WHAT? Check out the ingredient – TITANIUM DIOXIDE:Titanium Dioxide: Toxic or Safe?By Lori Stryker, B.Sc., B.H.Ec., B.Ed.Titanium dioxide is the subject of new controversy, yet it is a substance as old as the earth itself. It is one of the top fifty chemicals produced worldwide. It is a white, opaque and naturally- occurring mineral found in two main forms: rutile and anatase. Both forms contain pure titanium dioxide that is bound to impurities. Titanium dioxide is chemically processed to remove these impurities, leaving the pure, white pigment available for use. Titanium dioxide has a variety of uses, as it is odorless and absorbent. This mineral can be found in many products, ranging from paint to food to cosmetics. In cosmetics, it serves several purposes. It is a white pigment, an opacifier and a sunscreen. Concern has arisen from studies that have pointed to titanium dioxide as a carcinogen and photocatalyst, thus creating fear in consumers. But are these claims true? What does the research on these allegations bear out? Would we as consumers benefit from avoiding this mineral to preserve our long-term health?A carcinogen is a substance that causes a cellular malfunction, causing the cell to become cancerous and thus potentially lethal to the surrounding tissue and ultimately the body as these rapidly growing mutated cells take over. With the surge in cancer rates among all segments of the population, many people are attempting to reduce or eliminate their exposure to carcinogens. Titanium dioxide is regarded as an inert, non-toxic substance by many regulatory bodies such as the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and others charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the health of occupational workers and public health. The MSDS states that titanium dioxide can cause some lung fibrosis at fifty times the nuisance dust, defined by the US Department of Labor as 15 mg/m cubed (OSHA) or 10 mg/m cubed (ACGIH Threshold Limit Value). The ACGIH states that titanium dioxide is “not classifiable as a human carcinogen”. Symptoms of chronic overexposure to titanium dioxide in an industrial setting, according to the MSDS, include a “slight increase in lung tumour incidence in lab rats”. It also states “when titanium dioxide was fed to rats/mice in a carcinogen bioassay, it was not carcinogenic”. The NIOSH declares that at 5000 mg/m cubed there was slight lung fibrosis, concluding that this substance was carcinogenic in rats.The NIOSH declaration of carcinogenicity in rats is based on a study by Lee, Trochimowicz & Reinhardt, “Pulmonary Response of Rats Exposed to Titanium Dioxide by Inhalation for Two Years” (1985). The authors of this study found that rats chronically exposed to excessive dust loading of 250 mg/m cubed and impaired clearance mechanisms within the rat, for six hours per day, five days per week for two years, developed slight lung tumours. They also noted that the biological relevance of this data to lung tumours in humans is negligible. It is important to note that rats are known to be an extremely sensitive species for developing tumours in the lungs when overloaded with poorly soluble, low toxicity dust particles. Rat lungs process particles very differently compared to larger mammals such as dogs, primates or humans (Warheit, 2004). This sensitivity in the lungs has not been observed in other rodent species such as mice or hamsters (Warheit, 2004), therefore using the rat model to determine carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide in humans can be misleading, as extrapolation of species-specific data to humans is erroneous.Many organizations and businesses have perpetuated this assessment of the carcinogenicity of titanium dioxide (ewg.org). However, several studies and study reviews have been used to compile the safety disclaimers for the regulations on the permitted use of titanium dioxide. One such study review took place in Rome, 1969 between the World Health Organization and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Cross species analyses were performed and reviewed for possible toxicity of titanium dioxide. The conference concluded that among the following species: rats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats and human males, ingestion of titanium dioxide at varying diet percentages and over long periods of time did not cause absorption of this mineral. Titanium dioxide particulates were not detected in the blood, liver, kidney or urine and no adverse effects were noted from its ingestion. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (2002) allows for its ingestion, external application including the eye area, and considers it a safe substance for public health. Other epidemiological studies showed that workers exposed to titanium dioxide exhibited no statistically significant relationship between such exposure with lung cancer and respiratory disease, although some cases of pulmonary fibrosis did occur. These studies were conducted in industrial settings where the increased exposure puts these individuals more at risk than the average person.Titanium dioxide is listed as a safe pigment, with no known adverse effects. It is not listed as a carcinogen, mutagen, teratogen, comedogen, toxin or as a trigger for contact dermatitis in any other safety regulatory publications beside the NIOSH (Antczak, 2001; Physical & Theoretical Chemical Laboratory, Oxford University respectively). It is reasonable to conclude then, that titanium dioxide is not a cancer-causing substance and is generally safe for use in foods, drugs, paints and cosmetics. This does not end the debate, however, as controversy over the safety of one unique form of titanium dioxide still exists.One form of mineral or mineral extract, including titanium dioxide, that we should be concerned about is ultrafine or nano particles. As technology has advanced, so has its ability to take normal sized particles of minerals and reduce them to sizes never before imagined. While many are praising this new technology, others are warning of its inherent dangers to our bodies. A study by Churg et. al. at the University of British Columbia in their paper “Induction of Fibrogenic Mediators by Fine and Ultrafine Titanium Dioxide in Rat Tracheal Explants” (1999) found that ultrafine particles of the anatase form of titanium dioxide, which are less than 0.1 microns, are pathogenic or disease causing (see Table 1).Table 1: Measurements of Mineral Pigment ParticlesParticle Size MeasurementCoarse Less than 10 micronsFine Less than 2.5 micronsUltrafine (nanoparticles) Less than 0.1 microns or 100 nanometresetcgroup.orgTable 2: Particle Size and Entry into the Human BodyNanoparticle Size Entry Point70 nanometres Alveolar surface of lung50 nanometres Cells30 nanometres Central Nervous SystemLess than 20 nanometres No data yetetcgroup.orgKumazawa, et. al. in their study, “Effects of Titanium Ions and Particles on Neutrophil Function and Morphology” concluded that cytotoxicity (danger to the cell) was dependent on the particle size of titanium dioxide. The smaller the particle size, the more toxic it is (see Table 2). This conclusion is relevant to the consumer because of the cosmetics industry’s increasing use of micronized pigments in sunscreens and colour cosmetics. Nanoparticles of titanium dioxide are used in sunscreens because they are colourless at that size and still absorb ultraviolet light. Many cosmetic companies are capitalizing on metal oxide nanoparticles. We have seen, however, that if titanium dioxide particles used to act as a sunscreen are small enough, they can penetrate the cells, leading to photocatalysis within the cell, causing DNA damage after exposure to sunlight (Powell, et. al. 1996) The fear is that this could lead to cancer in the skin. Studies with subjects who applied sunscreens with micronized titanium dioxide daily for 2-4 weeks showed that the skin can absorb microfine particles. These particles were seen in the percutaneous layers of the skin under UV light. Coarse or fine particles of titanium dioxide are safe and effective at deflecting and absorbing UV light, protecting the skin, but consumers should avoid using products with micronized mineral pigments, either in sunscreens or colour cosmetics.As with any health issue, relevant studies must be examined closely to reach balanced conclusions about its impact on our health and well-being. Often, risk determinations are made without considering actual hazards and real-life exposures (Warheit, 2004). The Organic Make-up Co. considers fine or coarse particle sized titanium dioxide and other mineral pigments to be safe according to the studies available and information discussed in this article. Despite repeated requests for micronized pigments in our colour cosmetics, we insist on using only coarse or fine particles of mineral pigments, balancing our need to look beautiful with our more pressing need to stay healthy. With the multitude of cosmetics and chemicals available to us, it is in our best interest to become informed as consumers and make pure, natural and simple choices to protect our health and longevity.References:Antczak, Cosmetics Unmasked. Harper Collins; London:2001Blake, et.al. “Application of the Photocatalytic Chemistry of TiO2 to Disinfection and the Killing of Cancer Cells”, Separation and Purification Methods; Vol 28 (1) 1999 p.1-50Churg, Gilks, Dai, UBC Dept. of Pathology. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. Vol 277 Issue 5 L975-L982, 1999Dunford, et. al. FEBS Letters 418, 87 1997Etcgroup.orgKamazawa, et.al. “Effects of Titanium Ions and Particles of Neutrophil Function and Morphology”. Biomaterials 2002 Sep 23 (17): 3757-64Powell, et. al. GUT 38, 390 1996Warheit, David “Nanoparticles: Health Impacts?”. Materials Today, Feb. 2004Witt, Stephen. Director of Technological Support, N. American Refractories Co.policies on: animal testing | privacy | contact us |
A great product….
Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Face Powder is a great product that I would happily recommend. This works well, for overall coverage, smoothes out your complexion and is an effective cover up, as well. I found that it helped minimize the appearance of pimples and other facial imperfections, without appearing too caked on or artificial. Great product.
Great Face Powder for warmer complexions
I expected something lighter when it came, as I thought the picture showed it lighter. But, because it’s made up of light and dark sections, it all evens out when you put it on. This gives a nice glow to the skin without being overly shiny-like the pearl face powder Physicians Formula makes. I like this better than hand made mineral powders because it doesn’t look flat and looks more natural. I plan to go to a lighter shade once my summer tan fades. Very happy with this product. No break outs or irritation, either.
I love this product! (the brush is terrible, buy puffs separately)
Years of acne prone skin, tried every cream out there, with not so pleasant side effects! Started using this and my face stopped breaking out, like magic. It’s incredible. Great coverage (can be a little cakey if you have very dry skin so use a brush to brush off excess after application). Very smooth lovely natural color. I highly recommend this. If you are REALLY broken out it could be too cakey at first since its not liquid. But that’s only at first, once you stop breaking out, just continue to use it and your skin will look better than ever, healthy and glowing! I love this! Also- I buy separate powder puff applicators because the brush is terrible. This stuff is well worth it.
I love Physicians Formula. They always have great stuff and unlike other make-up, it leaves me with less "zits" because it is less oiler than other products. I would recommend it to anyone with oily skin.
It does help to correct the redness from my eczema, but it’s too dry. It’s like using pure limestone on my face. Plus after the second day of using it, my face skin starts its common reaction to this product.
Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-free Mineral Face Powder, Creamy Natural
Good coverage especially for older skin with a few wrinkles. I use a good moisturizer and then apply with a kabuki brush. It never feels dry or fills in wrinkle lines and lasting coverage all day. When going out at night I will reapply and it doesn’t feel caked on.
I love Physician’s Formula!
I’ve been really impressed by PF products, so I decided to try this out as a light foundation. It offers sheer, flawless coverage that makes my skin look clear and even. I will definitely keep using this product!
Great Face Powder
I bought this face powder after my mother-in-law told me about the line. I absolutely love it. It has now become my favorite out of the different face powders I own. It matches my skin tone perfectly. I have been having more blemishes and sensitivity lately. It seems like I was either allergic to a makeup or it clogged my pores. This does neither! I like that it is mineral wear and talc free. It can go on heavy and look "powdery" so just keep that in mind when applying it. Also, check out the powder correcter that is also in this line if you need a concealer. It does great at concealing any red spots. I will be buying these for a long time to come!
My favorite powder!
The Physicians Formula products are perfect for my skin and this powder is my favorite. I use it alone and it fills and covers just as a liquid makeup would, but without all that to clog the pores. The tint of the Creamy Natural powder is also perfect for me.
but no better than the flesh tone with green and pink flecks …
Two much white in it really. Covered ok, but no better than the flesh tone with green and pink flecks in it. Don’t recommend.
Great drugstore powder
This is actually a really nice powder. It doesn’t break me out, in fact I think my skin improves with use. It’s milled nicely especially for drugstore and it hides my shine.
I like this mineral powder, as it offers light coverage (but not too much) for just the right areas on my face, like around my eyes and I use it for darker areas on my face to help colors blend together better.
Great shine coverage mineral face powder with SPF 16.
I didn’t wear foundation for most of my adult life as I was blessed with great skin, and usually only wore powder on my forehead for shine control. Now, however, at age 60, I need a bit more coverage due to sun/age spots. I’ve tried quite a few face powders and found some okay for shine control but not for coverage or okay for coverage and not for shine control.I recently picked up this Talc-Free Mineral Face Powder from Physicians Formula at the drug store. I got it in Sand Beige. The compact is deeper and heavier than the other compacts I’ve tried. It has a small brush (and a mirror) under the powder if you flip the compact all the way open. IMHO, the brush is pretty much useless due to its small size, but it’s nice that they included one.I was immediately won over by the opening mechanism of the compact. You push a button at the front of the compact, and the compact opens quickly and cleanly every time. Considering how much time I have wasted wrestling with opening various brands of face powder, this was wonderful!The powder has a silky and very fine texture. It contains a broad spectrum SPF 16 sunscreen, which is a nice feature. I lightly twirl my brush in the powder (it doesn’t take much!)and then sweep it over my face. It provides GREAT shine control and SOME coverage in evening my skin tone, but not nearly as much as thePhysicians Formula Mineral Airbrushing Loose Powder SPF 30, Translucent Light – 0.35 OZ.Whereas the loose powder burned my eyes horribly (I mistakenly used an eye makeup remover pad on part of my face where the powder was and then swept it across my eye to remove my eye makeup), the pressed powder doesn’t bother me.This powder helps me feel polished, protected and shine free. Recommended.
I love this product, I mostly use it during winter times when my skin tone lightens up to give me a bronze glow and, ir does just that, I use it with the photo ready powered in fair ( not my coloer) but I like to mix my bronzer with light colors to give it an extra glow. Im african american by the way and like I said this is something I use to give me some color and glow during those winter or cool seasons when i lighten up. Soooooooooooo I like it!!!