Different studies carried out in the recent years have shown that titanium dioxide (TiO2) does not penetrate skin and enter the body [1,2,5,6]. Due to its many layers, the skin provides a good barrier to particles.


Human Skin Layer (epidermis). © Wikipedia.de.Human Skin Layer (epidermis). © Wikipedia.de.

These results have been confirmed within the EU project NanoDerm for nanoscale TiO2 particles used in cosmetics [2]. Coating of the TiO2 particles contained in suncreams ensures good dispersion properties and photostability [3] and avoids the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).


Cross section through a hair follicle. © Nanospotlight 4/2006, VDI-TZ.Cross section through a hair follicle. © Nanospotlight 4/2006, VDI-TZ.


It remains to clarify the question how injured, inflamed or particularly sensitive skin, for example sunburnt skin, reacts? A study from 2011 could show that neither titanium dioxide nor zinc oxide nanoparticles penetrate UVB-damaged skin (sunburn) [6].

The particles remain in the upper layers of the epidermis (see also the article "Basics - Dermal Uptake").


Sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles provide an efficient protection against skin damage from ultraviolet light (UVB).



In their report from 2011 the American Nanodermatology Society (NDS) compiles and summarises the results of numerous studies and confirms that TiO2 particles do not penetrate the skin (the stratum corneum) and do not enter living cell layers [7].


Literature arrow down

  1. Gamer, AO et al. (2006), Toxicol In Vitro, 20(3): 301-307.
  2. Pfluecker, F et al. (2001), Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol, 14 Suppl 1(Suppl. 1): 92-97.
  3. NanoDerm final scientific report (2007). Quality of Skin as a Barrier to ultra-fine Particles. QLK4-CT-2002-02678.
  4. Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) (19.06.2007). Safety of nanomaterials in cosmetic products.
  5. Nohynek, GJ et al. (2007), Crit Rev Toxicol, 37(3): 251-277.
  6. Monteiro-Riviere, NA et al. (2011), Toxicol Sci, 123(1): 264-280.
  7. Nanodermatology Society (NDS) (17.05.2011). The 2011 Nanodermatology Society Position Statement on Sunscreens, http://www.nanodermsociety.org/news.php (PDF, 243 KB).


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