When it comes to testing and reviewing a product, I try very hard to be fair and unbiased, to live up to the "truth" in "Truth In Aging", and to do every reasonable thing that I can to provide a comprehensive and honest review. So when it came time to write a review of the Physicians Formula products that I am testing and recently learned contain titanium dioxide, things started to look a little complicated. Thankfully, the fine folks at Physician Formula helped me to make sense of everything, and to understand how to ask the right questions and get answers that were meaningful to me. More about that at the conclusion of the review.

Let's start with a review of the products that I tested, the Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-free Powder ($24.19), and the Physicians Formula Tinted Moisturizer (with SPF 15).  I have been testing both products for the last month. Put simply, in my opinion these are great products. My skin looks and feels great, my entire makeup routine takes less than five minutes, the products are affordable, and  I am protecting my skin from future aging with the very same active ingredient (titanium dioxide) which is found in the physical sunscreens that I have been smugly recommending all year.

I can easily recommend both products but I absolutely love the powder. In less than the 30 seconds it takes to apply the powder, my skin is transformed into a soft natural matt look which lasts from morning to night with zero shine. The innovative packaging is excellent and between the high quality application brush which comes with the powder and the "sieve" shield, I get just the right amount of powder on my face, and it goes (and stays) only where intended. The Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-free powder is a keeper... and will stay in my make up bag going forward.

I can also recommend the tinted moisturizer. I get a nice moisturizing effect, a tad of "foundation", and an spf 15, all in one.  It is available in a small variety of "tints", and while the "medium" was perfect for me, Marta will also have a "light" tint moisturizer to make available to some lucky reader to try. (Watch for an upcoming "Dare To Try It" if you are looking for a light moisturizer with sunscreen, and a "light" tint works for you. )

Now for the slightly more complicated part.

Last week I clicked onto Marta's post on Titanium Dioxide usage in sunscreens, and read the warnings that some of the scientific communities (including the International Agency for Research On Cancer...IARC) have posted, regarding Titanium Dioxide (TD) , and the concern that SOME FORMS of Titanium Dioxide might actually be ingested by the body. Be sure to read Marta's excellent post in its entirely to get the complete story, but overly simplified, the concern is that while TD is working as designed to reflect dangerous sunrays as an ingredient in sunscreens, there is a question as to 1) whether or not TD can also ABSORB some of those rays and 2) IF IT IS MICRONIZED (a.k.a. ultra fine or nano particle sized, less than 0.1 microns or 100 nanometres) MIGHT those tiny particles be absorbed by the skin cells themselves?

So now you understand my earlier dilemma. The Physicians Formula products I was testing (and loving) contain Titanium Dioxide. AS DO all of my physical sunscreens, and almost all of my cosmetics which are "white and creamy" and virtually everything  which sports an "spf" rating of some kind!  All of a sudden it seems TD is listed as an ingredient in just about EVERYTHING I own, drink, buy etc...including the creamer in my morning coffee! TD is everywhere! This is is one of the top fifty chemicals produced worldwide because it is used as a completely safe white pigment in virtually everything... and it is an element which is literally as old as dirt.

Before you run screaming into your bathroom to toss all of your sun blocks, make up, lip sticks, etc, you will want to understand why and when TD is, or isn't risky, and what specifically has to happen to justify even the slightest concern. First, unless the TD particles are MICRONIZED, there is no debate that TD is considered absolutely, completely, safe. So safe, in fact, that TD has been added as a white pigment to almost every pill and tablet on earth, and even to milk, purely for appearance sake. It can be ingested in the course of normal consumption by humans (and many other species including dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc) without harm or risk, and can be used safely in cosmetics etc, if it is "course" or "fine" The only area of possible debate is the "ultra fine" form, although there is no clear evidence that even this form is risky.  The reason the safety issue of super refined TD is just now coming up is because technology advances have now enabled us to mill the ultra fine size, something not possible just decades earlier.

Ah, so the key to absolutely positively "safe" usage is in knowing the particle size! In the case of the Physicians Formula products, I simply checked with the manufacturer and found out that 1) the Titanium Dioxide in the powder is the completely "safe" larger particle size, and 2) the TD in the moisturizer is the "super fine" size, but the particles have been coated with additives to improve adhesion, etc,  resulting in the larger "safe" particle size as well. Great!

But what is the average consumer to do? Without checking with every manufacturer directly, how can the average consumer who chooses to avoid the nano-sized particle, know for sure? Sadly, there is no easy answer, but if the product has a "white" tone to it, you can be almost 100% sure it contains the larger TD particle size. After all, a primary reason for the creation of the nano-sized TD particle was to avoid the "white" coating look, in the first place.

I also asked the makers of Physicians Formula if there were a standard or a web site which might post this information. According to Physician Formula,  "There is no standard for titanium dioxide or for nano-technology in cosmetics.  There is a lot of useful information at PCPC's (Personal Care Product Council) website.  There is no substantiated evidence to show that there is any danger or harm in using sunscreens containing ultra-fine titanium dioxide, and this is even supported by EWG (Environmental Working group)".

So the bottom line, at least for me, is to continue to use products which contain course and medium sized Titanium Dioxide which has been proven to be a safe and effective product, especially in physical sunscreens, while I watch for further studies on any safety issues regarding the ultra fine particles. And I specifically plan to continue my usage of the Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc-free powder and moisturizer.

No doubt, much more to come.

Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Talc Free Powder
Active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide. inactive ingredients: boron nitride, zinc stearate, lauroyl lysine, retinyl palmitate, tocopheryl acetate, methylparaben, propylparaben, may contain: mica, iron oxides

Physicians Formula Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 15
Active ingredients: titanium dioxide
Inactive ingredients: water *, cyclopentasiloxane, butylene glycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, triethylhexanoin, cetyl peg/ppg-10/1 dimethicone, sd alcohol 40, squalane, polyglyceryl-4 isostearate, mica, disteardimonium hectorite, peg-32, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, alumina, cucumis sativus (cucumber) fruit extract, dimethicone, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, disodium edta, glycerin, malachite extract, panthenol, retinyl palmitate, rhodochrosite extract, ruby powder, sapphire powder, smithsonite extract, stearic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, tocopheryl acetate, tourmaline, sodium dehydroacetate, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil. may contain: iron oxides, titanium dioxide * mineral water.