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Nano-Sunscreens: Journal Article Summary

Updated on July 1, 2013

This paper serves as a clear and concise summary of a recent journal article related to the field of Nano-dermatology, specifically its application within sunscreens.
As a side note: this paper was required as a university assessment item at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia, and was to be delivered in under 500 words.

Nasir, A., Wang, S., Friedman, A. (2011). The emerging role of nanotechnology in suncreens: An update. Expert Review of Dermatology, 6(5), 437-439

Sunscreen is known to serve as a critical tool in protecting human skin from the threat of skin cancer caused by the sun; sunscreens utilizing nanotechnology are becoming an attractive future alternative. The overall attitudes towards the use of nano suncreens in this article are encouraging, however, the potential toxicity and effect on the human body have raised concerns.

The science of investigating matter at the nanoscale encompasses unique findings; one particularly appealing to the cosmeceutical industry is that nano-sized particles, particles so small that they are smaller than the wavelength of visible light, can appear invisible. Engineering at a nano-level is unique, as size of the material decreases, the further it’s physical, chemical and optical qualities resemble those of it’s macromolecular self.


Benefits of Nano-sized Particles in Sunscreens

Sunscreens using the unique traits of nanotechnology, offer an even more effective and cosmetically pleasing solution to their traditional counterparts. In traditional sunscreens, the active ingredients (iron, titanium and zinc) were chosen for their ability to block both UVA and UVB radiation; unfortunately, traditional sunscreens are limited by poor texture and the chalky, white residue caused by these main ingredients. The result of nanotechnology in suncreens allows elements such as iron, titanium and zinc, to be virtually invisible as well as suspended in water-based emulsions, eliminating the greasy texture and chalky residues that are associated with photoprotective products.

Potential Toxicity and Further Health Implications of Nano-Sunscreens

Despite the availability of a more appealing product, concerns are raised in reference to nano-sized particles and their potential result on the human body. Nano sized titanium and zinc generate free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) when exposed to UV radiation. The capability of ROS to significantly damage DNA, RNA, proteins and fats within cells, however, is based on raw, unmodified materials, which are not common to be used in consumer products. It’s noted that the size, structure, coating and the particles’ ability to cluster are all factors which lead to the possible toxicity levels.

Evidence implicating nanoparticles’ toxicity has been found through studies conducted outside the living body (in vitro), however, in vivo studies are yet to yield similar results; the main safety concern depends on the penetration of the surface layers of the skin by nanoparticles as the protective layer below is what defends humans and animals from the harmful interaction with ROS.


In Conclusion

Available data regarding the safety of the active ingredients of sunscreens concludes that even in nano-sized particles they are safe and aid in photoprotection and prevention of related skin diseases. The advantages of nanoengineering in sunscreens create a safe and far superior product in comparison to traditional solutions. In healthy consumers, with proper application, the risk: benefit ratio of nanoparticulate sunscreens is encouraging.

Reference Article

Nasir, A., Wang, S., Friedman, A. (2011). The emerging role of nanotechnology in suncreens: An update. Expert Review of Dermatology, 6(5), 437-439


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    • Kim Stretch profile image

      Kimberly Cook 4 years ago from Perth, Australia

      Brilliant! Thank you for your compliments! :)

      Nasir's article is very well worth reading if you're interested.

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 4 years ago from India

      Impressive article on Nano-Sunscreens. Voted up.