Category Archives: beauty and cosmetics

Nano workshop with the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and ‘in-cosmetics’ on March 1, 2014

The International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC) is presenting a March 31, 2014 nanotechnology workshop prior to the ‘in-cosmetics exhibition’ due to be held April 1-2, 2014 in Hamburg in partnership with the in-cosmetics organizers.  From a Feb. 17, 2014 IFSCC news release,

The IFSCC has organised a Recent Perspectives in Nanotechnology workshop in association with in-cosmetics which will be held immediately before the show (1-3 April) on 31 March 2014 in Hamburg.

Moderated by IFSCC Vice President and President of the French Society Claudie Willemin, the workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Topics and speakers include:

Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries

Dr Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs – Cosmetics Europe

Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes

Dr Hubert Rauscher, European Commission – Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences Unit

Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies

Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – Berlin

Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests

Dr Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASF

Click here for full programme details and to register.

The focus is primarily on the European Union’s efforts according to the workshop programme webpage,

This IFSCC Workshop will provide an update on nanotechnology in Cosmetics. It will focus on the requirements of the EU regulation 1223/2009/WE, enacted by the European Commission to provide tools and methodologies to measure the particle size to fulfil the nanomaterial definition, the safety studies and evaluation methods.

Organised by the IFSCC, a federation dedicated to international cooperation in cosmetic science and technology, this workshop demonstrates its aims.

Moderator: Claudie Willemin

  • 14:00-14:30: Welcome and Introduction
    IFSCC – What does this Acronym mean?
    > Claudie Willemin, Vice President of  the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists and President of La Société Française de Cosmétologie – SFC
  • 14:30-15:15: Nanotechnology in Cosmetics – Current status in EU and Other Countries
    > Dr. Florian Schellauf, Technical Regulatory Affairs- Cosmetics EuropeThe legislator introduced two requirements into the EU Regulation 1223/2009 related to nanomaterials in cosmetic products.The first requirement is the obligation to inform the consumer when nanomaterials are used in cosmetic products (“nano labelling”). The second requirement requires notification to the European Commission of cosmetic products containing certain nanomaterials. These requirements are based on the definition of a nanomaterial provided in the Regulation.

    The requirements come into application from 2013 and discussions have moved from legislation to practical implementation.

    This presentation will provide an overview over the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics, issues related to the implementation of the legal requirements and the interpretation of the cosmetic nanodefinition in relation to the Commission Recommendation of 18 October 2011.

    Also in the international arena, there have been harmonization attempts specifically for the cosmetic sector through the ICCR process (International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation). ICCR defined a set of criteria for determining whether or not a material should be considered as a nanomaterial for regulatory purposes. The presentation will also provide an insight into discussions occurring around nanomaterials in cosmetics in selected countries outside of the EU.

  • 15:15-15:50: Characterisation Methods for Nanomaterials for Regulatory Purposes
    > Dr. Hubert Rauscher, European Commission -Joint Research Centre – Nanobiosciences UnitNanomaterials are addressed in the European Regulation on Cosmetic Products (EC)1223/2009 as well as in several other sectors of national and international legislation and in various guidelines. This requires clear terminology, such as a definition of the term “nanomaterial” and implementation provisions. Such a definition for regulatory purposes and its individual elements needs to be legally clear and unambiguous, and enforceable through agreed measurement techniques and procedures. The presentation highlights the technical and scientific requirements for the characterisation of nanomaterials that need to be met for this purpose and reviews currently available techniques. The contribution also offers considerations on the way forward towards the development of new measurement techniques, the combination of experimental methods and the need for validation studies for the characterisation of nanomaterials for regulatory purposes.
  • 15:50-16:15: Coffee Break
  • 16:15-16:50: Nanomaterials’ Safety:  A Summary of the Latest Studies
    > Prof. Jürgen Lademann, Center of Experimental and Applied Cutaneous Physiology, Department of Dermatology, University of Medecin – La Charité – BerlinFor more than 20 years both academic institutions and industrial enterprises have been researching into the development of strategies for drug delivery through the human skin by means of nanoparticles. However, a commercial product based on that concept is still lacking as, obviously, nanoparticles of ≥30 nm do not penetrate the human skin barrier. Whether this applies also to smaller particles is currently a topic of intense research.First indications that nanoparticles might not penetrate the skin barrier resulted from investigations of sunscreens that contained TiO2 particles of approximately 100 nm in diameter. At the end of a 14 day test period, volunteers who had applied the sunscreen three times each day were measured for TiO2 penetration using the tape stripping method. In addition, biopsies were taken and histological sections were analyzed. The results clearly showed that the TiO2 nanoparticles were located upon the skin surface and in some of the hair follicles. The penetration profile also revealed low TiO2 concentrations near the boundary to the living epidermis.  However, in follow-up investigations these TiO2 concentrations turned out to be located in the hair follicles.

    Interestingly, only some of the hair follicles contained TiO2 particles. In a subsequent study it could be shown that the nanoparticles penetrated into the hair follicles only if the latter display sebum production or hair growth. This means that hair follicles are usually closed by a cover that must be opened from inside out by mass flow to permit the topically applied nanoparticles penetrating into the hair follicles.  Particles of 500-800 nm in diameter were found to penetrate into the hair follicles most efficiently; either in vivo or – in the case of porcine ear model skin – if the hairs are moved by a massage. Investigating the hair surface structure, it was found that the thickness of the cuticula on the hair amounts to 600-800 nm. Due to resonance effects and if the hairs are moving, nanoparticles within this diameter range obviously penetrate into the hair follicles where they can be stored for a period exceeding 10 days. Thereafter, they escape with the sebum onto the skin surface again. A penetration of particles through the intact skin barrier could not be detected.

    The problem of particulate structures, particularly of those exceeding 100 nm, is that they do not penetrate the intact skin barrier on the intercellular pathway. They remain on the skin surface and are removed by washing, textile contact and desquamation, so that scarcely any nanoparticles are detectable after 24 h. However, once the particles have been transported into the hair follicles part of them are stored there for more than 10 days and are then re-transferred to the skin surface with the sebum. In various papers nanoparticles were reported to pass the skin barrier. This is always correct if the skin barrier is disturbed. Such disturbance could have been caused by disease or mechanical manipulation, e.g., taking of biopsies, tape stripping or cyanoacrylate stripping. In such cases, nanoparticles could also be detected in the living skin. So far, no evidence has been provided to suggest that nanoparticles are capable of penetrating the intact skin. Therefore, a collaborative project was recently launched by the German Research Association (DFG) in which the excellent penetration properties of particles >100 mm shall be used to transport drugs, which would normally not penetrate into the hair follicles, efficiently to the target structures in the hair follicles where they can be released by an external trigger system.

  • 16:50-17:30: Nanomaterial’s Evaluation Tests
    > Dr. Robert Landsiedel, Product Safety – Experimental Toxicology and Ecology – BASFWarranting the safety of nanotechnological products is seen as a crucial element in ensuring that the benefits of the new technology can be fully exploited. One prominent trait of NM is the fact that, during the life-time of a given NM, humans can be exposed to different forms of the material, e.g. due to agglomeration or aggregation, corona formation or interaction with surrounding organic material, or dissolution. In order to remove the need to test each form of nanomaterial in all its uses with a pre-defined, fixed list of methods, a concern-driven approach is proposed. Such approaches should start out by determining concerns, i.e. specific information needs for a given NM based on realistic exposure scenarios. Recognized concerns can be addressed in a set of tiers using standardized protocols for NM preparation and testing. Tier 1 includes determining physico-chemical properties, non-testing (e.g. structure activity relationships) and evaluating existing data. In tier 2, a limited set of in vitro and in vivo tests are performed that can either indicate that the risk of the specific concern is sufficiently known or indicate the need for further testing, including details for such testing. By effectively exploiting all available information, IATA allow accelerating the risk assessment process and reducing testing costs and animal use (in line with the 3Rs principle implemented in EU Directive 2010/63/EU). Combining material properties, exposure, biokinetics and hazard data, information gained with IATA can be used to recognize groups of NM based upon similar modes-of-action. Grouping of substances in return should form an integral part of the IATA themselves.
  • 17:30-18:00: Q&A and Conclusion

You can go here to register for this workshop. If you are attending the exhibition only, you can register for free until March 31, 2014 but if you want to attend the nano workshop and others, an Early Bird rate starting at €280 +VAT is available until Feb. 28, 2014.

For anyone who doesn’t fully grasp what the ‘in-cosmetics’ exhibition is all about, here’s a video,

Anatase and rutile titanium dioxide and nanosunscreens

The American Chemical Society (ACS) features some research into nanoscreens and the anatase form of titanium dioxide in a Sept. 25, 2013 news release,,

Using a particular type of titanium dioxide — a common ingredient in cosmetics, food products, toothpaste and sunscreen — could reduce the potential health risks associated with the widely used compound. The report on the substance, produced by the millions of tons every year for the global market, appears in the ACS journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Francesco Turci and colleagues explain that titanium dioxide (TiO2) is generally considered a safe ingredient in commercially available skin products because it doesn’t penetrate healthy skin. But there’s a catch. Research has shown that TiO2 can cause potentially toxic effects when exposed to ultraviolet light, which is in the sun’s rays and is the same kind of light that the compound is supposed to offer protection against. To design a safer TiO2 for human use, the researchers set out to test different forms of the compound, each with its own architecture.

They tested titanium dioxide powders on pig skin (which often substitutes for human skin in these kinds of tests) with indoor lighting, which has very little ultraviolet light in it. They discovered that one of the two most commonly used crystalline forms of TiO2, called rutile, easily washes off and has little effect on skin. Anatase, the other commonly used form, however, was difficult to wash off and damaged the outermost layer of skin — even in low ultraviolet light. It appears to do so via “free radicals,” which are associated with skin aging. “The present findings strongly encourage the use of the less reactive, negatively charged rutile to produce safer TiO2-based cosmetic and pharmaceutical products,” the researchers conclude.

It should be noted that the researchers used pig skin, i.e., the skin was not on a pig and, therefore, not part of a living organism with its various biological systems coming into play. As well, the testing was done indoors not under direct sunlight which is the condition under which most of us use sunscreen. This research points to problems  with using anatase nanoscale titanium dioxide in sunscreens but it doesn’t provide unequivocal proof.

The Danish Environmental Protection Agency report (this Oct. 3, 2013 posting of mine) on the state of the art of research into nanomateial dermal absorption does refer to research in this area, although it does not include Turci’s work (Note: The numbers n the excerpted text are reference numbers for the bibliography)),

When looking at bulk composition and the level of dermal penetration noted in studies using a specific material type, there appears to be very little pattern between bulk composition and penetration depth. Taking for example TiO2 as one of the most widely studied nanoparticles, we see reports of penetration no further than the SC [subcutaneous skin layer] 78, 86, 91 but also several studies suggesting deeper penetration (basal cell layer) and even penetration into the dermis 63, 84 although this is often reported as being a very small fraction/infrequent. Another compositional issue in relation to nanoparticles and in particular TiO2 is the crystalline structure. TiO2 is often used in either its anatase or rutile form or as mixture of both. Within the literature, there are studies using both the anatase form 86, 94, the rutile form 91, 114 or a mixture 84, 114 although we were unable to find any studies which appear to systematically evaluate the role of crystal form in TiO2 absorption into the skin. [emphasis mine] (p. 44 of this report: Dermal Absorption of Nanomaterials Part of the ”Better control of nano” initiative 2012 – 2015 Environmental Project No. 1504, 2013).

For those who would like to read Turci’s research for themselves,

Crystalline Phase Modulates the Potency of Nanometric TiO2 to Adhere to and Perturb the Stratum Corneum of Porcine Skin under Indoor Light by Francesco Turci, Elena Peira, Ingrid Corazzari, Ivana Fenoglio, Michele Trotta, and Bice Fubini. Chem. Res. Toxicol., Article ASAP DOI: 10.1021/tx400285j Publication Date (Web): September 12, 2013
Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society

This research is behind a paywall.

Bioprospecting yields sunscreen ingredient fromTrondheim Fjord microorganism

Norwegian business, Promar, has taken out patents based on research showing that a bacterium living in the Trondheim Flord has a trait much prized by makers of sunscreens, from an Aug. 6, 2013 news item on ScienceDaily,

Norwegian researchers have recently discovered a microorganism with very special properties — a bacteria living in Trondheim Fjord with the Latin name Micrococcus luteus. It possesses a trait which is rare and highly sought-after by medical science and the cosmetics industry — a pigment which can absorb long-wavelength UV radiation (in the range 350-475 nanometres).

The researchers are from SINTEF (Norwegian: Stiftelsen for industriell og teknisk forskning), which bills itself as the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia. Their July 25, 2013 news release by Christina Benjaminsen, which originated the news item, explains why this discovery is causing some excitement,

Long-wavelength UV radiation is linked to many forms of skin cancer and malignant melanomas. Currently, there are no sunscreens on the market able to filter out this type of radiation.

However, the Norwegian company Promar AS has taken out patents for both the manufacture and use in future sunscreens of a light-filtering substance extracted from this bacterium. This has been achieved with the help of researchers at SINTEF.

Researchers at SINTEF have what amounts to a library of microorganisms after years of bioprospecting (exploring for organisms with traits useful in industrial applications), from the SINTEF nrews release,

The backdrop to this project involved activities taking place at SINTEF and NTNU [Norwegian University of Science and Technology] by which we collected a variety of different microorganisms from the water surface in Trondheim Fjord. These organisms had one thing in common. They possessed a variety of naturally-occurring light-absorbing pigments. “This is why they are very colourful”, says Trygve Brautaset, Project and Research Manager at SINTEF. The end result was an entire “library” of such microorganisms.

At about the same time, the Norwegian company Promar AS had been working on the idea of manufacturing a substance with a property lacking in sunscreen products currently on the market – the ability to filter out long-wavelength UV radiation.

This is why SINTEF and NTNU were contracted to look for a pigment with this trait. After investigating hundreds of different bacteria, the researchers found Mirococcus luteus in “the library”. It ticked all the boxes. The microscopic organism, no bigger than 1-2 micrometres across, was found to contain a particular carotenoid, known to organic chemists as sarcinaxanthin. This pigment absorbs sunlight at just the wavelength which Promar wanted to provide protection against. By adding sarcinaxanthin to sunscreen, harmful solar radiation is absorbed by the cream before it reaches the skin. However, commercial production of the carotenoid required some tricky genetic engineering.

The process of isolating the particular pigment took two years, from the SINTEF news release,

Firstly, the pigments produced by the bacteria had to be characterized using a variety of chemical techniques designed to identify the desired sarcinaxanthin carotenoid. Subsequently, the genes used by the bacterium to synthesise sarcinaxanthin had to be isolated. Finally, the research team had to transfer all the genes into a host bacterium. The aim was to create an artificial bacterium able to produce sarcinaxanthin sufficiently effectively to be of commercial interest.

“After about two years’ intensive work SINTEF had the first examples of this bacterium ready”, says Brautaset. “We have now synthesised a sarcinaxanthin-producing bacterium which can be cultivated.

We will now be carrying out tests to see if we can produce it in so-called fermenters (cultivation tanks) in the laboratory. This represents an excellent method for the effective production of sarcinaxanthin in volumes large enough to make industrial applications possible”, he says.

UVAblue is the commercial name that’s been given to this new synthetically derived version of sarcinaxanthi. This new substance has aroused much interest,

… “We have been in France talking to many of the world’s largest cosmetics manufacturers”, he says. “Everyone we talked to was very interested in making use of this type of sunscreen factor in their products”, says Goksøyr [Managing Director Audun Goksøyr at Promar AS].

Among the reasons for this is that the cells which generate malignant melanomas are located deep in the skin. It is primarily long-wavelength UV radiation which penetrates to these cells when we sunbathe. By preventing this radiation from penetrating the skin will be an excellent way of averting the development of this highly lethal form of cancer. It will also act as an anti-wrinkle agent.

You can find out more about UVAblue at its eponymous website. ETA Aug. 13, 2013 1230 pm PDT: I’ve removed a citation for and a link to a paper that was incorrectly placed here.

Thailand’s NANOTEC celebrates10th anniversary

Congratulations to Thailand’s NANOTEC (National Nanotechnology Center) on reaching its 10th anniversary. According to an Aug. 7, 2013 news item on Nanowerk, the center was founded on Aug. 13, 2003,

Ten years have gone by quickly proving the saying that “time and tide wait for no man”. It was on August 13, 2003 that the Thai government approved the setup of the National Nanotechnology Center (NANOTEC) under National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA),

Sirirurg Songsivilai, M.D.,Ph.D,NANOTEC Executive Director, provides an overview of the last 10 years and some hints about future prospects in his About Us message,

NANOTEC has come a long way since then and several accomplishments have come to bear. In the area of human resource, NANOTEC have successfully up its research pool to over 100 researchers and assistant researchers, carrying out research at our headquarters at Thailand Science Park. This is equivalent to 70% of the total NANOTEC staff. With regards to publication, NANOTEC researchers have published a total of 357 international publications. This is considered a significant number given our researcher pool.

NANOTEC research highlights have been forth coming in the last few years. This is normal as research projects takes time to complete. Some of the highlight projects include the SOS mobile water purification unit, the nano cosmeceutical QAcne pad made from encapsulation of mangosten extract, the Nano Bednet which contain nano scale long-lasting formulation of mosquito-insecticide, nano functional fabrics, controlled release fertilizer, and smart soil made from water hyacinth.

The last ten years have also seen an increase in the number of collaborative partnerships both local and international. The establishment of the Center of Excellence in Nanotechnology (COEs) with 8 leading Thai universities continues to help us leap frog our research initiatives. These partnerships have greatly helped to broaden our look on research from global aspects. NANOTEC also established strategic alliance with international nanotechnology centers and is playing leading role as one of the world-leading institutes.

So, what is in store for NANOTEC in the coming 10 years? We will continue to concentrate our focus on R&D programs that will have impacts. In order to do this, we will initiate the Flagship program approach in which all researchers are encouraged to participate. ….

You can find out more about NANOTEC and its current doings on its homepage.

Nano hair care from Panasonic

In the world of nanotechnology, hair care products don’t get the same attention as do sunscreens. Thankfully, Azonano and Panasonic have addressed this issue with a June 10, 2013 news item featuring an interview with Yoshiyuki Namba, Leader for the Panasonic Beauty Product Planning team, on the AZoNano website (Note: A link has been removed),

Earlier this year [2013?], Panasonic – one of the world’s biggest electronic product companies – expanded their product range to beauty products and skincare beauty devices.

A novel entry into the world of cosmetic consumer goods, Panasonic have used the nanotechnology angle to create products that are set to offer a high standard model for the end-user.

“In 2005, Panasonic started sales of the world’s first nanoeTM equipped dryer technology by re-developing the nanoeTM device with an aim to concurrently add on moisture and electrical charges on human hairs. However, we found that the customers required help to refill the water in the tank for creating a nanoeTM generation device. Therefore, Panasonic developed a peltier device system to condense moisture and started selling the newly developed product ‘without a water tank’ in year 2006. Since then, Panasonic has been advancing its technical features in creating the devices more and more compact in size.”

Panasonic has two ‘nano’ hair dryers. There is the Nano Care Hair Dryer on the Pansonic.asia website,

Every girl deserves the best. Pamper your hair with this top of the range Nanocare Hair Dryer equipped with nanoe* technology to help remove sebum more easily from your scalp. The dryer is also compact in size, making it easy for storage or travel.

*nanoe is a nano-sized ion particle coated with water particles. *nanoe is a trademark of Panasonic Corporation

They offer instructions, step 3 is my favourite,

STEP 3: To create silky smooth and straight hair, take a round brush and gently comb downwards, with the hair dryer following the brush. Part hair to smaller portions for easier management. [downloaded from http://www.panasonic.asia/beauty/products/eh_na30.html]

STEP 3:
To create silky smooth and straight hair, take a round brush and gently comb downwards, with the hair dryer following the brush. Part hair to smaller portions for easier management. [downloaded from http://www.panasonic.asia/beauty/products/eh_na30.html]

There is what appears to be another ‘nano’ hair dryer featuring a nozzle with a different shape and a technical marketing campaign, which can be found on the company’s ‘home’ website, Panasonic.net. From the Hair Dryer: nanoe™ for healthy and beautiful hair webpage,

[downloaded from http://panasonic.net/beauty/products/dryer.html]

[downloaded from http://panasonic.net/beauty/products/dryer.html]

For the very curious, there’s a webspace dedicated to nanoe™  technology on the Panasonic.net website where you can find out more and source published research.

The Azozano news item provides more information about the reasoning behind Panasonic’s claim that this is a ‘nanotechnology’  product in the Azonano. I’m not sure I follow the logic all the way through but it seems to have something to do with creating a negative ion hair dryer that emits an ultrafine mist by applying an electrode to condensation. The earlier version of the product had a water tank but the company found that caused problems so they redesigned the dryer. Unfortunately I can’t find an explanation for how they compensated for the loss of the water tank.

From a marketing communications perspective, this makes a very interesting case study. I haven’t seen any consumer-oriented products in Canada or from the US where nanotechnology is mentioned in a marketing campaign in quite some time. Any nanotechnology references in cosmetics advertizing, e.g. one company used to advertize ‘nanosomes’ in its skin creams, are long gone.

I’m glad to see this item as it provides some insight into how ‘nanotechnology’ products are marketed elsewhere.

Gold nanoparticles can make your hair brown

The Jan. 2, 2013 news item on Nanowerk notes that scientists have been able to synthesize gold nanoparticles inside human hair (Note: A link has been removed),

In a discovery with applications ranging from hair dyeing to electronic sensors to development of materials with improved properties, scientists are reporting the first synthesis of gold nanoparticles inside human hairs. Their study appears in ACS’ journal Nano Letters (“Hair Fiber as a Nanoreactor in Controlled Synthesis of Fluorescent Gold Nanoparticles”).

The Jan. 2, 2012 press release from the American Chemical Society (ACS), which originated the news item, provides a few more details,

Philippe Walter and colleagues explain that gold nanoparticles — 40,000-60,000 of which could fit across the width of a human hair — are a hot topic. Scientists are exploring uses, ranging from electronics and sensors to medical diagnostic tests and cancer treatments. Gold nanoparticles have been deposited on hair for use as electrodes, and gold nanoparticles had been used to dye wool. Walter’s team looked at a new use — dyeing hair, inspired by the ancient Greeks’ and Romans’ use of another metal, lead, to color their hair.

They describe the first synthesis of fluorescent gold nanoparticles inside human hair. It involved soaking white hairs in a solution of a gold compound. The hairs turned pale yellow and then darkened to a deep brown. Using an electron microscope, the scientists confirmed that the particles were forming inside the hairs’ central core cortex. The color remained even after repeated washings.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche.

Here’s what the hair looks like,

Gold nanoparticles darken hair after treatment for one day, center, and 16 days, right (untreated hairs, left). Credit: American Chemical Society

Gold nanoparticles darken hair after treatment
for one day, center, and 16 days, right
(untreated hairs, left).
Credit: American Chemical Society

For anyone who wants to follow up further, there’s a citation for and link to the research paper,

Hair Fiber as a Nanoreactor in Controlled Synthesis of Fluorescent Gold Nanoparticles by Shrutisagar D. Haveli, Philippe Walter, Gilles Patriarche, Jeanne Ayache, Jacques Castaing, Elsa Van Elslande, Georges Tsoucaris, Ping-An Wang, and Henri B. Kagan in Nano Lett., 2012, 12 (12), pp. 6212-5217 DOI: 10.1021/nl303107w Publication Date (Web): Nov. 2, 2012 © 2012 American Chemical Society

This is paper is behind a paywall.

New thinking applied to nail polish

According to a Dec. 15, 2012 news item on Nanowerk, a nanotechnology-enabled nail polish has received a provisional patent,

Nano Labs Corp. announced it has been awarded a provisional patent number61,735,705 for its original nano nail polish and lacquer, the third advanced nanotechnology product the Company has introduced in as many months.

“We’ve brought new thinking to a whole new product,” said Dr. Victor Castano, CEO of Innovation at Nano Labs. “The nano lacquer – or nail polish – is a nanohybrid compound, which is a rather new concept. In the past, bringing different chemical mixtures together could be problematic. … With the nail polish, we’ve taken ceramics – which provide excellent hardness and high scratch and chip resistance – and mixed them with polymer and metallic nano particles. The result is a material that is flexible but strong, non-toxic, and eco-friendly. Not to mention it can hold a great range of colours and sheen.”

Nano Labs promotes the nail polish as twice as durable conventional products. It dries to a very hard state, and resists shock, cracking, scratching, and chipping. It offers superior ease of application, quick drying film formation, and high coverage and adhesion, with bright, vivid colours and high gloss. It also offers the flexibility of a wide spectrum of colour – introduced at the nano level – with pigments including gold, silver, titanium, and other metals and oxides with a wide range of tones. Its elasticity allows for easy and effective application to nail curves without cracking. Nano Labs has also removed toxic solvents from the nail polish equation thanks to material that quickly evaporates, with no toxicity.

Nano Labs noticed that existing products produce a physical adhesion to the natural or plastic nail. The new nano nail polish produces a chemical adhesion which is about a 1,000 times stronger and requires significantly less coverage. Therefore you are getting a better color, coat, and longer-lasting finish.

The removal of the nail polish also required a new way of thinking. How to create a solution to remove the nano nail polish that wasn’t harsh on the nails or the person as traditional cleaners. While conventional nail polish removers will remove the nano nail polish, Dr. Castano and his team created a non-toxic, solvent which removes the nano nail polish without the traditional harsh effects and toxicity of conventional cleaners.

There are no more technical details in the news item or on the company (Nano Labs) website. In fact, the company website  doesn’t yet (as of Dec. 17, 2012 1000 hours PST) have a posted news release about this development. According to the news item on Nanowerk,

At the request of a major American manufacturer and distributor the company has completed its nano-technological lacquer research and filed patent applications (File Number – 61,735,705). Further disclosure will be made upon completion of the pending licensing agreement with the 3rd parties. [emphasis mine]

“The nano nail polish is a very important example of Nano Labs in action and the importance of our patents.” explains Mr. Bernardo Camacho, President of Nano Labs, “Without going into the technical data and formulas, there is a very narrow range of chemical properties, compositions, phase separations, and segregations that need to applied to create these types of products correctly. The only way to put these items together is in this narrow band, which is complicated, and is protected in our patent. [emphasis mine] We look forward to introducing the product to the global marketplace with partners in the cosmetic industry.”

The emphasis on the narrow band within which this nail polish innovation can occur and the company’s soon-to-be patent protection seems at odds with the company philosophy as stated by Dr. Castano,

“Our philosophy of green chemistry and using friendly organics allows us to focus on sustainable products that are less toxic and harmful to customers who are trending more and more toward healthier, environmentally sound consumer options,” Dr. Castano said.

The issue isn’t the patent so much as what appears to be an attempt by the company to ‘own’ all innovation in a niche they have defined in their patent. If the focus is “healthier, environmentally sound consumer options,” then surely, the company wants a patent that allows them to profit from their innovation while spurring more ‘green options’.

One final note, Nano Labs is a very young company having been founded in Oct. 2012.

More questions about whether nanoparticles penetrate the skin

The research from the University of Bath about nanoparticles not penetrating the skin has drawn some interest. In addition to the mention here yesterday, in this Oct. 3, 2012 posting, there was this Oct. 2, 2012 posting by Dexter Johnson at the Nanoclast blog on the IEEE [Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers] website. I have excerpted the first and last paragraphs of Dexter’s posting as they neatly present the campaign to regulate the use of  nanoparticles in cosmetics and the means by which science progresses, i.e. this study is not definitive,

For at least the last several years, NGO’s like Friends of the Earth (FoE) have been leveraging preliminary studies that indicated that nanoparticles might pass right through our skin to call for a complete moratorium on the use of any nanomaterials in sunscreens and cosmetics.

This latest UK research certainly won’t put this issue to rest. These experiments will need to be repeated and the results duplicated. That’s how science works. We should not be jumping to any conclusions that this research proves nanoparticles are absolutely safe any more than we should be jumping to the conclusion that they are a risk. Science cuts both ways.

Meanwhile a writer in Australia, Sarah Berry, takes a different approach in her Oct. 4, 2012 article for the Australian newspaper, the  Sydney Morning Herald,

“Breakthrough” claims by cosmetic companies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, according to a new study.

Nanotechnology — the science of super-small particles — has featured in cosmetic formulations since the late ’80s. Brands claim the technology delivers the “deep-penetrating action” of vitamins and other “active ingredients”.

You may think you know what direction Berry is going to pursue but she swerves,

Dr Gregory Crocetti, a nanotechnology campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, was scathing of the study. “To conclude that nanoparticles do not penetrate human skin based on a short-term study using excised pig skin is highly irresponsible,” he said. “This is yet another example of short-term, in-vitro research that doesn’t reflect real-life conditions like skin flexing, and the fact that penetration enhancers are used in most cosmetics. There is an urgent need for more long-term studies that actually reflect realistic conditions.”

Professor Brian Gulson, from Macquarie University in NSW, was was similarly critical. The geochemist’s own study, from 2010 and in conjunction with CSIRO [Australia's national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization], found that small amounts of zinc particles in sunscreen “can pass through the protective layers of skin exposed to the sun in a real-life environment and be detected in blood and urine”.

Of the latest study he said: “Even though they used a sophisticated method of laser scanning confocal microscopy, their results only reinforced earlier studies [and had] no relevance to ‘real life’, especially to cosmetics, because they used polystyrene nanoparticles, and because they used excised (that is, ‘dead’) pig’s skin.”

I missed the fact that this study was an in vitro test, which is always less convincing than in vivo testing. In my Nov. 29, 2011 posting about some research into nano zinc oxide I mentioned in vitro vs. in vivo testing and Brian Gulson’s research,

I was able to access the study and while I’m not an expert by any means I did note that the study was ‘in vitro’, in this case, the cells were on slides when they were being studied. It’s impossible to draw hard and fast conclusions about what will happen in a body (human or otherwise) since there are other systems at work which are not present on a slide.

… here’s what Brian Gulson had to say about nano zinc oxide concentrations in his work and about a shortcoming in his study (from an Australian Broadcasting Corporation [ABC] Feb. 25, 2010 interviewwith Ashley Hall,

BRIAN GULSON: I guess the critical thing was that we didn’t find large amounts of it getting through the skin. The sunscreens contain 18 to 20 per cent zinc oxide usually and ours was about 20 per zinc. So that’s an awful lot of zinc you’re putting on the skin but we found tiny amounts in the blood of that tracer that we used.

ASHLEY HALL: So is it a significant amount?

BRIAN GULSON: No, no it’s really not.

ASHLEY HALL: But Brian Gulson is warning people who use a lot of sunscreen over an extended period that they could be at risk of having elevated levels of zinc.

BRIAN GULSON: Maybe with young children where you’re applying it seven days a week, it could be an issue but I’m more than happy to continue applying it to my grandchildren.

ASHLEY HALL: This study doesn’t shed any light on the question of whether the nano-particles themselves played a part in the zinc absorption.

BRIAN GULSON: That was the most critical thing. This isotope technique cannot tell whether or not it’s a zinc oxide nano-particle that got through skin or whether it’s just zinc that was dissolved up in contact with the skin and then forms zinc ions or so-called soluble ions. So that’s one major deficiency of our study.

Of course, I have a question about Gulson’s conclusion  that very little of the nano zinc oxide was penetrating the skin based on blood and urine samples taken over the course of the study. Is it possible that after penetrating the skin it was stored in the cells  instead of being eliminated?

It seems it’s not yet time to press the panic button since more research is needed for scientists to refine their understanding of nano zinc oxide and possible health effects from its use.

What I found most interesting in Berry’s article was the advice from the Friends of the Earth,

The contradictory claims about sunscreen can make it hard to know what to do this summer. Friends of the Earth Australia advise people to continue to be sun safe — seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses and using broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen.

This is a huge change in tone for that organization, which until now has been relentless in its anti nanosunscreen stance. Here they advise using a sunscreen and they don’t qualify it as they would usually by saying you should avoid nanosunscreens. I guess after the debacle earlier this year (mentioned in this Feb. 9, 2012 posting titled: Unintended consequences: Australians not using sunscreens to avoid nanoparticles?), they have reconsidered the intensity of their campaign.

For anyone interested in some of the history of the Friends of the Earth’s campaign and the NGO (non governemental organization) which went against the prevailing sentiment against nanosunscreen, I suggest reading Dexter’s posting in full and for those interested in the response from Australian scientists about this latest research, do read Berry’s article.

Can nanoparticles pass through the skin or not?

Researchers at the University of Bath (England) have proved that nanoparticles do not penetrate the skin, according to the Oct. 1, 2012 news item on Nanowerk,

 Research by scientists at the University of Bath is challenging claims that nanoparticles in medicated and cosmetic creams are able to transport and deliver active ingredients deep inside the skin.
Nanoparticles, which are tiny particles that are less than one hundredth of the thickness of a human hair, are used in sunscreens and some cosmetic and pharmaceutical creams.
The Bath study (“Objective assessment of nanoparticle disposition in mammalian skin after topical exposure”) discovered that even the tiniest of nanoparticles did not penetrate the skin’s surface.
These findings have implications for pharmaceutical researchers and cosmetic companies that design skin creams with nanoparticles that are supposed to transport ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin. [emphasis mine]

Back in July 2012, a research team at Northwestern University claimed to have successfully delivered gene regulation technology using moisturizers to penetrate the skin barrier, excerpted from my July 4, 2012 posting,

The news item originated from a July 2, 2012 news release, by Marla Paul for Northwestern University, which provides more details about the researchers,

“The technology developed by my collaborator Chad Mirkin and his lab is incredibly exciting because it can break through the skin barrier,” said co-senior author Amy S. Paller, M.D., the Walter J. Hamlin Professor, chair of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She also is director of Northwestern’s Skin Disease Research Center.

A co-senior author of the paper, Mirkin is the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and professor of medicine, chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering. He also is the director of Northwestern’s International Institute for Nanotechnology.

Interdisciplinary research is a hallmark of Northwestern. Paller and Mirkin said their work highlights the power of physician-scientists and scientists and engineers from other fields coming together to address a difficult medical problem.

“This all happened because of our world-class presence in both cancer nanotechnology and skin disease research,” Paller said. “In putting together the Skin Disease Research Center proposal, I reached out to Chad to see if his nanostructures might be applied to skin disease. We initially worked together through a pilot project of the center, and now the rest is history.”

There’s more about how the nanoscale structures make their way through the skin but it seems the team from the University of Bath are prepared to contradict this claim, from the University of Bath’s Oct. 1,2012 news release (which originated the news item on Nanowerk),

Research by scientists at the University of Bath is challenging claims that nanoparticles in medicated and cosmetic creams are able to transport and deliver active ingredients deep inside the skin.

The Bath study discovered that even the tiniest of nanoparticles did not penetrate the skin’s surface.

These findings have implications for pharmaceutical researchers and cosmetic companies that design skin creams with nanoparticles that are supposed to transport ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin.

However the findings will also allay safety concerns that potentially harmful nanoparticles such as those used in sunscreens can be absorbed into the body.

The scientists used a technique called laser scanning confocal microscopy to examine whether fluorescently-tagged polystyrene beads, ranging in size from 20 to 200 nanometers, were absorbed into the skin. [emphasis mine]

They found that even when the skin sample had been partially compromised by stripping the outer layers with adhesive tape, the nanoparticles did not penetrate the skin’s outer layer, known as the stratum corneum.

I note they tested nanostructures larger than 20 nanometers so it’s possible that nanostructures that measure less than 20 nanometers could penetrate skin, non? However, it seems the structure used to ‘penetrate’ the skin by the team Northwestern University are considerably larger (excerpted from my July 4, 2012 posting),

The topical delivery of gene regulation technology to cells deep in the skin is extremely difficult because of the formidable defenses skin provides for the body. The Northwestern approach takes advantage of drugs consisting of novel spherical arrangements of nucleic acids. These structures, each about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, have the unique ability to recruit and bind to natural proteins that allow them to traverse the skin and enter cells.

(Side note: I believe a structure 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair would be measured in microns not nanometers.) I gather it’s the use of the nucleic acids in specialized formulations by the Northwestern team which make nanoparticle entry past the skin possible which contrasts with the work done by the University of Bath researchers who tested nanoparticles in standard cosmetic formulations.