FDA does not have a definition for nanotechnology. However, when scientists talk about nanotechnology they are referring to the manipulation of material of extremely small size, usually at dimensions between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. For example, the head of a pin is about 1 million nanometers wide. A human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide.
Although nanoscale materials account for only a very small portion of cosmetic ingredients, their use is growing.
U.S. law does not subject cosmetic products and ingredients to premarket approval by FDA (with the exception of color additives that are not intended for use as coal-tar hair dyes). Rather, firms and individuals who market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to make sure their products and ingredients, including nanoscale materials, are safe under labeled or customary conditions of use, and that they are properly labeled.
FDA monitors the use of nanoscale materials in cosmetics and keeps abreast of research into their safety. The following are some resources on nanotechnology, from FDA and elsewhere:
FDA Resources on Nanomaterials in Cosmetics
More FDA Resources on Nanotechnology
From International Cooperation on Cosmetic Regulation (ICCR)
Characterization of Nanomaterials II - Insolubility, Biopersistence and Size Measurement in Complex Media (PDF)(PDF - 1.1MB)
- Report of the Joint Regulator - Industry Ad Hoc Working Group on Characterization of Nanomaterials on Currently Available Methods for Characterization of Nanomaterials (available in PDF) (PDF - 283 KB)
- Report on the 2011 Associations Survey of Nanomaterials Used in Cosmetic Products, June 3, 2011 (available in PDF) (PDF - 285KB)
National Nanotechnology Initiative
- Consumer Product Safety Commission Statement on Nanotechnology (available in PDF) (PDF - 42KB)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Nanotechnology at the National Institutes of Health
- Environmental Protection Agency Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials Research