Titanium Dioxide, like Zinc Oxide, is a white-colored powder commonly used in medications, foods and sunscreens. Unlike Zinc, however, Titanium Dioxide use was not common until the early 20th century.
Titanium Dioxide was first discovered in 1821, but the right technology to mass produce and export Titanium Dioxide wasn’t developed until nearly 100 years later in 1916.
Titanium Dioxide is most commonly used as a pigment. In fact, it makes up nearly 2/3rds of the worlds pigment production. “Titanium White” paints are not only named after the mineral, but most still contain it as well.
How Does Titanium Dioxide Protect Skin from UV Rays?
Titanium Dioxide as a sunscreen agent functions in a similar fashion to Zinc Oxide. The particles of Titanium Dioxide are not absorbed into your skin, so they stay on the surface. The bright surface of the mineral reflects UV rays away from the body. Since the rays never reach your skin, you’re protected.
When used in sunscreen, Titanium Dioxide is typically ground into small particles. This increases its ability to protect against UVB rays. This small particle size also makes it less noticeable on skin, making it ideal for those with darker skin tones.
Unfortunately, reducing the particle size of Titanium Dioxide also reduces its effectiveness against UVA rays, the rays responsible for premature skin aging and wrinkling. Because of this, Titanium Dioxide is almost always used alongside Zinc Oxide, which is known for its ability to protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
Why Use Titanium Dioxide Sunscreens?
Some chemical sunscreens only protect against long-wave UVB rays, the rays responsible for sunburn. These sunscreens leave you exposed to skin-aging UVA rays. Titanium Dioxide stops most UVA rays before they reach your skin. Every Blue Lizard Sunscreen that contains Titanium Dioxide is also made with Zinc Oxide to provide true broad spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Dermatologists and pediatricians recommend sunscreens made with Titanium Dioxide because they are less likely to cause irritation than sunscreens made with chemical active ingredients.
In 2018, Hawaii passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate because research shows that they may contribute to coral bleaching and reef death. Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide are natural, safe and effective alternatives to chemical sunscreen ingredients.