NANOTECHNOLOGY IN THE COSMETICS INDUSTRY
Nanotechnology is the science that allows scientists, chemists and engineers to manipulate athoms and molecules in the search of new products and processes. Because it’s multidisciplinary, it uses techniques from physics, chemistry, biology, materials engineering, among others. With the mastery and development of nanotechnology, many products have been modified and improved. A big productive sector that obtained excellent development with the aid of nanotechnology is the cosmetic sector. Nanotechnology can be considered a real tool of revolution for the beauty industry.
Nanotechnology’s main advantage when it’s applied to cosmetics is its high efficiency. That happens because materials, when in the nanometric scale, show high superficial area and consequently an enhanced effect. In many cases, nanotechnology is inserted in cosmetics in the form of nanoparticles that can penetrate deeper in the skin (image below) because they transcend more epithelial layers, enhancing hidrant effects, anti-aging and protection, for instance. Shampoos, makeup shades, anti-aging creams, sunscream and fingernail polish are examples of products that are on the shelves and are intitulated as nanotechnological cosmetics.
A very interesting way of applying nanotechnology in cosmetics is the use of nanoencapsulated materials. Products like essential oils, active principles or compounds generally used in the making of cosmetics are processed in a way to remain stable as smaller or size equal to 100nm (nanometers) droplets. Materials bigger than 100nm don’t fit in the category of nanotechnological products and are considered micromaterials.
The use of nanotechnology in this sector began to be introduced some years ago. Between 1994 and 2005, L’Oreal, a french company, was ranked as 5th company in the world with more nanotechnology related patents. Other big companies already use the nanoencapsulation technique on their products, such as Lancôme and Givenchy. It’s no different in Brazil: Boticário, for instance, has a line of anti-aging treatment made up of different products that use nanotechnology.
Besides traditional cosmetics, a new line of products is being developed based on nanotechnology. TNS Nanotechnology, for example, has developed an antimicrobial additive that fights the bacteria that cause acne (pimples). This additive is easily incorporated to fabrics and acts when in contact with the skin. Some examples of this application are pillowcases, cushions, face towels, and others. These fabrics treated with nanotechnology can be called “cosmetic fabrics”.
With this advanced technology in constant development, cosmetics will be more and more effective and safe. Today, big companies invest millions on new products and projects and, in much the same way, the regulation for the safe and efficient use of nanotechnology is being improved so that we can increasingly make use of this science.