Zinc Oxide

goodie
What-it-does: sunscreen

Details

When it comes to sunscreen agents, Zinc Oxide is pretty much in a league of its own. It's a physical (or inorganic) sunscreen that has a lot in common with fellow inorganic sunscreen Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) but a couple of things make it superior even to TiO2.

If physical sunscreens don't tell you anything, go ahead and read about the basics here. Most of what we wrote about Titanium Dioxide is also true for Zinc Oxide so we will focus here on the differences. 

The first main difference is that while TiO2 gives a nice broad spectrum protection, Zinc Oxide has an even nicer and even broader spectrum protection. It protects against UVB, UVA II, and UVA I almost uniformly, and is considered to be the broadest range sunscreen available today

It's also highly stable and non-irritating. So much so that Zinc Oxide also counts as a skin protectant and anti-irritant. It's also often used to treat skin irritations such as diaper rash.

As for the disadvantages, Zinc Oxide is also not cosmetically elegant. It leaves a disturbing whitish tint on the skin, although, according to a 2000 research paper by Dr. Pinnell, it's slightly less white than TiO2. Still, it's white and disturbing enough to use Zinc Oxide nanoparticles more and more often. 

We wrote more about nanoparticles and the concerns around them here, but the gist is that if nanoparticles were absorbed into the skin that would be a reason for legitimate health concerns. But luckily, so far research shows that sunscreen nanoparticles are not absorbed but remain on the surface of the skin or in the uppermost (dead) layer of the skin. This seems to be true even if the skin is damaged, for example, sunburnt. 

All in all, if you've found a Zinc Oxide sunscreen that you are happy to use every single day, that's fantastic and we suggest you stick with it. It's definitely one of the best, or probably even the best option out there for sun protection available worldwide. 

Show me some proof

  • Pinnell, Sheldon R., et al. "Microfine zinc oxide is a superior sunscreen ingredient to microfine titanium dioxide." Dermatologic surgery 26.4 (2000): 309-314.
  • Newman, Marissa D., Mira Stotland, and Jeffrey I. Ellis. "The safety of nanosized particles in titanium dioxide–and zinc oxide–based sunscreens." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 61.4 (2009): 685-692.
  • Monteiro-Riviere, N. A., et al. "Safety evaluation of sunscreen formulations containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in UVB sunburned skin: an in vitro and in vivo study." Toxicological Sciences (2011): kfr148.
  • Cole, Curtis, Thomas Shyr, and Hao Ou‐Yang. "Metal oxide sunscreens protect skin by absorption, not by reflection or scattering." Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine 32.1 (2016): 5-10.
  • Smijs, Threes G., and Stanislav Pavel. "Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens: focus on their safety and effectiveness." Nanotechnol Sci Appl 4.1 (2011): 95-112.

Products with Zinc Oxide

Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen Attitude Mineral Sunscreen Spf 30 Tropical BIOSSANCE Squalane + Mineral Spf 45 Badger Naturally Unscented Sunscreen With Zinc Oxide Badger Sport Sunscreen Cream Spf 35 Badger Tinted Sunscreen - Spf30 Unscented Cream Badger Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion, Unscented, Spf 25 Beauty Counter Protect All Over Sunscreen Spf 30 Blue Lizard Sensitive Spf 30+ Burt's Bees All-Weather Spf15 Moisturizing Lip Balm Cyberderm Every Morning Sun Whip Spf 25 Cyberderm Simply Zinc Ultra Sun Whip Spf 50 DCL Antioxidant Mineral Sunscreen Spf 30 DCL Super Sheer Sunscreen Spf 50 Derma E Natural Mineral Sunscreen Spf 30 Derma Revive Sunscreen Moisturiser Dr Dennis Gross Sheer Mineral Sun Spray Broad Spectrum Spf 50+ Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Sunscreen Spf 30 EltaMD Uv Clear Broad-Spectrum Spf 46 EltaMD Uv Clear Facial Sunscreen Broad-Spectrum Spf 46 EltaMD Uv Daily Broad-Spectrum Spf 40 EltaMD Uv Physical Spf 41 EltaMD Uv Pure Broad-Sprectrum Sunscreen Spf 47 Equate Baby Zinc Sunscreen Mineral Lotion, Broad Spectrum, Spf 50 Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer Josie Maran Argan Daily Moisturizer Spf 47 Juice Beauty Spf 30 Tinted Mineral Moisturiser Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Cc Cream Mad Hippie Facial Spf MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Liquid Tint Spf 50 MyChelle Sun Shield Clear Spray Spf 30 MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid Tint Spf 50 - Nude Natural Instincts Invisible Natural Sunscreen Spf 30 Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 50 Obagi Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum Spf 50 PCA Skin Weightless Protection Spf 45 Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Wrinkle Defense Spf 30 Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum Spf 45 REPLENIX Sheer Physical Sunscreen Cream Spf Skin Actives Daily Defense Anti-Aging Day Cream With Spf 30 Suntegrity "5 In 1" Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 30 Suntegrity Impeccable Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Supergoop! Invincible Setting Powder Spf 45 Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum Spf 35 Pa+++ Thinksport Everyday Face Thinksport Safe Sunscreen Spf 50+ 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Healthy Foundation April Skin Magic Snow Bb Cream Spf50+/Pa+++ Australian Gold Botanical Spf 50 Tinted Facial Lotion