- Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) is one of the most common ingredients in the LabDoor database.
- It is commonly used as a colorant in pharmaceuticals and supplements, as the compound that gives many pills and powders a bright white color.
- In cosmetics, Titanium Dioxide acts as an active ingredient, serving to absorb UV light in many sunscreens and face cream products.
- In sunscreens, Titanium Dioxide’s UVB blocking benefits should outweigh its side effects. In other products, its relatively small value as a colorant leads LabDoor to recommend minimizing your overall exposure to the compound as further studies are performed.
- As additional clinical trials and independent laboratory data are generated, LabDoor will continue to update ratings and articles to reflect current scientific opinion.
Is Titanium Dioxide Safe?
Clinical trial data linking Titanium Dioxide to a low to moderate cancer risk has seen widespread publicity through media outlets. LabDoor’s job is to separate the fact from fiction.
Much of the clinical concern over Titanium Dioxide is related to occupational hazards. Manufacturing workers are exposed to large quantities of TiO2, including airborne particles and uncoated materials. These conditions have been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the risk of TiO2 on the skin is expected to be less dangerous to users. Titanium Dioxide particles are often coated with silica to minimize negative side effects.
Does Titanium Dioxide Work?
Titanium Dioxide is effective as part of a multi active-ingredient sunscreen product. Titanium Dioxide is solidly effective as a UVB skin guard, but a range of sunscreen compounds are needed to cover the full spectrum of UV rays.
Its secondary use, as a coloring agent in thousands of products, is much less valuable. Customers are used to white pills and powders, so manufacturers sell them. But it offers no real health benefit.
Verdict: Use Sparingly Outside of Sunscreens
Further studies are required to conclusively determine the risks of coated Titanium Dioxide compounds through extended exposure to the skin. However, the fact that TiO2 has been proven to be an effective UV absorber, helping to prevent cancers, means that you should not avoid sunscreens containing Titanium Dioxide.
The moderate risk of TiO2 is less justified when dealing with its use in pharmaceuticals, supplements, and many makeups, where the effect is purely visual. Though it is hard to find many products without Titanium Dioxide, avoid it when possible.
- Header Image: Anniina Rutanen (Flickr)
- Titanium Dioxide Classified as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans – CCOHS
- Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide – CDC
- How Does Sunscreen Work? – PBS