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Zinc Oxide

What is zinc oxide?

Have you ever seen “zinc” listed on your skincare and wondered what exactly it’s for? The chemical element zinc is an essential nutrient (meaning humans need to get it from food) that helps the cells throughout your body function. When zinc is combined with oxygen, you get zinc oxide. This inorganic compound can be found in a variety of topical creams, including diaper rash cream, burn cream, and — where you probably know it best — sunscreen.

Zinc oxide is one of the most powerful, effective, and safe sunscreen ingredients on the market today. 

The sun’s ultraviolet light in the form of UVA/UVB rays (ultraviolet aging rays and ultraviolet burning rays) can wreak havoc on the skin. Unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburns in the short term, and collagen loss, elastin breakdown, premature aging, and even skin cancer in the long term. Sun exposure is responsible for more than 90 percent of visible changes to the skin.4 Think volume loss, wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin, discoloration, sun spots, loose skin, textured skin, and more.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both UVA and UVB rays, is an effective way to protect your skin from the sun. The Federal Food & Drug Administration labels two ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as safe for sunscreen use.5 These ingredients work as “mineral” or “physical sunscreens.” They sit on the surface of the skin and deflect UV rays (as opposed to chemical sunscreens that absorb UV rays). 6,7

You can find zinc oxide as an active ingredient alongside titanium dioxide in all of ALASTIN Skincare’s science-backed sunscreens, including:
  • >a href="/products/hydratint-sunscreen-spf-36">HydraTint Pro Mineral SPF 36: A lightweight, all-mineral, broad-spectrum tinted sunscreen that hydrates and protects skin from harmful UVA/ UVB rays while providing a soft, glowing appearance.
  • SilkSHIELD® All Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 with TriHex Technology®: A transparent sunscreen that delivers powerful-but-gentle protection as well as an exclusive peptide blend that provides anti-aging benefits long after sunset.

Zinc oxide works to protect your skin from sun damage by shielding your skin from harmful UV rays. It doesn’t interact with other UV filters (like titanium dioxide) and is especially effective at UVA protection.8 Regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), when used with other sun protection measures, has been shown to:
  • Decrease your risk of melanoma (a skin cancer) by 50 percent9
  • Decrease your risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a different kind of skin cancer) by 40 percent10
  • Help prevent premature skin aging, including helping to ward off the following skin concerns:11
    • Wrinkles and fine lines
    • Sagging or crepey skin
    • Age spots and discoloration
    • Leathery, weather-beaten skin
    • Redness
    • Dry, patchy skin

Yes. The FDA had deemed zinc oxide (and titanium dioxide) as “GRASE,” which stands for “generally recognized as safe and effective” for sunscreen use. 12

Zinc oxide has very minimal side effects. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide if you have sensitive skin.13