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Nanospheres in Skin Care

Nanospheres in Skin Care

Nanospheres are smaller than skin cells, which means that they are small enough to penetrate the epidermis, reports the P&G Beauty Grooming website. In the 21st century, nanotechnology shows promise in cancer research as a means of delivering medications exactly where they are needed without damaging healthy tissue, according to a 2009 study published by As of 2010, cosmetics companies are increasing their use of nanospheres in skin care products, especially those designed to address the visible signs of aging. Nanosphere technology poses both promise and potential dangers in the field of cosmetics and skin care.

The FDA's Take

Cosmetics manufacturers include skin care products that contain nanospheres under the classification of "cosmeceuticals," according to a report published in the journal "Recent Patents on Drug Delivery And Formulation." The cosmetics industry has coined the term "cosmeceutical" to refer to nonprescription products marketed as cosmetics but which claim to deliver therapeutic benefits, such as reducing the appearance of wrinkles, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recognize the term. The FDA also does not require cosmetics manufacturers to adhere to specific guidelines for labeling and marketing products that employ nanosphere technology, according to the "Nanotechnology Task Force Report 2007" published on its website.

Nanospheres and Cosmeceuticals

Liposomes, or tiny, hollow spheres of lipids filled with active ingredients, preceded nanospheres as the delivery vehicle of choice for cosmetics and cosmeceuticals beneath the surface of the skin, according to Shyam Gupta, president of Bioderm Research in Scottsdale, Arizona, quoted by "HAPPI Magazine." According to Gupta, conventional liposomes were vulnerable to degradation and leakage; more stable microencapsulated liposomes replaced them. Nanospheres represent the next phase in transdermal delivery of skin care products, Gupta says.

Promise of Nanospheres

Nanospheres show promise for skin for use in general skin care products, according to a 2006 study published by "Drug Delivery Systems," summarized by the Science Links Japan website. Cosmetics companies that market skin care products containing nanospheres claim that their products are more effective because they penetrate the outer layer of skin to deliver their beneficial effects to affected skin areas more efficiently and precisely than products that do not contain nanospheres, according to the Beauty Brains website. Nanospheres could provide more effective delivery of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, both common ingredients in acne treatments, Gupta claims.

Dangers of Nanospheres

As of 2010, nanosphere technology in cosmetics is not regulated in the United States, therefore there is no way to determine whether nanospheres in cosmetics deliver toxic substances into the body and bloodstream. Certain ingredients, such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide -- commonly used in sunscreen -- should not be absorbed into the skin, according to Gupta.

Research conducted at the University of Calgary by biochemist Peter Tieleman, post-doctoral fellow Luca Monticelli and colleagues found that "buckyballs," nanosized molecules used by cosmetics manufacturers in skin care products, easily penetrated cell membranes, "Science Daily" reports. The research also showed that "buckyballs" could cross the blood-brain barrier and change cell functions. Depending on the active ingredients, cosmeceuticals -- including those containing nanospheres -- could cause contact and allergic dermatitis, the American Academy of Dermatology warns.

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