Zinc oxide derives from the all-natural mineral known as zincite; however, it can be made synthetically or through chemical processing.
Mineral-based sunscreens, particularly zinc oxide, reflect light that lands on the body, acting as a reflector of light particles and radiation from sunlight.
It has become extremely popular among all major sunscreen brands, as it performs well in continuously protecting the skin over long exposure periods to sunlight and UVA (Ultraviolet A) and UVB (Ultraviolet B), which are the longer and shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light that cause sunburns.
We've got you covered with the five best zinc oxide and reef-safe sunscreens for everyday use and water sports.
The Best Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
Option 1: Vertra Sunscreen
Vertra sunscreen has been an all-time favorite among surfers for over a decade. It is the ideal outdoor sports sunscreen for the face, as it comes in a stick form applied directly to the face.
It boasts excellent water resistance, making it perfect for all surfers, spear fishers, sailors, and more.
On the Vertra website, the cost is $24 for one stick, but I must say that it is money well spent. The one I had lasted for months, and I applied it daily before paddling out.
They offer six different colors, but all work the same regardless of color. The only downside is that the Vertra stick is not meant to be used on the body.
Option 2: CeraVe
CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen is a non-greasy formula made with Niacinamide to help calm the skin and Hyaluronic Acid to retain the skin's natural moisture. For those wearing makeup, it can be worn alone or as a tinted primer.
On Amazon, it is priced at only $14, making it more affordable than most options on this list.
The disadvantage is that it comes in a small 1.7 fluid-ounce bottle, which is smaller than other options.
Option 3: Babo
Babo Botanicals is a family-owned, cruelty-free, and certified B Corporation that does not test on animals.
It is suitable for sensitive skin and is fragrance-free.
Their products feature a natural organic blend of meadowsweet, calendula, watercress, and chamomile meant to nourish and soothe delicate skin.
If you subscribe to bi-monthly shipments through Amazon, it costs a little more than $17.
Babo Mineral Sunscreen is hypoallergenic and is recommended by dermatologists.
Option 4: Sticky Zinc
Sticky Zinc is produced by We Are Feel Good Inc., an Australian-based company.
Similar to Cerave, it can be used as a foundation and shares many of the same benefits as others on this list, such as Niacinamide and Vitamin E.
Additionally, it contains aloe to soothe the skin.
Priced at $22 on their website, it does cost a little more due to shipping from Australia, but many users find it worth every penny.
As a surfer and waterman, this is my favorite among all the choices on this list, as it offers 4-hour water resistance.
Hard to beat that!
Option 5: SurfMud
SurfMud is your everyday facial sunscreen, whether you're surfing, skating, mountain biking, or engaging in any outdoor activity.
It's perfect for those everyday moments when you want that extra protection.
A 100-gram container, equivalent to 3.5 ounces, is priced at $19 on the SurfMud website.
There are no disadvantages here, just a high-quality facial, mineral-based sunscreen.
Learn more about this zinc oxide sunscreen.
Zinc Oxide: Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is sunscreen with zinc oxide better?
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both mineral-based ingredients, are among the few considered safe and effective by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in sunscreens.
In 2021, the European Commission determined that the current amounts of oxybenzone and homosalate used are not safe.
They recommended limiting oxybenzone to 2.2% and homosalate to 1.4%.
Sunscreen companies like Sun Bum, however, use nearly five times more than the suggested amounts.
Q. Does the Body absorb Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen?
In recent years, an increasing number of studies have been conducted to understand the effects of certain sunscreen ingredients on the body, particularly regarding their absorption into the skin.
Homosalate, avobenzone, and oxybenzone have raised concerns due to their potential absorption, which can have disruptive effects on the endocrine system.
The endocrine system is a complex interconnected network of organs and glands that forms a feedback loop, regulating various physiological processes such as blood sugar and blood pressure levels, metabolism, growth, and development, among others.
Q. Is zinc oxide good for the skin?
Zinc oxide is widely regarded as very safe for the skin and is a common ingredient in almost all mineral-based sunscreens.
In extremely rare cases, it may cause a minor allergic reaction, but it is generally suitable for sensitive skin and all skin types.
Additionally, zinc oxide has anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal sunscreen choice for individuals dealing with acne.
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen: Conclusion
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are considered among the best mineral-based sunscreens available on the market.
They offer effective protection for the skin without the potential harm associated with some other common sunscreen ingredients.
When choosing a sunscreen, opt for those containing zinc oxide or other mineral-based alternatives.
It's advisable to avoid sunscreens with ingredients like homosalate, avobenzone, and oxybenzone, as they have raised concerns about their impact on the body.