Safety & effectiveness of fullerene cosmetics

The topical application of high-purity fullerenes has therapeutic effects on various oxidative stress disorders in the skin due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects

Fullerenes are allotropes of the same carbon as diamond and graphite, and are present in plants carbonised by lightning strikes or in special minerals. There are two types of fullerenes currently on the market: ‘fullerenes’, a complex of C60, C70, etc., and ‘fullerene’, which consists only of C60 or C70 (Figure 1). They have a spherical structure that is completely different from needle-shaped carbon nanotubes. They are used in various fields because of their high oxidationreduction (redox) performance.

Formulations containing fullerenes have been sold in skin care cosmetics in the US and Asia since 2005, but the EU does not yet recognise fullerene as a cosmetic ingredient. The EU Scientific Committee on Consume Safety (SCCS) issued a document entitled ‘Request for a Scientific Opinion on Fullerenes and Hydroxylated Fullerenes’ on 6 July 2021, and this is presumed to confirm their safety.

HPLC analysis suggested that fullerenes/ squalane penetrated the epidermis through the stratum corneum but could not reach the dermis because it could not penetrate the basement membrane. This shows that it is not necessary to consider the toxicity of fullerene C60 due to systemic circulation through the cutaneous veins and that fullerenes/squalane does not have significant biologically toxic effects.1

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