Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cosmetics Q&A: What are nanoparticles?

I think I'm going to start going Q&A posts based on questions I get via email, facebook, in-person, etc. regarding cosmetics and skincare. Here's the first post!

I recently received an email asking whether or not B.Koi Cosmetics uses any nanoparticles in any of the formulas. The answer to this was NO of course, but it got me thinking. We know nanoparticles are bad, but how many of us know why and what they are? If I weren't such a nut when it comes to ingredients I wouldn't even think to look it up. So here's the 411 for all of you makeup lovers out there interested to learn a bit about nanoparticles:
Just how small is a nanoparticle?

Nanoparticles are typically referred to as materials that have been created using nanotechnology. They are generally defined as measuring between 1-100 nanometres in size. Just to give you an idea of how small that is, 1 nanometres is 1/1000 of  1 micron. Now that may still seem kind of ambiguous, so here's just an idea of how things stick up.

The average size of table salt: 120 microns
The average size of human hair: 70 microns
The average size of the titanium dioxide used by B.Koi: .3 microns
The average size of the mica, tin oxide, iron oxide, etc. used by B.Koi: 2+ microns

So as you can see, even though our titanium measures .3 microns, that's still 300 nanometres, which still does not fit into the 1-100 nanometres size criteria.

So now that we kind of see how insanely small nanoparticles are, why are they bad?

Nanoparticles are thought to be bad in cosmetics, skincare, etc. because they're so small that they can easily make their way through our skin and into our blood. Metals such as silver can even be made into nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are not only bad because they easily absorb through your skin, but they freely float through the air and when breathed in, can cause negative reactions. Granted our skin and lungs can come in contact with nanoparticles in a number of different ways, cosmetics are something that we can control. Also, nanoparticles are not believed to be very eco-friendly for a number of different reasons, but that's another story ;)

Not sure about your cosmetics and nanoparticles? Contact the cosmetic companies you purchase from. They should have data regarding the average size of the particles for individual ingredients they use. I have all of that information for B.Koi. 

So how do you feel about nanoparticles? Are they something you were aware of before? Will you avoid them in the future?


  1. I love these kind of posts!! Keep doing them. :-)

    I've never thought to ask companies that I use regularly if they use nanoparticles. I might be making some calls in the near future here!

  2. I definitely think you'll be seeing a lot more of the Cosmetics Q&A posts in the future!

    Yes, definitely ask! They're in all sorts of cosmetics, especially lotions, sunscreen, foundations, creams, etc.

    Kind of crazy!


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