Titanium dioxide (TiO2) has a wide range of uses, both in food and cosmetics. It is a brilliant white pigment that helps to add definition to bubbles in the lather as well as assisting in the opacity of products. It is a naturally occurring colour sourced from ilmenite, rutile and anatase crystalline mineral ores.
Titanium dioxide can be listed as CI 77891, titanium white, or pigment white 6. When used as a food colouring it has E number E171.
When used in high amounts in a suncare product alongside safe synthetic sunscreens it boosts their effectiveness as it has a high refractive index of n=2.7. It is often used in sun creams designed for infants, or people with sensitive skin. Mineral UV blockers (such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide found in calamine powder) provide a physical barrier from the suns rays. Titanium dioxide remains stable and does not discolour when exposed to ultraviolet light. This enhances its ability to protect the skin from ultraviolet light. You can see it commonly as white streaks or patches on cricketer’s faces.
The titanium metal that forms part of titanium dioxide is named after the Titans of Greek mythology and is extremely strong, highly resistant to corrosion and is the seventh most common metallic element on Earth.