• I-M Nano

Transcript - Episode 5 - Nanotechnology in Cosmetic Applications

M: Welcome to IMNANO

I: Putting the I in IMNano, I am your host Irfani

M: And putting in M in IMNano, I am your other host, Monika

I: And today we will be discussing nanotechnology as a part of cosmetics

M: So what is defined by a Cosmetic Irfani?

I: Cosmetics included materials that can improve our appearance, it is not just make-up, but also includes shampoo and toothpaste, basically anything that can maximise a healthy appearance, so how would nanotechnology fit into this?

M: Jaydee Hanson, a policy director for the International Center for Technology Assessment and an expert on nanotechnology was quoted saying the following - “ Almost every part of the cosmetics industry is using or is planning to use nano-size ingredients, anti-aging, sunscreens and nail products…they can be engineering and allow the packaging of many ingredients in semi-soluble pockets that breakdown as the product is being applied, rather than before “

I: So better UV protection, deeper skin penetration and improved hydration?

M: Yes exactly nanoemulsions and nanoencapsulation have made cosmetic product more optimal during the years

What are your thoughts on these nano-engineered cosmetic components irfani?

I: Overall I am very impressed, sounds great we can look young forever! If these nano-engineered cosmetics components can help improve the benefits that is great! But will they cause irritation and/or ruins the integrity of your skin barrier? I guess that depends on the formulations, right?

M: is necessary to choose carefully the carrier of the active substance. But irritants like surfactants are limited and low in nanoemulsions, and they have higher stability before coalescence

I: what is coalescence?

M: when two or more dropblets come otgether and become one!

I: so like when blowing bubbles if I have two come together to make one big one, that coalescence?

M: yes exactly!

And is a big difference between the micro emulsions (500nm) which tend to coalesce more versus the nano emulsions – nano size gives you transparency with the droplets being below 100 nm low energy of formation, high stability with fast ABsorption if needed and maximum bioavailability

Therefore, products, which intended to remain on the skin without aBsorption, such as sunscreens, are formulated to meet this end.

I: aDsorbed = stays on surface, surface level only, aDded to surface, aBsorbed = becomes part of Body/matrix of the system (in the Bulk) useful science lingo 😊

I: I was reading that the FDA monitors products that have particles below 1000 nm, is there a threshold? Studies have shown that nanomaterials smaller than 250 nm can cross the placental barrier between a mother and her addition, a recent article by Giorgini and collegues from August 2020 discusses that even microplastics end up in the placenta ( ~10 um )

M: Yes you are right,

So by definition, a nanomaterial has at least one dimension between 1 to 100 nm so as long as one component is nanoranged the others can be bigger, for the most part range for nanomaterials in cosmetics is around 500 nm to avoid any toxicity issues, but it is difficult, and metallic nanoparticles such as TiO2 and cupper and silve, as well as CNTs can raise some concerns, so the products have to undergo rigusour testing… and peer reviewed studies, but due to time frames its also difficult to determine bioaccumulation in the individuals

I: Just to be clear, bioaccumulations is the amount of substances absorbed over time in the body that do not leave the body ….Hmmm and The nanoemulsions constitute a class of emulsions with uniform droplets of small size , which have become increasingly popular as vehicles for the controlled release and optimized dispersion of active ingredients

M: Right well said, When a highest penetration is expected, another active should be used, for example, first products that promised to combat wrinkles were limited to exfoliate the most superficial epidermis layer - the stratum corneous, superficial adsorption so that kind of layer

I: so basically nanoparticles like TiO2 and ZnO (MINERALS) are used as UV filters, which make sunscreens better, and then is it nanoemulsions and nanoliposomes that improve the delivery

M: and solid lipid nanoparticles and nanostructures lipid carriers have been found to be better performers too

I: So basically these are all different types of cosmetic delivery agent that can provide enhanced skin hydration, bioavailability, stability of the agent and controlled release. So overall these are encapsulation techniques have been proposed for carrying cosmetic actives that are on the nano scale size

M: yes pretty impressive right?

I: Actually some studies indicate that nanoparticles in large doses can harm living cells and organs. But a large number of studies have produced no evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles can cross the skin in significant amounts (SCCS 2012). A real-world study tested the penetration of zinc oxide particles of 19 and 110 nanometers on human volunteers who applied sunscreens twice daily for five days (Gulson 2010). Researchers found that less than 0.01 percent of either form of zinc entered the bloodstream.

M: The study could not determine whether the zinc in the bloodstream was insoluble nanoparticles, so the European regulators concluded it was most likely zinc ions, which would not pose any health risk (SCCS 2012). Other FDA- and EU-sponsored studies concluded that neither zinc oxide nor titanium dioxide nanoparticles penetrate the skin (NanoDerm 2007, Sadrieh 2010). A study by Italian researchers focused on the potential for nanoparticles to cross damaged skin and found no evidence this actually happens (Crosera 2015)

I: So that is great news for NPs in cosmetics, but I guess the studies are limited in large timeframe? Longevity? And these are only specific combinations... so any change in formulation have to be re-tested/trialed cause you never know and it also depends on the person, diet, lifestyle..

So how long have these been around in our products?

M: The first company to introduce a nanotechnology-based cosmetic (nanocosmeceuticals) was Lancôme, the luxury division of L'Oréal in 1995, with the launch of a cream face composed of nanocapsules of pure Vitamin E, to combat skin aging.

L’Oreal has used polymer nanocapsules to deliver active ingredients, e.g. retinol or Vitamin A, into the deeper layers of skin. In 1998 the company unveiled Plentitude Revitalift, an anti-wrinkle cream using nanoparticles.

I: Wow these technologies have been around for a while eh? Yea! We’ve gone a long way from the mixture of lead and vinegar that Queen Elizabeth the 1st used ceruse what was in that?

M: yes she used a concoction of lead oxide, hydroxide and carbonate, which also ended up killing younger girls by having their faces slowly eating away by combining with the mositure on her skin, so nano-size particles made up of natural formulations have much scientific evidence supporting them unlike those examples

I: Oh my goodness...I have no words...I’m glad that we’ve come a long way since then and we have lots of scientists who will make sure that the cosmetics now are safe to use. Alrighty, that’s all the nano for today, take care!

M: stay curious

#podcast #nanotech #nanotechnology #cosmetics #makeup


Bendle, Simone. Weighing the pros and cons of nano ingredients Published April 16th 2015 from Accessed December 23, 2020

Raj, S., Jose, S., Sumod, U. S., & Sabitha, M. (2012). Nanotechnology in cosmetics: Opportunities and challenges. Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences, 4(3), 186–193.

FDA (USA) Cosmetics Nanotechnology Accessed December 23, 2020

Melo, A., Amadeu, M. S., Lancellotti, M., Hollanda, L. M. D., & Machado, D.. (2015). THE ROLE OF NANOMATERIALS IN COSMETICS: NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATIVE ASPECTS. Química Nova.

FDA (USA) Nanotechnology—Over a Decade of Progress and Innovation: A REPORT BY THE U.S. FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION Published July 2020 Accessed December 23, 2020

Nanoparticles in Sunscreens Accessed December 23, 2020

Intro/Outro music:

Music by minwbu from Pixabay

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