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Background. Cosmeceuticals are skin care products that lie in a gray area between cosmetics and drugs. The desire for the improvement of aging skin has resulted in a plethora of products designed to improve the appearance beyond the simple camouflage of cosmetics. Many ingredients have been added to these products based on theoretical benefits discovered from in vitro studies on wound healing and other metabolic processes.

Objective. To help the practicing dermatologist who is often the source of information for patients regarding the benefits of available cosmeceuticals.

Methods and Materials. This article is a compilation of published studies on the effects and the practical applications of peptides as topical agents for skin improvement.

Results. There does seem to be science that shows that these peptide cosmeceuticals have the potential to improve the appearance of aging skin. It is important to remember, however, that for benefit to be realized, the final product must be stable in formula, absorbed into the skin, and biologically active at the target for clinical benefit.

Conclusion. This article will provide dermatologists with more background to answer pressing questions from patients on this subject.

MARY P. LUPO, MD, HAS INDICATED NO SIGNIFICANT INTEREST WITH COMMERCIAL SUPPORTERS.