The controversy around nanoparticles has been swirling around for a few years now. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s the gist: Nanoparticles are teeny-tiny particles that have diameters between the size of an atom and a molecule. We’re talking super, super small.
Because of their small size, nanoparticles could potentially be absorbed into your individual cells when you put them on your skin or inhale them when you’re swirling around your mineral makeup.
Like many cosmetics ingredients, there are concerns about the safety of nanoparticles, but there hasn’t been much research done on their potential harmful effects. There doesn’t really appear to be a consensus among scientists. (Check out this post from Andrew Maynard about nanoparticles in sunscreens for an example.)
The problem is, like with many cosmetics ingredients that present potential safety concerns, nanoparticles are already almost everywhere—they first emerged in the cosmetics scene in sunscreens (nanoparticles are really effective at blocking UV rays), but they’re also in many cream- and powder-based makeup products. (Read more about nano-materials in sunscreens from the Environmental Working Group’s Sunscreens 2012 report, here.)
Environmental Working Group surveyed more than 25,000 personal care products for its latest Skin Deep Database update, and found widespread use of nanoparticles. (Side note: the FDA estimates there are more than 100,000 cosmetics products on the market.) Not sure if there are nanoparticles in your products? Look for ingredients like “micronized,” “fullerenes,” the prefix “nano,” “quantum dots,” and “liposomes,” which represent nanoparticles.
Personally I haven’t eliminated nanoparticles from my beauty routine—although I do make a point not to inhale as I’m applying mineral makeup (whether or not it contains nanoparticles).
But I’ve been wondering: How many of my fellow natural beauties are taking steps to avoid nanoparticles? Are you? —Aleigh