What Exactly Are ‘Cosmeceutical’ Skin Products?
The skin care industry is overloaded and with so many conflicting products on the market, how do you know what is actually good for your skin? What is the difference between organic, cosmeceutical, vegan? What about all that nasty stuff like parabens, sulfates, artificial perfumes and animal testing? Here we break it down for you by taking an in depth look at our top selling products and their ingredients...
What are Cosmeceuticals?
At The Clinic, we only work with 'cosmeceutical' products; these are cosmetic products that contain active ingredients in higher concentrations. When applied topically to the skin, active ingredients penetrate more deeply and are clinically proven to produce better results that over the counter ‘cosmetics’.
What are the active ingredients commonly found in Cosmeceuticals?
Peptides - Ageing
Peptides are the building blocks of protein that reduce signs of ageing by signalling the skin to perform various cellular functions such as increasing production of Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid, reducing muscle contractions and increasing tissue repair and regeneration.
Most Peptides are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Peptide products
Antioxidants - All Skin Concerns
Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that neutralise free radicals and protect the skin from environmental damage. There are too many antioxidants to list here, however some popular antioxidants include Green Tea, Chamomile, Willowherb, Spin Trap, Resveratrol, Tocopheryl Acetate (form of Vitamin E). Our favourite antioxidants are Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Niacinamide, we go into more detail about them below. You can learn more about the antioxidants contained in our products in the key ingredients section on product pages.
Most Antioxidants are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Antioxidant products
Hyaluronic Acid - Dryness, Ageing
Hyaluronic Acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water! It re-hydrates the skin by increasing water content inside the skin cells, leaving the skin plump and firm and resulting in improvement in lines, wrinkles and skin laxity.
Sodium Hyaluronate is the salt form of Hyaluronic Acid and a smaller molecule that more easily penetrates the layers of the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Hyaluronic Acid products
Lactic Acid - All Skin Concerns
Lactic Acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that can effectively and gently exfoliate the skin. Lactic Acid also increases ceramides which aid in skin hydration and promotes and increases collagen production.
Lactic Acid is suitable for all skin types and is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Lactic Acid products
Salicylic Acid - Oiliness, Acne
Salicylic Acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that is particularly effective at treating and preventing all forms of acne including blackheads, whiteheads and inflammatory acne, due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and drying properties. Salicylic Acid is also oil-soluble and therefore an extremely effective exfoliant for oily and resilient skin types.
Products containing Salicylic Acid are not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
View our range of Salicylic Acid products
Niacinamide - Oiliness, Acne, Pigmentation
Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that helps to brighten the skin and improve pigmentation. Niacinamide also regulates oil production in the skin and assists in preventing breakouts in acne prone skin types.
Niacinamide is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Niacinamide products
Vitamin C - Redness, Pigmentation, Ageing
Vitamin C has multiple benefits in skin care, including powerful antioxidant properties that protect from environmental damage, particularly photo-damage. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory capabilities that reduce redness and calm the skin. Vitamin C also increases and supports collagen production. Furthermore, it also helps to brighten and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C comes in many different forms, relating to its chemical composition. Commonly seen in ingredients list are:
Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate - oil soluble, pH neutral, a more stable form of Vitamin C e.g. in Aspect Dr Active C Serum $135
Ascorbic Acid - the most active form e.g. in Cosmedix Pure C Mixing Crystals $85
Vitamin C is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Vitamin C products
Retinol - Acne, Ageing, Pigmentation
Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A that effectively treats multiple skin concerns including acne, hyperpigmentation and sun damage, also helping to decrease signs of ageing such as fine lines and wrinkles. Benefits of Retinol include increasing cellular turnover in the skin, thickening and increasing the density of the dermis (structural layer of the skin), regulating oil production, and increasing collagen production. Retinol also treats hyperpigmentation by removing existing pigmentation and regulating melanin production.
Retinol is a complex ingredient that can be irritating to the skin. Retinol is available in four different forms, relating to it chemical composition and it's vital you use the formula suited to your skin to avoid irritation. Retinol should be introduced slowly, for night time use only and always accompanied by adequate SPF during the day. Products containing Retinol are generally not suitable for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Four forms of Retinol in order of potency:
- Retinyl Palmitate - weakest, least drying and the only form safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Retinol - most common form found in cosmetic products.
- Retinaldehyde/Retinal - strongest form found in cosmetic products.
- Retinoic Acid - purest form, also the most irritating, prescription only.
The type of Retinol is difficult to pin point on ingredients lists because not only does it come in four different forms, it is often combined with other chemical compounds to assist the delivery and absorption. For example:
LG Retinex in Cosmedix Serum 16 $139 - a microencapsulated Retinol for drier, sensitive skin
Microencapsulated AGP Complex in Cosmedix Define $125 - all the benefits of Retinol with Antioxidants in a hydrating, cream base.
View our full range of Retinol products
Pigment Inhibitors - Pigmentation
Pigment Inhibitors help to treat and prevent all forms of hyperpigmentation. Pigment Inhibitors reduce and regulate the production of melanin by inhibiting Tyrosinase - an enzyme responsible for melanin production. We love Pigment Inhibitors all year round in Australia, but particularly in the Summer when sun exposure increases.
Most Pigment Inhibitors are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, however please refer to the individual product descriptions and always check with your physician.
View our range of Pigment Inhibitor products
How to tell the difference between skin products?
The first thing to recognise is that price does not mean quality! Often you are paying for what’s on the outside of the tube or jar rather than what’s on the inside.
The ingredients list on the back of products holds the key. Whilst this can be overwhelming with many words you may not know, the key things to look for are: the active ingredients, any ingredients you may be allergic to and the concentration of ingredients. Below we've decoded the ingredients list of our four top selling products to help you understand what you're really putting on your face.
TIP 1: Look at the order in which the ingredients are listed. Whilst you will not see quantified concentrations, by law, the list must be in order of concentration. If the active ingredients are towards the front of the list, that indicates a more powerful product, if the active ingredients are towards the bottom of the list, that can indicate a weaker formulation.
TIP 2: Shorter ingredients list generally mean ‘cleaner’ products, or more simple formulations. Similarly, longer ingredients lists could mean more powerful products (as long as the ingredients in them are active and useful!)
TIP 3: Watch out for numbers on ingredients list. Just like food, these signal artificial preservatives that are chemically added to the product. A simple google search will help you identify what is or isn't a harmful chemical.
TIP 4: Do not be surprised that most skin products first, or main, ingredient is Water/Aqua/H20, this is common.
TIP 5: Do not be alarmed that Cleansers contain different Sodium-type ingredients. These create the lather, foam and viscosity of the liquid, affecting how it feels on the skin. However you do want to avoid Sodium Lauryl Sulfate specifically which is a detergent and known skin irritant.
The Moisturiser full ingredients list:
Aloe Baradensis Leaf Extract, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Dimethicone, Propanediol, Cetearth 20, Squalane, Sorbitol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide 38, Ubiquinone, Soluble Collagen, Glycosaminoglycans, Phospholipids, Biosaccharide Gum 1, Malus Domestica Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Argania Spinosa Sprout Cell Culture Extract, Anogeissus Leiocarpus Extract, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract, Hippophae Rhainoids (Seabuckthorn) Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Retinyl Palmitate, Sodium PCA, Isomalt, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Xanthan Gum, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Leaf Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Mentha Virdis (Spearmint) Leaf Oil, Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide.
- A long list, with a number of different active ingredients highlighted. That most of the list is highlighted (i.e. an active ingredient) indicates a powerful formula.
- The highest concentration being Aloe (instead of Water), followed by Hyaluronic, then Peptides, Plant Stem Cells and Antioxidants.
- In lesser concentration is Sea Buckthorn and Vitamin C.
- The final ingredients highlighted are the natural fragrances, which as we would want because they don't really benefit the skin, sit towards the bottom of the list.
The Cleansing Pad full ingredients:
Water, Peg-6 Carprlyic/Carpric Glycerides, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Disodium Edta, Glycerin, Cetrimonium Bromide, Dipotassium Gylcyrrhizate, Allantoin, 100% Cotton Pads.
- A short list, indicating a clean and simple formulation.
- Peg-6 Carprlyic/Carpric Glycerides are derived from coconut oil, a conditioning agent commonly found in cosmetic products.
- Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract is the active ingredient, sitting high on the list, giving antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and calming properties.
Cosmedix Benefit Clean full ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate Lauryl glucoside Crosspolymer, Sodium Coco-Glucoside Tartrate, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Amaranth Protein, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Calcium Gluconate, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Gluconolactone, Glucuronolactone (D), Santalum Spicata Wood Oil, Sodium Carboxymethyl C10-16 Alkyl Glucoside, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Decylglucoside Crosspolymer, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate, Sodium Benzoate, Farnesol, Limonene.
- In red are the Sodium-type ingredients that create the viscosity of the liquid and the cleansing action.
- Active ingredients all appear in the top half of the list, which is a good sign.
- Sodium Cocoyl Hydrolyzed Amaranth Protein - a herb-derived, gluten-free protein, packed with a complete set of amino acids to help prevent moisture loss.
- Lauryl Glucoside - cleansing and foaming agent made form coconut oil.
- Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil - invigorating, uplifting, refreshing.
- Gluconolactone - a poly-hydroxy acid (PHA), the lesser known cousin of AHAs and BHAs. An exfoliant gentle enough for everyday use in all skin types, helping the skin feel clean and smooth.
- Santalum Spicata Wood Oil - Australian sandalwood, nature’s own soothing, anti-irritating oil, great for boosting skin hydration.
Aspect Dr Active C Serum full ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Panthenol, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Lecithin, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Pullulan, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Lactic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ethylhexylglycerin, Nannochloropsis Oculata Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit Peel) Oil, Sodium Benzoate, Sclerotium Gum, Sodium Metabisulfite, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Alcohol Denat., Arctium Minus Root Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Galium Aparine Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Wasabia Japonica Root Extract, Terminalia Ferdinandiana Fruit Extract.
- A long list with ProVitamin B5, a form of Vitamin C and antioxidants being top ingredients listed. A good sign, which tells us this product is a powerful, hydrating Vitamin C serum.
- Essential oils, used for fragrance. Sitting in the top half of the list is not ideal.
- Lactic Acid, Micro Algae and Peptides sit in the middle of the list, indicating secondary actions of exfoliation/hydration, reducing oxidative stress and firming respectively. As we would expect, serums are the most targeted of skin products and can do a lot of different things!
- Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Metabisulfite - make up the preservative and stabilisation system. Necessary evils in any product with shelf life.
- We try our best to avoid alcohol in skincare as it can strip the skin. Alcohol Denat is not our favourite, however it sits towards the bottom of the list and is well outweighed by nourishing key ingredients.
- Many plant extracts with antioxidant properties to soothe, heal and brighten skin. Many of these occur at the bottom of the list and therefore should not be considered the main focus or selling point.