Topics for this column are selected one of two ways: either something important has happened such as a new regulation, or a number of phone calls have been received on a subject. The latter, while a close second to the first, indicates the need to more fully explain the complex issues of regulation. Based on a number of recent phone calls, this column will discuss titanium dioxide (TiO2).
TiO2 is the most frequently used ingredient in cosmetics after water (aqua), fragrance (parfum), methylparaben, propylparaben, glycerin and propylene glycol, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program. It is a popular UV filter in sizes ranging from pigment grade, which the FDA originally approved in 1978, to micro-size grades and nano-size grades. It is the whitest pigment known and occurs in ores such as ilmenite (most common), leucoxene, rutile and anatase. Ilmenite is gray-black in color and also contains iron oxides, magnesium and manganese. No naturally occurring minerals containing titanium are allowed in personal care products, so all TiO2 is synthetically produced.