As ozone levels are depleted and Earth loses its protective UV radiation filter, global skin cancer incidence continues to increase, accounting for one in three cancers diagnosed each year. Despite its potential, ZnO is poorly represented in the sunscreen market. Entekno, a Turkish SME, is changing the rules of the game. Entekno’s novel patented MicNo® technology, commercialised with EU support of the STAR project, is taking the cosmetics industry by storm and generating interest in numerous other markets.
A tale of two particles
Physical barriers reflect and scatter light and chemical ‘barriers’ absorb it. Most sunscreens are chemical and face increasing issues related to their stability, potency and safety. ZnO is the only globally approved, natural, physical UV filter that provides protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. Micron-sized ZnO particles, safe for people and the environment, must be used in large amounts due to their poor surface coverage that also produces a rough, white appearance. Nanoparticles are smooth and transparent on the skin but raise safety concerns. Oktay Uysal, Managing Partner at Entekno and project coordinator, explains the MicNo® solution: “MicNo-ZnO consists of fine ZnO particles strongly bonded to form a film-like macrostructure. It covers the skin much more efficiently and behaves like safe micron-sized particles on the skin while maintaining the transparency of nanoparticles to light.”
Rapid strategic mobilisation
Uysal continues: “In the 18 short months of the project, production capacity went from about 1 tonne/year to more than 20, and personnel from 10 to 37. We decreased the cost of MicNo® by 35 %. In vivo tests confirmed that MicNo® enables a reduction in ZnO usage up to 40 % to achieve the same sun protection factor against UVA and UVB of other ZnO additives.” In addition, MicNo’s unique structure enables reduction of increasingly scrutinised preservatives, benefiting manufacturers and consumers alike. With production capability and testing finalised, Entekno has obtained ISO 9000, 14000 and 18000 accreditations covering quality, environmental and occupational health and safety, and radio-frequency identification for logistics and supply chains. MicNo® was registered with the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, or REACH, and the United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, and was certified by the international body Organic and Natural Certification for Cosmetics, or COSMOS.
Micron size with nano power covers the globe
Entekno increased sales by 400 % in both 2018 and 2019 and sent samples to more than 400 potential customers in nearly 20 countries. Uysal summarises: “The demand for MicNo® is beyond expectations, and not only within the cosmetics sector but also in the ceramics, paints, and electronics sectors. The booming hygiene sector is already utilising MicNo® and we are planning to expand applications with future innovation projects.” The sun has met its match with this natural, physical barrier to UV radiation.
STAR, ZnO, UV, MicNo®, radiation, skin, nanoparticles, cosmetics, UVA, UVB, Zinc Oxide, ultraviolet, REACH, FDA