Dive Deeper Blog

Keeping it Real: Titanium Dioxide in Sunscreen

February 12, 2015

In my last blog post, I shared why we want our products to be “Eco-conscious” and I also mentioned that I hoped to share some insight on why we hand-picked the ingredients we’re using. So this week I wanted to jump into why we chose to use Titanium Dioxide in our mineral sunscreen.

There’s two types of sunscreens: chemical and mineral. Chemical includes ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, benzophenone, etc.  These ingredients are absorbed into your skin where they filter and absorb UV rays. Mineral sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to cover the surface of your skin and block (or reflect) the sun’s UV rays.

I personally don’t like the idea of the chemical ingredients of my sunscreen absorbing into my body. And I don’t trust that just because the FDA allows them in the US, they are safe to use. Yes, they DO biodegrade. But what they may do to the environment and our bodies before biodegrading makes me very uncomfortable.

Zinc and titanium are both naturally found in the environment and seawater. They DON’T biodegrade, but since they are natural elements, I’m OK with that. They do pose a challenge, though, and that is that as a natural element, they are very thick and whitening. To reduce their whitening, they must be coated or dispersed in a solution prior to incorporating into a sunscreen.

With zinc, that coating has been shown to be very toxic to all aquatic organisms. So if you see ‘non-whitening’ and ‘zinc’ on a label, chances are good they are using a DOW chemical ingredient which clearly states on the MSDS sheet that it is toxic to the aquatic environment. Every other zinc ingredient we tried working with left us with that life-guard-white nose.

On the other hand, the titanium dioxide dispersion that we use in our face and body sunscreens is approved by EcoCert for use in organic sunscreens.  The active ingredient doesn’t degrade over time like chemical sunscreens do, and offers targeted UVA protection and high UVB protection without excessive whitening on skin. Excessive… there’s always a little give and take, and to me, I’d rather have some (non-excessive) whitening then have to worry about the impact of the chemical sunscreens on my body.

I thank you for continuing to join me on this journey…because we DO have a choice and we WILL chose to do better. We have been very busy with testing and we will be sharing some behind-the-scenes notes on how that has been going later this month. I appreciate your comments, concerns and questions that will help to ensure that I share information that is important to you along the way.