What is Zinc Oxide? Why is it in Sunscreen?

May 10 2019

What is Zinc Oxide? Why is it in Sunscreen?

Zinc Oxide is a white-colored powder that’s been used medicinally for centuries. Its first documented use was in India around 500 BC in the form of a healing salve used to treat open wounds. Today, Zinc Oxide is used in food products, bandages, medicines and sunscreens. It is even used in calamine lotion as a treatment for diaper rash.

Sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide are called mineral, physical or mineral-based  sunscreens. Zinc Oxide may be the only active ingredient or combined with other ingredients (commonly Titanium Dioxide, another mineral).

How Does Zinc Oxide Protect Skin from UV Rays?

To protect skin from UV rays, Zinc Oxide forms an invisible layer on the surface of your skin, stopping most UV rays before they have a chance to reach your body. Because the rays can’t reach your skin, you’re protected from sunburn.

Unlike chemical sunscreens, mineral sunscreens containing Zinc Oxide are not absorbed into the skin. Because they are not absorbed, the active ingredients do not enter the body’s bloodstream and are much less likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Zinc Oxide based sunscreens used to leave a white cast on the skin, making them noticeable on anyone, but especially those with darker complexions. But modern formulations, including Blue Lizard, dry smooth and clear, making them ideal for people of all skin tones.

Dermatologists and pediatricians recommend Zinc Oxide because it is safe, effective, and less likely to cause skin irritation than chemical sunscreen ingredients.

The Environmental Working Group, a non-partisan organization committed to protecting the health of both humans and the environment, suggests that Zinc Oxide is one of the safest sunscreen ingredients we have.


Why Use Zinc Oxide Sunscreens?


Some chemical sunscreens only protect against long-wave UVB rays, the rays responsible for sunburn. These sunscreens with leave you exposed to skin-aging UVA rays. Zinc Oxide is the only active sunscreen ingredient that provides true broad spectrum protection against both burning and aging rays.

Hawaii and Key West have banned the sale of sunscreens containing Oxybenzone and Octinoxate because research shows that they may contribute to coral bleaching and reef death.

Our “We Love the Reef” line of mineral and mineral-based sunscreens is made without Oxybenzone or Octinoxate. 

Blue Lizard and Zinc Oxide

Every Blue Lizard Sunscreen begins with a base of Zinc Oxide. Our sunscreens have always been mineral or mineral based. That why we’ve been trusted by dermatologists for over 20 years.

Learn more about mineral sunscreens.