Posted: August 30, 2006

Vitamin E nanotech innovation marks a big step for formulators

(Nanowerk News) The rejuvenating qualities of vitamin E mean it is has long been a popular choice for anti-ageing skin care products, but likewise, it has traditionally been a difficult compound for formulators to work with. Until now that is.
British pharmacists working at King's College, London, announced at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester yesterday the development of a vitamin E gel that is easier to formulate thanks to the use of nanotechnology.
Vitamin E is used in a wide variety of skin care products because of its ability to quench free radicals, protect against UV damage, reduce inflammation and even help heal scars.
But the problem with vitamin E is that because it is difficult to dissolve in water, it currently has to be used in heavy or oil-based formulations, making it difficult to apply to skin and reducing its efficacy because only small amounts of vitamin E can be used.
However, a team headed by pharmacist Stuart Jones, from the King's College of Fashion, says that the use of nanotechnology to develop a new vitamin E formulation means that the ingredient is far more effective, particularly in anti-ageing formulations.
”Vitamin E has extreme properties and is hydrophobic - repelled by water - so you can't put it in a cosmetically acceptable cream or ointment,” Jones said. “It is currently sold only in heavy oily formulations which are not very effective and are difficult to use.”
Jones said that the incorporation of vitamin E within a nano particle means that it can then be formulated into a gel which is easier to apply to skin. “Once vitamin E is in the gel in nano particles it disperses uniformly in an aqueous base that is more cosmetically acceptable,” he said.
Jones reported that his team is now measuring exactly how much of the vitamin E gel is getting into the skin by testing samples human skin samples, and that results have so far proved encouraging.
Currently the Department of Cosmetic Science at London College of Fashion is testing whether or not consumers prefer the new gel to more traditional formulations.
The incorporation of the nanotechnology particles should also improve the efficacy of the compound once it comes into contact with the skin, as the smaller particles should be able to penetrate deeper into the dermal layer.
The Body Shop is currently one of the biggest names to use vitamin E in its general skin care products, naming a whole line after it and including it in countless other products.
But in more recent years vitamin E has been increasingly incorporated into a wide range of anti-ageing products, with all the major players latching on to this trend.
Virtually every popular skin care and anti-ageing range now incorporates vitamin E into the formulations, including popular brands such as Olay, Nivea and a relatively newcomer onto the US market for male skin care, Menscience.
Manufacturers will hope that the use of nanotechnology will hope to push sales of vitamin E, which have been yo-yoing in recent years as a result of contradictory reports on their benefit as a supplement.
However, increasing use of vitamin E in skin care products is expected to counteract this effect in the coming years.
Source: Simon Pitman,