Cosmetic Industry Releases Scientific White Paper on Use of Nanoparticles in Personal Care Products

The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) released today a scientific white paper on the application of nanotechnology in personal care products, including cosmetics and certain over-the-counter (OTC) drug products, specifically sunscreens.

The report, available at, discusses the advantages of the use of nanomaterials, the regulatory evaluation of personal care products using nanotechnology, particular properties of nanoparticles, the potential for dermal absorption of nanoparticles used in topical lotions or creams, and the general scientific consensus and toxicology conclusions about the use of nanotech in personal care products. The report specifically addresses the issue of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide used in nanoparticle form in sunscreens.

“This report directly addresses the science behind the use of nanoparticles in personal care products,” said John Bailey, Ph.D., executive vice president of science at CTFA. “The science strongly indicates that nanoparticles applied topically to the skin in lotions or creams are safe and provide clear benefits to consumers.”

Sunscreens, some of which utilize sun-protecting nanoparticles that help prevent skin cancer, are required to go through an extensive FDA review and approval process to demonstrate they are safe and effective. The nanoparticles in sunscreens, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are established, efficacious sunscreen filters that have been on the market for decades. In 1996, FDA concluded that smaller, micronized particles of titanium dioxide are not new substances and that there is no evidence demonstrating that these micronized particles are unsafe. Nano-sized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, unlike the larger particle size ingredients, form a transparent rather than a thick, white coating, which leads to greater consumer acceptance and use of the products, and therefore greater protection from skin cancer and other damaging effects of the sun. The nano-size of the particles also enables them to better reflect and/or scatter certain harmful UV rays.

“The nanoparticles used in sunscreens provide important and unique sun-protection benefits, helping reduce the risk of skin cancer,” Bailey said. “These sunscreen ingredients have been used safely for many years and have been evaluated and approved by the FDA and independent scientists. They are transparent and aesthetically pleasing and therefore encourage greater consumer use.”

In addition to the report released today, CTFA also filed comprehensive comments with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the science and regulation of nanoparticles in personal care products. CTFA comments, which can be found at, specifically address issues raised in a petition filed with FDA earlier this year on nanotechnology applications in personal care products, specifically sunscreen products.