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Patients Want Cosmeceutical Recommendations, What Do You Need to Know?


Sydney Givens, PA-C, reviews how she discusses cosmeceuticals with her patients and what resources she offers.

Sydney Givens, PA-C

Sydney Givens, PA-C

The term “cosmeceuticals” has not always been clearly defined in dermatologic literature, despite its common usage and reference. Although not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, cosmeceuticals are a cosmetic product “purported to have therapeutic action capable of affecting the skin positively beyond the time of its application.”1 Common uses of cosmeceuticals among patients include anti-aging results, hair loss prevention, complexation maintenance, and the treatment of hyperpigmentation.1 The FDA does not recognize cosmeceuticals, but notes that the cosmetic industry uses the term to refer to cosmetic products that produce medicinal or drug-like benefits.2

To clear the confusion surrounding cosmeceuticals, Sydney Givens, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant practicing at Wiregrass Dermatology and the Southern Institute of Plastic Surgery, frequently talks about the types of cosmeceuticals her patients are using to help guide them on what to use and what products are available in drug stores and beauty store.

Dermatology Times® met with Givens at the 2023 Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference for PAs and NPs in Orlando, Florida, to discuss how she approaches the topic of cosmeceuticals and what she presented to attendees at the meeting.3

Q: What highlights did you share with conference attendees about discussing cosmeceuticals with patients?

A: I am extremely excited to talk about this topic because I think what we're all seeing and experiencing is that our patients are all using cosmeceuticals. And so, some of the highlights we want to take away [are] what you need to know to be able to answer questions for your patients, and how you need to direct and guide them. A takeaway is that we really do need to know what our patients are purchasing and using. We need to familiarize ourselves with products at the drugstore, and also other beauty stores. I am also a very firm believer in the complete skin care routine, that all patients need a cleanser, a treatment step, and a moisturizer. So, familiarizing ourselves with those non-prescription products, like cleansers and moisturizers, is extremely important. And I think mainly that our patients are looking to us for legit skin care information. And this is not something that we have necessarily been taught medically. So that's [a] big takeaway: surprise, we do need to know what's out there so that we can treat our patients most effectively and guide them because again, they are using these products and they want someone to help them. And if it's not us, then it's influencers on social media, or just skin care marketing from brands, which is not necessarily lying sometimes, but you're not giving the full picture to patients.

Q: What resources do you provide for safe skin care recommendations?

A: The good news is that on social media, there's a whole community of dermatology NPs, PAs, and dermatologists that are kind of combating the one-sidedness of skin care marketing, and you could say influencers that are being paid to talk about products. You can easily search and find many on social media, especially Instagram and YouTube. But that is actually how I came to talk about this topic because I started posting about products that my patients were trying so I could understand. And we'rekind of like 3 years into it, but you can follow along on Instagram, it's @sydneygivens_skin. And thenI also have a website and I have patient handouts that I started using years ago for atopic dermatitis and acne; some of those prescriptions are necessary, but also over the counter products and cosmeceuticals [work]. So, I think we're all in this together and if you ever have any questions, you can email me or DM me directly and I would absolutely love to talk about it and help guide you.


  1. Pandey A, Jatana GK, Sonthalia S. Cosmeceuticals. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2023. Updated August 2023. Accessed June 20, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544223/
  2. Nutrition C for FS and A. Cosmeceutical. FDA. Published March 4, 2022. Accessed June 20, 2023. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/cosmeceutical
  3. Givens S. What you really need to know about cosmeceuticals. Presented at the 2023 Fall Clinical Dermatology Conference for PAs and NPs; June 9-11, 2023; Orlando, FL.
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