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Nanoparticles Lowdown

Nanotechnology is the study and application of extremely small particles (smaller than 100 nanometers – about 40,000 times thinner than a hair). In skincare, nano ingredients come in two forms: nanoemulsions – tiny droplets of liquid – and nanoparticles – solid ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Nanoemulsions contain oil and water droplets, reduced to nanometric size (less than 100 nanometers). This technology is useful in delivering active ingredients more effectively by increasing the penetration of the active compound into your skin. Nanoemulsions are generally recognised as safe, provided that the ingredients that they deliver are safe.

Nanoparticles (the solid version) are widely used in sunscreens and other products with UV protection. They have gained popularity for their ability to block ultraviolet rays while minimising the whitening effect on the skin. The controversy surrounding these insoluble nanoparticles relates to their potential to penetrate the dermis and possibly trigger an immune response. The particles are so small that the immune system can mistake them for invaders and launch an attack. There is also concern that the particles could enter the bloodstream.

Nanoparticles are something we have chosen to avoid as we feel that there are too many unknowns … so why take the risk? In our sunscreen, the zinc oxide particle size is strictly controlled using a series of sieves designed to discard any particle too large or too small. This keeps us safely above the nanoparticle limit of 100 nanometers but avoids the whitening effect. We also coat the zinc oxide particles with wax so that there is no potential disruption of your skin microbiome.