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Lab: Small Wonders

September 28, 2012 | 6:44 AM
By now, youâ've probably seen the stain-resistant pants that repel coffee, soda or virtually any liquidâ—but did you know that the same type of technology is already found in some of the skin care products you use every day? No, itâ's not going to protect your clientsâ' skin from stains per seâ—but nanotechnology is changing the essential makeup of many creams, lotions and emulsions available, making them more effective and longer-lasting.

small scale, big results
Nanotechnology is the design, production and application of structures and systems by controlling its shape and size at the nanoscale. This involves breaking down material into the smallest sizes possible. One nanometer is the span of about eight to 10 atomsâ—and to put it in perspective, a human hair is about 75,000 nanometers thick.

In essence, the beauty of nanotechnology is it allows scientists to create the ideal formulation by customizing its atomic structure, and making certain ingredients, such as vitamins and other compounds, behave in more effective ways. And skin care companies using this technology are already ahead of the curve. â"Nanotechnology or microemulsions are basically tiny, particle-sized emulsion systems,â" explains Gul Zone, founder of DermAware. â"Because of the small size, they penetrate deeper into the skin. We are target-delivering active ingredients to where they need to go in the skin.â"

GlyMed Plus is also using nanotechnology in its most advanced products, and plan to offer even more in 2007. â"We are dealing with a very complex immune organ: the skin,â" says CEO Christine Heathman. â"If you take these components at a nanolevel and are able get into the skinâ's cells, youâ're able to get the skin to respond in a very
positive way. Nanotechnology can only enhance the efficacy of the product.â"


micro skin care
The technology works exceptionally well in skin care products because itâ's tailored to the science of the skin. â"It is an effective delivery system because the skin has hydrophilic (â"water-lovingâ") and lipophilic (â"oil-lovingâ") components, and in these emulsions, we are able to basically capitalize on the skinâ's affinity for both,â" says Zone. â"So if we produce a corrective product with a megadose of a corrective ingredient, we load up the oil phase, and envision a water phase where tiny oil drops are floating, and they are so small that light can pass through them. The corrective ingredient is then able to penetrate better because of the percentage of oil to water components.â"

As an example, DermAware produces VITal K Microgel, a healing product recommended to reduce discoloration due to rosacea, bruising and spider veins. The microemulsions inside contain a megadose of not only vitamin K, which is known to reduce redness, but also four other types of vitamins for their antioxidant and anti-aging properties. So, because of the way in which this microemulsion was formulated, the user is receiving a higher, more concentrated dose of the healing vitamins than she might receive if she used a similar product. â"A lot of the active component in a regular treatment or gel is not really penetrating,â" adds Zone. â"This technology makes the vitamin more efficient.â"

Moreover, your current roster of clients may already be prime candidates for treatments with nanotech products. â"Whoâ's driving this is baby boomers,â" says Heathman. â"Todayâ's 60 is really the new 40. Using nanotechnology is just another step in being able to target specific skin issues.â" â"Nanotechnology has been used in science for many years, and now itâ's slowly trickling into the beauty industry,â" concludes Zone. â"As our active ingredients become more complex, its role will grow.â"

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