Facultade de Fisioterapia

Screening of TiO2 and Au nanoparticles in cosmetics and determination of elemental impurities by multiple techniques (DLS, SP-ICP-MS, ICP-MS and ICP-OES)

Authors: Inmaculada de la Calle, M. Menta, M. Klein, F. Sébya

Journal: Talanta, 171: 291-306, 08/2017

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2017.05.002


Cosmetics are part of the daily life of most of the people. Thus, a complete characterization of the products we applied in our skin is necessary. In this work, an analytical investigation of a wide variety of cosmetics from the point of view of total element content and metallic nanoparticles (NPs) has been performed. Firstly, we analyzed the total element content by ICP-MS and ICP-OES after acid digestion as an assessment of the presence of metal impurities. Prohibited elements in cosmetics, according to the European Commission regulation No 1223/2009, were not detected, and only elements mentioned in the label were found (e.g. Al, Fe, Ti and Si). Secondly, a screening of the presence of NPs has been performed by Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS) and Single Particle Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (SP-ICP-MS). Two sample preparation procedures were applied. The first protocol consisted in the preparation of suspensions in 0.1% w/v SDS and the second based on defatting with hexane followed by resuspension in water. DLS was employed as a routine method for a fast analysis of NPs, but this technique showed limitations due to the lack of specificity. SP-ICP-MS analyses were then performed, first as a screening technique to evaluate the presence of TiO2 and Au NPs in cosmetics suspensions prepared in SDS; and second, when a positive answer was obtained about the presence of NPs from the screening, SP-ICP-MS was used for particle size determination. Results showed that only TiO2 NPs were present in two sunscreens, one anti-wrinkle day cream, one lip balm protector labeled as ‘nano’ and in one brand of toothpaste not labeled as ‘nano’. Sizes obtained for both sample preparations were compared and ranged from 30 to 120 nm in most of the samples.