Titanium Dioxide in Commercial Sunscreens: the Morphological Characterization and the Quantification

Indah Primadona, Fitri Dara, Agustina Ircha Winda Pratiwi, - Indriyati, Fahmi Idzni, - Dedi, Muhamad Nasir


Due to nanotechnology's advancement, the application of nanomaterials in commercial products, including in sunscreens, has been increased rapidly. Physical sunscreens employ Titanium dioxide (TiO2) or Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles as UV filter materials. Indonesian National Agency of Drug and Food Control regulates that TiO2 rutile polymorph, size distribution ≥30 nm, and maximum concentration of 25% are criteria for physical sunscreen marketed in Indonesia. However, most of these products do not indicate the detailed inorganic material information in the product ingredients, resulting in the increasing concern of nanoparticle’s risk to human health and the environment. Therefore, the size, type of crystal structure, and amount of TiO2 or ZnO must be closely monitored. In this work, we investigated the morphological structure of TiO2, including quantified its concentration in some commercial sunscreens marketed in Indonesia. TiO2 was characterized using different characterization techniques. XRD analysis revealed that some studied sunscreens employed anatase TiO2, which is not suggested to be added in a sunscreen product.  HRTEM analysis proved that the sizes of materials in sample S1-S3 are below 50 nm, and silica-coated TiO2 was observed in S4. Quantification of Titanium using GF-AAS yielded Ti's concentration in the range of 1400-7800 µg g-1 (0.14-0.79%). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report the physical properties and the concentration of TiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) in commercial sunscreen marketed in Indonesia.


Nanoparticle; nanotechnology; sunscreen; titanium dioxide; UV-blocking materials.

Full Text:



A. J. Haider, Z. N. Jameel, and I. H. M. Al-Hussaini, “Review on: Titanium Dioxide Applications,†Energy Procedia, vol. 157, pp. 17–29, 2019.

D. Ziental et al., “Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles: Prospects and Applications in Medicine,†Nanomater. (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 10, no. 2, p. 387, Feb. 2020.

N. Veronovski, “TiO2 Applications as a Function of Controlled Surface Treatment,†in Titanium Dioxide - Material for a Sustainable Environment, D. Yang, Ed. Rijeka: IntechOpen, 2018.

A. Philippe, J. Košík, A. Welle, J.-M. Guigner, O. Clemens, and G. E. Schaumann, “Extraction and characterization methods for titanium dioxide nanoparticles from commercialized sunscreens,†Environ. Sci. Nano, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 191–202, 2018.

Z. Chen, S. Han, D. Zhou, S. Zhou, and G. Jia, “Effects of oral exposure to titanium dioxide nanoparticles on gut microbiota and gut-associated metabolism in vivo,†Nanoscale, vol. 11, no. 46, pp. 22398–22412, 2019.

I. Ahmad, C. Kan, and Z. Yao, “Photoactive cotton fabric for UV protection and self-cleaning,†RSC Adv., vol. 9, no. 32, pp. 18106–18114, 2019.

S. L. Schneider and H. W. Lim, “A review of inorganic UV filters zinc oxide and titanium dioxide,†Photodermatol. Photoimmunol. Photomed., vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 442–446, Nov. 2019.

M. P. Abuçafy, E. B. Manaia, R. C. K. Kaminski, V. H. Sarmento, and L. A. Chiavacci, “Gel Based Sunscreen Containing Surface Modified TiO2 Obtained by Sol-Gel Process: Proposal for a Transparent UV Inorganic Filter,†J. Nanomater., vol. 2016, p. 8659240, 2016.

B. Dréno, A. Alexis, B. Chuberre, and M. Marinovich, “Safety of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in cosmetics,†J. Eur. Acad. Dermatology Venereol., vol. 33, no. S7, pp. 34–46, Nov. 2019.

P. J. Lu, S. W. Fang, W. L. Cheng, S. C. Huang, M. C. Huang, and H. F. Cheng, “Characterization of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreen powder by comparing different measurement methods,†J. Food Drug Anal., vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 1192–1200, 2018.

J. Musial, R. Krakowiak, D. T. Mlynarczyk, T. Goslinski, and B. J. Stanisz, “Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles in Food and Personal Care Products—What Do We Know about Their Safety?†Nanomaterials , vol. 10, no. 6. 2020.

S. A. Jalil et al., “Fabrication of high refractive index TiO2 films using electron beam evaporator for all dielectric metasurfaces,†Mater. Res. Express, vol. 5, no. 1, p. 16410, 2018.

K. Chalastara, F. Guo, S. Elouatik, and G. P. Demopoulos, “Tunable Composition Aqueous-Synthesized Mixed-Phase TiO2 Nanocrystals for Photo-Assisted Water Decontamination: Comparison of Anatase, Brookite and Rutile Photocatalysts,†Catalysts, vol. 10, no. 4. 2020.

W. Xie, R. Li, and Q. Xu, “Enhanced photocatalytic activity of Se-doped TiO 2 under visible light irradiation,†Sci. Rep., vol. 8, no. 1, p. 8752, 2018.

S. Sharma et al., “Fueling a Hot Debate on the Application of TiO(2) Nanoparticles in Sunscreen,†Mater. (Basel, Switzerland), vol. 12, no. 14, p. 2317, Jul. 2019.

A. M. Abdullah, M. Ã. Garcia-Pinilla, S. C. Pillai, and K. O' Shea, “UV and Visible Light-Driven Production of Hydroxyl Radicals by Reduced Forms of N, F, and P Codoped Titanium Dioxide,†Molecules, vol. 24, no. 11. 2019.

R. Dunford et al., “Chemical oxidation and DNA damage catalysed by inorganic sunscreen ingredients,†FEBS Lett., vol. 418, no. 1, pp. 87–90, 1997.

T. Luttrell, S. Halpegamage, J. Tao, A. Kramer, E. Sutter, and M. Batzill, “Why is anatase a better photocatalyst than rutile? - Model studies on epitaxial TiO 2 films,†Sci. Rep., vol. 4, no. 1, p. 4043, 2014.

D. Li et al., “Effects of Particle Size on the Structure and Photocatalytic Performance by Alkali-Treated TiO2,†Nanomaterials, vol. 10, no. 3. 2020.

SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety), “OPINION for clarification of the meaning of the term ‘sprayable applications/products’ for the nano forms of Carbon Black CI 77266, Titanium Oxide and Zinc Oxide,†2015.

E. Baranowska-Wójcik, D. Szwajgier, P. Oleszczuk, and A. Winiarska-Mieczan, “Effects of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles Exposure on Human Health—a Review,†Biol. Trace Elem. Res., vol. 193, no. 1, pp. 118–129, 2020.

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), “Current Intelligence Bulletin 63: Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide,†2011.

European Union, “European parliament and of the council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products,†Regulation (EC) number 1223, 2009.

Badan Pengawasan Obat dan Makanan (BPOM), “Persyaratan teknis bahan kosmetika,†Peraturan Badan Pengawasan Obat dan Makanan, no. 23, 2019.

P.-J. Lu, S.-C. Huang, Y.-P. Chen, L.-C. Chiueh, and D. Y.-C. Shih, “Analysis of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in cosmetics,†J. Food Drug Anal., vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 587–594, 2015.

M. Geppert et al., “Interactions of TiO2 Nanoparticles with Ingredients from Modern Lifestyle Products and Their Effects on Human Skin Cells,†Chem. Res. Toxicol., vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 1215–1225, May 2020.

L. T. Ngoc, V. V Tran, J.-Y. Moon, M. Chae, D. Park, and Y.-C. Lee, “Recent Trends of Sunscreen Cosmetic: An Update Review,†Cosmetics, vol. 6, no. 4. 2019.

V. De Matteis, M. Cascione, V. Brunetti, C. C. Toma, and R. Rinaldi, “Toxicity assessment of anatase and rutile titanium dioxide nanoparticles: The role of degradation in different pH conditions and light exposure,†Toxicol. Vitr., vol. 37, pp. 201–210, 2016.

Q. Yu, H. Wang, Q. Peng, Y. Li, Z. Liu, and M. Li, “Different toxicity of anatase and rutile TiO2 nanoparticles on macrophages: Involvement of difference in affinity to proteins and phospholipids,†J. Hazard. Mater., vol. 335, pp. 125–134, 2017.

D. L. Slomberg et al., “Aqueous aging of a silica coated TiO2 UV filter used in sunscreens: investigations at the molecular scale with dynamic nuclear polarization NMR,†RSC Adv., vol. 10, no. 14, pp. 8266–8274, 2020.

M. Canta and V. Cauda, “The investigation of the parameters affecting the ZnO nanoparticle cytotoxicity behaviour: a tutorial review,†Biomater. Sci., vol. 8, no. 22, pp. 6157–6174, 2020.

S. Ortelli, C. A. Poland, G. Baldi, and A. L. Costa, “Silica matrix encapsulation as a strategy to control ROS production while preserving photoreactivity in nano-TiO2,†Environ. Sci. Nano, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 602–610, 2016.

Food and Drug Administration, “Subchapter: Drug for human use. Part: Sunscreen drug products for over-the-counter human use,†Federal Register US Government, 2019. [Online]. Available: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/26/2019-03019/sunscreen-drug-products-for-over-the-counter-human-use. [Accessed: 21-Feb-2021].

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18517/ijaseit.11.4.12602


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Published by INSIGHT - Indonesian Society for Knowledge and Human Development