Skin Health Magazine Issue #10 / Winter 2019 - Page 6

THE HISTORY OF COSMECEUTICALS By Leslie Harris, Global General Manager for SkinCeuticals T he science of great skin: it’s as old as the history of beauty itself, illustrated by Cleopatra’s reputed love for milk baths to smooth her skin (Lactic Acid was the secret)… But the proof behind great skin? That’s a much more recent discovery. It’s not that proof wasn’t available in ancient times - some of the earliest clinical trials were recorded during the Roman Empire - but, since skin care was considered a feminine and decorative domain, proof wasn’t so important. The promise of science was enough. The 17th century gave us the science that white lead and mercury could lighten the skin. However, proper studies would have shown its deadly effects (ultimately they did). The 19th century then offered us arsenic wafers to remove freckles and imperfections, much to the same conclusion. Even the modernity of the 20th century, marked by safer, more reliable products sold by established beauty brands still had its share of questionable science and limited proof. For example, science-driven radioactive beauty, sold in the early 1900s, promised to improve luminosity through radium-enhanced skin care (it didn’t), while placenta-enriched creams, introduced in the 1950s, claimed a ‘sensational cosmetic discovery – tell-tale wrinkles removed!’ I’m pretty sure no wrinkles were erased. Yes, these examples are on the end of extreme, but you get the picture. The promise of science throughout history has rarely been supported by proof never mind safety. The introduction of government oversight throughout the 20th century played a large role in instituting regulations on labelling and safety to tame these scientific promises. And while safety improved dramatically, scientific proof in skin care was lacking, especially in the world of anti-aging. Until a pivotal discovery helped to show its promise through the creation of cosmeceuticals. Cosmeceutical as a word may sound like more scientific promises, but it’s not. Coined by Raymond Reed, the founding member of the United States Society of Cosmetic Chemists in 1962, cosmeceutical was a way of describing active, ‘science-based’ products offering biolog- ical benefits somewhere between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. He pointed to cosmeceuticals as a way to describe modern results-focused products to control ‘such phenomena as the moisture balance of the skin, the prevention of ISSUE #10 | 2019 | 6