Popular over-the-counter cosmeceutical ingredients and their clinical efficacy

Int J Dermatol. 2020 Apr;59(4):393-405. doi: 10.1111/ijd.14718. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


The cosmeceutical market is a vast and rapidly growing global industry with hundreds of new products introduced each year. Patients often turn to cosmeceuticals to address their skin problems since these products are more accessible and affordable than prescription products. Unlike most drugs, cosmeceuticals do not undergo strict safety or efficacy testing by the FDA since they are classified as cosmetics. While the marketed properties of some ingredients are thoroughly researched and supported by clinical studies, not all ingredients have been tested to this standard, with some having only molecular or in vitro evidence and hardly any clinical authentication to support their use. Given these characteristics of the industry, dermatologists need to be familiar with cosmeceuticals in order to provide appropriate recommendations to their patients. The goal of this review was to explain the mechanism of action and evaluate the efficacy of popular cosmeceutical ingredients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmeceuticals / pharmacology
  • Cosmeceuticals / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cosmeceuticals
  • Nonprescription Drugs