Drug, Cosmetic or Supplement? That is the Question

December 18, 2009



By now, you’re probably familiar with the term nutricosmetics and the concept of “beauty from within”, but what is unfamiliar territory is the regulatory side of these beauty products—a cosmetic/dietary supplement combo. By definition, a cosmetic is “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance,” according to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&CA); versus a dietary supplement, which is defined as “a product intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin; a mineral; an herb or other botanical; an amino acid; a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake.”

Between these two definitions is a nebulous, gray area characterized by terms such as nutricosmetics and cosmeceuticals, which are not FDA-recognized terms. Trying to define the product being manufactured can be hazy when the final product is a hybrid of a dietary supplement and a cosmetic. Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) posed three questions in an article on NutritionOutlook.com to help manufacturers determine what they are manufacturing—a cosmetic, a dietary supplement or a drug.




// $(‘.main-article-content img’).jcaption();

$j(‘.main-article-content img’).addcaption();


var loc = window.location.pathname;var nt=String(Math.random()).substr(2,10);document.write (‘‘);




$j(“.emailpop”).colorbox({width:”550px”, height:”500px”, iframe:true});




//window.disqus_no_style = true;

(function() {

var SHORTNAME = ‘insidecosmeceuticals’; // Your website’s shortname on Disqus

var dsq = document.createElement(‘gascript’); dsq.type = ‘text/javagascript’; dsq.async = true;

dsq.src = ‘http://disqus.com/forums/’ + SHORTNAME + ‘/embed.js’;

(document.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0] || document.getElementsByTagName(‘body’)[0]).appendChild(dsq);


Scroll to Top