zinc oxide best uv filter

If I had my way, I’d put zinc oxide in every sunscreen.

I don’t care if you don’t like the white cast it sometimes leaves behind. Or if it’s a tad too greasy. Nothing’s perfect.

But zinc oxide comes pretty close to it. I haven’t found another UV filter that protects skin as well or is as gentle. If you have  sensitive skin, it’s a total game-changer.

Here’s what makes zinc oxide the best sunscreen ingredient ever (in my humble opinion):

What Makes Zinc Oxide The Best Sunscreen Ingredient Ever?

Oh, let me count the ways:

  • Better protection: Most UV filters protect skin only from UVA or UVB rays. Zinc oxide is the only one that protects it from them all!
  • Stability: Most UV filters degrade quickly when exposed to sunlight. Zinc oxide is more stable so you can go a little longer without reapplying your sunscreen (but don’t take it as an excuse to never reapply!).
  • Gentleness: Chemical UV filters often irritate skin or cause allergies. Zinc oxide is very gentle on the skin and is safe even for babies and the most sensitive of skin types (the only exception: if you’re allergic to zinc).

Are you as in love as I am?

Related: 3 Reasons Why Mineral Sunscreen Is Best For Sensitive Skin

Is your sunscreen up to the job? Download your FREE “Sunscreen Audit” to find out if your sunscreen is both safe AND effective:

Does Zinc Oxide Has Any Side Effects?

Zinc oxide is a white mineral. That’s why it leaves that ghastly white residue on your skin (and photos). I don’t mind this. I’m so pale you can barely see it anyway.

For darker damsels, the white cast is a real problem. You want to keep your skin safe from UV harm but can’t go around looking like you’re wearing a mask. Luckily, there’s a workaround. Pick a tinted sunscreen. Problem solved.

You can also go with nano zinc oxide. Nanotechnology makes zinc oxide so small, it’s invisible to the naked eye. That means no white cast! It also makes it easier to spread (zinc oxide can be pretty thick and greasy, too!)

But, Wait! Aren’t Nanoparticles Dangerous?

I know a lot of you are scared of using nanoparticles because you’ve heard they can penetrate the skin and cause all sorts of havoc.

But that’s not true. A 2010 study found that very, very little (less than 0.1% of the applied dose) penetrates skin. The rest stays on the surface of your skin, where it needs to be to protect you from the sun. An UV filter that penetrates skin isn’t good to anyone!

That little amount that gets through is too low to cause any harm. It’s not my personal opinion. The European Union thinks so too. The Scientific Committee On Consumer Safety  concluded that zinc oxide nanoparticles “at a concentration up to 25% as a UV-filter in sunscreens, can be considered not to pose a risk of adverse effects in humans after dermal application.”

Zinc oxide nanoparticles are only banned from spray sunscreens because of the risk of inhalation (but you shouldn’t use spray sunscreens anyway!).

Related: Is Nanotechnology In Sunscreen Good Or Bad?

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What Are The Best Sunscreens With Zinc Oxide?

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($36.00): available at Sephora
  • EltaMD UV Pure BroadSpectrum SPF 47 ($24.50): available at Dermstore and Walmart
  • Niod Survival 30 (£25.00): available at Beauty BayCult Beauty and Feel Unique
  • Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection SPF 50 Sunscreen + WetForce For Sensitive Skin & Children ($42.00): available at  Nordstrom and Ulta
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A Last Word On Zinc Oxide

So far, I’ve focused only on the photoprotective properties of zinc oxide. But this white mineral has plenty of other tricks up its sleeve:

  • Skin protectant: It temporarily protects injured or exposed skin from harmful or annoying stimuli.
  • Colorant: It imparts colour to cosmetics. For example, it’s used to create different shades of foundations and concealers.
  • Thickener: It adjusts the consistency of cosmetic products. The less you use, the more translucent they are. The more you use, the higher the coverage they provide.
  • Astringent: It’s slightly astringent, and can absorb just a little of the excess oils on your skin.

The Bottom line

Zinc oxide is by far the best, safest, and most effective UV filter out there today. You don’t even have to put up with the white cast anymore!