Is titanium toxic or harmful as a cosmetic ingredient?

Just recently I have received a couple of enquiries about titanium. The main issue seems to be whether it is a toxin absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin possibly causing cancer.

Titanium is a white powder often used as a sunscreen, or to brighten colours and help lotions to spread easily. It is found in our natural environment and has extremely small particles, so is classed as a nanomaterial.

Titanium in natural cosmetics

Image from PerfectNewsHub

Titanium Powder research

My first port of call was to look it up in my handy reference guide, ‘What’s Really in your Basket?’ This lists all food and beauty additives and assigns them with a traffic light colour and smiley or sad face to denote their safety. Titanium scores an orange face which denotes caution advised.

My next reference is a website called Paula’s Choice – The Cosmetics Cop where I can search alphabetically for titanium. Paula Begoun has suffered from skin problems herself and after finding acetone in a skin product went on to write over 20 books as a consumer expert for the cosmetics industry. She aims to help us to understand when product claims are lying or telling the truth. She explains how micronised titanium and even nano particles of it cannot penetrate further than the outer layers of the skin.

The Cosmetics and Perfumery and Toiletries Association (CTPA) consumer website lists titanium under nanoparticles and states that is one of the most studied ingredients of all time. A number of scientific studies have consistently shown that nanoparticles in current cosmetic use do not penetrate through human skin. They give links to The Nanodermatology Society position statement on sunscreens. This explains what they know about skin penetration of nanomaterials.

Finally, I searched for titanium on the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. Along with their founding partners Friends of the Earth, they believe that nano particles are present in all types of personal care and beauty products and that we should avoid using them. Cell toxicity, DNA mutation and even cell death have been reported in their studies and a lack of regulation, testing and labelling requirements exposes consumers to unnecessary risk.

This contradicts the CTPA about it being the most tested ingredient.


I have come to the conclusion that it depends who you ask as to whether titanium is safe or not. It is probably prudent to limit exposure where possible but eliminating it completely could be difficult to achieve.

What about NATorigin?

The manufacturers of NATorigin, Contapharm Laboratoires in France have issued this statement regarding titanium which is only in two of their products.

‘All NATorigin lipstick shades contain titanium. For NATorigin pencil eye liners only the blue one contains titanium. Black, brown and green pencil eye liners are free of titanium.

There is a controversial argument concerning the potential toxicity of titanium dioxide or other particles at the size of nanoparticles because they are suspected to penetrate into the skin.

We don’t use titanium dioxide, talc or mica as nano size and in addition Ecocert forbade their use so we couldn’t use them in NATorigin products.

Nano-titanium dioxide is not usually used in make-up products but you can always find it in sunscreen products.

So the titanium dioxide, talc and mica you can find in NATorigin products are not toxic and all the formulations are validated by a toxicologist.’

I hope you find this useful.

, ,

Comments are closed.