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How Does Nanotechnology Impact Skincare?

Have you heard of nanotechnology?  Nanotechnology refers to using particles that are less than 100 nanometers small.  When it comes to cosmetic products, nanotechnology involves putting these small sized particles into formulations.  When this technology is used, it is most commonly the active ingredients in a formulation that are made into nanoparticles.  While there are some promising aspects to this technology, much is not known, and some of what is known shows that there is a dangerous side to the use of nanoparticles. 

On the good side of nanoparticles, there is emerging research that they may play a role in advancing skin cancer treatment.  Nanoparticle technology can serve to more efficiently deliver drugs and bioactive molecules to target tissues (the tumor site), enabling lower doses and lower toxic effects.  These benefits may also hold true when it comes to skincare products, making the active ingredients more bioavailable, so long as the other ingredients in a formulation aren’t harmful. 

One of the dangers of nanoparticles is that they are so small that they can penetrate easily into the body.  Many cosmetic companies in the US have voluntarily made the choice to not use nanoparticles, yet despite this nanoparticles have made their way into many products.  In fact, nanoparticles are often an unintentional consequence of the processing of certain raw materials.  One example of this is the pigments used in cosmetics, such as fish scales and mica in eyeshadow, which are ground down so that they offer a reflective and glossy appearance. 

It’s important to note that even if the ingredient that is a nanoparticle is beneficial and one you would want to penetrate the skin, other ingredients in the formula, such as filters and emulsifiers, would pose harm to the body.  Even products that are sometimes touted as being safe, such as sunscreens which include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, may actually pose more harm than good due to being nano-sized.  Dermatologists warn that these particles can get into your skin and can actually be there for the rest of your life, unless your immune system is able to phagocytize the material for removal.   

We are exposed to nanoparticles on a daily basis through pollution created by engine combustion and manufacturing that involves burning.  Many of these nanoparticles also happen to be carcinogenic.  Some harmful side effects of nanoparticle exposure include: headache, high blood pressure, renal dysfunction, decreased white blood cell count, tremors, weight gain, decreased appetite, electrolyte imbalance, acne…and the list goes on.  In general, we want to take steps to avoid widespread exposure to nanoparticles.  A rule of thumb at Edye’s Naturals is: if you don’t want it in your body, don’t put it on your skin.  Keep this in mind when you are selecting cosmetic and skincare products, and be sure to take a good look at the ingredients.  Edye’s Naturals uses all organic, plant-based oils, with all our products formulated to be like food for your skin. 

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