Sun Tanning Questions

What Is Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen? (Explained)

Written by: Anastasija

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There are many different ingredients, chemicals and minerals that we can come across on our sunscreen’s ingredients list, and it’s always reassuring to know what they all do, especially the main ones, for your skin. If you want to find out more about zinc oxide, you’ve come to the right place!

What is zinc oxide?

In case you hadn’t already picked up on it, zinc oxide is one of many potential ingredients found in a sunscreen, but there’s more to the story than just that. It’s good to know everything you need about this ingredient, because it’s so complex, and it’s also definitely worth considering using a sunscreen which contains it. So, what else is there to this not so simple mineral ingredient?

Firstly, zinc oxide comes as a white powder which gets dissolved into the formula of the product you’re using, and these products extend further than just a sunscreen. Because it is insoluble in water, it just gets mixed into the formula and this allows it to keep its original chemical properties, rather than causing a reaction with another to form a new compound. In other words, it’s mixed into the formula, but this doesn’t change how it works on the skin in the process.

zinc oxide

Often, you can expect to find zinc oxide in many different cosmetics, personal care products and toiletries. In these products, it is known to have a variety of different properties, and some of them include antimicrobial uses in deodorants, and potential acne-reducing and regulating effects in skincare items, as well as soothing the skin and reducing inflammation. However, it’s main use is, in fact, in sunscreens.

In a sunscreen, zinc oxide acts as a UV filter that deflects both UVA and UVB rays in a mineral sunscreen. If you didn’t already know, there are two types of ultraviolet rays emitted by the Sun, UVA and UVB, which are responsible for causing damage to our skin in their own ways, but you can research into this a little more if you’d like a full explanation. In mineral sunscreens (because there are also two types of sunscreens, mineral and chemical), these UV rays are deflected through the process of creating a physical ‘barrier’ on the surface of your skin, and reflecting the rays off, which is also how zinc oxide works.

Is zinc oxide a good sunscreen ingredient?

As well as finding out the information about how it works and a little backstory behind the ingredients in their sunscreen, many people just want to know whether the ingredient they have is a good one, and one worth having in their sunscreen. Of course, this question is actually very difficult to answer distinctively, as every ingredient has its own downsides, and people’s personal preferences are also different. However, you can get a rough idea of how good a product is in comparison to others, which is equally as useful.

Following on from that, zinc oxide is probably one of the best ingredients you can find in your sunscreen, and it’s definitely worth purchasing a sunscreen which uses it as a main ingredient, as it is powerful, safe and you know that it’s going to do a good job at protecting you from the Sun. Basically, it ticks all the boxes.

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For those who are environmentally aware, and like to make conscious decisions about their products, you’ll also be happy to hear that zinc oxide is a reef-safe ingredient, too, and it is found in mineral sunscreens, which are also reef-safe. If an ingredient of product in the sun protection industry is reef-safe, this means that it won’t cause damage to the coral reefs when you swim in the ocean, as your sunscreen usually washes off in the seawater, and harmful chemicals which are sometimes included can get into the coral’s systems, and bleach it, causing it to die. This is something you want to avoid, so by finding reef-safe ingredients and products, you can help our environment.

Is zinc oxide safe?

Probably the most important question for some people, the ‘is it safe?’ can be the most popular question, and it’s important to always ask this, as the media is a place for many rumours and myths to emerge about certain things, which can cause panic between people. Don’t, worry, because here is all you need to know.

The truth is that, luckily, zinc oxide is completely safe, and there are no concerns about it being used in sunscreens. It is an FDA-approved ingredient, and studies show that it can be used repeatedly in sunscreens without any potential side effects or problems, which is great news, as it’s such a great product.

Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen

For some reason, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (another effective mineral sunscreen ingredient) were only approved quite recently, in February 2019, by the FDA, and during this review it was stated that the other 12 common sunscreen ingredients are yet to be reviewed, as more information is needed in order to clarify their safety. This means that zinc oxide is clearly safe, and shows how simple it is to see this compares to chemical counterparts.

By wearing zinc oxide, you’re actually being safer, as you’re also protecting yourself from any damaging effects that may come from the Sun, so that’s also a good thing to remember.

Also read: Is Sunscreen Bad for You? (Tips To Prevent The Danger)

Is there anything else I should know about it?

Of course, there are always a few things you should know before using new products, even if you know that they’re safe and good to use, as it just gives you an idea of what to expect, and how things will most likely turn out. Keep aware, however, that some sources can also dramatize things to make them seem much worse than they already are, so be sensible about what information you listen to, and how much you take heed of it, as some sources of information are much more reliable for solid facts than others.

One of the first things which many people, particularly parents and careers, would like to know is that zinc oxide can be responsible for some tough stains that are caused by sunscreens. Because of its potency and strength as an ingredient, it’s even harder to remove from leather, materials and other surfaces than other ingredients are, and this can sometimes be a pain, especially if you’ve got kids.

However, this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for you and your zinc oxide-based sunscreen, as the advantages of using this miraculous ingredient significantly outweigh this disadvantage. Not to mention, there are ways you can avoid getting it on certain surfaces and materials if you need, and the internet is always a treasure trove for finding home remedies to remove any stains it may cause.

Also read: How Do You Remove Sunscreen from Car Interior? (Step-By-Step)

What Is Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen pin by thirstyfortan

Final thoughts

In the end, it’s really easy to see why zinc oxide is such as well-recommended product for use in sunscreens, as it brings so many advantages along with it, and ticks so many different boxes for all of your sunscreen needs. With such a great product, there’s no excuse not to be using your sunscreen daily, and this makes it more pleasant and effective for you. Not to mention, the only downside that it comes with is so minor, and there are definitely ways you can overcome this.

If you’re looking for your next go-to ingredient, zinc oxide is definitely it.

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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