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Nanoparticles cannot penetrate into skin: Study

1 October 2012

Scientists at the University of Bath have revealed that nanoparticles found in cosmeceuticals and sunscreens cannot actually penetrate into the skin.

The researchers said nanoparticles are microscopic particles used in skincare products, which can transport and deliver active ingredients deep inside the skin, reported professionalbeauty.co.uk.

According to the scientists, it was found that even the miniature of nanoparticles, which are less than one hundredth of the thickness of a human hair, did not penetrate the skin's surface.

Scientists said they had applied a laser scanning confocal microscopy technique to examine whether fluorescently tagged polystyrene beads, ranging in size from 20 to 200 nm, were absorbed into the skin.

They found that the skin sample when it had been partially settled by exfoliating the outer layers with adhesive tape, the nanoparticles did not find their way into the stratum corneum.

University of Bath professor Richard Guy said an earlier work has suggested that nanoparticles appear to penetrate the skin, while the new results indicate that they may in fact have simply been deposited into a deep crease within the skin sample.

"The skin's role is to act as a barrier to potentially dangerous chemicals and to reduce water loss from the body. Our study shows that it is doing a good job of this. So, while an unsuspecting consumer may draw the conclusion that nanoparticles in their skin creams, are 'carrying' an active ingredient deep into the skin, our research shows this is patently not the case," Guy added.

According to the website, the new findings could affect skincare brands that make the claims for their products, but could also ease concerns that potentially harmful nanoparticles can be absorbed into the body.