Titanium dioxide

Titanium dioxide is a white powder extracted from naturally occurring minerals. Sometimes referred to as TiO2, titanium white or CI 77891, it has been used for many years in a variety of different products including foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. In foods, titanium dioxide is commonly referred to as E171.

Your questions answered

What are the different forms of titanium dioxide in beauty and personal care products?

Titanium dioxide is produced at pigment grade or nano grade.

Pigment grade titanium dioxide is produced at a much larger particle size than nano grade. It is used as a colourant to whiten and brighten product formulations. Nano grade titanium dioxide is manufactured into very fine (nano) particles and is transparent and colourless. It is commonly used in sunscreens to provide effective protection from potentially harmful UV rays.

Is titanium dioxide safe?

Titanium dioxide is considered safe for use in cosmetics and food products by expert bodies around the world, including Europe's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nano grade titanium dioxide has been assessed by the SCCS and is approved by the European Commission for use as a UV filter.

Although titanium dioxide is recognised as a safe ingredient when used at the levels set by regulatory standards, some organisations consider it to have possible safety risks when used as a food additive. In April 2019, the French authorities decided it would suspend the use of titanium dioxide as a food additive for one year. This is despite the European Food Safety Authority maintaining its expert opinion that titanium dioxide remains safe to use in foods.

Like all our products and ingredients, the titanium dioxide we use meets the highest standards for quality and safety, respecting all applicable laws and regulations as well as meeting our own safety assessments. Our scientists continue to review the latest scientific data and is confident that the titanium dioxide used in our products is safe.

Should I be worried about the use of titanium dioxide in my toothpaste? 

No. The titanium dioxide we use in our toothpastes has been proven safe by health experts around the world. It is used in our toothpastes as a white colourant, in a non-nano form as defined by European regulations. It is an approved colourant in cosmetics, and we comply with all the regulations applicable to it.

Are there any alternatives to toothpastes with titanium dioxide?

A number of our toothpastes do not contain titanium dioxide, including some of our Signal products (Signal Bio, Signal Nature Element, Signal White System, Signal Kids (Baby & Junior), Signal White Now Detox, Signal Anti-Cavity), Love Beauty and Planet and Schmidt’s Naturals.

Are there any other products where you use titanium dioxide? 

We use titanium dioxide as a colourant in some home care products, including in laundry detergents, dishwasher tablets and toilet blocks. We also use it as a colourant in some food products, for example in some of our dressings and ice creams.

How do I know if a Unilever home, beauty or personal care product contains titanium dioxide?

We use titanium dioxide as a colourant in some home care products, including in laundry detergents, dishwasher tablets and toilet blocks. We also use it as a colourant in some food products, for example in some of our dressings and ice creams.

When used as a colourant in our beauty and personal care products, titanium dioxide is listed with its colour index (CI) number ‘CI 77891’ in the ingredient list. When nano grade titanium dioxide is used in our sunscreen products, this is referenced as ‘titanium dioxide’[nano] in the ingredients list.

In home care products, the presence of titanium dioxide is declared in line with local regulations, which can vary across the world. In some countries, titanium dioxide is not declared if only a small amount of the ingredient is used. In other countries titanium dioxide is grouped under ‘colourants’ in the ingredients list. In Europe, regulation requires all home care ingredients to be disclosed through a supporting website. You can find our product ingredient information page by visiting ‘What’s in Our Products’.

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