Titanium dioxide in your pigment: What you need to know

QUICK FACTS

  • Titanium dioxide is present in the majority of cosmetic tattoo pigments (both inorganic and ‘organic’)
  • It makes the pigment colour look solid (opaque) and is used in most lip pigments
  • It helps prevent fading
  • Titanium dioxide is naturally occurring and is used in a range of everyday applications such as food colouring and sunscreen.
  • Titanium dioxide in pigment may turn blue-black when treated with some laser removal techniques.
  • Let your client know when using pigments with titanium dioxide so they understand the possible complications of laser tattoo removal on the area in the future.

Titanium dioxide is an essential colorant (ingredient) in many cosmetic tattoo pigments. It is used to lighten the colour (e.g. a deep red to a pink) and provide opacity (i.e. make the colour look more solid). Titanium dioxide is a major colorant in almost all lip pigments for these reasons, and is essential to providing the solid colour required for an effective lipliner, full lips or 3D effect. Of over 200 pigments assessed by THink, across a wide range of brands, two-thirds contained some amount of titanium dioxide (including some “organic” pigments).

There is a catch with titanium dioxide in pigment; it may turn blue-black when treated with some laser removal techniques. This is due to a chemical process called reduction converting the titanium to a different chemical form (Ti4+  to Ti3+, if you really want to know). The darkening may be temporary or longer lasting, before the tattoo fades. The issue has been studied in more detail in relation to permanent body art tattoo removal, and a detailed study (Ross, V., Yashar, S., and Michaud, N., Archives of Dermatology, 2001) can be accessed via this link:
http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/478169

What to do? When using pigments with titanium dioxide you should let your client know, so if they ever think about cosmetic tattoo removal they understand there may be complications. The main risk would be with lip pigments, but there is probably a low risk of a client wanting removal. Titanium dioxide does tend to slow the natural fading process, so it is up to your client to make an informed choice.

 

Black Lips – Picture Credits to John Hashey

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