Grey goo on the skin? Nanotechnology, cosmetic and sunscreen safety

Nohynek, Gerhard J., Lademann, Jürgen, Ribaud, Christele and Roberts, Michael S. (2007) Grey goo on the skin? Nanotechnology, cosmetic and sunscreen safety. Critical Reviews In Toxicology, 37 3: 251-277. doi:10.1080/10408440601177780

Author Nohynek, Gerhard J.
Lademann, Jürgen
Ribaud, Christele
Roberts, Michael S.
Title Grey goo on the skin? Nanotechnology, cosmetic and sunscreen safety
Journal name Critical Reviews In Toxicology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1040-8444
Publication date 2007-03
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1080/10408440601177780
Volume 37
Issue 3
Start page 251
End page 277
Total pages 27
Editor R. O. McLellan
Place of publication Philadelphia, P.A., U.S.A.
Publisher Taylor & Francis Inc
Collection year 2008
Language eng
Subject 320503 Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
730117 Skin and related disorders
Abstract Many modern cosmetic or sunscreen products contain nano-sized components. Nanoemulsions are transparent and have unique tactile and texture properties; nanocapsule, nanosome, noisome, or liposome formulations contain small vesicles (range: 50 to 5000 nm) consisting of traditional cosmetic materials that protect light- or oxygen-sensitive cosmetic ingredients. Transdermal delivery and cosmetic research suggests that vesicle materials may penetrate the stratum corneum (SC) of the human skin, but not into living skin. Depending on the physical/chemical properties of the ingredient and the formulation, nano-sized formulations may enhance or reduce skin penetration, albeit at a limited rate. Modern sunscreens contain insoluble titanium dioxide (TiO2) or zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles (NP), which are colorless and reflect/scatter ultraviolet (UV) more efficiently than larger particles. Most available theoretical and experimental evidence suggests that insoluble NP do not penetrate into or through normal as well as compromised human skin. Oral and topical toxicity data suggest that TiO2 and ZnO NP have low systemic toxicity and are well tolerated on the skin. In vitro cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, and photogenotoxicity studies on TiO2 or other insoluble NP reporting uptake by cells, oxidative cell damage, or genotoxicity should be interpreted with caution, since such toxicities may be secondary to phagocytosis of mammalian cells exposed to high concentrations of insoluble particles. Caution needs to be exercised concerning topical exposure to other NP that either have characteristics enabling some skin penetration and/or have inherently toxic constituents. Studies on wear debris particles from surgical implants and other toxicity studies on insoluble particles support the traditional toxicology view that the hazard of small particles is mainly defined by the intrinsic toxicity of particles, as distinct from their particle size. There is little evidence supporting the principle that smaller particles have greater effects on the skin or other tissues or produce novel toxicities relative to micro-sized materials. Overall, the current weight of evidence suggests that nano-materials such as nano-sized vesicles or TiO2 and ZnO nanoparticles currently used in cosmetic preparations or sunscreens pose no risk to human skin or human health, although other NP may have properties that warrant safety evaluation on a case-by-case basis before human use.
Keyword Toxicology
CAS 1314-13-2
CAS 13463-67-7
dermal toxicity
percutaneous penetration
risk assessment
titanium dioxide
zinc oxide
Titanium-dioxide Particles
Transdermal Drug-delivery
Quantum Dots
Ultrafine Particles
Subchronic Inhalation
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Additional Notes This document is a journal review.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2008 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 279 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 347 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 18 Feb 2008, 16:45:45 EST