The Safety of Nanotechnology in Skin Care: Looks Like the Jury is Still Out
Lately there has been much controversy regarding the safety of nanoparticles in skin care. The use of nanoparticles has become one of the hottest crazes in the anti aging skin care market. They are frequently used in anti-aging creams and sunscreens (particularly those using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). Nanotechnology usually comes with a steep price tag; it is not unusual for a luxury face cream to cost in excess of $100.00.
Nanoparticles are particles that are much smaller than conventional size particles traditionally used in skin care (approximately one billionth of a meter). The purpose of using such small particles is the belief that they penetrate more deeply into the skin, therefore increasing the benefits.
The debate centers on whether or not these particles can actually penetrate past the outer layer of skin into the bloodstream and possibly interact with the immune system. And if they can, then what harm can they do to our bodies if these ingredients are potentially toxic?
The findings of a new study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, published in the Journal of Cancer Research suggested that when mice ingested nanoparticles it lead to genetic damage. Based on the findings, the authors warned against the ingestion of food colors, non essential drug additives and vitamins that contain titanium dioxide nanoparticles. They also warned against using spray on sunscreens containing titanium dioxide nanoparticles since they can be easily inhaled. Nanoparticles are often used to improve the effectiveness of sunscreens and to eliminate a white, pasty appearance. The results of the study also suggested that the danger of nanoparticles could be due to their ability to elicit an inflammatory response.
This study suggests that further human studies are needed to better understand the potential health threats that nanoparticles may pose. However, the authors state they are particularly concerned about possible cancer or genetic disorders from ingesting these particles.
The FDA currently does not have any specific regulations when it comes to monitoring nanoparticles. They generally only investigate if a problem(s) has been reported after a product is introduced into the market!
It was recently reported that a new center has opened in Scotland specifically to investigate the safety of nanoparticles. The Centre for Nano Safety which is part of Edinburgh's Napier University is a multi-centre addressing both the environmental and human effects of nanoparticles. The focus of the research will be to determine whether or not nanoparticles can enter the human body and cause potential harm.
Additionally, the TACD (Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue) which is a forum of the European Union and United States organizations has requested that the two countries work together to establish guidelines to assess the risk of nanotechnology in order to better protect the consumer from potential risk. One of the changes could involve appropriate product labeling in order to provide full disclosure if a particular product contains nanoparticles.
Until more research is done, it appears as if the consumer must decide whether nanoparticles are safe for use.
So, while the jury is still out, perhaps it is better to avoid products containing nanoparticles until more extensive research is done.
Dr. Teri Dourmashkin received her Doctorate in Health Education from Columbia University. She is the Founder and President of La Vie Celeste Skin Care Inc. La Vie Celeste brings you all natural anti-aging skincare featuring R-Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant. Suitable for all skin types, La Vie Celeste is the perfect union of science and nature. To learn more visit La Vie Celeste Skin Care.