Is the use of nano-scale materials in cosmetics safe? Voting for safer ingredients

Cosmetics is one of the areas where materials are used on nano-scale. The usage is supposedly to increase the efficiency of the product. I came across a report in a newspaper raising questions about advisability of using nano-scale materials as ingredients in cosmetics. Sun screen lotions effectively are measured by the SPF(Sun Protection Factor). The higher the SPF the higher the effeciveness. Though this holds good for UV-B radiation, the same can not be effective against UV-A radiatioon. Hence the attempt to use ingredients on nano-scale in the lotion. Apprehensions regarding such have been voiced. What if the ingredients being at nano-scale goes into the cellular levels of the skin.
I have always advocated use of natural substances like herbs and plant sources in cosmetics. The more ground the powder is the more is said to be effective in case of herbals and plant origin. In the case of natural ingredients the ultimate aim is to bring about changes in the cellular level by proper nourishment.

Therefore my vote is for herbal and plant origin ingredients only as nano-scale ingredients in cosmetics.

I conclude that the usage of nano-scale usage depends on the type of materials used. If it is safer can be used.

Still the nano-scale material usage is a grey area like genetic modification, stem-cell research, cloning calling for a responsible approach



K.Mohan(Mohan Sanjeevan)

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Nano particles can damage animal cells
By Simon Pitman, 28-May-2008

Related topics: Formulation & Science, Skin Care

New research from the University of Calgary in Canada indicates that nano-sized particles known as a 'buckyballs' are easily absorbed into animal cells, suggesting they may prove to be toxic.

Biochemist Peter Tieleman says that his team modelled the interaction between carbon-60 molecules and cell membranes and found that the particles are able to enter cells 'by permeating their membranes without causing mechanical damage.

"There are studies showing that they [buckyballs] can cross the blood-brain barrier and alter cell functions, which raises a lot of questions about their toxicity and what impact they may have if released into the environment," said Tieleman.

Impact on cell behaviour

Tieleman and his team used high-powered computing resources to run some of the cell behaviour simulations in an effort to determine what their impact was.

The results claim to show that buckyball particles are able to 'dissolve in animal cell membranes, pass into cells and re-form particles on the other side where they can cause damage to cells'.

The research team points to the fact that clumps of buckyballs could be inhaled by humans as dust particles, but it is also stressed that how they enter cells and cause damage is still not fully understood.

Research aims to uncover cause of cell damage

However, Tieleman points out that his team's research might be able to provide a possible mechanism for how this damage might occur.

First discovered in 1985 by researchers at the University of Sussex and Rice University, when they were named Buckminsterfullerene, this name was shortened to buckyballs, which are spherical nanoparticles that until now have been largely used in commercial scale coatings and materials.

As well as the spherical-shaped buckyballs, nano particles can also be produced in cylindrical form and can be used to create hollow fibres known as carbon nano tubes.

Buckyballs go the cosmetic route

However, Tieleman and his team point out that these buckyballs are likely to have specific applications in an increasing number of consumer products, specifically in cosmetics, where increased efficacy is likely to benefit a variety of skin care products in particular.

Nanotechnology has already been adopted by the personal care market on a fairly extensive level, proven by the fact that a recent inventory of nanotech-based consumer goods, compiled by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center recently recorded 85 cosmetic products using the technology.

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating the properties of tiny particles, measuring one billionth of a metre and has a broad range of applications from computer chips to food and personal care.

A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.
Nano-supporters fight back against claims they pose health risk
By Katie Bird, 11-Jun-2008

Related topics: Formulation & Science

Nanoparticles used in cosmetics and sunscreens pose no human health risk, and even help improve health by protecting consumers against skin cancer, according to a recent report.

In a review of the available toxicity data on nanoparticles used in cosmetics and sunscreens, scientists at L'Oreal in collaboration with researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, have concluded that they do not pose a health hazard.

This conclusion is in contrast to a number of recent campaigns arguing that nanoparticles may have as yet undocumented effects on human health and should be avoided.

Published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, the report investigates the penetration of nanoparticles such as TiO2 and ZnO into the deeper skin layers - the epidermis and dermis. It also looked into their potential for toxicity.

The study concludes that the benefit provided in terms of UV protection greatly outweighs any 'unproven and hypothetical risks'.

Skin penetration of nanoparticles
The results of a number of skin penetration studies on titanium dioxide TiO2 (a popular sunscreen agent whose efficacy is dependent on a particle size of 60-120nm) suggest that micro- and nano-sized particles remain on the skin surface and do not penetrate into the living skin layers, according to the report.

Absence of penetration of even smaller nanosized particles (20nm size TiO2) was also confirmed by the EU NANODERM research group, added the scientists led by Dr G J Nohynek from l'Oreal.

TiO2 particles have been found in the hair follicles however, which has been interpreted by some to mean penetration into the living skin. However the particles remained outside the dermis and epidermis, noted the team, who maintain that this does not show penetration into the living skin.

Furthermore, recent data from mice skin studies illustrates that even when TiO2 nanoparticles were injected under the skin, they remained at the injection site and did not migrate.

The scientists therefore conclude that the fear that nanoparticles can penetrate the skin, get access to the lymphatic system and circulate around the organism is 'simplistic and physiologically improbable'.

Toxicity is not generally dependent on size
Nohynek and the team proceeded to look at the data regarding the effect that particle size may have on toxicity.

"No major difference in the safety profile was observed for micro- and nano- sized particles, and no evidence was found suggesting that nano-sized particles pose greater or qualitatively new hazards," they concluded.

In addition, they note that a significant number of studies that suggest nanosize-specific effects suffered from a fatal flaw in that they did not test the nanosize particle against a control of a larger particle of the same material.

Although the report recognises the impossibility of disproving all hypothetic risks, it concludes that: "The current weight of evidence suggests that nanomaterials currently used in cosmetics preparations or sunscreens pose no risk to human skin or human health; on the contrary they provide a large benefit to human health by protecting human skin against the adverse effects of UV radiation."
Source: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology
Volume 21, Number 3, 2008
Nanotechnology, Cosmetics and the Skin: Is there a Health Risk?
G.J. Nohynek, E.K. Dufour, M.S. Roberts
Nanomaterials in cosmetics should be assessed case by case
By Guy Montague-Jones, 06-Mar-2008

Related topics: Formulation & Science

Current risk assessment methods are inadequate and should be replaced by a case by case approach to evaluating the safety of nanotechnology in cosmetics, according an EU scientific committee.

The Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) studied the use of nanotechnology in cosmetics after the UK's Royal Society & Royal Academy of Engineering concluded that nanomaterials should be treated as new chemicals from a risk assessment point of view.

Concern over insoluble nanoparticles

In its report the SCCP distinguished between soluble and insoluble nanomaterials identifying the latter as of most concern.

The committee said repeated application of cosmetics containing insoluble nanomaterials could lead to the accumulation of the particles in the body.

Consequently, it recommended the "urgent development of new methodologies to assess the skin penetration" of this type of nanomaterial.

The SCCP also said nanoparticles should not just be distinguished according to their solubility but should be evaluated on a case by case basis taking into account their specific properties such as size, number and surface characteristics.

Impaired skin and sunscreen

Scientists are concerned that insufficient information is available in a number of areas related to nanotechnology and the SCCP drew attention to the impact of nanomaterials on impaired skin.

The committee said the Margin of Safety (MOS) which is normally used to assess the risks of substances on abnormal skin may be inadequate in the case of nanomaterials because evidence suggests that they are more likely to be systematically absorbed by such skin.

Because sunscreens are often used on skin that is sunburned and therefore considered abnormal the SCCP said it was necessary to review the safety of nanosized titanium dioxide, which is becoming popular in sunscreens.

Speaking generally about safety assessment of nanomaterials the SCCP said the looming ban on animal testing presents challenges because research is not sufficiently developed for in vitro testing to be relied upon.

The EC is currently completing a review of existing EU regulations to determine whether specific legislation is required for nanotechnology and is expected to deliver its verdict in the coming year.

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating the properties of tiny particles, measuring one billionth of a metre and has a broad range of applications from computer chips to food and personal care.

A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.
Scientists fear nanotechnology more than the public
By Guy Montague-Jones, 26-Nov-2007

Related topics: Formulation & Science, Colour Cosmetics, Hair Care, Packaging, Skin Care

As more and more personal care products are made using nanotechnology, a nationwide survey indicates that scientists are more concerned than the public about its potential health and environmental risks.

Nanotechnology is expected to make a big impact on the cosmetics industry, particularly in sun care and anti-aging, but concerns about the safety of the emerging technology have been raised.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison interviewed 363 leading nanotechnology scientists and surveyed American households concluding that scientists are more fearful than ordinary people

The authors of the report, which was published in Nature Nanotechnology yesterday, suggested that lack of knowledge among the general public explained the difference and called for greater education of consumers about the potential risks of nanotechnology.

Only 15 percent of public respondents indicated a concern that new forms of nanotechnology pollution may emerge, while 20 percent of scientists thought that might be a problem.

Over 30 percent of scientists expressed concern that nanotechnology may pose risks to human health while only 20 percent of ordinary people shared their fears.

Health concerns are particularly relevant to the personal care industry because lotions and shampoos produced using nanotechnology come into direct contact with the body and even penetrate the skin.

While anxiety surrounding the safety of cosmetics using nanotechnology remains the number of products developed using the technology is on the rise.

An inventory of nano-based consumer goods, compiled by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center recently recorded an increase to 85 personal care products from 58 when it was launched in March 2006.

In the latest research scientists expressed concern about potential health risks but were generally optimistic about the potential benefits of nanotechnology.

"Scientists aren't saying there are problems," said the study's lead author Dietram Scheufele, professor of life sciences communication and journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "They're saying, 'we don't know. The research hasn't been done.'"

The tendency is for the public to worry more than scientists about new technologies but the latest survey indicates the opposite is true for nanotechnology.

The researchers behind the latest report suggested the public was less fearful of nanotechnology than of other developments like nuclear power and genetically modified foods because they know little about it.

"Nanotechnology is starting to emerge on the policy agenda, but with the public, it's not on their radar," said Scheufele. "That's where we have the largest communication gap."

A similar conclusion was reached by the Woodrow Wilson International Center, which recently conducted a consumer survey on nanotechnology and reported that 70 percent of respondents said they knew little or nothing about it.

In terms of filling the information gap, Scheufele said that of all sources of nanotechnology information, scientists are the most trusted by the public.

Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating the properties of tiny particles, measuring one billionth of a metre and has a broad range of applications from computer chips to personal care.

A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.
I am just posting some interesting articles related to the above discussion .....It is ironical that there are equal number of articles for and against nanocosmetics....now the question is "to do or not to do " that is whether to use nano cosmetics or not to
Nivashni you havd done a good job putting in for and against materials available. but have you noticed ? iam for the use of natural products like herbals and plant orgin materials and not TiO2 or ZnO2. However even the herbals have to be studied. Once a particle reaches nano scale quatum physics takes over where the properties are different from that of macro scale. thanks for the comments. keep up your good work
Herbal based material would be safe..... taking plant origin material to nanoscale would be different and fascinating....I don't know whether research is being done in this area ...Do you have any idea sir?
as of now i also dont know.. will post after updating. I also suggest that leabellling regarding the use of nano scale materials should be made mandatory. the consumers have the right to information on ingredients used except top-trade secret to see whether it contains ingredients with harmful effects.

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