Are Zinc Oxide Sunscreens Better?

Cynthia Bailey, MD|June 17, 2014

Zinc Oxide Sunscreens: are they Better?   In my opinion, they are. Seeing patient after patient in my dermatology practice, I've seen this proven to me over the years.

Why do zinc oxide sunscreens work so well?

  • Zinc oxide particles in sunscreen sit invisibly on the surface of your skin bouncing the UV rays off like balls bouncing off of a hard surface. There is no chemical reaction at your skin level as there is with chemical sunscreens.
  • Zinc oxide is one of the two UV-A1 sunscreen ingredients approved by the FDA. The other one, avobenzone, is too fragile to depend, on in my opinion.
  • Zinc oxide gives you broad spectrum protection from UVB all the way through to UV-A1, meaning your skin is getting the best sun protection possible.
  • Zinc oxide is a stable sunscreen ingredient that is much less likely than chemical ingredients to break down in the bottle or on your skin.
  • Zinc oxide gives broader protection than titanium dioxide and is cosmetically more elegant to use (aka invisible on your skin)
  • Zinc oxide does not irritate sensitive skin.
  • Zinc oxide is not absorbed into your body; it stays on your skin where you put it and where it can protect you from the sun.

One of my long-term patients came into my office right after returning from a sunny cruise vacation. She loves the sun and puts sunscreens to the ultimate test. As I was examining her skin, which looked like it had been well sun protected, she said,

"Those zinc oxide sunscreens are the best!"

"(During my) long vacation and cruise in the sun... I used a zinc oxide SPF 30 sunscreen every day and look how well it worked! Other people were using SPF 50s and burning. Because mine had zinc it worked - my skin didn't burn like theirs did."  Brenda W Sebastopol, CA

Science says a lot of things about sunscreen, but the proof of what really works is visible in my dermatology office every day. Zinc oxide gave Brenda better protection than her fellow cruisers because it works better.  I recommend you trust your own and your family's skin only to zinc oxide sunscreens.

Zinc Oxide Sunscreens I Recommend

Here are the zinc oxide sunscreen products I recommend to my dermatology patients and that I use for myself and my family.

best sunscreens


Dr. Bailey's "Quick Pick" Sunscreen Favorites Product Guide

          It's very important that your sunscreen match your skin type and activities. Find the right zinc oxide sunscreen for your skin. You need to love your sunscreen so that you will wear it every day and it needs to hold up to your activities so that you can trust your protection. This means that you need:

  •  a water-resistant and rub-resistant sunscreen product that stays put:
    • when you are wet or sweaty
    • on skin rubbed by clothing
    • on skin that you wash repeatedly (like the back of your hands)
  • a sunscreen product that enhances your complexion and that you look great in for your daily facial sunscreen.

Match your products to your skin type and activities. Facial Sunscreens: Dry skin best sunscreen Suntegrity 5 in 1 Natural Moisturizing Face SunscreenSuntegrity 5 in 1 BB Cream SPF 30 Sunscreen. Tinted, moisturizing, and natural facial sunscreen for dry to normal skin         oily skin best sunscreen mdsolarsciences MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 Sunscreen. Popular mattifying formula for oily skin           best sunscreen for normal to oily skin Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen. Light weight, untinted facial sunscreen for oily to normal skin         Face and all-over sunscreens: best sunscreen dermatologist recommended for all overCitrix Sunscreen SPF 40. Great for neck, chest, ears, hands, arms, and legs. Trusted non-greasy water-resistant protection that's invisible and easy to use. My husband's favorite sunscreen and a sunscreen I've used every day for years. best sunscreen for families Solbar ZincSolbar Zinc Sunscreen SPF 38. Trusted mineral protection that's economical and easy to apply to squirming children and hairy skin         Lip Sunscreen best Elta Lip Balm SPF 31 sunscreenEltaMD UV Lip Balm SPF 31. Cosmetically elegant and pleasant-tasting sun protection for delicate lip skin         A sun-savvy "must have" to learn when your UV exposed! uv sensing beads to test sun exposureUV Detecto Ring. Economical and educational UV-sensing beads that color up when exposed to UV rays       If you have found these zinc oxide sunscreen tips helpful, please show your thanks by commenting on, sharing, “liking,” Google+, tweeting, and “pinning,” using the social sharing buttons above and below this blog post with friends and family. Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team Photo attribution: Thanks and gratitude to © Andrew Plewes/ImageZoo/Corbis  

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