The nutrition and cosmetics industries continue to debate the meaning of the term cosmeceutical, but that's not stopping the rapid growth of this somewhat ambiguous market. Market research company Kline predicts the value of these products will reach 2.5 billion in 2012. So what are cosmeceuticals, you ask? Good question. But a better question may be what aren't cosmeceuticals. While everything seems to be a hybrid these days (your car, your puggle, your turducken), these food/pharmeceutical/nutraceutical/cosmetics combos, including ingestible products like beauty yogurts, anti-wrinkle drinks, and skin care supplements (Check out this video of chocolates, jams, and juices sporting beauty claims that were showcased at In-Cosmetics show in Munich), are blurring the line between nutrition and cosmetics. Skin care products boosted with healthy vitamins and minerals make sense. So do everyday foods that offer up skin benefits. But cosmeceuticals are reaching far beyond this.
American dermatologist Albert Kligman is the said inventor of the word; in the 1970s he dubbed it a product that does more than a typical cosmetic--but isn't a therapeutic drug. Today, however, it remains undefined and sans regulations (like "natural" in many instances), essentially more of a marketing term than anything else. The latest development in the category is neuropeptides, which are designed and constructed to block neurotransmission signals and decrease muscle contractions to work like botox. Opponents from the cosmetics industry say neuropeptides are too close to medicine to be cosmetics.
In theory, the marriage of cosmetics and pharmeceuticals might not be all bad. Makeup that does more than makeup--makeup that makes your skin and body healthier too. But, I don't see regulation in the near future, and products like neuropeptides seem to undermine what was once the seemingly simple mission of cosmeceuticals. Furthermore, there are better ways to accomplish this goal that don't require face-numbing, weird-science tactics. If I want something that's good for my body and my skin, I'll head to my kitchen. As for the debate between the nutrition and cosmetics industries, it doesn't really make sense. They should be teaming up, ensuring that cosmetics are natural, organic, simple, and good for your body, and that food is natural, organic, simple, and...good for your face. So how about doing so by getting back to basics? No neuropeptides needed.