Your Cart ()


Got a Question?


Mon-Sat 9am-6pm Eastern

Is Zinc Oxide Safe?

Zinc oxide is a mineral compound used for centuries in various health and skin care applications. Sun protection is a crucial aspect of skincare, and choosing the right sunscreen can be daunting. With numerous products on the market, it's essential to understand what you're applying to your skin. This article focuses on one particular ingredient: zinc oxide. We'll explore its history, benefits, and safety, particularly in the context of sunscreens.


What is Zinc Oxide?

Zinc oxide is a mineral compound used for centuries in various health and skin care applications.

Zinc oxide occurs in nature as the mineral zincite. Still, most commercial zinc oxide products are made by the high-temperature oxidation of zinc ore, which is melted and then vaporized into a gas that reacts with oxygen to form solid ZnO. It's a white powder insoluble in water, making it a popular ingredient in products like calamine lotion, diaper rash creams, and sunscreens.

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound and not soluble in water. It has antimicrobial properties to help wounds heal faster and is non-comedogenic (meaning it won't clog pores).


A Brief History of Zinc Oxide in Skincare

Zinc oxide has a long history of use in skincare, dating back to ancient times. Egyptians used zinc as an ingredient in their healing ointments. In the 19th century, zinc oxide paste was commonly used to treat skin conditions. Today, it's recognized for its excellent sun-protective qualities and is a critical ingredient in many sunscreens.


Is Zinc Oxide Safe for Humans?

Yes, zinc is a critical mineral nutrient that keeps us healthy. Zinc oxide is the only active sunscreen ingredient tested and FDA-approved for use on babies under six months old. It's also great for use around the eyes, as it won't cause stinging.

Zinc oxide is simply the safest and best active sunscreen ingredient. It covers the entire UVA and UVB spectrum by itself and has the most consistently effective absorption capabilities, which never degrade.

Zinc oxide absorbs UV rays and converts the energy to infrared heat, radiating safely from the skin's surface. It's the most effective sun protector available, blocking out both UVA and all UVB rays. Zinc oxide is the only active sunscreen ingredient that covers the entire UVA/UVB spectrum by itself (it does not need a second active ingredient when you use it in sunscreen formulations).


Is Zinc Oxide Reef Safe?

Non-nano zinc oxide does not damage or adversely affect marine life or water habitats. Yes, it is aquatic and reef safe.

Zinc oxide is a powdered mineral that does not dissolve in seawater. Non-nano zinc oxide (meaning its particles are large enough not to seep through skin pores or enter marine bio-systems) settles to the seafloor and becomes part of the sediment.

NON-NANO (larger than 100 nanometers) zinc oxide is safe for reefs and marine life. Still, NANO zinc oxide particles (smaller than 100 nanometers) can be ingested by marine animals, including coral, causing internal damage. When washed off into the ocean, they can react with UV rays to generate hydrogen peroxide, which can be toxic to phytoplankton—a vital nutrient to many reef and coral species.

Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist at Wexler Dermatology, says, "Mineral sunscreen nanoparticles larger than 30 nanometers are not absorbed into our bodies through the skin. On the other hand, particles smaller than 30 nanometers can be absorbed through the skin and then enter our bloodstream. The effects of these internally absorbed nanoparticles on our health is unknown."


The Science Behind Zinc Oxide Sunscreens

Zinc oxide sunscreens are known as physical or mineral sunscreens. They work by reflecting and scattering the sun's rays, providing broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. This is in contrast to chemical sunscreens, which absorb the sun's rays and can penetrate the skin, potentially causing harm. Learn more about the differences between Chemical and Mineral Sunscreens here.


Non-Nano Zinc Oxide: A Safer Choice

When it comes to sun protection, not all sunscreens are created equal. One term you might come across when researching safe sunscreens is "non-nano" zinc oxide. But what does this mean, and why is it important?

Zinc oxide is a mineral that provides broad-spectrum protection from the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays. The term "non-nano" refers to the size of the zinc oxide particles. The particles in a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen are larger than in nano sunscreens. This size difference is significant for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, non-nano zinc oxide particles are too large to penetrate the skin. This is beneficial because it means the sunscreen sits on top of your skin, forming a protective barrier against the sun rather than being absorbed into your body. This is particularly important for people with sensitive skin, babies, and children, as it reduces the risk of skin irritation.

Secondly, non-nano zinc oxide is safer for our environment. Some research suggests that smaller, nano-sized particles can harm marine life and contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs. In contrast, non-nano zinc oxide is considered "reef safe.”

In conclusion, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreens, like those offered by Waxhead, provide effective sun protection while being safer for our bodies and the environment. One more reason to read the ingredients list carefully when choosing sunscreen.


Who Can Benefit from Zinc Oxide Sunscreens?

Everyone can benefit from using zinc oxide sunscreens, but they're particularly beneficial for people with sensitive skin, babies, and children. They're also an excellent choice for those who spend lots of time outdoors and need reliable, broad-spectrum protection.


Chemical Sunscreens vs. Zinc Oxide Sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun's rays, penetrate the skin, and enter the bloodstream. This has raised concerns about potential health risks. On the other hand, zinc oxide sunscreens sit on the skin's surface and reflect the sun's rays, providing effective protection without the risk of skin penetration.


Frequently Asked Questions

To wrap up, let's address some common questions about zinc oxide and sun protection.

Can I use zinc oxide sunscreen on my baby?
Yes zinc oxide is a safe and effective baby sunscreen. It's gentle on their sensitive skin and provides broad-spectrum protection.

Does zinc oxide sunscreen leave a white cast on the skin?
Some zinc oxide sunscreens can leave a white cast, but many formulations are now "tinted," meaning they contain ingredients to blend into skin tones.

Can I use zinc oxide sunscreen if I have dark skin?
Yes, many zinc oxide sunscreens are suitable for darker skin tones that won't leave a white cast.

What does "non-nano" mean in the context of zinc oxide sunscreens?
"Non-nano" refers to the size of the zinc oxide particles used in the sunscreen. Non-nano particles are larger and don't penetrate the skin, making them safer for your body and the environment.

How often should I reapply zinc oxide sunscreen?
Generally, you should reapply sunscreen every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating, or towel drying.

Can zinc oxide sunscreen cause allergies?
Zinc oxide is generally considered safe and less likely to cause skin irritations or allergies than chemical sunscreens. However, if you have sensitive skin or specific allergies, doing a patch test's always a good idea first.

How does Waxhead ensure the quality of its products?
We are committed to providing high-quality products. We use natural and safe ingredients in their sunscreens and skincare products. We also offer a lifetime guarantee, demonstrating our confidence in the quality and effectiveness of our products.

What makes Waxhead sunscreens eco-friendly?
Our sunscreens are eco-friendly because we use non-nano zinc oxide, which is safe for marine life and doesn't contribute to coral reef bleaching. We also focus on sustainable practices and eco-friendly packaging, reducing our environmental impact.

How does Waxhead cater to the needs of outdoor enthusiasts?
We serve the needs of outdoor enthusiasts by providing high-performance sunscreens that offer effective UV protection for various outdoor activities. We also offer a range of sun protection apparel and sustainable sunglasses, making us a one-stop shop for sun protection needs.

Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to sun protection. Choose a sunscreen like Waxhead that uses non-nano zinc oxide for safe and effective sun protection.



In conclusion, zinc oxide is a safe and effective ingredient in sunscreens. It provides broad-spectrum protection, is suitable for all skin types, and is environmentally safe. For an excellent zinc oxide sunscreen, we recommend our Waxhead Sunscreen. It's a non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen safe for the whole family and the planet. Always read the ingredients in any skincare product, and stay sun-safe!




1. Know your ingredients — Flip over your sunscreen and read the ingredients. We want everyone to know what good ingredients are, regardless of whether they use our products or not. Your health is worth it.

2. Buy safe sunscreen — Waxhead is dedicated to using only the healthiest, safest, most effective ingredients in our sunscreens. Shop Safe Sunscreen here.

3. Teach a friend — If you know someone who might still be buying sunscreen with questionable ingredients, please share this post with him/her.




Is Zinc Oxide Safe?

Older Post Newer Post


waxhead sunscreen quiz

Intense Therapy Lip Balm

waxhead sunscreen sampler

Trending this Week

Reef Safe Sunscreen Sampler Pack waxhead zinc oxide
On Sale
Sunscreen Sampler Pack
$29.99 $42.99
SAVE $13.00
Zinc Oxide Lip Balm
Mineral Tinted Sunscreen for Face Iron Oxide Sunscreen Zinc
On Sale
Mineral Tinted Sunscreen for Face
$29.99 $35.99
SAVE $6.00
Natural Sunscreen Stick Zinc Stick Sunscreen Matte kids sunscreen stick
On Sale
Natural Sunscreen Stick
$29.99 $35.99
SAVE $6.00
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Tattoo Sunscreen Eczema Sunscreen
On Sale
Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - Vitamin Enriched
$29.99 $35.99
SAVE $6.00
Baby Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide All Natural Sunscreen Lotion
On Sale
Non Toxic Baby Sunscreen
$29.99 $35.99
SAVE $6.00