The Chronicle of Cosmetic Medicine + Surgery - Summer 2013
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The Chronicle of Cosmetic Medicine + Surgery - Summer 2013

The Changing Landscape of Over-the-Counter Skin Therapies

By Louise Gagnon

Cosmeceuticals, ubiquitous in retail pharmacies, have become an accepted part of patients’ self-care regimen. Here’s what you need to know about this category in 2013

Non-prescription skin care products can contribute to good skin, minimizing the effects of environment on the skin and potentially curb photoaging.

“The landscape has definatley changed in terms of facial skin care products,” observes Dr. Wendy Smeltzer, a Calgary physician who founded Sante Spa in Calgary and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Aesthetic Medicine. “We are seeing [non-prescription] agents that do make a difference in the skin.”

Cosmeceuticals, contends Dr. Smeltzer, contain active ingredients that can make a difference in the structure and function of the skin without there being a need to use prescription-strength products.

One of the staples in non-prescription skin care is moisturizers, notes Dr. Smeltzer. “Good skin moisturization keeps the skin barrier intact, and effective moisturization offers a huge benefit in the look and health of your skin. Moisturization also offers a benefit in managing skin disorders like eczema.”

Indeed, the skin is more luminous and luminescent with effect moisturization. Moisturizers like the ceramide-containing products can work by replenishing oil in the skin while humectants allow water absorption into the skin through the deeper layers of the skin, explains Dr. Smeltzer.

Products that are Vitamin A derivatives, containing one per cent retinol or greater, can work to reverse the signs of aging, according to Dermatologist Dr. Lisa Kellett, Medical Director at DLK on Avenue in Toronto.

“It is available in various formulations including creams, gels, or liquids,” explains Dr. Kellett. “Vitamin A can be photosensitizing, so it is preferable to apply it at night [before bed].”

Along with Vitamin A, Vitamin C is integral to a good skin care regimen. In sufficient concentrations, Vitamin C can treat brown spots associated with aging, notes Dr. Kellett. “You have to look for 25 per cent of higher Vitamin C,” explains Dr. Kellett.

Sunscreen use is vital to protect the skin. Novel delivery systems are making individuals more compliant with using sunscreens, observes Dr. Kellett, noting a sunscreen that has at least a Sun Protection Factor number of 30 needs to be applied generously and applied regularly.

“Men are much more compliant with wearing sunscreen if it is available in spray,” explains Dr. Kellett. “If it’s in a lotion, its difficult to apply to hair-bearing area. Children are also more compliant with using sunscreen if it is available in a spray. It doesn’t leave them feeling sticky. It is also effective for patients who are prone to acne and don’t want to use a cream product. The challenge with using sunscreen is compliance with the formulation.”

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