Having worked in both the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries for over 15 years I can tell you they are very different. Cosmetics have always been considered to be aesthetic, with their only real benefit of hydration. Pharmaceuticals however, are subject to clinical trials and stringent testing specifications before any claims can be made.
In recent years due to the discovery of many effective active ingredients and technological advances in delivery systems, thanks predominately to the pharmaceutical industry, many cosmetics have been transformed into cosmeceuticals. As the name suggests, cosmeceuticals are basically the coming together of the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries to create products with proven active ingredients in superior formulas to deliver real results for conditions including anti-aging, hydration, moisturisation, pigmentation and various skin conditions.
Due to their ingredients and superior formulas, cosmeceuticals are now easily absorbed deep into the skin's layers where they can offer real benefits. Anti-Aging and Anti-Oxidant ingredients such as Alpha Lipic Acid, Green tea, Vitamins A, C and E and Hyaluronic acid present in high concentrations work synergistically to deliver the desired results. The problem with cosmeceuticals to date has been the intensive use of chemicals. There are now products available which are cosmeceutical and also natural. They have been referred to as "The Natural Cosmeceutical".
Due to the release of many "placebo type" natural products over the years, there is a perception in the market place that natural products are ineffective and for a product to work it must contain harmful chemicals. This is no longer the case and finally products have been developed which deliver real results and are actually good for you. Thanks to the cosmeceutical.