What exactly are Cosmeceuticals?

Cosmeceuticals are cosmetics with pharmaceutical benefits. They have higher levels of active ingredients than basic cosmetics, allowing the nutrients to penetrate deeper into the skin, providing more noticeable results.  They are usually formulated to treat specific skin concerns with the added benefit of adding nutrients to nourish the skin.

There are many different active ingredients that go into cosmeceuticals to target different skin conditions, and we will look at these below.  You will probably find these same ingredients in other basic cosmetics, with the difference being that the ingredients found in professional cosmeceutical products contain higher quality ingredients in much stronger concentrations.

Alpha Hydroxy acids & Beta Hydroxy acids AHA’s/ BHA’s

Hydroxy acids are effective exfoliating acids.  They help to keep the pores clear and smooth the surface of the skin.

Alpha Hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid,  mandelic acid and Lactic acid are great for dry ageing skins, pigmentation marks, uneven skins and general improvement of cell renewal.

Beta Hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid is oil soluble and therefore, better for oily, acne-prone skins to help break down the overproduction of oil and calming inflammation.  

It should always be remembered, when using AHAs and BHAs on the skin a sunblock every single day should be used to prevent further damage.


Enzymes found in fruit (Blueberry, papaya, pumpkin) are gentle exfoliants that eat away at the dead skin cells by breaking down the keratin protein, leaving a smoother, brighter complexion.  We use a number of enzyme products in our clinic treatments to help to gently digest dead skin cells from your skin. Hydropeptide pumpkin peel is used in our ‘Pumpkin Refresh Facial’ to clarify, exfoliate and draw out impurities whilst nourishing the skin for an immediate glow.  Enzymes can also be found in Jan Marini Clean and Skin Zyme which can be used at home for a brightening and clearing effect. The Medik8 Superfacial uses papaya as it’s the main enzyme.


Antioxidants are vital in fighting free radical damage caused by pollution and UV exposure.  Free radicals in the body and the skin are the main cause of skin ageing and poor health. There are lots of very effective antioxidants available in skincare. Some of them are; Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Resveratrol, Retinol and Green Tea.

Vitamin A

Retinols & retinals are well known as being one of the best anti ageing ingredients on the market.  They rejuvenate the skin, enhance cell renewal, stimulate collagen, repair cell damage, speed up cellular renewal, soften lines and wrinkles and even the skin tone. This vitamin is advertised in nearly every skin product on our shelves these days.  There are many different forms available, but be aware there are many that are underperformers. Know your Retinol! We will cover this in another blog as it’s a massive topic.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C restores radiance, fights the visible signs of ageing, stimulates collagen production and combats sun damage, overall, strengthening the skin, making it more even and youthful.  This vitamin is the key to a brighter, smoother complexion. It is very difficult to stabilise so cutting corners on this powerful ingredient is not recommended. If the ingredient is not stabilised properly the moment you open your bottle the vitamin C percentage will drop and can cause harmful side effects to the skin. All our Vitamin C products are stable and will have a long shelf life.

Vitamin E (often listed as tocopherol or tocotrienols)

Vitamin E aids the proper function of the skin and improves the effectiveness of vitamin C.  This vitamin protects and defends the skin from outside elements that can have a profound negative impact on the skin.  Often found in sunscreens because of its supporting role in helping defend the skin from the stress caused by UV light exposure.


Peptides are amino acids that act as the building blocks of proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. They are responsible for the texture, strength and resilience of your skin. They are the communicators, keeping the skin functioning, Without that communication between the cells, renewal slows down, the skin slackens, and an even skin tone is lost.

There are hundreds of different peptides in our body, each having different effects, from smoothing wrinkles, increasing hydration, increasing firmness and repairing the barrier function.  Carrier peptides deliver minerals to the skin to boost collagen production. Neurotransmitter peptides block the messages that cause muscle contractions, smoothing wrinkles, similar to a botox like an effect.

According to experts, we lose 1% of collagen every year after the age of 30, therefore it is important to create an optimal environment where these peptides are working effectively.  Peptides are best left on the skin, therefor a cream or serum is best.

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