Cosmetics that contain nanomaterials are not a novelty. A number of applications have been known for decades, such as UV filters in sunscreen lotions. Nanomaterials may improve the effectiveness of products, such as toothpastes, sunscreen lotions, skin cremes and hair sprays.

Titanium dioxide and zinc dioxide in nano-form, in particular, are known for their use as UV filters in sunscreen lotions. In addition to these substances, also silica (silicon dioxide) and silver in nano-form are being used in cosmetics. European regulation on the ingredients in cosmetics is very strict. A number of ingredients (UV filters, preservatives and colouring agents) must be evaluated by an independent scientific committee on consumer safety (SCCS) of the European Commission before they are allowed to be marketed. According to new regulation on cosmetics, which will come into effect in July 2013, all nano-ingredients in new products must be notified at least six months before marketing of these products. The obligation to list any nano-ingredients on the labels of cosmetic products also becomes effective from 2013 onwards.

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