Facial sheet masks continue to witness robust growth around the globe, and a Czech-based material engineering company is looking to make its mark on this segment of the beauty industry.
The company, Nanopharma, recently developed a new concept of a dry sheet mask called [n]fibrecare. Founded in 2008, Nanopharma focuses on the design and development of nanofiber-based products and devices. The idea for a dry sheet mask came up in 2013 when, at the time, the company’s team was entirely formed by women.
“As beauty enthusiasts, we were discussing our experiences with sheet masks that we ordered on Ebay and the fact that we really dislike the messy and dripping experience we had with each of them,” recalls Liliana Berezkinová, chairwoman of the board. “We read some reviews that confirmed what we felt the disadvantages of these masks. At that time, we were just experimenting with formulations for soothing baby skin, and just for fun we cut out an improvised sheet mask to see what it would feel like to put nanofibers on our face. The feeling was actually quite luxurious, so we started dedicating more time on the masks, designing a water-soluble nanofiber mask that would be quick and friendly to use and effective in delivery.”
Nanopharma used a similar system for a nanocomposite biodegradable patch technology it developed, which proved to have an amazing capacity to deliver therapeutical doses of drugs into skin while carrying less drug content than conventional technologies, Berezkinová explains.
Using this technology, Nanopharma simplified the process and prepared its first formulations for the masks. Initially, Nanopharma hoped to partner with Czech cosmetic companies on this product, but they wouldn’t even speak to them. “It was quite discouraging and it set us back for a little while,” Berezkinová says.
However, as its patch technology progressed and repeatedly proved good results, the company decided to revive the masks. Nanopharma finished the final prototype about a year ago, after designing the most ideal shape and upscaling the manufacturing process.
[n]fibrecare masks are made with a spunbond backing layer on which nanofibers are deposited. An upper protective nonwoven layer is covering the nanofibers from the outer side. For the mask to work, it just needs to be applied to clean, moisturized skin.
Berezkinová says there are several reasons that nanofibers are a great platform for sheet masks. First, the dry to the touch texture feels very comfortable on the skin. Nanofibers also allows the company to use minimal preservatives and additives. In fact, the mask is fragrance free and works well for people with sensitive skin, which is a segment that rarely uses sheet masks. Nanofibers also allow for a very high bioavailability thanks to their large surface area and the delivery mechanism, which consists in a moisture-triggered release of the active ingredients from the mask, she adds. And, unlike other sheet masks, the ingredients are not infused—they are directly incorporated inside the nanofibers. “This way, we can protect them from oxidation and evaporation. The percentage of the active content is also much higher than with conventional sheet masks,” she says.
The product will be available at its e-shop nfibrecare.com beginning October 2018, and is currently available in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. They will also soon be launched in six other European countries and in the Middle East this fall. Nanopharma is establishing partnerships with distributors and retailers worldwide to make the product available globally.
According to Berezkinová, Nanopharma hopes to create a solid distribution network with partners who are excited about introducing advanced technology into consumer markets and who can help them as a tech company to break into an otherwise marketing-driven industry. “The masks have already created a great community of skincare enthusiasts, estheticians, geeks and dermatologists. We want to set foundation to an open innovation platform and continue developing masks based on our community’s real needs and wishes. I think it is fun to switch it up as a small business in an otherwise push-effect driven industry,” she says.
The company’s mid-term vision is to transform the masks into medical devices treating more serious conditions and helping dermatologists in photodynamic therapy and other forms of advanced treatments. “However, Nanopharma is not just about the masks, we are working on other exciting projects in implantology and drug delivery hoping to raise growth capital this year and accelerate our developments,” Berezkinová says.