Nanotechnologies in cosmetics

Cosmetics can contain nanoscale ingredients. © Olga Lyubkin - Fotolia.com
Cosmetics can contain nanoscale ingredients. © Olga Lyubkin - Fotolia.com

The main fields of application of nanotechnologies and / or nanomaterials in cosmetics are carrier and transport systems, UV protection and pigments.

Nanodisperse encapsulation or carrier systems are used to transport active substances into the deeper layers of the skin. These systems include liposomes, nanoemulsions, microemulsions (micelles) and lipid nanoparticles. Liposomes and nanoemulsions in cosmetics consist of phosphatidylcholine. In liposomes, phosphatidylcholine is arranged in a double membrane whereas in nanoemulsions it is arranged in a layer. Both are produced by high-pressure homogenization. Microemulsions consist of a mixture of oil, water and surfactants and are mainly used in skin cleansing products (Greßler et al., 2009).

Nanoscale titanium dioxide (TiO2) and zinc oxide (ZnO) are used as mineral UV filters in sunscreens (Greßler et al. 2009).

Nanoscale pigments are used as dyes in make-up (e.g. eyeshadow, kajal, eyelash tint etc.). The application of carbon black (SCCS 2013) is very widespread. Individual products also contain nanoscale minerals as well as gold or silver nanoparticles and nanoscale calcium phosphate and nanominerals (Greßler et al., 2009).

In the EU, nanomaterials in cosmetics have to be labelled since July 2013. Nanoscale components have to be marked in the list of ingredients with the suffix "(nano)" (LUBW 2012 s. Regulation 1223/2009 ).

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