Titanium Dioxide For Skin: Everything You Need To Know About It

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sreekar Harinatha, MBBS, MS, MCh, DNB
Written by Annie Jangam

Titanium dioxide is a mineral extensively used in skin care products like powder-based makeup and sunscreens. But, is titanium dioxide for the skin safe?

Sunscreens with titanium dioxide are perfect for daily and prolonged sun exposure to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. It has been used in the skin care industry for years now, but there have been some concerns about its safety. Read this article to find out all about the use of titanium dioxide for the skin.

What Is Titanium Dioxide?

Titanium dioxide is an odorless, white inert mineral that is naturally found on the earth’s surface. (1) Its bright color, high refractive index, ability to filter UV rays, and opaqueness make it a great pigment extensively used in sunscreens and other skin and personal care products like powders, blushes, soaps, lotions, and toothpastes. It is also used in paints, prosthetics, plastics, ceramics, papers, and food additives.

There have been some safety concerns regarding the usage of titanium dioxide in skin care products. How safe is it for the skin? Find out below.

Is Titanium Dioxide Safe For Skin? Are There Any Side Effects?

Most commercial skin care products contain micronized titanium dioxide coated with alumina, dimethicone, silica, and trimethoxy capryl silane. Hence, it does not penetrate deep into the skin.

Several studies have proven that titanium dioxide, even as nanoparticles, does not penetrate the skin or stratum corneum (SC) (2). A study published in the International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health demonstrated that titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2NPs) could not permeate intact and damaged skin (3). It has been suggested that it can exhibit a potentially toxic effect on the skin only after long-term exposure.

It is thought to have carcinogenic properties when taken orally or inhaled. However, none of the studies found any evidence of carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide (4). Also, there is no evidence of adverse effects of titanium dioxide after topical application. However, some people can be allergic to it, and upon topical application, titanium dioxide may:

  •  Irritate your eyes and skin
  •  May cause coughing, phlegm, and shortness of breath (if inhaled).

It is on the Right To Know Hazardous Substance List cited by (5)

  •  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
  •  American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)
  •  National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health ( NIOSH)

Since studies are inconclusive, and there is no data on the safe level of exposure, it is important to look for the ‘Made Safe’ seal on the skin care products before buying one.

However, if you are using products with titanium dioxide without any issues, do not panic. It is an effective UV filter and can protect your skin from sun damage. Here are the reasons it is widely used in products.

Uses Of Titanium Dioxide In Skin Care

1. In Sunscreens

Titanium dioxide particles can block harmful ultraviolet light rays and protect your skin from cancer, UV damage, photoaging, and oxidative stress. It can scatter both UVA and UVB rays off your skin and is an active ingredient in mineral-based sunscreen products. It is gentle on the skin and does not cause a stinging sensation when applied around the eyes.

Another benefit of using titanium dioxide is that it does not leave a white cast on the skin when used in lower concentrations (3).

2. In Makeup Products

Titanium dioxide is used in cosmetic products as a brightening, thickening, and opacifying agent (3). It is commonly found in loose and pressed powders, eyeshadows, and blushes. The brightly pigmented particles of titanium dioxide refract light rays. This property aids the cosmetics in hiding blemishes, brightens the skin, and gives you the desired results.

3. In Products For Sensitive Skin

Titanium dioxide is an inert earth mineral and is gentle on inflamed or redness-prone skin. Hence, it is commonly used in skin care products formulated for sensitive skin.

Titanium dioxide is not a new name in the skin care industry. It has been used in powder-based makeup and sunscreens. However, there have been a few safety concerns about using titanium dioxide for the skin. Though there are a few speculations about the ingredient’s toxicity, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that titanium dioxide is unsafe for your skin. However, if you are allergic to the topical application of titanium dioxide, it may cause a few reactions. Therefore, if you have been using products with titanium dioxide, you may continue using them; otherwise, do a patch test before using.

Key Takeaways

  • Titanium dioxide is a white inert mineral with no odor and can naturally be found on the earth’s surface.
  • Particles of titanium dioxide block harmful ultraviolet rays. Therefore, it protects the skin from photoaging, oxidative stress, UV damage, and cancer.
  • Cosmetic products use titanium dioxide as a brightening, thickening, and opacifying agent.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Titanium dioxide
    https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Titanium-dioxide
  2. Titanium dioxide nanoparticles: a review of current toxicological data
    https://particleandfibretoxicology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-8977-10-15
  3. Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticle Penetration into the Skin and Effects on HaCaT Cells
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4555280/
  4. Titanium dioxide in our everyday life; is it safe?
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423755/
  5. Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet: New Jersey Health Department
    https://nj.gov/health/eoh/rtkweb/documents/fs/1861.pdf
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Dr. Sreekar Harinatha

(MBBS, MS, MCh, DNB )
Dr. Sreekar Harinatha is a double board-certified and award-winning plastic and cosmetic surgeon. He specializes in various cosmetic surgeries and... more

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