The safety of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide- and zinc oxide-based sunscreens

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009 Oct;61(4):685-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2009.02.051. Epub 2009 Jul 31.


Given the increasing incidence and prevalence of skin cancer, dermatologists are more frequently recommending sunscreens to their patients. However, the safety of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanosized particles in the majority of sunscreens has come under scrutiny from governments and the general public. We sought to characterize the use, safety, and regulatory state of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in sunscreens based on studies and position statements from 1980 to 2008. Although we found no evidence of significant penetration of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanosized particles beyond the stratum corneum, further studies must be done to simulate real-world conditions particularly in sunburned skin and under ultraviolet exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / adverse effects*
  • Sunscreening Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Titanium / adverse effects*
  • Titanium / pharmacokinetics
  • Zinc Oxide / adverse effects*
  • Zinc Oxide / pharmacokinetics


  • Sunscreening Agents
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • Zinc Oxide