Do you feel tempted by the promises of rapid effects of skin tightening, wrinkle removing, pigmentation reduction, etc.? Some of these desired results can be achieved in a noticeable degree within a short time by using cosmetics with Glucocorticoids (GCs), a type of steroid. However, are they safe for our skin? Is it legal to add GCs in cosmetics? This article can help you clear this misty cloud in your head.
1. What are Glucocorticoids?
Glucocorticoids are a class of corticosteroids, which are synthetic analogs of the natural steroid hormones produced by the adrenal cortex. GCs are part of the feedback mechanism in the immune system, which reduce certain aspects of immune function, such as inflammation. They are therefore used in medicine to treat diseases caused by an overactive immune system, such as allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and sepsis. GCs have many diverse effects, including potentially harmful side effects, and as a result, are rarely sold over the counter.
2. Is it safe to use Glucocorticoids in cosmetics?
GCs are effective for the treatment of various dermatological disorders. They have rapid effects in controlling inflammatory conditions due to their anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic, and immunosuppressive effects on the skin. Unfortunately, their clinically desired effects are linked to adverse effects. Improper long-term, even low-dose, GCs, especially applied to the face, could induce allergic dermatitis, or steroid-dependent dermatitis.
As pointed out in National Health System(NHS) in the UK, long-term use of GCs leads to steroid-dependent skin. If you stop using them, you may have a severe withdrawal reaction, including burning, stinging, itching, or peeling of the skin, oozing, open sores, redness, or changes in skin color. This is refractory and detrimental to the quality of life.
Since the harmful side effects of GCs are unneglectable, the use of GCs should be applied under professional instructions with scrutiny. Therefore, it is not suggested to use cosmetics containing GCs.
3. Is it legal to add Glucocorticoids in cosmetics in China?
Under the Provisions on the Supervision and Administration of Cosmetics and the Technical Specifications for the Safety of Cosmetics, Glucocorticoids (Corticosteroids) are prohibited in cosmetics in China, since their long-term use has high risks of many skin problems, including acne, telangiectasia, steroids rosacea, and hyper/hypopigmentation, allergic dermatitis, steroid-dependent dermatitis, etc.