In skin care and beauty products, PMMA may act as a very mild form of sunscreen. According to its Plexiglas Acrylic Data sheet, PMMA filters ultraviolet (UV) light at wavelengths similar to ordinary window glass, about 300-400 nm. It does this by reflecting light away from your skin. Considering the UVB range is 280-315 nm and the UVA range is 320-400 nm, beauty products containing a high concentration of PMMA should be tested for their SPF potential.
Other than that, PMMA offers hydration as a lubrication enhancer in cosmetics. Once purified and refined, PMMA helps to fill in wrinkles and provide a “gliding” application (Sekisui Plastics, Inc.), in a manner somewhat similar to the silicones found in many beauty products. It is unlikely to have any prolonged anti-aging effects, aside from reflecting UV light.
Is PMMA safe?
PMMA has been proven to be compatible with human tissue, making it an important material for transplants and prosthetics in the fields of orthopedics and ophthalmology. A five-year safety study published in Dermatologic Surgery (2007) found that the safety profile of the product is consistent with that of other soft tissue injectable products, meaning that 2/145 (1.3%) participants at the end of the study had developed granulomas. Granulomas initially appear as areas of inflamed tissue, and are caused by various assortments of infilitrates of immune cells. While injectable-linked granulomas typically improve with therapy, they are certainly undesirable.
It has not yet been proven whether or not PMMA in topically-applied beauty products causes granulomas, but it is highly unlikely, considering that granulomas are associated with injectables in general. A rare sensitivity to methacrylates could cause a potential problem: The FDA, in a study about the use of PMMA in artificial nails, found that “traces of the reactive monomers could result in an adverse reaction, such as redness, swelling, and pain in the nail bed, among people who have become sensitive (allergic) to methacrylates.”
Based on the evidence available thus far, PMMA is perfectly safe in topically-applied beauty products (e.g., skin care, cosmetics) unless you have a rare sensitivity to methacrylates. When used as an injectable, PMMA has been associated with a low risk of granulomas, like many other cosmetic fillers.
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