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Is There Really Such a Thing as Hope in a Jar?
Date:11/13/2008

e philosophy that if one ingredient is good, then two must be better.

"The important thing to understand about combination products is that often the individual ingredients have been studied, but the combination of active ingredients has not," said Dr. Farris. "More rigorous scientific studies are necessary to assure that biologic activity is maintained when ingredients are formulated together, and clinical studies should be done to determine if combination products really offer any added benefit."

Consumer demand is high for cosmeceuticals containing "natural" or "organic" ingredients. However, Dr. Farris advised that the notion that these ingredients are safer than synthetic ones is a common misconception. In reality, there is no data to support the notion that natural or organic ingredients -- derived from the root, stem, leaves, flowers and fruit of plants -- are safer or even more effective than their synthetic counterparts.

"The problem with cosmeceuticals labeled 'natural' is that the labels themselves don't mean anything because these products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," said Dr. Farris. "In fact, 'natural' skin care products are less tested and scrutinized than synthetic products and pharmaceuticals."

Dr. Farris noted that most compounds as they exist in their natural state cannot be formulated into skin care products. They must be chemically altered before they can be incorporated into cosmetics. For instance, compounds including retinol, vitamin C, and soy are among those that require chemical alteration -- after which they are referred to as enhanced natural ingredients. Enhanced natural ingredients tend to be more stable, penetrate better and have more long-lasting effects on the skin than unaltered plant extracts, which is the reason why most cosmeceuticals contain chemically-altered ingredients.

"There are a number of cosmeceutical ingredients that are completely synthetic, such as c
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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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