Nature exhibits a variety of remarkable phenomena that are useful but difficult to imitate in real life. Examples are the “touch me not” plant (Mimosa pudica), which folds up upon being attacked, or microbes that deposit on ocean vessels even under hostile conditions. Understanding the mechanisms governing these phenomena can prove powerful for developing new classes of cosmetic products. This article examines the development of novel materials with functional properties such as controlled delivery and the deposition of sensory attributes (fragrances, flavors, etc.) desirable in cosmetic products. Particularly, systems based on polymer/surfactant chemistry are explored for achieving transport and release of cosmetic and pharmaceutical molecules at desired rates. The hybrid polymers and nanogel particle systems discussed here represent new classes of materials with nanodomains that can be tuned to extract and deliver cosmetic attributes by means of changes in natural parameters such as temperature and pH. While the safety of existing nanomaterials marketed for decades has not been an issue, methods are urgently needed to validate the toxicological safety of future nanomaterials.