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Zinc Oxide

Zinc Oxide

What-it-does: sunscreen
Irritancy: 0
Comedogenicity: 1


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 a known amount of Zinc Oxide

Other products with Zinc Oxide

AVOCADO ZINC SPF 50 Natural Physical Sunscreen AVOCADO ZINC SPF 50 Natural Tinted Moisturiser Acure Radically Rejuvenating SPF Day Cream Acure Seriously Soothing Spf Day Cream Spf 30 Adorable baby Natural Baby Sunscreen SPF 30 Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Lotion Spf15 Alastin Silkshield All-mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Alba Botanica Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Algenist Alive Prebiotic Balancing Moisturizer Spf 15 Alkem Sunheal Pure SPF50+ Pa+++ Gel All Good Kid's Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 All Good Kid's Sunscreen - SPF 30 UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum Protection All Good Spf 50+ Mineral Sunscreen Butter All Good Spf 50+ Tinted Mineral Sunscreen Butter All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 All Good Sport Zinc Sunscreen – Spf 30 All Good Tinted Sunscreen Spf 30 Amavara SPF 50 Face Stick With Earthwell Zinc Technology Amavara Spf 30 Lotion With Earthwell Zinc Technology Amavara Spf 30 Lotion With Earthwell Zinc Technology (2020) Amavara Spf 50 Tinted Lotion With Earthwell Zinc Technology (2020) Ananya Aesthetics Clear Perfection Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+ Andalou All-in-one Beauty Balm Sheer Tint With SPF 30 Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Color Correct Spf 30 Andalou Naturals Brightening Vitamin C BB Beauty Balm Sheer Tint SPF 30 Anessa Whitening UV Sunscreen Gel A Spf50+ Pa++++ Ao 6000X Elemental Screen With Spf 30 Apostrophe Screen SPF 43 Arbonne Agewell Moisture Restoring Cream With Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Sunscreen Arbonne Perfecting Liquid Foundation Arcona Sunsations Nearly Invisible™ Spf 30 Dry Mineral Powder AstiVita Spf 50 Mineral Sunscreen Attitude Baby Leaves Diaper Zinc Cream Attitude Baby Sunscreen Spf 30 - 100% Mineral - Fragrance Free Attitude Mineral Sunscreen Spf 30 Tropical Attitude Mineral Sunscreen Stick Unscented SPF 30 Attitude Sensitive Skin Moisturizer Mineral Sunscreen Ava Isa Pure Untinted Ultra Matte Spf 45 Sunscreen Ava Isa Sun-è-serum Drops SPF 35 Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection Zinc Oxide Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 Aveeno Kids Continuous Protection® Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50 Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Face Sunscreen Spf 50 Fragrance-Free Aveeno Sensitive Skin SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Stick Broad Spectrum UVA+UVB Aveeno Sensitive Skin Spf 50 Mineral Sunscreen Aveeno Ultra-Light Sensitive Skin Mineral Sunscreen Aveeno ® Baby Sunscreen Lotion With Zinc Oxide, Spf 50 Avene Complexion Correcting Shield Spf50+ Avene Fluido Mineral Color Spf 50+ Avene Mineral Fluid Spf 50 Avene Mineral Fluid Spf 50+ (Canada)