We have seen titanium dioxide in most of our cosmetics and is it safe for us?
Titanium dioxide is an active ingredient that can be found in sunscreen, it can also be found in cosmetic powders such as loose powder, pressed powder, eyeshadows, and blushes. It is a fine white powder that can naturally be found in the earth’s crust. Due to its opaqueness and natural brightness and ability to refract light, it is also often used as pigments, brightener and so in a range of industrial and consumer products, such as paper, plastics, ceramics to toothpaste, cosmetics etc.
It is produced in two main forms; a pigment grade titanium dioxide and an ultrafine (nanoparticle) product. The pigment grade titanium dioxide is used mainly in products that requires high opacity and brightness, such as paints & coatings, plastics, cosmetic products that are able to hide blemishes and brighten the skin etc. The ultrafine (nanoparticle) titanium dioxide on the other hand is used widely to produce sunscreen. The ultrafine form is said to be able to work more effectively as UV absorbers, great in helping to protect the skin from harmful rays, which in turn, would help in preventing skin cancer.
Here comes the golden question: is sunscreen safe for us?
Everyone have been advised to use sunscreen, sunscreen, and sunscreen whenever they step out of the house but recent years, studies have been pinpointing the harmfulness of sunscreen to us due to the toxic chemical ingredients contained in sunscreen products.
Even though sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide is a better and safer option to use as compared to sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, there may be some concerns when the substance is in nanoparticle size (which is 1000x smaller than the width of a human hair). This is because it becomes chemically reactive and more bioavailable, which may react differently than larger particles. It may cause harm and potential damage in the human body and the environment. With its teeny-weeny size, it is more easily absorbed into the skin!
What is the health concern involve in the usage of titanium dioxide?
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified titanium dioxide as a “possible carcinogenic to humans” when inhaled, which means it has high potential to cause cancer. This is usually in products that contain pigment grade titanium dioxide, such as loose powders, pressed powders, eyeshadows, and etc as it can be easily inhaled and causes harm to the lungs.
As mentioned earlier, sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide is safer to be used as compared to sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, but there are some tips on how to choose them!
According to Made Safe, it is a safer approach to stop using powdered cosmetics that contain titanium dioxide is to choose cosmetics that are label as ‘non-nano’, as this indicates that the titanium dioxide is non-nanoparticle size. Nanoparticle may react differently chemically compared to than larger particles of titanium dioxide, and therefore is suggested to be avoided, as they can be inhale and absorb easily. Due to the insufficient research done on nanoparticle for titanium dioxide and the implication it has on us, it is best to avoid having to use any cosmetics that contain nanoparticles of titanium dioxide for now.
It might be an impossible task to avoid titanium dioxide in cosmetics totally, but we can be more proactive in knowing what is safe and clean for us simply by reading the label ingredients and making informed choices on clean beauty for ourselves!