Titanium Dioxide, a naturally occurring white mineral mainly sourced from ilmenite ore, is a common ingredient found in powder-based makeup and more naturally formulated sunscreens. It acts as a whitener, opacifier, and, in suncare, as UV filter. But, in the past few years, it has also been at the center of a controversy, with critics and defendants debating on its safety.
We employ Titanium Dioxide in some of our products while leaving it out in others. So, after receiving emails from our customers who wondered why this may be the case; and whether the talked-about ingredient was ultimately safe or not, we decided to explain how we use titanium dioxide in the most conscientious way AND how it makes you and the makeup look more beautiful because of its presence (or intentional lack there of):
Titanium Dioxide Is Safe… When Used Properly!
The safety controversy started in 2006, when the International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) declared Titanium Dioxide to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The decision was based on a 1985 study by Lee, Trochimwicz, & Reinhardt, “Pulmonary Response of Rats Exposed to Titanium Dioxide by Inhalation for Two Years.”¹ The study found that some of the rats exposed to dust loaded air at 250mg/m, for six hours per day, five days per week for two years, developed small lung tumours.
While this sounds scary, it’s important to remember that the rats process dust particles differently than human beings that makes them more prone to developing tumours. It should also be noted that these rats were exposed to an extremely high amount of Titanium Dioxide, a level that none of us will ever be exposed to, even if we were employed in the Titanium Dioxide industry.
That said, while we would never be exposed to air so laden with Titanium Dioxide, we at Hynt Beauty believe that we should do everything we can to create the best customer experience with our products.
When applying powder makeup, some of the powder does end up in the air, landing on your bathroom counter, not quite making it onto your face. For women who are very conscious of ingredient safety, the airborne powder during application may concern them. To address this, our VELLUTO Powder Foundation and FINALE Finishing Powders come with our Flat Top Foundation Brush, a densely packed kabuki brush with an even, flat head. This type of brush holds onto the powder much better, preventing it from flying off everywhere. It also makes application easier, provides better coverage, and delivers a smooth, even finish.
What about topical application? Titanium Dioxide is considered safe once it’s on our skin. Even Titanium Dioxide nano-particles aren’t able to penetrate deep into the skin, when they’re coated with materials like Silica, Alumina, and Dimethicone³. However, because nano-particles, Silica, Alumina, and Dimethicone have their own set of questionable safety issues, we choose to simply use the ingredient in its original, whole form to avoid any potential issues and concerns.
Titanium Dioxide’s Aesthetic Issue
If Titanium Dioxide is safe, why don’t we use it in all our products? Because, often, it simply isn’t the best material to work with. This is especially true when it comes to foundations. Titanium Dioxide has a thick consistency that tends to look and feel cakey. Rather than the naturally flawless looking complexion we crave, it gives us a heavy, mask-like appearance.
The whiteness of the powder poses another problem. Remember those eerily white-faced red carpet photos of Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie and countless other celebs, before makeup artists finally figured out the cause? That was Titanium Dioxide.
Titanium Dioxide reflects light very well. Even too well, you may say. Because of this, when the flash of the camera hits it, your face turn up white in photos. That’s why a lot of wedding and celebrity makeup artists refuse point blank to use base makeup with Titanium Dioxide. They know that even if they find a foundation light enough to look natural to the naked eye, it can make their clients look unpolished and ghost-like in pictures!
The Wonderful Benefits Of Titanium Dioxide
Although Titanium Dioxide poses several aesthetic issues when used in foundations, it shines when added to sunscreens and makeup products that require more opacity. Case in point: concealers. As one of the whitest, most opaque natural materials on earth, Titanium Dioxide is able to provide excellent coverage where and when you need it.
It easily hides imperfections, like pesky dark circles, age spots, and acne, while providing the creamy consistency we women expect, and demand, from spot concealers. We have a small amount of Titanium Dioxide in the DUET Perfecting Concealer, giving it high coverage, creamy smooth texture, and all-day wear but because of it’s creamy texture, it is not airborne.
The white opacity of this mineral also has another benefit. It lightens dark shades and brightens up dull hues. With just a sprinkle of Titanium Dioxide, formulators can exploit its reflective, color-enhancing properties to create infinite shades, with more dimension and richness in hue.
Finally, as you probably already know, Titanium Dioxide provides protection against both UVA and UVB rays so is often used as a better alternative to other potentially harmful active sun-screening ingredients. However, most dermatologists advise that we not rely on our foundation or powder makeup alone for complete sun protection. This is because the amount of foundation we use on our skin, and the level of titanium dioxide in various formulations and products, can vary greatly across brands, products and day to day. Just because we are applying foundation or powder with Titanium Dioxide as one of the ingredients does not ensure sufficient coverage. Instead of relying on makeup for protection, dermatologists recommend layering makeup over your daily sunscreen to protect your skin while looking your very best.
Creating state-of-the-art products is a tough job. Their ingredients don’t just have to be effective and pure (although, that’s the priority, of course!). They also must have a refined texture, good pigmentation, and a luxurious finish to provide the ultimate beauty experience. When Titanium Dioxide can deliver that, we’re more than happy to use it. But, when it counters our standards on beautiful, pure formulations, we take it out. We never compromise, neither on purity nor on aesthetics.
¹Pulmonary Response of Rats Exposed to Titanium Dioxide by Inhalation for Two Years by Lee, Trochimwicz, and Reinhardtc http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0041008X85903394
² Mortality among workers employed In The Titanium Dioxide Production Industry In Europe by the International Agency For Reserch On Cancer, Lyon, France http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15280628
³ Current Sunscreen Controversies: A Critical Review by Burnett and Wang http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21392107
4 Update on Suncreens by Bissonette http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18806906