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Big companies muscle in on nanotech personal care

By Simon Pitman , 16-Jul-2010
Last updated on 16-Jul-2010 at 13:08 GMT

As nanotechnology for personal care applications continues to grow, a recent study shows that big companies not often associated with the segment are getting involved.

A new report from Thomson Reuters has looked at nanotechnology patents for beauty products, discovering that not only has the number of patents more than doubled in the last six years, but also big companies not traditionally associated with the segment are also getting involved.

As part of the recently published Thomson Reuters report : Can Nanotech Unlock The Fountain of Youth?, researchers looked at trademark data for cosmetics and nanotechnology registered with the World Intellectual Property Organization for North America and Europe.

The research revealed that the number of patents issued for this category between 2003 and and 2009 more than doubled to 367.

L'Oreal are in there, but not leading the game

Even closer analysis showed that L’Oreal and Avon were among the quickest names in the beauty arena to develop cosmetic products based on nanotechnology, most of which have been used in anti-ageing and sun care applications.

However one beauty company that has been even more active in the field but is not such a big name is Amorepacific. It has developed a nanodelivery technology that has been incorporated into its skin care products as a means of differentiating itself on the market, with the claim of providing more effective skin care.

Ingredients suppliers are also breaking new ground in the area, and the patents data reveals that two of the biggest names are BASF and Fujifilm – the latter in particular having traditionally had very little concern with the beauty field.

Fujiflim leads the way

The researchers say that of all the nano beauty patents filed in 2009, the largest number was 10 filed by Fujifilm, then nine, by BASF, seven by Amorepacific, five by Asan Lab Co, and four each for Evonik, Galderma, L’Oreal and Nuskin.

Fujifilm is leading the way, largely on the back of a skin care line it first launched in Japan back in 2006, which has led to further research into nanotech preparations that, amongst others, increases the absorbency of anti-aging treatment and eliminates stickiness in moisturizers.

On a geographical basis, the research reveals that there is a high percentage of patents being filed in both the US, which has been a leader in nanotech R&D, as well as on a global basis.

Nanotechnology looks set to be biggest in prime consumer markets

The report concludes that the geographical spread of the patents indicates that there is a high level of commercial potential and viability in prime consumer markets worldwide, with the US, Canada, France, Japan, Germany Spain, Australia, China and the UK leading the way.

Currently there are over 1,000 personal care and cosmetics products on the global market that contain a nano material as a key ingredient, a figure that has risen from just a couple of hundred three years ago.

Global research into nanotechnology for all types of consumer products is estimated at $9bn (€7bn), but the report authors are forecasting that by 2015 that figure could reach $1 trillion.

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