What are they and why should we pay attention to them?
Nanomaterials are particles that are so small that we can only see them using a microscope. They occur naturally for example as plant pollen, sand, dust or volcanic ash. They can also be produced unintentionally in car exhaust or by burning candles. But they are also increasingly present in consumer products.
Nanomaterials are generally thought of as being particles with a size from approximately 1 to 100 nanometres (nm). Being small sometimes means that they also behave differently compared to the same substance in bigger sizes, which may influence the potential risk. But these properties can also make them particularly suitable for many applications. The same nanomaterial may also have many nanoforms based on differences in size, the shape of the particles, surface modifications or surface treatments.
However, the rapid increase in the use of nanomaterials in consumer products combined with their specific properties raises questions about their potential effects on health and the environment. There is a need to adequately assess and manage any potential risks these new materials may have and in particular the impact of modifying the surface of these particles.
That means, nanoparticles in skincare are not per se good or bad. They offer a lot of new exciting opportunities. But each ingredient in nano-form has to be tested individually if it is harmful or dangerous for us or our environment.