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Beware of Nanoparticles Used in Cosmetics and Sun Screens

What Are Nanoparticles?
A nanoparticle is a piece of material so small that its size is measured in nanometers or billionths of a meter. As a comparison, a typical nanoparticle is approximately 1/50000 smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The size of nanoparticles is their greatest asset and their greatest health risk.

Why am I writing about nanoparticles on an allergy web blog?
I feel strongly that new technology has the potential to create new allergens or weaken our natural defenses against natural allergens. We should always be aware and on guard to protect our bodies.

Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter on the molecular level, generally raises no new safety issues, but the tiny particles can behave in unusual ways. In some instances non-toxic materials can become toxic. Existing safety rules do not take into account “safe” non-toxic materials posing risks at the nano scale. Nanoparticles are so small they can infiltrate our skin, lungs and intestinal walls, giving the toxins free access to the body.  For example they can get into our lungs but are so small they are not easily cleared by normal body functions. This causes the lungs to be overburdened and we have to work harder to breathe.

But new research just published in the journal Cancer Research demonstrates that it is the surface interaction the nanoparticles produce inside a body that causes genetic damage. Bottom line: the study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has revealed for the first time that TiO2 nanoparticles induce single and double-strand DNA breaks and cause chromosomal damage, as well as inflammation, all of which increase the risk of cancer.

Nanoparticles are found in products that are unmarked and commonly used. Two common sources of nanoparticles today are sunscreens and mineral make up. Nanoparticles are used by firms including Boots, The Body Shop, Avon, Nivea and Unilever. (Nanowerk News) Testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth has found nanoparticles in foundations and concealers sold by big name brands, including Revlon, Clarins, Clinique, Max Factor, the Body Shop, L’Oréal, By Terry and Lancôme Paris. The use of nanoparticles in high exposure consumer applications such as cosmetics has attracted increasing controversy as evidence of potential toxicity has grown. These particles are being used in products without sufficient safety testing.

“The cosmetics industry needs to stop burying its head in the sand and come clean about how it is using nanotechnology,” said Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at Which? “Many of the applications could lead to exciting, revolutionary developments … but until all the necessary safety tests are carried out, the simple fact is we just don’t know enough. The government must introduce a compulsory reporting scheme for manufactured nanomaterials … and only those that are independently assessed as safe should be allowed to be used in cosmetics.”

Dr. Epstein, who is interviewed on Dr. Mercola’s web site, has serious concerns about cosmetic products containing nano-particles, and that the facts about these technologies are being hidden and ignored. “There is no labeling of the warning at all of the dangers of these nanoparticles, instead they are touted as reducing wrinkling and firming up the skin surface,” he says. These ingredients are used in many different brands of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, so I encourage you to use this information to evaluate ANY type of cosmetic you’re considering buying. Some of these nanoparticles are so dangerous, in fact, they’re slowly but surely becoming known as “universal asbestos.”
Read the full article here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/24/epstein-interview.aspx

Another source of information: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/newscience/plastic-nanoparticles-can-cross-placenta

All this talk of Nanoparticles makes me think of Michael Crichton’s book of fiction “Prey” from 2002. As always Mr. Crichton was ahead of his time. I recommend this book highly for an exciting and thoughtful read.

Read all the blogs about skin allergies on Allergy Comfort Zone: http://allergycomfortzone.com/skin-allergies

12 Responses

  1. I used L’oreal Revitalift and have been suffering for 6 months allergic reaction to this cream. At first I thought I was allergic to the retinol but maybe its the nano particles. How can I find out what is causing the redness, swollen and peeling reaction.


    • Hi,

      Sorry to hear that you have a bad reaction to L’Oreal Revitalift. I’m not sure there is anyway to truely pin down exactly what in the product you are allergic to. I am allergic to complete line of L’Oreal products. I always get suckered in by their great advertising, They promise so many wonderful things. I tried a few of the products before I figured out I should stay away from them all. I thought I might be allergic to the fragrance, they do tend to have a strong fragrance. Maybe it is the nano particles or the rentinol, I really don’t know. I know some of the prescription strength rentinols, like the ones sold through dermatologists and plastic surgeons do make your skin red and irritated for a short while. I don’t know if L’Oreal Revitalift has that much rentinol. I think 6 months is too long to suffer, stop using the product, it’s not doing you any good. Try a retinol product that is hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. I hesitate to recommend a specific product. Neutrogena is one of the best OTC retinol products so good choice! It has .04%-.07% retinol and high conc. of green tea too. A lot of OTC retinols are actually not formulated correctly (ex. certain esters used for moisturizing reduce efficacy of product etc). This was according to the textbook Cosmetic Dermatology and she said Neutrogena was stable and well formulated.

      I have used Netrogena Healthy Skin for over 10 years. I stopped for a several short periods to try other products, but have never found anything else that works as well for me. Good Luck, Dayne


  2. It was rather interesting for me to read that blog. Thank author for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

    Sara Meetington


  3. I really interested in your post. Actually I posted a similar related article in my blog regarding this issue. What is your opinion about it?


    • Hi Bill,

      I visited your site and didn’t find anything about nanoparticles at all. I’m confused.


  4. I love discussion, that’s how we all learn. I also write the companion blog to this forum. http://www.allergycomfortzone.com, the blog has the complete information on each Discussion Forum post.


  5. Yes, nanoparticles are pretty scary. Here’s some more research on the potential risk of nano’s in skincare, http://mvorganics.com/news_research


    • Catherine,
      The link you mentioned in your comment is excellent.
      There is a lot of information there.
      Thank you Dayne


      • More articles to come so stay tuned.There’s a lot of concern over nano’s in sunscreen and we’ll be blogging about the issues this summer http://mvorganicsblog.com/


  6. This stuff is just like science fiction. I’ve read Cricton’s book Prey. Really scary stuff. They are using consumers as guinea pigs, by telling us this is good for us without proper testing.


  7. I had no idea nanoparticles could enter through your skin and do damage. The products that have them always make then sound so helpful. I guess it’s like genetically modified foods, we just don’t know yet. Why take the chance?


  8. Thanks for bringing this up. New technologies like this need to be evaluated before they produce widespread health problems, not after. And before they have infiltrated the food chain as well.


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