When shopping for sunscreens and other topical skin care products, you have probably come across the ingredient “zinc oxide”. This mineral, which is a popular sunscreen component, is known for protecting the skin against a broad spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) rays, which include long and short UVA and UVB rays.

Zinc Oxide in Sunscreens Things You Should Know

So, what is zinc oxide? 

Zinc oxide is a powdery, white mineral that acts as a physical blocker when it sits on top of the skin. It occurs naturally as the mineral zincite, but can also be produced synthetically. It is used in cosmetics and medical products, including ointments, bandages, and diaper rash creams.

Zinc oxide in sunscreens

Sunscreens with zinc oxide are called physical (or mineral) sunscreens because they sit on top of the skin and physically block the rays. Physical sunscreens protect you from the sun by deflecting UV rays away from the skin. They are different from chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV rays, convert them into heat, and release them from the body. 

Zinc oxide (along with titanium dioxide) is recognized by the US FDA as GRASE, which is an acronym for generally recognized as safe and effective. Upon application, it sits atop the skin’s outermost layer, where they scatter and reflect the sun’s rays and prevent them from getting into the skin. It gives broader protection than titanium oxide because of its ability to block various types of rays.

Zinc oxide and blue light protection

It is also worth knowing that physical sunscreens like those with zinc oxide offer blue light protection. Blue light, which is also referred to as high-energy visible light (HEV light), is a short-wavelength light that produces a high amount of energy. It can penetrate deeper into the skin than UV rays and cause damage like premature aging and pigmentation.

Electronic devices such as phones, laptops, computers, and tablets emit blue light. According to studies, spending about 12 hours on your phone may also cause as much damage as being out in the sun for 12 hours. Using physical sunscreens can help, as they use a physical/mineral blocker that sits on top of the skin and reflects UV and blue light away from the skin. This is not the same with chemical sunscreens. 

Why choose a sunscreen with zinc oxide

  • Zinc oxide provides protection against UVA and UVB light
  • It works right away or as soon as you apply it. 
  • Its particles sit invisibly on the skin’s surface.
  • It produces no chemical reaction at the skin level. 
  • It is safe for those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
  • It can help soothe inflamed or sensitive skin
  • It is a stable ingredient that is less likely to break down on your skin or in the bottle 
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties that make it beneficial for those with acne-prone skin. 

Is there a drawback to using zinc oxide sunscreens?

One previous concern with certain zinc oxide sunscreens is that they leave a white cast when applied, which can be an issue for those with darker or olive skin tones. Fortunately, new formulas are easier to blend or smooth over the skin. This is especially true for clear formulations or those that are sheer or have a tinted version.

The sunscreens we recommend 

Our skincare line, Dr. Sylvia Skin Care, has broad-spectrum sunscreens with zinc oxide as a key active ingredient. They also feature other ingredients that can soothe the skin and help fight free radicals. 

Clear Defense SPF 45 with Broad Spectrum – apart from zinc oxide, this formula also has niacinamide that helps promote a smoother and clearer complexion. It is also lightweight and fast-absorbing, which makes it ideal for oily, normal, and sensitive skin types. Benefits include: 

  • Prevents UVA/UVB and infrared damage
  • Reduces redness, blotchiness, and hyperpigmentation  
  • Helps improve the look of lines and wrinkles
  • Helps increase skin firmness and elasticity

Sheer Defense Tinted SPF 46 with Broad-Spectrum – an antioxidant-rich formula that is lightweight and oil-free. It also contains soothing properties and a universal tint that matches most skin types. Sheer Defense provides UVA and UVB protection and helps combat free radicals. Benefits include:

  • Helps reduce redness and blotchiness
  • Provides UVA/UVB and infrared protection
  • Fast absorbing SPF with a high level of antioxidants
  • Universally tinted 

Stay safe in the sun

Applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 is a must, but so is practicing other sun safety measures. These include.

  • Limit sun exposure, particularly when rays are the strongest – between 10 am and 3 pm.
  • Seek shade or use an umbrella. 
  • Cover exposed skin with long sleeves/pants or protective clothing.
  • Accessorize with a wide-brimmed hat or wraparound glasses with UV protection. 
  • Make sure to apply your sunscreen correctly and don’t forget the commonly neglected areas for sun protection

Want more skincare tips and product recommendations? Browse through our blog today! Don’t hesitate to contact Cutis Medical Laser Clinics in Singapore and book a consultation with our aesthetic doctor to find out which treatments can help achieve your beauty and body goals.