Who doesn’t want to look good, have a radiant skin, beautiful glowing hair, stunning lips and nails? Of course, beauty is relative and much more than just looking good and having nice features. But almost everybody in our society strive for this. Most of us are trying to look good for ourselves and for people close to us. For some others it gives a boost of self-confidence. There are also people who wear good looks as a coat of armor, to fight their daily social and professional battles. Despite what category, many look for cosmetic products for help. There are so many out there; face care products, hair care, nail care, skin care, foot care and even there are cosmetic products to make your eyelashes beautiful.
This demand has made, cosmetics a fastest growing segment in the personal care industry and it has been like that for many years. Presently, the term “cosmeceuticals” is more preferably used over “cosmetics”. Cosmeceuticals infer products with more advance function through combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. This means that instead of having just “good” nutrients, cosmeceuticals will carry more advanced and task specific nutrients that were designed using the techniques developed in pharmaceutical industry. Cosmeceuticals also means, having more advance nutrient delivery mechanisms. After all, having all the good nutrients on top your skin doesn’t do any good.
Cosmeceuticals can benefit greatly from nanotechnology. First, it can help solve two major problems associated with cosmetics, specific delivery and prolong effects. For the best effects, nutrients should be delivered to the place where it can be metabolized and used to nourish cells. Conventional cosmetics greatly lacks this specificity and to compensate relatively heavy doses may be necessary. On the other hand, one of the common complains of consumers is rather short term activity of cosmetics, especially in face care products. Consumers will pay higher price and be loyal to a product that have prolong effects which is quite important for cosmetic companies to be competitive. Secondly, nanotechnology in cosmetics can help to increase the aesthetic appeal of a product. People in the industry know that this is a key factor that influence the purchase decision of a buyer. The techniques mastered in nanotechnology can play an important role in future of cosmeceuticals industry. Nanotechnology applications in the cosmetics are in the rise. Here we will discuss the top nine of them.
No other cosmetic product has seen widespread use of nanotechnology as sunscreens. They are widely used on skin as a cream or a lotion to protect the skin from harmful effects of sun rays especially in the ultraviolet (UV) range. Severe UV exposure can lead to skin darkening, sun burns and in worse situations skin cancer. The most popular nanomaterials used in sunscreens are nanoparticulate Zinc oxide (ZnO) and Titanium dioxide (TIO2). These nanoparticles blocks both UVA and UVB rays from penetrating down to the deeper layers of skin providing broad spectrum sunscreen effect. Traditional sunscreens can be bulky, usually leaves a chalky layer on the skin and less stable to provide long term protection. However, due to the small size of ZnO and TiO2 nanoparticles, sunscreen remains transparent and less greasy. They are much more stable and have good aesthetic appeal. Lancôme and Dior have leading sunscreen products that contain nanotechnology. Find out more information about nano sunscreens here.
2) Skin moisturizers
Human skin is the largest organ in the body. It’s design to keep inside in and outside out. Among others, a skin layer named, Stratum corneum serves the function of primary barrier in the skin. However, water molecules can diffuse and evaporate through the stratum corneum leading to dehydration of skin. Dry skin can lead to many problems, including dry patches, loss of stretch, wrinkles and in worse cases premature aging. Nanotechnology based cosmetics use special nanoscale materials to form a humectant layer on top of the skin. This primarily limits the excessive water loss through the skin while keeping the skin moist due to constant moisturization by the humectant layer. The moisturization efficiency and longevity of nanotechnology based skin moisturizers are much higher compared to conventional products. The most widely used nanomaterials are Liposomes, nano-emulsions and solid lipid nanoparticles. Lancôme and Nano-Infinity Nanotech are two cosmetic companies who have nanotechnology skin moisturizers in their product line.
3) Anti-wrinkle products
Many factors can lead to wrinkling of the skin, including lack of nutrients, age, excessive use of chemicals on the skin, pollution, stress and over exposure to sun. The main reason for wrinkling of the skin is weakening of collagen structure in our skin triggered by any of the reasons noted above. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and found in connective tissues. Collagen is responsible for wrinkle free supple look on the skin primarily due to elasticity given by the protein. There are number of cosmeceuticals which claims the anti-wrinkle and firming effect. Antiwrinkle products that are being made using nanotechnology is a big hit in the market today. The most popular brand in nanotechnology antiwrinkle products is L’Oreal, which markets an antiwrinkle cream named Ravtalift which contains nanosomes with Pro-retinol A; a modified version of vitamin A specially designed to deliver the nutrient to cells. Nanosomes can deliver the drug to the heart of the cell, leading to efficient absorption of the nutrient. These cosmeceutical compounds can improve the moisturizing effect while slowing down the collagen breakdown. Lancôme also markets a moisturizing antiwrinkle product by the name of Hydra zen cream which contains nutrients encapsulated in a nanosized particle.
4) Hair care
Glowing beautiful skin is a major part of anyone’s beauty and nanotechnology applications in hair care products have emerged as a promising field in future products. Cosmetic companies and institutes, have engaged in ongoing research to discovery new nanotechnology applications in major hair issues like, preventing hair loss and maintaining shine and health of the hairs. Especially nanoemulsions is emerging as a great method of delivering hair cosmetics to the inner structure of the hair fiber without damaging outer shell called cuticle due to their small size. Another very active area of nanotechnology hair care is sericin nanoparticles, primarily as a sealing agent for damaged hair to treat damaged cuticles.
5) Skin cleansers
Our skins are covered with a lipid film that is designed to protect us from pathogenic organisms like bacteria and fungi. However, due to the hydrophobic nature this film can also attract dirt and pollutants from the environment. It also can collect cellular debris and body oils secreted out from our skin. Sometimes, bacteria naturally present on the skin can act on this nutrient media to produce body odor. If left unclean, these bacteria can infect the skin causing problems like skin diseases and acne. Therefore, cleansing of the skin is necessary to prevent this from happening and also to remove soil and dirt. Nanoemulsions and antibacterial nanoparticles have been used to prepare nanotechnology based cosmeceuticals that can provide better cleansing effects. Due to the small size of the nanoemulsions, they can reach deep layers and pores of the skin to provide a better cleaning action which is not possible with the conventional products. This can help eliminate skin problems like acne. Both organic and inorganic nanoparticles have been used in antibacterial skin cleaning products. They act on harmful bacteria from the skin to give further functional benefit than just cleaning the skin with soap.