The Pros And The Cons From The Use Of Nanoparticles In Cosmetics
nanotechnology entered the world of cosmetics, we all hailed it. It promised to
bring improved performance, and aesthetically more pleasing results (read:
smoother skin surface and
glowing complexion). Cosmetics giants rushed to
incorporate nanomaterials into their production processes and today there are
hardly any cosmetic manufacturer that do not offer nano-enhanced products.
The researches on nanotechnology that followed, though, found that nanoparticles were
damaging the environment by destroying useful microorganisms. This raised the
question of the safety of nanoparticles for the human health. Ever since then, eminent
scientific bodies in Europe and the US have been warning the manufacturers that
the health risks of nanoparticles have to be thoroughly investigated before the
products are commercialized. Although there is still a lot of work to be done
to establish the exact effects of these particles on human health, the
researchers are advocating against their use. Here is why.
What are nanoparticles and where can
you find them?
are nanoscale particles, ranging between 1-100 nanometers in diameter. To get
an idea how small they are, we will tell you that they are 80,000 times smaller
than the width of a human hair, or that they are as big as 1/5,000th the
thickness of a sheet of paper.
The widespread use of nanoparticles in cosmetics
is due to the advantages they have over their large-scale counterparts, which
are directly related to their particle size. Some of the advantages include improved
UV protection, stronger structure, improved electrical conductivity, improved
texture, and longer shelf life.
The most common types of nanomaterials that are
used in personal care products are:
Liposomes (for their enhanced absorption by
Nanoemulsions (for their ability to prolong the shelf life of the
- Nanocapsules (for their controlled release)
(for their enhanced UV blocking)
Nanocrystals (for more
effective passage through skin)
Nanosilver and nanogold (for their enhanced
- Dendrimers (for better delivery of active agents)
(for their low cost and potential for controlled release)
Hydrogels (for their
prolonged effect on the place of application)
Buckminster fullerene, or
(for its potential to scavenge free radicals and slow down the aging
all started with
sunscreens. Iron oxide and
titanium dioxide have
been used in sunscreens because of their powerful UV blocking properties.
However, conventional bulky iron oxide and titanium dioxide usually leave white coating
on the skin, which most people find unpleasant. Here is when the ultra-tiny versions
of these ingredients were invented to make the sunscreen transparent. Ever
since then, nanoparticles are being incorporated in other personal care
products, such as: deodorants, perfumes, moisturizers, anti-aging creams, toothpastes,
soaps, lip balms, and lipsticks, shampoos, etc. Nevertheless, despite claiming that nanoparticles are safe, many companies seem eager to hide
the use of engineered nanoparticles in their products.
Dangers and potential risks of using nanoparticles
research data suggest that the size-dependent properties of nanoparticles,
which make them more efficient than their bulk cousins, are their biggest
disadvantage at the same time. Most of ingredients used in cosmetics are too
big to penetrate the skin, but when they are moved to a nano level, their
size allows them to penetrate deeper, and enter the cells more
easily. Once there, they can even alter cell DNA, thus causing serious health
If you use a deodorant containing nanoparticles and you
accidentally inhale it, it gets embedded in the lung walls, the body cannot remove
those foreign particles, and so they accumulate. In the best case scenario,
this might lead to lung inflammation. In the worst case, it can produce toxic
The International Agency for Research on Carcinogens is particularly
concerned about titanium dioxide, which has the same effect on lungs as
asbestos, and can cause lung cancer.
When used in a non-airborne form though, Titanium dioxide is considered safe. However, studies suggest that when nanoparticles reach
the bloodstream, they may lead to extensive organ damage. The rate of
absorption of nanomaterials through the skin is yet to be determined, but it is
known that they pass through more easily than conventional materials. Whenever
you apply a nano-enhanced product to your skin, you are taking a risk. Sunscreens have been the subject of debate due to their function as skin cancer
Zinc oxide is considered the safest protector from UV rays, but there
are justified concerns that in the form of nanoparticles, and in contact with
heat, it promotes the production of free radicals. This paradoxically increases
the risk of skin cancer.
Note: Not all commercially available types of zinc oxide, iron oxide and titanium dioxide are nano. There are two types – micronized (nano) and non-micronized (non-nano). Following extensive research in this area, we are extremely confident about the superior quality and safety of the non-nano sized ingredients used in our products (this includes both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).
The zinc oxide and the titanium dioxide we use is considered fine with particles between 1 and 2 microns. As a nano or ultra-fine particle it measures less than 0.1 microns (100 nanometers), our ingredients are well above the nanoparticle threshold and cannot, under any circumstances, penetrate the skin.
La Mav’s Anti-Aging Minerals are formulated with the finest natural earth minerals and infused with Vitamin C and Pure Organic Rosehip Oil to not only provide flawless finish but also protect your skin from the harmful UV rays and prevent premature aging!
What can you do to avoid the risk?
noted that more studies need to be conducted in order for them to be able to say for sure what
nanoparticles may do to our health. In the meantime, they advise on trying to avoid products formulated with the help of nanoparticles. Expel nanoparticles from your life by checking the labels on the
cosmetic products you use. Better safe than sorry.
Have in mind, though, that the field is vaguely regulated and
manufacturers are not required to mention the use of nanoparticles on their
labels. If in doubt whether your favourite cosmetic line contains
nanoparticles, call the manufacturer and ask if they use nanotechnology. Or
switch to those companies that you know do not use it. And stop worrying about
the white stains from your sunscreen. White means safer.
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