Article by: Perry Romanowski

Are nanoparticles the cosmetic delivery system of the future? They may be if this research can ever be completed and commercialized. cosmetic-nanotechnology

According to scientists at the University of Southampton, they have identified a number of key characteristics that can enhance the penetration of nanoparticles through skin. In their research, they were able to demonstrate that gold nanoparticles could be made to penetrate deeper by changing the shape and surface charge. It turns out positively charged, nanorod shaped particles penetrated skin into the dermis.

Cosmetic chemist implications

For cosmetic chemists I see two applications of this research.

1. A method of creating nanoparticle delivery systems for cosmeceutical type ingredients.

2. A method for creating nanoparticles of sunscreen that will not penetrate the skin. They’ve demonstrated the factors that affect penetration so we could (theoretically) control the shape to inhibit penetration.

Nanoparticles could indeed be the way of the future for cosmetic formulating. However, there could be some significant marketing hurdles if the technology becomes something of which people are afraid. Right now public opinion shows a 3 to 1 ratio of people who see benefits versus people who see negative risks. It remains to be seen where the large minority (44%) of people who are unsure about the risks of nanotechnology end up. If groups like the EWG are able to shape public opinion, it’s not promising.


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    Maybe I got this wrong, but isn’t cosmetics and nano somehow contradictory? We wouldn’t like our cosmetic products to end up in our bloodstream. Look beautiful on the outside – protect your inside!

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      Indeed, and that would make them pharmaceutical drugs requiring clinical trials before entering the market. Except for explicit transdermal delivery systems, why would anybody want this?

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