Is Titanium Dioxide Safe? Chemical Dangers Of Titanium Dioxide Explained

Pile of titanium dioxide.

If you’re a regular to our blog, I’m sure you know by now that not every product is actually safe or good for you, just because it’s sold at the supermarket. You may have read about the dangers of carbon black or parabens in cosmetics, but what about titanium dioxide?

Unfortunately, this ingredient is found in far too many products, despite the dangers it presents. Read on to discover more about this mineral.

What Is Titanium Dioxide?

Titanium dioxide (TiO2), also known as titania or “white pigment” is an insoluble, oxidized mineral found in the earth’s crust. It’s purified and processed into a fine white powder for use. Where will you find this mineral? It’s often used as an additive or active ingredient in cosmetics, household products, and food.

Pile of titanium dioxide.

Titanium Dioxide is often used to give powders their white, fresh color.

TiO2 is most commonly used for its white pigmentation, opaqueness, and its ability to refract light and prevent discoloration. In cosmetics, titanium dioxide is used to prevent clumping, provide protection from UV rays, and to whiten and brighten the skin. Due to its insolubility, it’s also used in products as a skin barrier.

It might seem like a great ingredient to have in many everyday products. However, there is the question of just how safe exposure of this commonly used ingredient actually is. After being studied for health risks, TiO2 has been found to have potentially negative side effects. As with everything you buy, it’s important to know what the potential health risks are, to ensure you make an informed decision.

What Kinds Of Cosmetic Products Utilize Titanium Dioxide?

TiO2 in toothpaste

Ever wondered how toothpaste achieves that perfectly white color?

One of the most common uses of titanium dioxide is as an active ingredient in sunscreens. TiO2 acts as a UV filter. It scatters and reflects UVA and UVB rays, making it a good skin protector. Titanium dioxide is also used in many cosmetic skin products such as bronzers, concealers, and foundations.

TiO2 in cosmetics assists in preventing absorption of the product into the skin. It also provides thickness to products, and prevents clumping or “caking”. You will find TiO2 in lotions, toothpastes, soaps, and even diaper creams. It’s what provides the white color to these products,  making them more attractive and fresh-looking. In diaper creams, TiO2 acts as a skin barrier, preventing the skin from getting wet.

Dangers And Effects Of Titanium Dioxide Explained

It sounds great, right? Well…all that is white is not milk. Titanium Dioxide has been considered in the past as a generally safe element with low risk of exposure if used for topical use. The reason for this is that it prevents absorption into the skin, and should not really pass through the skin barrier to enter the body.

Recent studies, however, have shown that it’s not that simple. In many cosmetic products, TiO2 is broken down into very small particles (nanoparticles) during processing. These particles are so small that they can, in fact, penetrate the outermost layer of the skin.

It is important to note that not all products containing TiO2 are classified as risky nanoparticles. There are products with non-nanoparticles, which cannot be absorbed through the skin. So, when buying and using products, it is important to know what to look for. Cosmetics that have not broken down the mineral are safe to use, whereas products with nanoparticles pose a threat.

Titanium Dioxide And Inhalation

One of the biggest concerns are TiO2 nanoparticles that can be inhaled. Studies have shown that inhalation of titanium dioxide can be carcinogenic (cancer causing), and cause cellular instability or chronic inflammation.  Inflammation doesn’t just mean a bruise – it’s behind almost every deadly disease or illness. These are serious health risks, and you’ll want to avoid products that can be inhaled which contain TiO2.

Titanium Dioxide And Topical Use

Instructions: Heat olive oil on low. Meanwhile, mix together water and glycerin in a bowl. Carefully, add potassium hydroxide to the water and stir until dissolved. Then add the water mixture to the warm olive oil (still heating) and stir.

Next, blend the mixture with a handheld blender for a few minutes until it thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency. Continue blending until mixture becomes grainy. Don’t stop blending. The mixture will change consistency as you blend and will once again become creamy.

Once you start to see translucent streaks in your mixture, you can stop blending. Keep mixture on low heat, and occasionally mix with a spoon. It will need to cook another 3-4 hours, until it turns into a paste.

Stir mixture every couple of hours. Once it’s done, you will be able to dissolve the paste in water, and turn it into liquid soap.

Conclusion

Forewarned, as they say, is forearmed. While it’s unfortunate that so many products still contain dangerous nanoparticles of TiO2, knowing what to look for can help you to buy the safest products for your needs. Don’t assume that because a company is a “good brand”, all the ingredients they use are safe.

Do your research, and buy the safest products you can – or make your own! Because while it might be easier to turn a blind eye, you just can’t put a price on safety. Knowing which products will likely have TiO2 can help you avoid harmful unnecessary side effects and health risks, and help you to live the healthiest life you can.

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