The Zinc Link: What Is Zinc Oxide & Why Is It A Pivotal Ingredient In Sunscreens


Look, choosing a sunscreen for yourself isn’t as simple as it sounds. You must bear in mind a couple of factors before you decide on buying one. Let me elaborate: I’d look for a ‘broad-spectrum’ indication on the back of the packaging of the product—or a label that confirms that the sunscreen is dermatologically-tested. I’d like to know whether the formula is water-resistant, and for how long—so if I’m swimming, I know when to reapply the product to be able to protect my skin throughout the day.

Another important factor you might want to take into consideration: ingredients. What kind of ingredients does your sunscreen employ? How do they work? And that’s exactly what I’m going to dive into today. We’re going to be talking about zinc oxide in sunscreens: a primary ingredient in mineral-based sunscreens. Hm—what is zinc oxide though?

We’ve already spoken about sunscreens for oil-prone skin; the overall benefits of sunscreen for the skin; why you must apply sunscreen on the face; and the different types of sunscreen. It’s time we shed some light on this all-star ingredient today. And we’re putting together a fleet of the best zinc oxide sunscreens for you as well. Happy sun-proofing!

What You Must Know About Zinc Oxide In Sunscreen

What is zinc oxide used for anyway? Let’s go over the fundamentals. You might have encountered this mineral in cosmetics, lotions, soaps, and products alike—and that’s because it’s just so ubiquitous. It can soothe and ease irritation; act as a skin-protectant and colorant; and, in many cases, be used as a white pigment in makeup products. It’s naturally-occurring, but it can be produced synthetically too.

Okay, circling back to the point. There are two kinds of sunscreen: mineral-based/physical or chemical. Keep in mind that sunscreens that are enriched with this ingredient are mineral-based or physical sunscreens. These formulas, thanks to zinc oxide, physically block or scatter U.V rays by sitting on top of your skin, and functioning as a barrier against the rays of the sun. They don’t seep into the skin at any point. Unlike chemical sunscreens. 

Fact? If your sunscreen leaves a white-ish residue on the surface of your skin, it’s likely that it contains zinc oxide. Or titanium dioxide. These are two ingredients mineral-based sunscreens are formulated with. But there are a lot of formulas that don’t leave behind a film anymore.  

Benefits Of Zinc Oxide

We’re putting together a couple of benefits of zinc oxide in sunscreens


  1. Zinc Oxide is regarded as safe by dermatologists as well as the United States Federal Drug Administration. It isn’t likely to trigger a reaction on the skin, or cause any side-effects at all. 

  2. Zinc Oxide is a broad-spectrum ingredient in the way that it protects you against UVA rays as well as UVB rays.While UVB rays are associated with sunburn and cancer, UVA rays penetrate your skin more deeply, are linked to ageing (photo-ageing), and can cause your skin to turn brown-ish. 

  3. The ingredient is photo-stable—it doesn’t change upon exposure to light. Other ingredients, when exposed to the sun, attack the rest of the ingredients in the sunscreen as well as your skin. Not ideal. Or safe. 

  4. Mineral-based sunscreens are recommended for those with eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or sensitive skin as they contain non-irritating ingredients like zinc oxide that just sit on the surface of the skin. The ingredient is non-comedogenic; which means that it won’t clog your pores, and hence, not likely to cause acne flare-ups. And it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. 

  5. Zinc oxide is a physical blocker of sunlight. This means that you just have to rub it into your skin for it to start working—as it just sits on the surface. In the case of chemical sunscreens, you must wait for about 30 minutes before stepping out—as absorption requires time. Just ensure you’re covering every inch of your skin.

  6. Now, choosing a sunscreen because it’s mineral-based isn’t enough. Zinc oxide is considered more effective than titanium dioxide—another ingredient used in such sunscreens. Titanium dioxide isn’t as effective at blocking UVA rays. That’s why you must look out for zinc oxide in the ‘ingredients’ list at the back of the product. That settles the ‘titanium dioxide vs zinc oxide’ debate. The only drawback I can think of is the white-ish, translucent film the ingredient leaves behind on the skin. But, like I said, there are formulas that blend into your skin more seamlessly these days. 

 The Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreens To Shop

 If you’re looking for zinc oxide sunscreens, you’re in the right place. We’re rounding up our favourites under this category for you. 

MyGlamm Superfoods Kiwi And Coconut Sunscreen

With SPF-30 PA+++ protection, the MyGlamm Superfoods Kiwi And Coconut Sunscreen doesn’t just protect you from UVA rays and UVB rays. It’s enriched with kiwi to boost the production of collagen in the skin; chlorine to restore the elasticity of the skin; coconut to hydrate and moisturise; and vitamin E to soothe and calm. Pretty much embodies the ‘superfoods’ tag, doesn’t it?

Organic Harvest Sunscreen For All Skin Types SPF 50



This SPF 50 sunscreen protects you against the effects of UVB and UVA rays, and melts into your skin seamlessly for a matte-like finish. It’s formulated in a way that it doesn’t leave behind a white-ish residue on the surface of your skin—and it’s sweat-proof and water-resistant. It’s India’s first certified Organic sunscreen that offers you protection from man-made sources of blue light as well—in other words, protection from light emitted from your screens. Because, yes, they can have long-term effects like premature ageing on the skin. 

St. Botanica Vitamin C SPF 30 PA+++ Sunscreen



Looking for a multipurpose formula that doesn’t just sun-proof the skin, but reinstates the freshness of your skin, moisturises and hydrates, and prevents free-radical damage while sitting undisturbed under layers of makeup?. And one that protects you from UVA as well as UVB rays? This is it for you. Ah, I almost ran out of breath there. The St.Botanica Vitamin C SPF 30 PA+++ Sunscreen is a lightweight, non-greasy sunscreen formulated with a medley of antioxidant-rich ingredients like vitamin C, lemon peel oil & natural extracts of licorice, amla fruit, orange peel, tamarind seed, saffron, turmeric, rose flower, sandalwood and vitamins C, E and B3 that lend a youthful-looking glow to your skin. 

Remember that not all sunscreens containing zinc oxide are absolutely mineral-based. They might have been formulated with chemical actives as well. Make sure you’re reading all the tags and ingredients correctly.

Also Read:

  1. Everything About Sunscreen: Sun-proofing your body isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must know how to apply the product; how much of the product to apply on the face; which spots to never miss; and so much more. Here’s your guide to everything sunscreen-related.

  2. Best Sunscreens In India: Look—choosing the right sunscreen for yourself  is a little tricky. That’s why we’ve put together an assemblage of sunscreens that offer varying benefits to the skin. Read on to do some match-making, and sun-proof yourselves generously and effectively this summer.

  3. How To Choose The Right Sunscreen For You: You need to take into consideration a lot of factors before buying sunscreen: your skin type, SPF, labels, and more. We’ve simplified the process for you. 

  4. Best Spray-On Sunscreens For Summer: If traditional sunscreens are too much of a hassle for you—honestly, they can be—we have the perfect spray-on alternatives for you to choose from instead. Read on!

  5. Zinc benefits for skin: Eager to know the benefits of zinc for the skin? Don’t worry! Hit the link to find out all its benefits and upgrade your skincare game!
  6. Zinc benefits for skin: Eager to know the benefits of zinc for the skin? Don’t worry! Hit the link to find out all its benefits and upgrade your skincare game!


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