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Making the science behind cosmeceuticals count


The market is flooded with a sea of cosmeceutical products that can help to improve the quality and appearance of patients' skin. Most of the products available today do, in fact, work and are backed by solid science, but they should be part of an ongoing skincare regimen and should not be viewed as a panacea for aging skin.

Key Points

"Patients must be engaged in their skincare. In addition to the cosmetic procedures I perform in my office, I advise my patients to regularly use certain products in their daily skincare routine, as this practice should be part-and-parcel to a complete cosmetic treatment," said Michael H. Gold, M.D., at MauiDerm 2011 in February. Dr. Gold is a cosmetic and dermatologic surgeon and director of Gold Skin Care Center, Tennessee Clinical Research Center and The Laser and Rejuvenation Center. Dr. Gold is also clinical assistant professor of dermatology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and School of Nursing, Nashville, Tenn.

Research factors

"You have to separate the mega-companies such as P & G and Neutrogena from what I would consider smaller cosmeceutical companies, as larger companies simply have more resources at their disposal. Bigger companies will have a larger base of scientists who spend time doing basic research, and more money usually translates into more research," Dr. Gold says.

Much of the larger companies' research is done in-house and not by third-party people. According to Dr. Gold, this opens the door for bias (or risk of bias) that should not be ignored. Small- and medium-sized cosmeceutical companies, on the other hand, will often outsource their science. In these cases, much of the research is performed out-of-house, keeping the playing field more even.

Regardless of where the research is done, Dr. Gold says it is important that the trials performed on any given product appear in a peer-reviewed journal. As many physicians today have conflicts of interest, it is also important that they make sure to present adequate disclosures after presentations or in papers.

"I work with a lot of companies and I always try to disclose properly, be ethical and honest and report my data in a way that it is up to the person reading or listening to decide if that is going to be a useful product for them," Dr. Gold says.

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