Titandium Dioxide 

What You Should Know

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In the world of cosmetics, we encounter a variety of ingredients – one of which is titanium dioxide. But what exactly is titanium dioxide and why has it recently been such a highly debated topic in the cosmetics industry? We answer these and other questions and introduce you to our titanium dioxide-free toothpaste in this context.

Date of publication: 2.4.2024

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What is Titanium Dioxide?

Titanium dioxide (chemically: TiO2), also known as Titanium Dioxide, is a naturally occurring white mineral in powder form that can whiten or brighten products, thus providing opacity. For this reason, the micropigment is also called titanium white. Millions of tons of this substance are produced worldwide annually, with more than one million tons produced in Europe. Approximately 90% of titanium dioxide is used as a white pigment for the production of (printing) inks, plastics, varnishes, and paper, while the remaining 10% is used, among other things, in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

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Titanium Dioxide: Where is it Contained?

Until its EU-wide ban as a food additive in August 2022, titanium dioxide was used as a food additive E171 in a wide variety of foods such as sweets (e.g., marshmallows, chocolate lentils, chewing gums), cheese (e.g., mozzarella), light sauces (e.g., salad dressing, mayonnaise), baking ingredients (e.g., fondant, baking decor), or also dietary supplements. The use of titanium dioxide in the chemical industry and also in pharmaceuticals is still permitted - the industry uses the substance as a white pigment PW6, for example, in oil paints, varnishes, plastics, or paper. Titanium dioxide is also used in medications, where it serves as a coating film for pills, among other things.

In cosmetic products such as toothpaste or lip gloss, titanium dioxide (CI 77891) is used as a white pigment. It may also be contained in lipsticks or foundations and concealers, where it provides good coverage and can camouflage irregularities in the skin tone, such as redness or age spots. In sunscreen products, it can be used as a mineral UV filter.

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How Do I Recognize Titanium Dioxide in Toothpaste and Other Cosmetic Products?

In the ingredient lists of cosmetic products, it is listed as CI 77891 or Titanium Dioxide. The abbreviation CI stands for Colour Index.

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Current Developments: the Ban of Titanium Dioxide as a Food Additive

Recently, the debate around titanium dioxide has intensified, especially since it was banned as a food additive in the EU from August 2022. Until this point, titanium dioxide had been used in various foods such as mozzarella or marshmallows to give them a white color or sheen.

The reason for the ban on titanium dioxide was an opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which concluded that titanium dioxide as an additive E171 in food could no longer be considered safe, as a possible genotoxic effect could not be excluded when it enters the body through food - i.e., when eaten.
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Is Titanium Dioxide in Toothpaste Harmful?

The EFSA's assessment relates to the risks of titanium dioxide used as a food additive, not other uses. In cosmetics, titanium dioxide can still be used, as it is currently not considered to be absorbed through the skin. For cosmetics that could potentially be swallowed – such as toothpaste or lip gloss and lipsticks – the use of titanium dioxide (CI 77891) is still considered safe by experts. Since there is still uncertainty as to whether the substance known as a food additive E171 and titanium dioxide in cosmetics (CI 77891) are the same substance, a direct transfer of the EFSA's assessment to cosmetic products is not possible.
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Function of Titanium Dioxide in Toothpaste

Although titanium dioxide can still be used in cosmetic products, current developments show that many consumers desire titanium dioxide-free alternatives. Therefore, we are actively working on finding adequate substitutes that meet our quality standards. For example, our toothpaste without titanium dioxided or our new sunscreen lotion.

Titanium dioxide is used in toothpaste for two reasons:

  • As a whitener: Titanium dioxide is a highly effective white pigment that gives toothpaste a bright white color.

  • As an abrasive: As such, it removes plaque and discoloration.

Instead of titanium dioxide, we use substitute ingredients such as sodium bicarbonate, kaolin, chalk  (calcium carbonate) oder silica (hydrated silica) in our toothpastes.

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Toothpaste Without Titanium Dioxide

Even if titanium dioxide in toothpaste is not currently considered harmful by current knowledge, it is understandable if consumers prefer to avoid this substance as a precaution. The current developments in brick-and-mortar and online retail show that there is an increasing response to the desire of many consumers for toothpaste without titanium dioxide. More and more oral care products without titanium dioxide are being offered. We at lavera consciously refrain from using titanium dioxide in our new toothpaste formulations in order to take into account any concerns our customers may have.
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Toothpaste without Titanium Dioxide


Titanium dioxide is a white micropigment that can whiten products, and is used in industry and the cosmetics sector. In the form of the additive E171, it was also used in food for a long time until it was banned EU-wide in 2022. Since then, titanium dioxide may no longer be added to food because E171 could no longer be considered safe.
In cosmetics, titanium dioxide in the form of CI 77891 may still be used. Experts currently consider the use of titanium dioxide there to be safe. For one thing, according to current research findings, it cannot be absorbed through the skin. Furthermore, it is not yet possible to say to what extent the findings for titanium dioxide as a food additive (E171) can be applied to titanium dioxide in cosmetics (CI 77891). Because it is not yet clear whether and to what extent these two substances are identical.
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