In previous installments of Nanomedicine, we have discussed the usage of nanoparticles in cancer and other diseases as both diagnostics and therapeutic agents. See, for example, magnetic nanoparticles for theranostics (Part VIII and Part X), quantum dots for bioimaging (Part VII), nanoparticles as cancer biomarkers (Part VI) and for cancer therapy (Part V), and nanoparticles as drug delivery carriers (Part IV).  These applications of nanotechnology not only have attracted increased attention from pharmaceutical companies and academic researchers, but have led to the development of innovative candidatesin clinic trials and even successful products selling in global markets. Beyond this thriving therapeutic field, another huge market for utilizing nanotechnology that might not be as widely recognized, but which already has had a great impact, is the market for cosmeceuticals.

The term “cosmeceuticals” is used by the cosmetic industry to define a cosmetic product having drug-like benefits and falling into the category between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. However, the term is not recognized by the FDA. Even though cosmeceutical products can have measurable biological effects on the human skin or hair, they are not regulated as drug products so long as the product labeling and advertising is limited to cosmetic language, such as relating to the effects of altering appearance, promoting attractiveness, and improving beauty.

Cosmeceuticals have revolutionized the personal care industry with a rapid compound annual growth rate of 7.7%.1  According to the “Cosmeceuticals market to 2020” report, the global market is estimated to reach $61 billion by 2020.  Globally, the Asia Pacific market, comprising Japan, China, and India, is the largest market and has the greatest potential for future growth.  Major cosmeceutical product areas are skin care, hair care and injectables. Of these, skin care holds the largest market share with anti-aging products accounting for the largest share within skin care. A reason for this is believed to be the demand from the 35+ age group of consumers seeking products that provide a more youthful appearance. Following skin care, hair care products are in second place, particularly those targeting improving the appearance of and/or repairing damage to the hair. Although injectable products currently have the least market share, with the launch of new injectables, e.g., solid Hyaluronic Acid (HA) fillers, the injectable market is expected to have the highest growth rate in the near term.

Nanotechnology has found a unique place in cosmeceuticals. For example, the smaller the particle, the potential for deeper penetration into the skin is potentially achieveable. It is hypothesized that it could be much more efficient to use nanoparticles to deliver nutrients into the skin to prevent aging and to repair damage. It is postulated that nanoparticles can encapsulate nutrients and other compounds to be delivered intact and that the particles can prevent them from degradation. Also, it is postulated that deeper penetration enables these materials to more efficiently interact with more layers of cells in the skin. With surface modification, the nanoparticles can even target specific sites and provide controlled release of the materials for an extended period.  We do note that these “treatment” and “delivery” product characteristics that are being touted sound very drug-like and could raise regulatory concerns.  However, that is an interesting and entirely different discussion, perhaps the topic for another article.

One of the first nanoparticle-containing cosmeceutical products was launched by the French company L’Oreal in 1995.  This product was formulated to deliver prolonged cosmetic and/or pharmaceutical activity to the skin (US 5,556,617 and US 5,993,831). Nowadays there are many cosmeceutical products using nanotechnology for many different purposes. For example, ZnO and TiO2 nanoparticles are used to provide a transparent and less greasy sunscreen product to protect the skin from ultraviolet ray damage (US 20120097068). Core-shell structured nanoparticles have been developed to deliver active agents to specific sites (US 6,635,720 and US 20170000737). Gold and/or silver nanoparticles have been combined in various ratios with pigments to provide long lasting and variable brilliant colors (US 20090022765). Hard nanoparticles, such as nanoclay, nanosilica, and nanoceramics, have been incorporated into nail polish to increase the strength and scratching/cracking resistance of these products (US 20100196294).

From a report of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Skin Deep, there are nearly 10,000 products out of 25,000 personal care products in the market containing nano-scale ingredients. These products are manufactured by both large and small companies.  There are so many products competing to take a share of this growing consumer market. We are consequently seeing a demand for intellectual property protection for new/improved nanotechnology based cosmeceutical products.

Patent Number Title Assignee Inventor
US 5,556,617 Composition providing a lasting cosmetic and/or pharmaceutical treatment of the upper epidermal layers by topical application on the skin L’Oreal Alain Ribier; Pascal Richart; Rose-Marie Handjani
US 5,993,831 Composition providing a lasting cosmetic and/or pharmaceutical treatment of the upper epidermal layers by topical application on the skin L’Oreal Alain Ribier; Pascal Richart; Rose-Marie Handjani
US 20120097068 Modified ZnO Nanoparticles BASF SE Richard Riggs; Andrey Karpov; Simon Schambony; Wolfgang Best
US 6,635,720 Core-shell tectodendrimers Dendritech Inc. Donald A.Tomalia; Srinivas Uppuluri; Douglas R. Swanson; Herbert M. Brothers, II;
US 20170000737 Hyperbranched Polyglycerol-Coated Particles and Methods of making and Using Thereof Yale University Yang Deng; Asiri Ediriwickrema; William M. Saltzman
US 20090022765 Cosmetic Pigment Composition Containing Gold or Silver Nanoparticles Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Bong Hyun Chung; Yong Taik Lim; Jin Kyeong Kim; Jin Young; Jeong; Tai Hwan Ha
US 20100196294 Coatings for Mammalian Nails That Include Nanosized Particles Coty Inc. Steven W. Amato; Alan Farer; Wayne M. Hoyte; Michael Pavlovsky; Raymond Smith; Grisel Valdiviezo

– Jing Zhou, PhD and Anthony D. Sabatelli, PhD, JD

This article is for informational purposes, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and may be considered advertising under applicable state laws. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not necessarily shared by Dilworth IP, its other attorneys, agents, or staff, or its clients.

  1. RNCOS E-Services Pvt. Ltd., “Global cosmeceuticals market outlook 2016”.