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How to find the best zinc oxide sunscreen

Does zinc oxide sunscreen really work?

We all know the importance of wearing sunscreen to protect us from harmful ultraviolet rays that can lead to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. Still, the type of sunscreen you use can also significantly impact the long-term health of your skin.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, some ingredients commonly found in sunscreen products, like oxybenzone and octinoxate, can remain in your body for extended periods and harm your health and the environment. Meanwhile, ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide have become more popular. They are now commonly found in many sunscreens because the FDA deemed them safe and effective. 

How can you protect your skin from the sun?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s vital to use a combination of sun safety approaches and not rely on sunscreen alone. Anytime you leave the house, you want to get in the habit of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays. Wearing a hat is another simple way to protect your face from sun exposure. 

At the beach, a beach tent or umbrella is an easy way to ensure protection from the sun while still enjoying the outdoors. 

How does sunscreen work?

Typical chemical sunscreen sold over the counter contains compounds that cause a chemical reaction when exposed to UV rays that transform those rays into heat, so they aren’t absorbed in the skin. 

Physical sunscreens (or mineral sunscreen), such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, work as a barrier that sits on top of the skin to block or reflect the harmful rays. Zinc oxide protects against all three types of harmful UV radiation, UVA, UVB and UVC rays, but titanium dioxide does not protect against UVA as strongly as zinc. 

Safety concerns

There has been some concern about whether the nanoparticles used to decrease the white, chalky texture of zinc and titanium sunscreens can be potentially harmful to your health. No evidence has been discovered yet, but ongoing research about possible long-term effects is still being conducted.  

It is important to note that some of the ingredients in popular sunscreens have shown to cause damage to coral reefs. Unless you have applied a specific reef-safe sunscreen, it’s best to avoid sunscreen when diving or snorkeling near coral reefs. 

Best zinc oxide sunscreen for babies and kids

Badger Company, Baby Sunscreen Cream, SPF 30 PA+++

A safe, effective and pediatrician-tested zinc oxide sunscreen specifically formulated for babies. Expert certified and containing zero GMOs, you can be confident you are putting a great sunscreen on your little one.

Where to buy: Amazon and iHerb

Thinksport, Face & Body, Sunscreen Stick, For Kids, SPF 30

This top-rated sunscreen contains no biologically harmful chemicals or UV chemical absorbers.

Thinksport offers the highest broad-spectrum coverage allowed by the FDA at SPF 50, and it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it a safe and effective option for kids.

Where to buy: Amazon

Babo Botanicals, Baby Face, Mineral Sunscreen Stick, SPF 50

A soothing and gentle, 100% non-nano, zinc sunscreen explicitly developed for a baby's delicate skin. It’s free of harmful chemicals and tested by dermatologists and pediatricians to be safe for sensitive skin. 

Where to buy: Amazon

Best zinc oxide facial sunscreen

Kinship Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen Zinc Oxide SPF 32

This 100% mineral sunscreen is a vegan and cruelty-free option. It blends perfectly and leaves the skin with a natural glow. This zinc oxide sunscreen features turmeric that soothes blemished skin, while the plant probiotics support and strengthen the skin.

Where to buy: Ulta

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++

This completely invisible, weightless, scentless sunscreen doubles as a primer to easily apply makeup over your sunscreen. Additional benefits of this zinc oxide sunscreen include nutrients for fine lines, wrinkles and uneven skin texture.

Where to buy: Sephora and Supergoop

Mad Hippie Skin Care Products, Facial SPF, 30+ UVA/UVB Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

This zinc oxide sunscreen has the bonus of a powerful antioxidant in raspberry seed oil that soothes and hydrates the skin while reducing the signs of aging.

Where to buy: iHerb and Ulta

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, Face, Mineral-Based Sunscreen

Specifically formulated for face protection, this high-protection, water-resistant sunscreen is ideal for days at the beach or pool. Loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E, green tea and caffeine, this option was specifically formulated for your face. 

Where to buy: Bed Bath & Beyond

Best full body zinc oxide sunscreen

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Body and Face Gentle-Lotion Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50

This option is a 100% mineral sunscreen, so there are no chemicals. The exclusive Cell-OX Shield technology offers UVA/UVB filters and antioxidants along with the broad spectrum SPF 50 protection.

Where to buy: Amazon

Biossance Squalane + Zinc Sheer Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 PA +++

A sheer, 100-percent zinc oxide sunscreen that hydrates and protects even the most sensitive of skin. Consumers with darker skin pigmentation rave about this product, making it a solid universal option.

Where to buy: Amazon and Sephora

Aveeno, Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin, Sunscreen, SPF 50

This dermatologist-recommended brand has specially formulated this sunscreen for sensitive skin. It’s a mineral sunscreen that is naturally sourced and contains 100% zinc oxide, vitamin E, feverfew and nourishing oat, making it gentle on sensitive areas. Aveeno’s zinc sunscreen is hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, so it reduces sensitivity and clogged pores.

Where to buy: Amazon and iHerb


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Ryan Dempsey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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