The following was written by Erin of Inner Earth Soaps and I think it's an industry issue that might be of interest to you. I have copied it verbatim.
Recently I've had some customers asking me about titanium dioxide. I've always considered it to be a fairly innocuous product, but lately there have been some concerns over studies where it has been shown to be a possible carcinogenic, causing fear in consumers. So let's bring it out in the open.
What is titanium dioxide?
It's a naturally-occurring mineral, mined from the earth. After mining it is processed to remove impurities, leaving behind a mineral pigment in the form of a white powder.
Which products might contain titanium dioxide?
Soaps, make-up, toothpaste, sunscreen, food, plastics, paints, ink and paper, to name a few.
Why use titanium dioxide?
Apart from in sunscreen - where the titanium dioxide is used to block UV rays from the skin - it is a mostly aesthetic ingredient that makes products appear more white or opaque.
Is titanium dioxide safe?
Titanium dioxide is listed as a safe pigment, with no known side effects. However there is some debate over a specific type of titanium dioxide: ultrafine or nano particles. This is the type of titanium dioxide that is used in sunscreens, because the particles are small enough to be invisible to the naked eye, yet still reflect the UV rays. The debate is whether these particles are small enough to penetrate the skin and become a possible carcinogenic.
Does Inner Earth Soaps use titanium dioxide in their products?
Yes, in some soaps we do. Where it is used, it is listed in the ingredients. However, we don't use the ultrafine powder that is the subject of debate.
Even with this explained, some folks just don't feel comfortable using products containing titanium dioxide. So I've started experimenting with our soaps: some of the ones that currently contain titanium dioxide will be made without it. Below is our Honey Toffee soap. The one on the left contains titanium dioxide, the one on the right doesn't. You can easily tell the difference - the left one is much more opaque, and the layers more well-defined. I'm interested to see whether this new batch will be more popular.
What do you think? Do you use titanium dioxide in your products, or do you feel strongly about using products made with it? I'd love to hear your comments.
If you'd like to read the comments left for her, leave a comment for her or see the original post, please go here. Thanks, Erin!