A research team from Italy and Switzerland published an article in Cosmetics testing the ability of zeolites, a nanoporous material currently being tested in various other fields, to absorb heavy metals in a creamy cosmetic formulation.
The team, Pesando et al., said that zeolites are already being tested as a means of absorbing toxins and improving the outcomes of various medical treatments, and their research should demonstrate the viability of zeolites as a cosmetic ingredient to reduce heavy metal penetration through the skin prevent skin.
“Toxic metals are referred to by many as ‘silent killers’ because they replace vital minerals in the body and alter biological functions and structure,” said Pesando et al. “Zeolites are currently attracting a lot of interest because of their absorption properties, which are able to trap toxins in the crystalline channels.”
What are zeolites
According to Pesando et al. Zeolites are a nanoporous material with a crystalline aluminosilicate structure that can be either naturally or synthetically derived. In less scientific terms, zeolites can act as “molecular sieves,” moderating which molecules might reach the skin’s surface.
This unusual shape has led to zeolites appearing in pharmaceutical research, biomedical fields, agriculture, animal husbandry, and in the treatment of skin conditions or lesions such as skin ulcers, surgical incisions, and psoriasis.
“Zeolite has excellent absorption, radiation protection, decontamination and detoxification properties in the human body, but also has the advantage of introducing vital minerals through ion exchange,” said Pesando et al.
Dangers of heavy metal pollution
Heavy metals can occur in a number of types of pollution, including air, water and soil pollution, and sometimes appear in jewelry and cosmetics, Pesando et al said.
According to Article in Frontiers of Pharmacology Exposure to the heavy metals mercury, lead, chromium, cadmium and arsenic can affect many organs and systems, potentially causing gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction, nervous system disorders, skin lesions, vascular damage, immune system dysfunction, birth defects and cancer.
Pesando et al. said the skin is the main area of the body where heavy metals accumulate.
Promising results, further research needed
The research by Pesando et al. showed that a creamy skincare formulation containing 3% zeolite powder had “significant performance” in absorbing nickel and cadmium, although they said they are not yet sure what chemical mechanisms are at play in increasing absorption.
In addition, Pesando et al. said that it may be possible to tailor zeolites for targeted application, potentially allowing them broader and more specific uses in protective skin care.
“Indeed, zeolite appears to show promise for wound healing, blood clotting, antibacterial properties, and skin regeneration,” said Pesando et al. “In addition, opportunities to design zeolitic structures through computer simulation methods could improve and expand zeolitic performance and applications.”
The research team said that further research on the potential benefits of zeolites for human health and blending of zeolites to enhance heavy metal absorption needs to be conducted to allow clinical adaptation of the ingredient.
Cosmetics 2022, 9(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics9010026
Title: Investigation of the adsorption properties of zeolite in a new skin care formulation