For skin disease or skin problems, treatments containing steroids are said to be effective in quickly healing and improving the skin. You may have also heard that cosmetics containing steroids are good for skin issues. 

Commonly used steroid ingredients in such cases include clobetasol propionate, triamcinolone acetonide, and betamethasone valerate.

Steroid hormones, also called “adrenocortical hormones" which are secreted from the adrenal cortex of the body, are essential substances for maintaining homeostasis in the body and maintaining life. For this reason, various synthetic substances with similar structures have been developed as pharmaceuticals, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, and are collectively referred to as steroids.

However, because of their side effects, their use in cosmetics is prohibited. One should always keep in mind that cosmetics are not medicines and should not be used for their therapeutic effects on skin disease. Nevertheless, steroids have been detected in some cosmetics.

Why is it used in cosmetics? When steroids are applied to troubled skin, remarkable results can be seen in the short term. However, side effects such as infection, folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles), swelling, etc. may also occur. And long term usage can lead to skin atrophy, telangiectasia (widening of blood vessels), and steroid-induced red spots. Those who are aware of such issues may look for alternatives, but many people are deceived by the allure of beautifying cosmetics that also promise to heal the skin. In particular, parents of children who suffer from atopic skin may unwittingly choose cosmetics that contain steroids, believing they are safe.

It is medicines that show 'breakthrough' effects on skin disease, not cosmetics. What 'medicinal' effect cosmetics can provide is limited, e.g., preventing dryness caused by atopy or acne by moisturizing the skin.