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Nanotechnology Goes Glam: Cosmetics Advances, Challenges

Cosmetics are big business, but industry researchers are thinking small, as nanotechnology brings new products and techniques to their toolkits. A special symposium spotlights commercially important ingredients and delivery technologies.

(press release from American Chemical Society ACS)

From colored contact lenses to moisturizers with Vitamin E, cosmetics are big business. Personal care represents one of the fastest growing markets in the chemical industry worldwide. But industry researchers are thinking small, as nanotechnology brings new products and techniques to their toolkits. More than 25 presentations, ranging from polymers and film ingredients to innovations in eye, hair and skin care, are highlighted in a special symposium, "Cosmetic Nanotechnology: Polymers and Colloids in Personal Care," during the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., Aug. 28-Sept. 1. In particular, this two-day symposium, Aug. 30-31, spotlights commercially important ingredients and delivery technologies. Highlights include:

Tuesday, Aug. 30

Regulating nano cosmetics * Nanotechnology in cosmetics first emerged over 40 years ago, when moisturizing creams included liposome technology. Back then, scientists used nanotechnology to add shimmer and increase solubility. Today, however, nanotechnology may do much more, possible even altering the physical properties of many kinds of cosmetics. This leads to an obvious question: Do microparticles penetrate more readily through skin as nanoparticles? FDA investigators are considering these issues as the agency begins to explore nanotechnology in cosmetics. (POLY 333, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 11:15 a.m., Grand Hyatt Washington - Constitution D-E.)

Staking a claim * Anti-aging. Glossing. Volumizing. These are just a few of the many popular claims made by cosmetics ads. But do these claims mean anything? In fact, well-tested claims rely on the rigorous evaluation of hair and skin physiology. From labs that do tests to substantiate such claims to salons that conduct subjective half- and whole-head comparisons, a colorful world of science sits behind those optimistic products on the drugstore shelf. Researchers at Croda, Inc., offer a peek inside. (POLY 334, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 11:45 a.m., Grand Hyatt Washington – Constitution D-E.)

Wednesday, Aug. 31

An eye for color * Today, contact lens wearers don’t just see differently. Sometimes, they also look different. In the blink of an eye, colored contacts can turn your baby blues a deep green, or brown, or just about any other color. How do colored contacts work? The secret’s in the chemistry. Dramatic eye color changes begin with carefully patterned colorants on a contact lens, but the human iris also contributes to the transformation. In two separate presentations, a researcher at CIBA Vision will describe the evolving chemistry behind colored contact lenses. (POLY 674 and POLY 675, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2:00 p.m., and 2:30 p.m., Grand Hyatt Washington – Constitution D-E.)

Nano-carriers deliver Vitamin E * A known antioxidant, Vitamin E, is touted by cosmetics companies for its ability to protect skin and hair from damage. But Vitamin E does not easily absorb through the skin’s outer layers. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have designed a potential solution: synthetic nanocarriers that encapsulate and transport Vitamin E deeper into the skin. These novel Vitamin E-toting polymers combine fast- and slow-acting components. Applications may include water-based preparations of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. (POLY 677, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 3:45 p.m., Grand Hyatt Washington – Constitution D-E.)

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