellular DNA. For this, they contain antioxidants, sunscreens, moisturizing, and soothing active ingredients.
The so-called “compensators of the decrease in hormonal stimuli” favor cell regeneration and combat atrophy of the epidermis, providing tone and hydration. They are indicated for women in menopause.
De-stressing or desensitizing cosmetics relieve itching, tightness, redness, and rashes on irritated skin. They contain calming, anti-free radical substances that strengthen the immune system.
On the other hand, cosmetics with a flash effect, tensors, or immediate beauty, smooth the surface of the skin immediately, blurring small wrinkles and relaxing the features. The smooth tightening action is achieved with protein hydrolyses, which are fixed on the skin to form a soft and elastic film that allows makeup. Its effect, however, disappears after 4-6 hours. They are ideal for erasing the traces of fatigue in record time.
They should not be confused with the latest products with a lifting effect, Botox effect, or decontractors, which contain tri, Penta, and/or hex peptides, which in the medium term smooth the expression lines that are formed by the repeated contraction of the muscles. These formulas also speed up cell metabolism, reinforce skin elasticity and produce a visual wrinkle-filling effect.
The perfecting, refining, or smoothing effect is achieved with a very complete multifunctional formulation, which leaves the skin soft, luminous, velvety insight and touch, and with a uniform appearance, with closed pores, without redness, peeling, or expression lines.
The so-called energizers contain active ingredients such as coenzyme Q10, minerals, and anti-radical vitamins. They are suitable for smokers and from the age of 35 when the skin tone fades and the first wrinkles appear.
Instead, highlighters are cosmetics that, thanks to their mineral micro particles, reflect light to blur wrinkles and illuminate the face. They may also contain substances that activate blood microcirculation –responsible for skin tone–, depigmenting or exfoliating substances so that the skin appears smooth and radiant.
Finally, redensifying, revitalizing, or firming products are also common, increasing the natural production of collagen and elastin, which with age degrade and disorganize, ceasing to fulfill their support function.
Since 1998, all cosmetics marketed in the EU must list the ingredients they contain. The regulation includes all types of products: gift samples, commercial testers, imported cosmetics, for professional use, etc.
The ingredients are listed in decreasing order of their concentration. Those with a concentration of less than 1% can be mentioned without order, after those with a concentration greater than 1%. Colorants may be listed, in no order, after the other ingredients. For decorative cosmetic products marketed in different color nuances, the set of colorants used in the range may be mentioned, provided that the words “may contain” or the symbol “+/” is added.
The INCI nomenclature (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) –previously CTFA– developed jointly by the cosmetic industries of the United States and the EU, is used for this purpose. The INCI names of cosmetic substances are published in a regularly updated EU inventory.
The list of ingredients is of great practical use for the pharmacist since it allows him to know the quality of the substances used in each cosmetic and even, by the order in which they appear in the list, to intuit the concentration at which they have been incorporated.
Since 1998, all cosmetics marketed in the EU must include the ingredients they contain on the label.
INCI nomenclature: differences between the US and the EU
When the cosmetic is marketed, both in the European and North American markets, the manufacturers use a double nomenclature of the ingredients that avoid the costs of a specific packaging for each market. Although most of the ingredients have the same INCI name in both markets, there are some notable differences:
* Common names. In the EU, names based on the European Pharmacopeia are used, which are recognized in all countries. Accepted examples are aqua (water, for the United States) or Maris sal (sea salt).
* Dyes. In the EU they are generally designated by the Color Index (CI). In the United States, the abbreviations FD & C (Food, Drug and cosmetic), D & C (Drug and cosmetic), and No. (Number) are used, together with the name of the colorant. Sometimes these acronyms are omitted and only the abbreviated name appears. In colorants that are dyed, the American nomenclature includes the prefix HC- if the chemical structure of the molecule is very complex.
* Botanical species. In the EU they are designated by the Latin name (genus and species), while in the United States the common name of the plant, the part used, and the type of preparation is also included.
Oil-free (“free of oils”) is a somewhat confusing denomination since in some countries it means that the cosmetic contains neither oils nor fats, while in other places it refers only to oils
News in the list of ingredients:
Recently, the Framework Directive for Cosmetic Products1 has been modified for the seventh time. Directive 2003/15/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of February 27, 2003, which must be transposed into National Regulations before September 11, 2004, will apply on March 11, 2005. One of the important points of the Directive is the regulation of the labeling of allergenic substances present in fragrances. Thus, it requires that the list of ingredients of the cosmetic indicate the presence of certain substances “which constitute an important cause of allergic reactions among consumers sensitive to fragrances”, whenever their concentration exceeds the limits set.
In addition to the name of the product, its function –except if it is clear from its presentation–, the particular indications and precautions for use, if any, other mentions that are very useful for the pharmacist may appear on the label.
Non comedogenic cosmetic:
A cosmetic is non-comedogenic when it has been shown that its application does not produce comedowns on the skin. These products are the only ones that can be applied to acne-prone skin and asphyxiated skin (with a tendency to form comedowns).
The hypoallergenic cosmetic is formulated to minimize the risk of allergy, which does not mean that it is eliminated. For its formulation, ingredients have been selected that have passed a series of safety and tolerance studies, and the components most likely to cause allergies, such as preservatives, perfumes, and some dyes, have been eliminated as much as possible. The formulas contain few ingredients to reduce the chance of encountering new process triggers. Hypoallergenic cosmetics are indicated for people with sensitive skin, reactive to climate or product changes, or for skin that is easily irritated.
In this regard, it is convenient to clarify the difference between the terms allergy and irritation. The allergy appears when the cosmetic has already been applied once or several times and, sometimes, far from the area of application. For example, allergies caused by nail polish usually affect the eyelids and cause inflammation, itching, redness and even peeling. The irritation, on the other hand, appears immediately after the first application, in the area treated with the cosmetic. When the cosmetic is removed and a soothing cream is applied, the irritation disappears.
Oil-free is a somewhat confusing name, as in some countries it means that the cosmetic contains neither oils nor fats, while in other places it refers only to oils. They are products indicated for oily and acne-prone skin. In the specific case of makeup, they are the only ones that can be applied by skin with acne.
They are usually cosmetics intended for delicate areas, such as the eye contour, or reactive skin, as we have mentioned. On -other occasions, some extract or essential oil of the formula performs this action.
Cosmetic without preservatives
Advances in manufacturing conditions (raw materials with exhaustive bacteriological controls and manufacturing in sterile areas), as well as the best packaging of cosmetic used (single-dose ampoules, opaque and hermetic bottles that dispense the precise amount), make it possible for it to be more and more common to find cosmetics that do not include preservatives in their formula. It is also possible that some of the components of the formulation fulfill this function, such as essential oils with antiseptic action (cinnamon, tea tree), salicylic acid and anti-dandruff substances. Even the formulation itself can prevent the growth of microorganisms, as occurs in lotions with a high alcohol content and in cosmetics with extreme pH values, such as hair dyes or depilatory creams.
The phrase dermatologically tested, or tested by dermatologists, simply indicates that the product has been tested by dermatologists to assess its effectiveness on volunteers or on patients. So that the results of the study are truly indicative of the effectiveness of the cosmetic and not a simple marketing argument for the pharmacist or the customer, the duration of the study, the frequency of application and the amount of product applied should appear together with the results.
Date of Expiry
Directly related to safety, the expiration date of cosmetics is only mandatory when their minimum shelf life is less than 30 months. In this case, the minimum expiry date is indicated by the mention “preferably used before the end of…”, followed by the date itself or the indication of the place on the label where it appears. The date will be composed of the month and the year, in a clear and orderly manner. If necessary, it will be completed with the indication of the conditions that allow guaranteeing the indicated duration.
Shelf life of cosmetic products once opened
As a novelty, Directive 2003/15/EC establishes the shelf life of cosmetic products once opened, also called the period after opening (PAO). Indicates the “minimum time in months, after opening and use of the cosmetic product, during which it can be used without risk to the consumer”. This date, mandatory for cosmetic products with a shelf life of more than 30 months.