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Nanotechnology ups cosmetic formulation


UK company Malvern has supplied researchers at Particle Sciences in Pennsylvania, US, with a nano particle characterisation system as part of efforts to improve the formulation of its recently developed encapsulated form of retinol, reports Simon Pitman.

Particle Sciences , which develops ingredients for the personal care and cosmetics industry, had been coming up against problems formulating retinol, due to its known instability when mixed with other ingredients.

Research has shown that Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, has beneficial effects on photo damaged skin, so when formulated correctly it can prove to be a valuable ingredient in anti-ageing products.

The approach of Particle Science has been to develop an encapsulated delivery for the ingredient, but the intricacy of this process meant that the company had to turn to nanotechnology to achieve the all-essential stability.

Which is where Malvern's Zetasizer Nano system became useful. The technology is being used to optimise manufacturing conditions for the skin care formulation, a multi-component system.

Examination of the effects of compositional changes on particle size and zeta potential has enabled better understanding and control of the parameters that determine suspension stability, Malvern claims.

The Zetasizer Nano is also being used to study the impact of surface chemistry on formulation issues such as the understanding of the surface and interfacial properties, as well as long term product stability.

The system uses patented technologies to deliver particle size measurement in the range 0.6 to 6000 nm and measure the zeta potential of particles from 5 nm to 10 nm in diameter. Malvern says it has the sensitivity required for the measurement of highly dilute proteins and polymers as well as the ability to analyze emulsions at high concentrations.

Nanotechnology involves the study and use of materials at an extremely small scale - at sizes of millionths of a millimetre - and exploits the fact that some materials have different properties at this ultra small scale from those at a larger scale. One nanometer is the same as one millionth of a millimetre.

In recent years the technology has started to creep into cosmetics formulations where it has proved successful in skincare formulations used as anti-aging and sunscreen products, although regulation for the technology has proved to be tight in view of the limited research that has been carried out in this still new field.

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