In recent times, a number of international beauty giants have been caught in the controversy that their cosmetics caused cancer. Among them, the sunscreen, and color cosmetics category has a wide range of titanium dioxide, and the history of use has also been questioned.
Although the European Union has long listed titanium dioxide as a carcinogen, many industry insiders said that the impact of smeared cosmetics is not significant, there is no need to be concerned about these ingredients.
Eye shadow allegedly causes cancer because of one ingredient
The incident began when L’Oreal’s U.S. color cosmetics brand Urban Decay was accused by Environmental Health Advocates (“EHA”) of selling an eyeshadow palette containing inhalable titanium dioxide. In connection with this matter, Entorno Law said in a public filing that the brand continued to expose customers to carcinogens by failing to stop selling them even after it was already aware of the violation.
What is titanium dioxide? Why is it linked to carcinogens? Public information shows that titanium dioxide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula TiO2, which is considered to be one of the best performing white pigments in the world today. It can be used in paint, ink, plastic, rubber, paper, and other industries, but also as a food coloring agent, as well as widely used in sunscreen, and powder cosmetics.
As early as 2010, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified titanium dioxide as a Class 2B carcinogen. Ten years later, the EU also finally identified titanium dioxide as a Group 2 carcinogen.
On February 18, 2020, the European Commission included respirable titanium dioxide as a class 2 suspected carcinogen based on the proposal. EU regulated that containing greater than or equal to 1% titanium dioxide powder, and particle size less than or equal to 10 microns of liquid mixtures should add the label warning label: note, respirable harmful micro-droplets will be formed when spraying, so do not inhale the spray or mist. For the products containing greater than or equal to 1% titanium dioxide solid mixtures, it is necessary to label: Note, respirable harmful dust will be formed in the use, do not inhale dust.
Since then, the controversy about titanium dioxide carcinogenic has not been broken, for example, rainbow candy produced by Mars company was jointly sued by United States California consumers because of the addition of excessive titanium dioxide, they believe that titanium dioxide can damage human DNA, leading to genetic mutations and cell cancer.
For the problem that cosmetics containing titanium dioxide are carcinogenic, a chief physician from the Hunan University of Chinese Medicine replied that titanium dioxide for experimental animals’ carcinogenicity is clear, but there is no sufficient evidence to prove that humans have a carcinogenic effect. If it is produced by regular manufacturers, titanium dioxide content does not exceed the standard, adding a titanium dioxide liquid composition of cosmetics can be used normally.
As you can see, the risk of titanium dioxide needs to pay attention to the premise of “inhalable”. If it is a spray sunscreen, or powdered loose powder, when using must pay attention to hold your breath to avoid breathing into the lungs.
Several industry insiders who in charge of factory produced color cosmetics told CHAILEEDO that titanium dioxide is mainly the risk of inhalation, there is no significant impact on the application of sunscreen, primer, and other products.
“For cosmetics containing titanium dioxide that applied to the skin, the amount that can be volatilized into the air is very small, and then through breathing into the lungs content, basically negligible. Therefore, the daily use of skin care products containing titanium dioxide does not worry about the inhalation of the deposition in the lungs to harm the human body.” A research and development engineer also expressed similar views. It can be seen that ignoring the dose and form to talk about the harm is not desirable.
(Credit: from website)
The ingredients are widely used in sun protection, color cosmetics
According to Market Monitor data, the global titanium dioxide market size reached 123.993 billion yuan (about $17 billion) in 2022, China’s titanium dioxide market in a global market share of 36.49%. The report predicts that the global titanium dioxide market size will reach 204.978 billion yuan (about $28.2 billion) by 2028. From 2022 to 2028, the compound annual growth rate CAGR is 8.71%.
Due to its low price and excellent concealing effect, titanium dioxide has also long become an indispensable ingredient in cosmetics.
From the ingredients itself, titanium dioxide belongs to the natural mineral powder, which is a very important type of base material in cosmetics. It is widely used in color cosmetics. In the fragrance powder category, (such as ordinary fragrance powder, powder, toner, etc.) the amount of products can be as high as 30% to 80%.
In addition to titanium dioxide, commonly used natural mineral powders include zinc oxide, talc, etc., which are also commonly used as physical whitening ingredients. Among them, titanium dioxide has the whitest color and the strongest coverage and can be mixed with zinc oxide to improve the whitening and concealing effect.
According to another person in charge of research and development of Mianhuatang, which focuses on color cosmetics, micron-level titanium dioxide is mainly used as a cover-up and colorant and nano-level titanium dioxide is mainly used in sunscreen products. “From the application point of view, most of the current color cosmetics, especially the formulation of primer products will be added to titanium dioxide, the formula ratio can reach more than 8% and concealer products to more than 30%.”
(Credit: from website)
It is not advisable to cosmetics caused cancer
Cosmetics caused by cancer will not only make the brand influence greatly reduced, but also make the product lose consumer trust, and even cause panic. But as mentioned earlier, it is not advisable to talk about toxicity aside from dosage.
For example, the dioxane incident shocked the industry a few years ago. Although dioxane is also classified as a carcinogen, it should be noted that trace amounts of dioxane are commonly found in nature, and Health Canada has stated that the presence of trace amounts of dioxane in cosmetics does not pose a health risk to consumers, or even to children.
In Australia, the National Occupational Health and Safety Council has concluded that the ideal limit for dioxane in consumer products for daily use is 30 ppm, and the toxicologically acceptable upper limit is 100 ppm, while China’s limit of 30 ppm for dioxane in cosmetics after 2012 is far below the toxicologically acceptable upper limit of 100 ppm.
So, in many cases, determining whether an ingredient or a product is harmful to humans needs to be based on a large amount of experimental evidence, not just because it is listed as a carcinogen. Similarly, the brand argues for the safety and effectiveness of the product but also needs to have a basis.