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Titanium Dioxide in Skincare

Titanium dioxide is used in a variety of skincare products such as sunscreen, moisturizers, and face masks. This multi-purpose ingredient also is used as a pigment and a thickener for creams.1

Putting pomade on hand from the pumpTitanium Dioxide vs Zinc Oxide

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are common ingredients found in mineral sunscreen. They are both naturally occurring and stay on top of the skin, as opposed to being absorbed into it, to help deflect the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause sunburn and skin damage.2 Titanium dioxide is produced from titanium and is chalky, bright, white, and reflective in its natural state,3 while zinc oxide is powdered, oxidized zinc derived from the naturally occurring mineral zincite.4

Titanium Dioxide in Skincare and Personal Care Products


According to the Titanium Dioxide Manufacturers Association, titanium dioxide is one of the most important and effective sunscreens for protecting your skin against all aspects of UV light.5 While some sunscreens absorb into the skin, sunscreens using titanium dioxide create a protective layer on top of the skin to reflect the sun.6


Young brown woman applying moisturizer to face.Known for its ability to help soak up oils in the skin, titanium dioxide’s texture helps to create a smooth and creamy product, and due to its waterproof qualities, titanium dioxide is often found in lotions and creams.7

Soap and Shampoo

Titanium dioxide is used in soap, shampoo, and other personal cleansing products to help lighten the color and tone of the products to make them more visually appealing to the user.


There are several qualities of titanium dioxide that make it useful in makeup formulations. When used as a colorant in products like foundation, lipstick, and eye shadows, mixing titanium dioxide with other colors allows manufacturers to create many different shades to cater to all skin types.8


Because of its antibacterial properties, titanium dioxide in deodorant can help eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

Is Titanium Dioxide Safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assessed the safety9 of titanium dioxide pigment as a color additive in food, drug, and cosmetic applications, and as an ingredient in sunscreen products.


1. Is titanium dioxide safe for skin?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has assessed the safety of titanium dioxide pigment as a color additive in food, drug, and cosmetic applications, and as an ingredient in sunscreen products. FDA has also issued guidance clarifying the safe use of titanium dioxide pigment as a food colorant, and has stated that titanium dioxide may be safely used in cosmetics, including those intended for use around the eye.

2. Is titanium dioxide natural?

Yes, titanium dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral compound. Also known as titanium (IV) oxide or titania, it is comprised of the metal titanium and oxygen.10

3. Is titanium dioxide safe in cosmetics and sunscreen?

The FDA lists titanium dioxide as an allowed color additive used in coloring products, including cosmetics and personal care products, provided it meets certain specifications. It is also an approved colorant for food, drugs, and medical devices. In addition, the FDA includes it on a list of indirect food additives. For example, it may be used as a colorant in food contact packaging materials. Sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs through a monograph system, which establishes various requirements for products sold in the United States. A monograph specifies the types of ingredients, dosage forms, testing methods, labeling requirements, and other related details for a product category, such as sunscreens. If a manufacturer follows the sunscreen monograph, its sunscreen products do not require separate FDA pre-approval before they can be sold in the United States.11

4. Why does sunscreen leave a white cast on the skin?

Sunscreens that remain on the skin’s surface, rather than being absorbed, may leave a harmless white cast on the skin.

5. What chemicals are in nail polish and nail polish remover?

Titanium dioxide is mined from the earth and further processed and purified for use in consumer products like nail products. Toluene has been used as an ingredient in nail polish removers, due to its ability to help dissolve other substances, such as resins and plasticizers. It has also been used in the formulation of nail products to enable nail polishes, hardeners and lacquers to be applied smoothly. Acetone is a primary ingredient in many nail polish removers. It helps break down nail polish, making it easy to remove with a cotton swab or cloth.

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