Recently I have been asked several questions about Titanium Dioxide. I thought everyone would like to hear (read?) my responses because these are good questions that you may have thought of before. All of these questions that have been sent to me are posed as if coming from the Blog Editor, and I respond, so you will be able to find the questions easily.
Blog Editor: Titanium Dioxide is listed as an ingredient in sunscreen. Can putting this in soap give you some protection against the sun – assuming that not all of the particles wash off?
Andee: Wow! This is a question that requires a long answer, so please be patient with me! 🙂
Let’s start with the basics; there is a difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock. A sunscreen contains various ingredients that absorb the UV (ultraviolet) light instead of allowing your skin to absorb it. These are commonly known as chemical blockers in the cosmetic industry. Common used chemical blockers are: Bemotrizinol (Tinosorb S), Benzophenones 1–12, Dioxybenzone, Drometrizole trisiloxane (Mexoryl XL), Iscotrizinol (Uvasorb HEB), Octocrylene, Oxybenzone (Eusolex 4360), and Sulisobenzone. Whew! I feel like those words are quite a mouthful! Many of these chemical blockers will break down after several hours of exposure to the sun, so you do need to re-apply frequently to have the best performance from the sunscreen. These products don’t wash away, so they are good for when playing in the water for long periods.
On the other hand, a sunblock is a physical blocker. The most commonly used ingredients that are physical blockers are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. These are particles that stay on the skin and reflect the UV light. These products don’t break down due to exposure to the sun, but they will wash away when you are playing in the water.
Both sunscreens and sunblocks are products that we apply and leave on our skin. Soap is another matter. We wash it off, so very little of the soap (or the additives) remain on our skin. I honestly think that there is such a minimal amount of material left on the skin after washing with a soap containing Titanium Dioxide that it would not help protect your skin.
Blog Editor: When making soap and using Titanium Dioxide, I’ve noticed that the edges of the bar dried very quickly after cutting and also that my hands felt very dry. Is this from the Titanium Dioxide?
Andee: From your comments that the soap felt drying and the edges of the bar dried quickly, I believe that your soap has too much Titanium Dioxide. The recommended usage rate for most soaps and cosmetics is 1%. If you use more, the soap can be drying. If you want to use more Titanium Dioxide for your soap, you are more than welcome to do so. Just remember, the soap may have a different feeling than if you hadn’t used as much Titanium Dioxide.
Blog Editor: When is the best time to add Titanium Dioxide to my soap? How do I make sure I use it correctly?
Andee: I usually add my Titanium Dioxide at the same time I add my fragrance and other additives, at light trace. I prevent my Titanium Dioxide from settling to the bottom of my soap mold by hydrating it for at least an hour before using it. I have a 16 oz Bullet Style Bottle that holds pre-mixed water and Titanium Dioxide for soap making purposes. I usually make a mixture of 10 ounces of water and 5 ounces of Titanium Dioxide when I have to refill the bottle. When I am ready to use the color, I simply shake the bottle and measure out how much fluid Titanium Dioxide I want to use.
Blog Editor: Does the Titanium Dioxide offer any benefit to the skin, or is it only for color?
Andee: Titanium Dioxide only offers a coloring ability, and that is the primary use for it. You can use just a touch to lighten a soap, or you can use more to color a soap white if you desire. Just remember not to use too much!
Blog Editor: Will you ever carry an oil-soluble Titanium Dioxide?
Andee: We do carry a premixed oil-soluble Titanium Dioxide! This is our White Oil Soluble Lip Color. It is compatible with cold process soap and glycerin soap as well as lip balms and other anhydrous products. If you want to color a lotion or other emulsion, I would recommend using the Titanium Dioxide pigment (water dispersible).
Blog Editor: Can you explain its SPF value in skincare formulations, please! I know not to make claims about SPF, but I’m wondering if it really works and if so, to what extent?
Andee: Claiming an SPF causes you to be in the over-the-counter drug arena. We would recommend staying out of this arena because there are so many legal potholes and we want you to keep making your products. 🙂
SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, is tested by a laboratory specializing in SPF testing. The product is then given its SPF rating based on their testing. I couldn’t find any information about the SPF value of Titanium Dioxide or other similar products. Titanium Dioxide has been used in sunblock because it has a high light refraction number. There are actually few items that have a higher light refraction number. Hmmm. That’s interesting food for thought!
Blog Editor: I definitely would like to know about adding it to lip balm without adding an SPF claim.
Andee: You can add the White Oil Soluble Lip color to a lip balm and state that it is just for coloring purposes. It may help block the light due to the particles of Titanium Dioxide, but your product will not be classified as an over-the-counter drug unless you claim it has an SPF. Please don’t make any claims.
I hope these questions and answers have helped you learn more about Titanium Dioxide. Remember that we want you to have fun making your products, so don’t make medical claims and you won’t have any problems. It’s always much easier to just use Titanium Dioxide as a color rather than a sun-blocking material.