Titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring earth mineral which is chemically stable and rated as being of low reactivity. It is used in sun lotions as a physical sunscreen primarily against UVB radiation. Titanium dioxide is considered to be very safe and is one of the most common industrial chemicals in our society. It is being used as an ingredient in food, toothpaste, cosmetics, paper, plastics and almost all paints. Due to the apparent safety of titanium dioxide it is also an approved food ingredient.
What is micronized titanium dioxide?
In sun care formulations the titanium dioxide particles are very small. They consist of small crystals with a size of 10 nm to 50 nm which are called primary particles and are generally referred to as being micronized or nano-sized. When they are incorporated into a cream or lotion these primary particles clump together to form aggregations with sizes between 200 nm and 1000 nm. These aggregations are held together by strong molecular forces which are very difficult to break down and due to their larger size they do not penetrate the skin.
For as long as these micronized titanium dioxides have been around, there have not been any studies providing proof that micronized titanium dioxide penetrates the skin.
However we know that titanium dioxide together with UV-light can form free-radicals. Logically having free-radicals forming materials on top of your skin is not a good idea and free radicals are known to pose health risks.
Coated titanium dioxide
Green People have solved this problem by using micronized titanium dioxide that is coated with a thin layer of silicates – basically they are wrapped in glass. This coating prevents the titanium dioxide from coming into contact with oxygen avoiding the forming of free radicals and therefore there are no health risks with this particular form of titanium dioxide.
Products with titanium dioxide as the main UV-filter are generally recommended for use in products for sensitive skin and titanium dioxide is vegan, chemically stable and environmentally friendly.