Survey of cosmetic active ingredients


Element 44 Inc, Chicago, USA

As I previously described in an article in 2020, when it comes to cosmetics, people use the term ‘active ingredient’ in the wrong way. When talking about cosmetic products, the term “active ingredient” doesn’t really apply in the same way a drug active. If a cosmetic had an ingredient in it that changed the biochemistry of the skin or otherwise interfered with normal skin biology, then it would be an illegal drug. Cosmetics are not allowed to have drug effects.


In practice, the term “active ingredient” when applied to cosmetics is just a marketing term for an ingredient that people believe has some effect that it is not legally allowed to have. Or at least you are not allowed to claim any effect. For example, some marketers say Vitamin C is an active ingredient for skin lightening. And there may be some lab studies to show this effect, however, it is not an approved ingredient for skin lightening, so it can’t really be a drug active ingredient. In fact, if someone made a product using that as the active ingredient and said it lightened skin, that would make it a mislabeled drug, and thus illegal.

You can see this can cause a ...