The role of titanium dioxide in natural and organic skin care

Titanium Dioxide

There has been a discussion about titanium dioxide (TiO2) for some time. It is mainly used to make products such as latex paint, medicines, cosmetics and food, radiant white. TiO2 occurs in nature and is an oxide of titanium. This powdery substance provides a clinical white color and clarity. The advantage of TiO2 is that it is inert and non-reactive.

Lately, the reports about titanium dioxide have been full of it and the RIVM also made a statement about this. It is important to distinguish between oral intake (food) versus use in cosmetics, such as sun protection UV on the skin.

The reins for TiO2 in food are being tightened. In animal experiments it is said to be genotoxic, to have effects on fertility and disturbance of the intestinal flora. It is not clear to humans and the incentives to get TiO2 out of food (icing sugar, chewing gum, ice cream, toothpaste, milk powder, supplements) is understandable. The most recent recommendation from EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) in 2021 has concluded that TiO2 in food is not safe.

Titanium dioxide (TiO2) in skincare

Titanium Dioxide

Using TiO2 in skin care is a different story. TiO2 protects the skin in particular against ultraviolet B (UVB) and to a lesser extent UVA rays. The UVB rays are reflected by TiO2 like a mirror and a part is absorbed by TiO2. TiO2 is not photoreactive, that is, it does not break down or react with sunlight. On the skin, TiO2 rarely causes a skin allergy. A disadvantage is that TiO2 leaves a white cast. A solution for this is nano TiO2, even smaller particles that reduce the white glow.

Most studies show that (nano TiO2) does not penetrate the skin and is safe on intact undamaged skin. Science behind this: in order to penetrate the skin, an ingredient must be smaller than 300 Dalton (Dalton is the molecular weight), which corresponds to 1 nm and smaller. Most chemical and organic sunscreens are less than 300 Dalton. Mineral filters, zinc oxide and TiO2, even nano are 30 nm in size. 30 times larger than chemical filters.

An important point is the use of sunscreen spray. It is not recommended especially for children but also adults. Children are especially susceptible to accidental inhalation of TiO2 but also other sunscreen filters. In animal experiments, the inhaled TiO2 in sprays can eventually cause asthma, inflammation in the lung tissue and lung cancer.


In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration, FDA, scrutinized all sunscreen filters and classified TiO2 and zinc oxide as GRASE (stands for: generally recognized as safe and effective), other chemical filters are not. More about update FDA rapport in september 2021.

Also, a number of countries in the world have passed laws that prohibit certain chemical sunscreen filters, including oxybenzone and oxtinoxate. The impact of sunscreen filters on the coral reefs is enormous, reef parts are dying out and are also called ‘Reef Zombies’. These are the places where certain chemical sunscreen filters are banned: Virgin Islands (Virgin Islands) Palau (West Pacific), Mexico and also includes Hawaii and southern Florida and Bonaire.

Minerale sunscreen filters are allowed


Winkler HC, Notter T, Meyer U, Naegeli H. Critical review of the safety assessment of titanium dioxide additives in food. J Nanobiotechnology. 2018;16(1):51.

Newman MD, Stotland M, Ellis JI. The safety of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide- and zinc oxide-based sunscreens. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Oct;61(4):685-92.

Musial J, Krakowiak R, Mlynarczyk DT, Goslinski T, Stanisz BJ. Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles in Food and Personal Care Products-What Do We Know about Their Safety?. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2020;10(6):1110.

While you are here

Parabens do not have a good reputation, and during my consultations I frequently get questions about them. Is it bad for me? Should I avoid it? Is it carcinogenic? Serious concerns that require proper attention and depth. More on parabens, what’s the problem?

Do you want to read another blog article? Blog about Maskne.

Picture of Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu

Dr. Francis Wu, een vooraanstaande dermatoloog, is de drijvende kracht achter Iconic Elements. Hij heeft sinds 2004 zijn expertise ingezet om een veilige en effectieve huidverzorgingslijn te creëren, geschikt voor zowel gezonde huid als huidproblemen. Iconic Elements, opgericht in 2016, is de eerste brede skincare lijn in Nederland ontwikkeld door een dermatoloog. Als medisch specialist streeft Dr. Wu naar het bevorderen van het welzijn van mensen door hoogwaardige en effectieve huidverzorgingsproducten te bieden. De proefdiervrije en vegan producten vermijden schadelijke chemicaliën en bevatten natuurlijke ingrediënten.
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