SMALL WONDER? NANOTECHNOLOGY AND COSMETICS
Nanotechnologies use materials on an incredibly small scale so that they take on new properties compared to their larger form. The technology has the potential to transform many of the everyday consumer products that we use and a wide range of products are already on the market including tennis racquets, self-cleaning windows and stain proof clothing. Nano cosmetics is one area of particular interest as new types of products can be made using nano materials. UV filters used in sunscreens produced in nano form, for example, become clear rather than white when compared to their larger form. However, there’s uncertainty about whether, alongside the changes that bring consumer benefits, some of these materials could present new risks. Materials could be more hazardous and behave differently in the body compared to larger forms. It isn’t clear yet how and where nano materials are being used in cosmetics. Some products are promoted on this basis, but others using nanotechnology don’t reveal it. There is also uncertainty about how to assess them for safety. While some materials raise little concern, experts advising the Government have highlighted potential risks posed by others, particularly insoluble nano materials. This latest Which? research takes a closer look at what nano cosmetics are on the market, what information is available about them and whether or not we can be sure they are safe.
for all consumers
WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY? Nanotechnology manipulates materials at an incredibly small scale. The use of nanotechnology stretches across many sciences from electronics to biology and many product sectors so it is more accurate to refer to nanotechnologies, rather than a single technology. A nanometre (nm) is a millionth of a millimetre, roughly one eighty thousandth of a human hair. Nano materials have one or more external dimension, or an internal structure, on the nano scale...