Nanotechnology: the science of Today!
Key Words: Biotechnology, Nanomaterials, safety in novel formulations.
In this blog we have previously talked about nanotechnology, its definition, and its applications in medicine and in one type of formulation. For this reason, it would be redundant but above all, boring, to explain again that nanotechnology, unlike what Hollywood has made us believe (small robots improving everyone's life) is actually the branch of science that studies materials with particle sizes smaller than 100 nanometers and their potential fields of action (Santos, et al., 2019). However, in an industry that is expected to generate a market of 177 Billion U.S dollars by 2025 (M.Ridder, 2020), the cosmetic industry, it is always interesting to know its technological advances and to be surprised by the creativity of researchers and scientists. Well, currently, nanomaterials and nanoparticles are being used in formulations for Hair Care, Skin Care, Sunscreens, and others. (Figure 1) because of the critical characteristics exhibited by the nanotechnology like: enhanced permeation, retention, and specificity derived from the possibility of modifying, at will, the surface of nanoparticles according to target’s charge and structure (surface tailor-ability).
Figure 1. Representative illustration concerning the different applications of nanotechnology-based cosmetic formulations and their beneficial cosmetic effects. (Santos, et al., 2019)
So, it all sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Anti-aging applications and cures for rare diseases caused by the rarest microorganisms, "eternal youth" at our fingertips. This time, as in the world of science fiction, we should consider the other side of the coin. Could this noble Nanotechnology turn against us and trigger the end of humanity as we know it? (ok...maybe that's too much) but what are those risks, to people and the environment, that almost no author stops to mention when they are advertising this new formulations?
Mainly, there are two ways in which Nanoparticles-based cosmetics (NPBC) may put in danger the people: 1. The nanoscale size and the great surface area of these nano-systems may pose a threat, since NPBC exhibit risk of systemic effects and accumulation in living tissues. 2. Humans have changed ecosystems, thus our actions impact on the planet, if compared with traditional formulations, NPBC, may be seen as greener since they enable the use of low concentrations of the Actives ingredients. However, it is important to consider that many of these nanoparticles, as inside our body, are not totally degraded and this could lead to a bioaccumulation process. (Raj, Shoma, Sumoud, & Sabitha, 2012).
Therefore, it becomes crucial to assess the cellular uptake, biological accumulation, metabolic activity, genotoxicity, and mutagenicity to predict nanoparticles toxicological effects on living cells and the organisms that constitute the ecosystems to guarantee consumer and environment safety. So, it is here, fortunately for everyone, that the European Commission (EC), the hero of this story, plays a crucial and definitive role. Since the 2013 this masked hero regulates and establishes the safety of cosmetics, considering the latest technological advances, including the use of nanomaterials. In Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009, which makes the governments of each country responsible for market surveillance, it bans the testing of cosmetics on animals and requests evidence of studies that guarantee that nanomaterials and other ingredients used in cosmetic formulations do not present a risk to the health of humans individually or collectively.
Tonight, when you go to sleep, you can rest easy because Super EC, your watchful friend, will be there for your whole family so that they can use cosmetics without worrying about any danger... ;)
M.Ridder. (2020, Oct 29). Cosmetic Industry - Statistics & Fact. Retrieved from Statista : https://www.statista.com/topics/3137/cosmetics-industry/#dossierKeyfigures
MacNeil, S. E. (2005). Nanotechnology for the biologist. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, 585-594.
Raj, S., Shoma, J., Sumoud, U., & Sabitha, M. (2012). Nanotechnology in Cosmetics: Opportunities and Challenges. Kochi.
Santos, A. C., Morais, F., Simoes, A., Pereira , I., Sequeira, J., Pereira-Silva, M., . . . Ribeiro, A. (2019). Nanotechnology for the development of New Cosmetic formulations. Expert opinion on Drug Delivery.
Unión Europea. (2011). Directiva de la Comisión Europea . 76/768/CEE sus modificaciones y el nuevo Reglamento 1223/2009 del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo de la Unión Europea.