Cosmetics industry is a highly competitive market. Many companies are in this space, providing today’s consumers thousands of skincare, hair care, make-up, fragrances and toiletries. An estimated of 10,000+ hair care products were launched in only in 2012. To have success in such competing sector, cosmetic products must differentiate which can be achieved by means of using emergent technologies, such as micro or nanoencapsulation.
Encapsulation technologies add value by introducing different functional properties to products.
What is micro/nanoencapsulation?
Micro/nanoencapsulation is the process of packaging small droplets of liquid or particles with a thin film (1). Microcapsules have diameter greater than 0.1 µm and less than 1000 µm (for comparison – 100 µm is the average diameter of a human hair strand). Nanocapsules have diameter less than 100 nm (for comparison – 2 nm is the diameter of a DNA helix)
Micro/nanocapsules are composed by two parts: the core and the shell. The core contains the active agent that can be: essential oils, fragrances, vitamin, antioxidants, or other active ingredients. The shell can be made of polymers, lipid bilayers (in the case of liposomes), lipids, nonionic surfactants (in the case of niosomes). Shells can also consist of a continuous film or can be porous.
What is the scope of encapsulation in cosmetics?
There are 3 main objectives:
- protection against degradation from external factors; protect fragrances or other active agents from oxidation caused by heat, light, moisture, or from contact with other substances over a long shelf life (2);
- controlled release of the active ingredient over a period of time (3);
- penetration enhancer into the skin or hair strands; encapsulation and carrier systems like liposomes, nanoemulsions, or lipid nanoparticles serve to transport agents to deeper skin layers.
In my opinion, hair care is one of the most promising field where encapsulate (specially at the nanoscale) can have a fast and strong impact. While the majority of research has been focused on skin care, hair care was a little bit neglected. However, in the last years, research is ongoing to discover how encapsulation techniques and nanotechnologies can be used to prevent hair loss and to maintain shine, silkiness, and health of hairs (4).
- Unlike ordinary hair straightening products nanoemulsion in hair cosmetics does not destroy the outer structure of the hair fibers (the cuticles), to penetrate into the hair strands (5).
- For example, sericin (composed of cationic sericin nanoparticles) is an active area of hair cosmetics. Studies have shown that sericin nanoparticles easily adhere to the surface of hair, sealing and treating the damaged cuticles (6).
The present and the future look very innovative as more hair care companies borrow ingredients from skin care products and apply them to both scalp and hair care. It has to start with a healthy scalp, and the scalp has to stay healthy for the hair to follow.
- Blair, H.S., Guthrie, J., Law, T. and Turkington, P. Chitosan and modified chitosan membranes, preparation and characterization. J. App. Poly. Sci 1987; 33: 641-656.
- K. Ghosh, Functional coatings and microencapsulation: a general perspective, in: Swapan Kumar Ghosh (Ed.) Functional Coatings, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, 2006, pp. 1–28.
- J. Greay, K.A. Hammer, Recent developments in the bioactivity of mono- and diterpenes: anticancer and antimicrobial activity, Phytochem. Rev. (2011)
- Alka Lohani, Anurag Verma, Himanshi Joshi, Niti Yadav, and Neha Karki, Nanotechnology-based Cosmetics, ISRN Dermatology, Volume 2014, Article ID 843687.
- Ereno, “Well-grounded Beauty,” http://revistapesquisa fapesp.br/en/2008/04/01/wellgrounded-beauty/.
- D. Carmen, V. Pereda, A. Polezel et al., “Sericin cationic nanoparticles for application in products for hair and dyed hair,” U.S. Patent 20120164196, June 2012.
Sophia Loren once said that there is a fountain of youth in each of us: “it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” If Sophia is right, and we just truly need to look into our inner self to find the fountain of youth, than why the most of us are looking to attain the modern model of physical attractiveness? Could self‐perception of aging and the perception of others aging be effected by media’s aging portrayal and the current societal “norms”?
The results of a quantitative study done with 304 Canadian women (2) puzzled the researchers: women in the study who used anti‐aging products still favored natural aging and strongly disagree with negative advertisements perpetuated by the mass media related to women and aging. Researchers in the area are still working on understanding this contradiction (5).
Youth is highly valued in western society, and younger adults are consistently viewed as more physically attractive than older adults (1). Many industries are capitalizing on these values by marketing their products and services as “anti-aging”. The term ‘anti‐aging medicine’ is used to describe “a combination of practices which include aesthetic procedures, hormone supplementation, medically supervised weight loss and exercise regimens, stress management, massage therapy, and pharmaceutical grade vitamins” (3).
I do agree with all good products and regimens that help us prevent future diseases, maintain our mind & body health and keep us healthy and sane overall. I am a scientist and curious about new and old ingredients – chemicals and biochemicals – made in the lab or derived from nature; I applaud new scientific methods that give us better and more efficient products, that make us feel good and keep us healthy, products that make our skin look better and our hair shinier.
What I do not agree with, is the term “anti-aging”. First, the term “anti‐aging medicine” implies that aging is a “disease” that can be “cured.” Secondly, it signals that the normal signs of old age, such as wrinkles and gray hair, are shameful and ugly rather than conditions to be expected and accepted (4). It seems no longer socially acceptable or even preferred to age “normally” (5).
It looks as the older woman is a part of an “at-risk” population who must monitor, treat and prevent any markers of old age. Furthermore, nowadays, young women in their yearly 20’s are told to use preventive methods or products against future unpleasant wrinkles.
We all want to experience cosmetics products that make us feel beautiful, at any age. It is good for our soul, a beauty therapy for our bodies. I just don’t want to be told that I buy a particular product because I am getting older.
How do you feel about the “anti-aging” term?
- Bugental, D. B., & Hehman, J. A. (2007). Ageism: A review of research and policy implications. Social Issues and Policy Review, 1, 173–216.
- Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2010). Womenʹs perceptions and use of ʺanti‐agingʺ products. Sex Roles, 63(1/2), 126‐137.
- Watts‐Roy, D. M. (2009). A protest vote? Users of anti‐aging medicine talk back. Health Sociology Review, 18(4), 434‐445.
- Palmore, E. B. (2007). Healthy Behaviors or Age Denials? Educational Gerontology, 33(12), 1087‐
- Clair Maureen Williams, Behind the mask: an analysis of women’s perceptions and rationale toward the purchase and use of anti-aging products, 2013.