If you have recently taken a look into the backside of sunscreen bottles, you might have found out about an ingredient that sounds a bit alarming. Yes, Zinc Oxide does sound a bit disconcerting. Recently, people have had concerns regarding this ingredient.
That is why questions such as what percentage of zinc oxide should be in sunscreen have been popping up. Upon stumbling on those types of questions, we took the responsibility of digging a bit further into the ingredient and answer all the relevant questions.
So, if you are curious to know a little bit more about zinc oxide, what it does, and the question we mentioned above, you are in the right place. All you need to do now is keep on reading.
What Is Zinc Oxide And Why Does Sunscreen Have It
In true essence, zinc oxide is a natural mineral that consists of metal zinc. And the zinc is in the oxidized form, which is what the latter term means. But zinc getting oxidized in nature is pretty rare. For that reason, most cosmetic brands will mine zinc in the purest form and oxidize them in the labs.
Recently, the has been a massive amount of concerns regarding marine life. And to protect the coral reefs, most of the manufacturer has started to integrate this ingredient in their beauty products.
Purportedly, this ingredient is the reason why those beauty products are biodegradable. Nonetheless, when it comes to sunscreens, the active ingredients hold the ability to block all of the harmful rays from the sunlight. That includes UV rays, UVA, UVB, and UVC. But you will not only find this in the products that claim to protect you from the sun, but it is also an active element in different other products. But which products are we talking about? Well, to illustrate, it will be present in ointments, powders, diaper rash creams, lip balms, and blemishes cream.
How Does Zinc Oxide Block Harmful Rays Of Sunlight?
The primary definition of zinc oxide is that it is a physical blocker of harsh sunlight rays. It is present in most biodegradable lotions and sunscreens. And as you apply them, they will sit on your skin and create a protective barrier. That protective barrier will block off all the harmful rays. Unlike the other chemicals present on regular sunscreens, this ingredient does not get absorbed into the skin.
Instead, it sits on top, which makes it highly effective. But there is a downside; as it does not get absorbed, there will be a white layer on top of the skin. These sunscreens are notable for leaving a white patina on the skin. That is why many people prefer the regular versions. But the manufacturers have considered this factor. They are now integrating nanoparticles of the ingredients instead of the full-fledged version.
Now, what do the nanoparticles of zinc oxide bring to the table? It will make the sunscreen remain clear. But there are plenty of concerns regarding the nanoparticles. However, studies have found that they are perfectly safe to use in lotions and creams.
According to different studies, minerals larger than thirty nanometers do not get absorbed by the skin. So, they will pose no threat to human health as they can’t enter the bloodstream.
What Percentage Of Zinc Oxide Should A Sunscreen Have?
The correct percentage of the ingredient is highly ambiguous. And the reason why it is so debatable is the lack of clear regulations. Even though there are plenty of studies done regarding the element, they are simply not enough.
As a result, dermatologists and cosmetic brands are now promoting regular sunscreens over biodegradable forms. Some even go further into saying that those forms are ineffective. But that is far from the truth.
Yes, certain chemical ingredients are highly effective in terms of blocking the UV rays, but they are termed harmful to the skin for some specific reasons. And some studies prove that titanium and zinc oxide are effective while being less concerning to the skin.
Now, when it comes to concentration levels, it will depend on whether the lotion is relying on one or two ingredients.
If the lotion is containing zinc oxide only, the adequate percentage would be above 15. But, this concentration will correspond to an SPF of 24. The lotion needs to ingrate a concentration from 15% to 20% to raise the SPF level of up to 32. Also, if the lotion has two active ingredients, the concentration needs to be up to 25%. But those will be a little unpleasant to the skin, which is why not all of the manufacturer opts for that level of concentration.
So, to circumvent the situation and keep the SPF level high, manufacturers are using zinc oxide and titanium oxide. Those will have less than 10% of both and still provide an SPF of 50+. And the protection that they offer against harmful sunrays is highly praiseworthy.
Should You Switch To Nanoparticle Zinc Oxide Induced Biodegradable Sunscreens?
In terms of looks, the main difference is that the nanoparticle versions stay clear on the skin. And as the nanoparticles that most manufacturers are using are larger than 30nm, you do not have to worry about the ingredient posing any threat either.
Additionally, you will be taking the role of protecting the environment and marine life if you switch to these sunscreens.
However, make sure that the nanoparticles are not smaller than 35nm because they can still be toxic to marine life. Due to their small nature, they can generate oxidative stress and potential cellular damage to the corals.
To answer the question of what percentage of zinc oxide should be in sunscreen, it depends on the active ingredients. If there is zinc and titanium oxide, it will be less than 10%. But when zinc oxide is acting alone, it needs to be within 20%.