This question was put to a panel of speakers at the recent Cosmetic Science Conference organised by the UK Society of Cosmetic Chemists.
Prevention rather than cure
Dr Tony Chu from Imperial College London, claimed the days of cosmetic surgery were numbered and would be increasingly replaced by non-invasive cosmetic procedures.
Chu said prevention of aging is taking over from treatment and this implies that consumers of the future will choose preventative skin care products over the knife.
This view was echoed by fellow speaker Dr Stefanie Williams, a dermatologist from European Dermatology London, who said prevention could include the increased use of sunscreen and the improvement of sun protection products via the addition of antioxidants.
The panel discussion had been opened by key note speaker Dr Tony Rawlings from AVR Consulting who discussed the efficacy of existing cosmetic products and what can be expected in the future.
Not as effective as surgery
He maintained that cosmetics will never be as effective as surgery but they do have significant physiological effects.
“The bottom line is that we have no chance of matching surgical procedures. We can never be as effective as botox, but cosmetics can and do have important physiological effects,” he said.
According to Rawlings, L'Oreal has illustrated that even the simplest of products such as petroleum jelly has some effects on gene expression.
He went on to outline a number of products that have been shown to be as effective as non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as microdermabrasion.
Clinical studies performed on Neutrogena Advanced Solutions showed that there was almost no difference in efficacy between the at home kit and the microdermabrasion offered by the clinic, he said.
In addition, direct seller Oriflame has been investigating exfoliation without the associated stinging sensation on the skin using neutralised salicylic acid, Rawlings added.
For Rawlings a realistic target for cosmetics formulators would be to match the efficacy of retinoic acid.
“We are still a long way off matching retinoic acid, but it is a more realistic target and holds value for the future,” he said.
The discussions of the morning also questioned the value of the term cosmeceuticals, with many delegates believing there is little difference between these products and those that fall under the term cosmetics.