The role of cosmetic products is rapidly evolving in our society, with their use increasingly seen as an essential contribution to personal wellness. This suggests the necessity of a detailed elucidation of the use of nanoparticles (NPs) in cosmetics. The aim of the present work is to offer a critical and comprehensive review discussing the impact of exploiting nanomaterials in advanced cosmetic formulations, emphasizing the beneficial effects of their extensive use in next-generation products despite a persisting prejudice around the application of nanotechnology in cosmetics. The discussion here includes an interpretation of the data underlying generic information reported on the product labels of formulations already available in the marketplace, information that often lacks details identifying specific components of the product, especially when nanomaterials are employed. The emphasis of this review is mainly focused on skincare because it is believed to be the cosmetics market sector in which
the impact of nanotechnology is being seen most significantly.
To date, nanotechnology has been demonstrated to improve the performance of cosmetics in a number of different ways:
1) increasing both the entrapment efficiency and dermal penetration of the active ingredient,
2) controlling drug release,
3) enhancing physical stability,
4) improving moisturizing power,
5) providing better UV protection.
Specific attention is paid to the effect of nanoparticles contained in semisolid formulations on skin penetration issues. In light of the emerging concerns about nanoparticle toxicity, an entire section has been devoted to listing detailed examples of nanocosmetic products for which safety has been investigated.