The editors have taken a subject about which I am passionate and the contents list makes fascinating reading. I am also delighted to read that there is a demand for more vehicle controlled studies in dermatologic science – this is such an important area that is frequently ignored. However, what the book is and what it promises are simply not aligned. The book comprises chapters on ingredients or treatment approaches that are disjointed, for example many of the chapters are on single botanical extracts, and then Chapter 31 is about botanical extracts in general, with no link. For readers interested in the specific ingredients covered, there is interesting material and some good references to follow-up for further study, although many of the references are self-referenced. Some of the chapters are veritable treasure troves of information presented in a well-constructed and clear manner, others are very brief. There is a very interesting chapter on the distinction between cosmetics and drugs in the US – it would be a useful addition to future editions to have a global perspective referring to the laws of other countries and regions, e.g. the EU or China, as well as clarification over the word ‘cosmeceutical’ which continues to baffle consumers and clinicians alike. In summary this is an interesting read of a collection of writings, but not a full reference text.