Is Nanotechnology Useful in Reversing Skin Ageing?
Skin, the largest organ of our body, is one of the most important barricades that protects our body from external elements. Skin is affected by several factors, but it has the same molecular structure throughout the body. Ageing is an inevitable process characterized by lines and wrinkles formation on the skin surface and reduced elasticity and renewal capacity. Various theories have been proposed for skin ageing, such as mutation in DNA, telomere reduction, radical generation and decreased proliferative tendency. Skin health reflects our overall health and as a result, several anti-ageing products are available in the market that might help in rejuvenating the skin. However, these products are applied on the skin from the outside and have little stability and penetration, which limits their effectiveness.
Recently, novel techniques have been used to take care of skin ageing and involve the use of nanotechnologies, such as liposomes, niosomes, transfersomes, ethosomes, nanostructured lipid carriers, and carbon nanotubes. The nanotechnological approach has been very promising and paves the way for a new era of the skin cosmetic industry due to its nano-size particles and nano ingredients with target-specific delivery and permeability through the skin, unlike conventional cosmetics.
What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology refers to the branch of science that deals with designing and producing structures and devices by manipulating atoms and molecules at the nanoscale. Any particle with one or more dimensions of the order of 100 nanometers or less is considered a nanoparticle. Nanotechnology promises scientific advancements in several fields, such as medicine, materials, energy, and consumer products.
At a size of nanometers, nanoparticles exhibit unique properties that influence the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the material. One of the chief properties of nanomaterials is their ability to have increased surface area.
How Does Nanotechnology Work?
Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field that combines biologists, physicists, engineers, and chemists in the study and research of materials at the nanoscale. Nanotechnology involves the design, production and application of nanoscale materials. Nanomaterials are unique and have superior characteristic properties. These characteristic properties decide how it works and influence other materials over conventional molecules and materials. Unique features of nanoparticles that contribute to their workability are as follows:
- Larger surface area: Nanoparticles and nanomaterials have relatively larger surface area compared to the same mass of material produced at a larger scale. This feature makes nanoparticles chemically more reactive compared to conventional particles produced at bulk having the same mass. Additionally, some inert materials can be made reactive by converting them into nanomaterials.
- Enhanced strength and electrical properties: Nanoparticles have increased strength and electrical properties due to their increased surface area, giving such particles an edge compared to materials that are conventionally sized.
- Unique quantum effects: At the nanoscale level, the quantum properties of materials and molecules are pronounced evidently, affecting the optical, electrical, and magnetic properties of the molecules.
- Semiconductors: Substances that are insulators can be transformed into semiconductors at nanoscale levels.
- Increased stability: melting points of nanoparticles can be influenced due to an increase in the surface area.
Types of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is a novel and unique technology that has been extensively growing recently due to its various applications in the fields of medicine and manufacturing industries and several others. Following are the types of nanotechnology based on unique applications and characteristics:
These are materials that are manufactured at the nanoscale level. Nanomaterials have unique properties and behaviour compared to their bulk counterparts. Carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and quantum dots are examples of nanomaterials used in the manufacturing of electronics, polymers, and solar cells, respectively.
The use of nanomaterials and their applications can revolutionise several industries, such as clothes, medicine, and environmental issues. Scientists utilise the novel physical, chemical, mechanical and optical properties of nanoparticles in producing unique products and devices. There are broadly two types of nanomaterials.
- Naturally nanoparticles: As the name suggests, they occur naturally in the world, such as volcanic ashes, and molecules in our body, haemoglobin. The brilliant colour of peacock feathers is also due to nanoparticles that are spaced perfectly on the feather surface.
- Artificial nanoparticles: These nanoparticles are produced or synthesised in laboratories and facilities by humans. These include dendrimers, industrial plastics, nanocomposites, nanomedicines, and photovoltaic cells.
Nanoelectronics refers to the manufacturing of transistors and electronic components at the nanoscale level. These electronics are energy efficient and faster, processing more data than conventional transistors.
Nano-optics involves the production of optical devices and technologies by manipulating light at the nanoscale level. They are used in communication systems, medical imaging, and other optic technologies. Nanoantennas and nano-optical fibre are examples of nano-optics
Nanotechnology is used to treat and diagnose diseases by involving the use of nanoparticles. Targeted drug delivery systems and diagnostic nanoparticles are examples of nanomedicine. Targeted drug delivery systems are used to deliver drugs in the form of nanoparticles to specific tissues and cells whereas diagnostic nanoparticles are used to diagnose disease at early stages.
Nanorobotics involve the development of tiny robots and machines to perform functions at the nanoscale level. Molecular machines and nanorobots perform the assembling of other tiny machines.
Applications of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is a recent innovation and is used for various applications across several fields. Nanotechnology is reliable, efficient and due to its nano size, gives impressive results in terms of permeability and reach. Following are the various applications of nanotechnology:
- Medical Applications: nanotechnology is extensively used in medical science and holds the potential to revolutionise the medical field. Nanoparticles used to deliver drugs to cancer cells can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy on normal cells. Nanoparticles are also used to create contrast images in CT scans and MRIs to diagnose diseases at an early stage.
- Material Science: nanotechnology is used to create polymers with enhanced and superior properties by combining them with nanoparticles. These materials are stronger, lighter and more durable than the conventional polymers.
- Energy Production: Solar cells are made from nanoparticles and can help improve energy production and storage. Batteries created from nanoparticles are more efficient and long-lasting.
- Environmental Application: Nanoparticles are used to remove pollutants and heavy metals from water and soil. Nanotechnology also enables the creation of catalysts that can convert harmful substances into less harmful compounds.
- Cosmetics and Personal Care: Nanoparticles are used in cosmetics and personal care products to enhance their effectiveness and stability. Sunscreens developed using nanoparticles are more effective in protecting the skin from UV rays than conventional products. Nanoparticles also penetrate deep into the skin.
- Food Science: Nanotechnology is used to improve food safety and taste. Nanoparticles can be added to food products to enhance their shelf-life and nutritional value.
Benefits of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology has helped improve our lives. Nanotechnology is used in several fields, such as agriculture, medicine and technology. The benefits of nanotechnology are as follows:
- Improving food's nutritional value and quality
- Elongating lives of fruits and vegetables
- Making tissue and cell-specific drugs
- Production of cosmetics with enhanced effectiveness
- Manufacturing of nanorobots
- Production of semiconductors
- Improving renewable sources of energy like solar panels
- Cleanliness of the environment from toxins and harmful compounds
Can Nanotechnology Reverse Ageing?
Skin ageing is governed by several factors, broadly divided into intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors affect the skin from the inside and comprise the genetic traits, hormones, and cellular mechanisms of the individual. Extrinsic factors, such as sun exposure and exposure to harmful gases and pollutants, affect skin elasticity and hydration. Smoking is also an extrinsic factor that causes damage to collagen and elastic fibre of the skin. All these factors contribute to skin ageing and wrinkling. Nanotechnology is extensively used in the manufacturing of cosmetics and skin care products with an advanced level of effectiveness than conventional products. The use of nanoparticles in the cosmetic industry is being referred to as nanocosmeceuticals. Unlike conventional cosmetics, the active ingredients used in nanocosmeceuticals are more permeable to the skin, tissue-specific, and do not break down with time.
Nanocarrier and cosmetic products
Nanocarriers are nanoparticles used in cosmetic products to enhance the effectiveness of the products. Some of the nanocarriers used by cosmetic companies are as follows:
- Liposomes: Liposomes are extensively used in cosmetics and help enhance the efficacy of drugs while reducing the side effects. It is considered ideal due to its excellent permeability and biocompatibility. Popular skin care products contain liposome-based anti-ageing formulations.
- Niosomes: These are surface-active agents and non-ionic in nature. Research demonstrated that rice bran components entrapped in niosome vesicles have anti-ageing properties.
- Ethosomes: They are used to deliver drugs deep into the epidermis. Ethosomes deliver drugs via the transdermal route. These nanostructures can very easily penetrate the skin. As a result, it is used as an active ingredient in cosmetic products. The research found that rosmarinic acid loaded into ethosomes has anti-ageing properties and prevents the degradation of collagen and elastin.
- Nanocapsules: Nanocapsules are polymeric nanoparticles, and nanocapsule-based formulations contain vitamin E, retinoids, and antioxidants as active ingredients. Anti-wrinkle cream developed by encapsulation of vitamin C into nanocapsules helped in the slow release of active compounds, protecting the skin for a longer time.
- Nanospheres: Poly-D and L lactic-co-glycolic acid are used in the production of nanospheres. Recent studies have demonstrated that vitamin C-loaded nanospheres could penetrate deep into melanocytes, reducing blemishes and wrinkles and enhancing the formation of collagen. This formulation is a proven anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle agent.
- Nanoemulsion: Nanoemulsion prepared from grapeseed oil increased the antioxidant properties of the oil. The formulation is used in various cosmetics to cure wrinkles and lines.
- Fullerenes: These are carbon allotropes, and a recent study demonstrated that fullerene nanocapsules containing ascorbic acid and vitamin E could protect the skin from premature ageing.
Future of Nanotechnology in Reversing Ageing
The ongoing research and advancements in nanocosmeceuticals hold the potential for the production of innovative skin formulations that could effectively reverse skin ageing. Unlike conventional cosmetics, the active ingredients used in nanocosmeceuticals are effective, stable, tissue-specific, and safe. Research is being carried out to discover novel active compounds derived from biological sources. Work is also progressing in evaluating phytochemicals with excellent anti-ageing and antioxidant properties. Additionally, nanocarriers ensure targeted delivery of active compounds and protect them from degradation, reducing wastage and over-production and lessening the burden on the environment.
Nanotechnology is a recent advancement in the technology field. Using nanoparticles, we can help improve various aspects of life from medicines, diagnostics, agriculture, robotics, electronics and our dream of reverse ageing. Ageing is an inevitable process of growth but we can improve the quality of life throughout the ageing phase by reducing age-related disorders and skin deterioration. Nanotechnology promises to innovate new products that could help us improve skin quality and reverse signs of ageing.
1. What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology refers to the branch of science and technology that deals with the manipulation of atoms and molecules at nanoscales to design and produce materials, structures, and devices.
2. Can nanotechnology reverse ageing?
Yes, cosmetic industries are using nanoparticles referred to as nanocarriers, such as liposomes, ethosomes, and fullerenes to enhance the effectiveness of anti-ageing formulations
3. How does nanotechnology work?
Nanotechnology works by manipulating molecules at nanoscales.
4. How are nanocarriers better than conventional carriers in cosmetics?
Nanocarriers are safer, tissue-specific, permeable, and stable than conventional active ingredients.
5. What are the applications of nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is used in various fields and has several applications, like enhancing the nutritional value of food, developing anti-ageing cosmetics and drugs, manufacturing of nanorobots, and early diagnosis and treatment of life-threatening diseases, such as cancer.
6. Is nanotechnology safe?
Yes, nanotechnology is a safer and more advanced alternative to conventional technology. For example, nanoparticles can be targeted to kill only cancer cells while normal cells are untouched, unlike seen in conventional chemotherapy.
7. How can nanotechnology help us save the environment?
Nanoparticles can be used to remove toxins and pollutants from water and air. Nanotechnology is also used to manufacture solar cells.
8. What are nanocarriers?
Nanocarriers are the nanoparticles that are used in cosmetics and drugs, such as liposomes, nanoemulsions, nanospheres, and fullerene.
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