U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. Cosmetics
  3. Cosmetics Science & Research
  4. Cosmetics Nanotechnology
  1. Cosmetics Science & Research

Cosmetics Nanotechnology

FDA monitors the use of nanotechnology and the use of nanoscale materials in cosmetics. FDA also conducts and keeps abreast of related research. Consumers and manufacturers are interested in this information as well.  

FDA does not have a legal definition for nanotechnology. However, when scientists talk about nanotechnology they are usually 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. 

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. Under U.S. law, cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA approval before they go on the market. The one exception is color additives (other than coloring materials used in coal-tar hair dyes), which must be approved for their intended use.

The following are some resources on nanotechnology, from FDA and elsewhere:

FDA Information on Nanomaterials in Cosmetics

From International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR)

More Resources

Back to Top