what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

What is Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen

what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

Let’s face it, there’s so much sun out there, and you have to protect your skin from it! Most of us know that excessive sun exposure causes skin cancer. And I’m sure you’ve heard when skin cancer is found early it’s curable. While that may be true, most skin cancers aren’t found early enough to prevent death. Wearing sunscreen can decrease your chances of developing skin cancer.

While prevention of skin cancer is up on the priority list, sunscreen also keeps your skin from aging quickly and evens out your skin tone. And who doesn’t want to keep a young-looking face? Sunscreen is a must-have for everyone and there are a lot of options for us! One of the more natural options is zinc oxide sunscreen. So what is zinc oxide sunscreen? It’s a mineral-based formula, and it’s important because it’s natural and protects you from the sun!

What Is Zinc Oxide in SunscreenEverything You Need to Know

UVB rays, UVA rays, SPF, zinc oxide, and titanium oxide are some of the words you see on the what-seems-like-a-million bottles on the shelf. You always see the traditional SPF followed by a number. You might have a lot of questions like I did. What is zinc oxide sunscreen and what is zinc oxide in sunscreen?

  • Zinc oxide is a sunscreen formula made with a mineral rather than a chemical. The big deal about this one is it doesn’t seep into your body and it’s more natural than a traditional chemical sunscreen. And hey, isn’t it important to know what goes in our bodies today?
  • Zinc oxide is kind of like a barrier. You apply it, and it makes the sun’s harmful rays bounce right back off of your skin like it was a mirror! And to me, this is an awesome concept because it’s safer than a traditional sunscreen and protects your skin from both UVB and UVA rays. In English, UVB rays burn the outermost parts of your skin and UVA rays go a little bit deeper.
  • Zinc oxide sunscreens are for everyone. It might seem like zinc oxide sunscreens are for people with the lightest skin since it creates a barrier, but that’s not true! Since they create a barrier, they don’t penetrate through the skin like chemical sunscreens. If your skin is sensitive like mine, zinc oxide sunscreens might be a better choice for you too.
  • Some precautions you should know when it comes to zinc oxide sunscreens. First, it’s a little thicker than your average sunscreen. This tends to leave a residue. Since its thicker, its harder to spread evenly. When this happens you can end up with burns outside of the areas you applied the sunscreen to, so you have to be a little more careful when applying zinc oxide sunscreens.

Zinc Oxide Sunscreens

Now we’re going into specifics. I put a list together here with different zinc oxide sunscreen products and how it works it’s best. I have personally used most of these items, so I’m giving you my honest review!

Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Spray

what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

Ok, I have to say zinc oxide sunscreen sprays rock! I tried Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Continuous Spray Sunscreen on my first beach trip this summer. I went with an SPF 30.

First off, you can see where you spray, and that made it so much easier to rub in evenly. I spent 4 hours at the beach and reapplied 3 times, following the directions. No burn, just tan!

I think overall, anyone could use this. I thought this was a little pricey, but the sprays went on so evenly that it proved its worth.

Zinc Oxide Sun Cream

what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

Sun creams, or sunscreen lotions, are one of the most common sunscreen products. Personally, they have always been harder for me to distribute and I get streaks. My complexion is pale and I have sensitive skin, so Neutrogena is always a good choice for hypoallergenic products.

I gave Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Lotion a shot. I was satisfied with the results. I went with a higher SPF (50) and I didn’t burn or tan at all!

There were two bad things about this one though. It was tedious to put on and cover everything because it was so thick. I had to have help applying it to my back. The other issue is it leaves a white residue like deodorant stains on your clothes and bathing suit.

Best Zinc Oxide Face Sunscreen

what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

Ocean Potion’s Face Zinc is my personal go-to! This face sunscreen became my staple. I am very fair-skinned, and this face sunscreen does the trick. I also have sensitive skin and I have never broken out from this one.

You can wear this plain, or under makeup. It definitely provides extra protection. It’s great for people who burn easily on the face or have sensitive skin like me.

I learned that you have to rub this formula in your hands quickly and apply it to your face just as quick though. If it sets, it will get cakey.

Zinc Oxide Lip Protection

what is zinc oxide in sunscreen

Chapped, blistery lips that won’t go away are the worst! That’s why I recommend Waxhead’s all-natural lip balm (zinc oxide).

Sunscreen lip balms tend to go on thick and feel pasty or waxy. Waxhead’s all-natural lip balm goes on a little thick, but you can smear it in and it tends to stay lightweight. Also, it’s peppermint flavored so it gives off a cooling effect which is awesome when you’re in the sun. Perfect for anyone going to the beach or saying poolside!

Zinc Oxide Powder Sunscreen

Zinc oxide powder sunscreens are a little bit newer on the market. There are two main types of powder.

The first type of zinc oxide powder is a stick with a brush that can be applied like a mineral foundation, and some are even tinted. The powder stick usually comes tinted, so it’s more of a cosmetic product, and I hear it works great!

The other option is zinc oxide powder that you can mix with an oil like coconut, or shea butter and vitamin E cream to make a lotion. The regular powder is awesome for anyone doing a DIY project. It mixes well, offering great sun protection and great for everyone.

Zinc Oxide Side Effects

Zinc oxide sunscreens are great, and while they offer a safer alternative to chemical sunscreens, there are still some things to take into consideration. Zinc oxide side effects are typically minimal.

The most common side effect of using any zinc oxide sunscreen is some mild skin irritation. Sometimes a very rare reaction can occur from zinc oxide. A rare reaction tends to be serious in nature, where you could experience chest pain, dizziness, swelling, hives, and trouble breathing. These reactions are minimal in nature as zinc oxide sunscreens are generally safe.

Above All, Sunscreen is Important

We know that the sun has damaging rays that can hurt your skin. These rays can make you appear years older, can cause lesions like sunspots and dark marks on the face, and at the worse – deadly skin cancers. Since zinc oxide creates a barrier on your skin, rather than your skin absorbing chemicals, its safe for everyone, even if you have sensitive skin.

There are so many zinc oxide products out there to protect you from these deadly rays from the sun.

  • zinc oxide sunscreen spray
  • zinc oxide sun cream
  • zinc oxide face sunscreen
  • zinc oxide lip protection
  • zinc oxide powder sunscreen

With these products, you can have a safer and more awesome experience at the beach and poolside this summer. It’s important to remember that zinc oxide sunscreens go on a little thicker than the traditional chemical-based sunscreens. You have to rub these sunscreens in a little better to gain full coverage and prevent streaking.

Even though zinc oxide sunscreens are thicker, you can put your mind at ease knowing that zinc oxide sunscreens aren’t absorbed through the skin.

Zinc oxide sunscreens protect against both the sun’s burning rays. UVA rays penetrate deeply while UVB rays penetrate the top layer of your skin. As our ozone layer continues to deplete, protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is now more important than ever.

19 thoughts on “What is Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen

  1. Michel

    It is actually scary just how many people do die of skin cancer, as it is not always easy to detect early. But in any case we should all be looking after our skins when we are exposed to the sun.

    I never realized before that zinc oxide was mineral-based. I always thought it was just another chemical that wasn’t too good for our bodies in the long run. Interesting that it causes the rays of the sun to simply bounce off your skin and it doesn’t go into your skin.

    Thanks for your list of recommended products. I am definitely going to make sure my next sunscreen purchase has zink oxide in it.

  2. Harry

    I live in Greece where I am sure you’ve heard that most of our days are extremely sunny. So, I am using a lot of sunscreen because my skin is very light and I tend to get burned very easily…

    I have never tried a zinc oxide sunscreen but I like the idea of using no more chemicals on my body… I’ll definitely give that a try!

    Thanks a lot!

  3. Aabidah Ahmed

    This is a must-read topic. We all get exposed to the sun once we go out to the beach or for a walk in the sun. Our skin needs protection.

    I see that Zinc Oxid sunscreens are considered safe since it does not penetrate the skin and offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. There are no side effects and does not cause any harm. 

    I like the Face sunscreen listed above because I am light-skinned and always need protection in my face from the sun, or else my face will turn red.

    Thank you for sharing this list and all the best to you.

  4. Jordan Smith

    Excellent pieces. The honesty of your post shines through. I’m really impressed by it.
    Cancer is a very serious thing nowadays and products like this are very much needed around. You’ve done a great job. I’ll definitely get it since i will be moving to Malta very soon, and i will also recommend to my friends.


  5. Carol5162

    It is no doubt that the sun of this days is more than scorching. I understand this is attributed to depletion of the ozone layer. I think skin cancer is more scarier that any other thing that may disturb the skin. I am often worried of how damaged the skin will be, with the fact that it is unusually hot during the day when you need to run several errands!

    I admit I haven’t really read the fine prints on the sunscreen, maybe that is the reason my skin still suffers the effects of the sun even after applying sunscreen. I have sure learnt a lot about the Zinc Oxide and will give it a try. I love that is it made of mineral other that chemical.

    Thank you so much for explaining this.

  6. Dave Sweney

    When I look at all the many ingredients to include zinc oxide that is found in many of the off-the-shelf sunscreens that are available it baffles me if what they are adding is needed and healthy for our skin or not. Also, the claimed effectiveness is not always accurate and the whole product line comes into question for me. Is there a brand that works that will not harm you?

    Your simple yet thorough explanation of how the zinc oxide works and why it is perhaps one of the best ingredients to have in your sunscreen makes so much sense. Having a barrier that will not seep into your skin is just what I am looking for in a sunscreen.

    The spay sunscreens are some of my favorites too as they cover your skin areas more thoroughly and easily than lotions do (you can miss spots with the lotion and do not find out until you already have a sunburn). Your suggestions for the other related products are helpful as well. Lip balm and an extra balm for the face makes sense, as these are areas that many people forget about.

    Thanks for the drill down on sunscreens and zinc oxide. Now I understand why it is used and also why it is effective. My next bottle of sunscreen spray will have to have zinc oxide as an ingredient for sure. I will also look at the lip and face balm option.

  7. shirian

    Hi. This is really helpful post. In this hot sunny season we are heading over to beach trip soon. I was brows around to see some quality sunscreen to buy. These all products look good. I first thought Zinc Oxide Spray would be a good choice, but a bit doubt about it and would like to ask: wouldn’t this spray makes any damage on our eyes while applying on the face?Thanks in advance for respond .Anyhow, As You gave a shot about Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc Sunscreen lotion, without a doubt it,I’d rather go for it.

    Thank You-Best Wishes

    • Arta

      Hey there

      We have just discussed the question sunscreen lotion vs spray and our conclusions can be found here. We have described the benefits and flaws of both – please have a look and let me know if further doubts.

      Hope this helps, Arta

  8. Rina

    Sunscreen is something we can’t do without where I come from. Our temperatures can reach 38 degrees celcius so it gets extremely hot over our summers. The trouble is that there are so many sunscreens on the market that it can be hard keeping up with them. However, what I have learnt from your post is the difference from mineral based with chemical based. It makes all the difference to me and how I will purchase sunscreen in the future. So, thanks so much for sharing, I much appreciate it.

  9. Deanna Martin

    Very informative article about sun protection. I never realized how many different types of sun protection there are. 

    Is it true that any sunscreen over 20 is no more effective than the one for 20? I heard that many years ago, so I was curious if you knew anything about that. All in all a very informative article about sunscreens and the different benefits, Thanks, Deanna

    • Arta

      Hey there

      Without doubt, we have to pay also for a brand name, it is true. But I personally prefer choosing branded products over the less branded ones due to product reputation and reliability. They are more interested in keeping their reputation and build trust so I tend to think their promises about the product are more reliable.

      Happy shopping, Arta

  10. Charles

    This is so cool because I have transitioned into using a more natural bug spray and it’s good to know that there is also a more natural sunscreen. Do you have any advice on natural bug spray on here? I use the Burt bees one.

    my dad really likes the movie Terminator 2 and he always makes a joke about someone saying a million SPF sunscreen. I don’t want to give away what happens in the movie but he always quotes that line from the movie LOL.

    Thanks so much great article and great website. I learned something new today and I’m going to save your page for when I need sunscreen.

    • Arta

      Hey Charles

      Unfortunately, no bug sprays here – just sunscreen sprays 🙂 

      Anyway, I am happy you have enjoyed reading my blog posts and that you find this information helpful.

      Cheers, Arta

  11. AnxietyPanda

    I’ve been using Zinc Oxide ointment regularly, especially on acne that may occur every now and then. Zinc Oxide lip balm is also a big winner in my books. 

    I’m so glad I came across your article as I didn’t know that it was available in sunscreen as well! I like Neutrogena, so will be sure to check their sunscreen out! Thanks!

  12. Daniel

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing that info about zinc oxide. I live in a country where the sun is very strong and I am cautious but my kids are exposed to the sun because they always play outdoors. I heard there are folks who died because they were too much exposed to the sun, I will definitely get the protection as soon as possible.

  13. RoDarrick

    Hello, I read your post about zinc oxide in sunscreen and I got the message perfectly. Though I’m not too familiar with the term before reading this post, but I know how harmful sun rays can be on our skin. This actually seems like a cool alternative to some other materials meant to repel the effects of sun rays and burnt. Nice suggestions of products and I like the fact that they are out of your personal experiences with them. Thanks for this

  14. Henderson

    I guess we learn everyday then. It’s the first time learning of zinc oxide Sun screen. Ofcourse I know about sun screens and how they can protect one from the harsh sun. This type is an addition to what I know. I think it is awesome that the side effects are minimal. It’s summer and the sun can be really crazy right now. I’ll definitely get one of these, thanks for posting.

  15. Oana

    Hi, there.

    I don’t really use sunscreen as I am not easily burning. I could stay in the sun all day and nothing. However, I  know somebody who died because of skin cancer. He was 45 years old. I suppose it depended on the skin, not really know.  Your article does have some useful information which I may print out to have on hand. 

    Thank you for taking the time to write it and to let people know the danger of not using the proper solution.

    • Arta

      Hi Oana

      Thank you for your comment. I just wanted to emphasize that it is important to use the sunscreen even if you are not easily burning as sunscreen protects from the harmful impact of rays on the health.

      Cheers, Arta

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