Why You Really Need to Be Wearing Zinc Oxide
My skincare regimen is extensive, to put it lightly. I slather miracle serums and potions on my face (and neck!) with wild abandon. But this summer, I've finally given in to some streamlining. And now there's one secret ingredient that I won't leave the house without—and what it is just might surprise you.
It's not a $500 oil phenom but good old zinc oxide. Every dermatologist I've ever interviewed (and there have been many) has insisted that mineral-based sunscreens such as zinc are the only real way to prevent skin damage and premature aging. New York City-based dermatologist Cybele Fishman M.D. told us that it's an inert mineral that blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on top of the skin, forming a barrier against the sun's rays. Sunscreens with zinc start protecting you as soon as you put them on. You may have heard you should look for a "broad-spectrum" product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Any sunscreen that contains the physical blocker zinc oxide or titanium dioxide will have you covered.
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Another reason to invest in a zinc oxide-based sunscreen? This year I turned 40 and my charming freckles that I hadn't seen since childhood reemerged as sunspots—significantly less charming. Dermatologist David A. Colbert M.D. told me the damage wasn't new or recently acquired. It was all the days at the beach that I lay around with nothing but a reflector and a bottle of baby oil coming back to haunt me. Colbert said the only way to truly prevent them from returning is with zinc sunscreens.
And if zinc brings to mind the white, pasty noses of '80s lifeguards, let me introduce you to the new wave. Click through the gallery below to see the best, most lightweight, and effective products out there.
CeraVe Sunscreen for Body SPF 50
Zinc oxide is notoriously heavy, however, CeraVe’s lightweight sunscreen won’t disturb even the most sensitive skin.
Elta MD UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
When it comes to sunscreen, sprays are certainly the most convenient formula, yet they can be tricky in terms of ensuring you receive full coverage. EltaMA’s spray is white rather than clear, leaving no missed spots.
SkinCeuticals Physical Eye UV Defense SPF 50
Many sunscreen labels warn against applying near the eye area, however SkinCeuticals’ Physical Eye UV Defense is specifically formulated for its delicate surface, and won’t cause irritation.
Peter Thomas Roth Instant Mineral Powder SPF 45
Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 80 minutes. This mineral powder is perfect for quick touch ups, and unlike most sunscreens, leaves a matte finish.
MAKE Face Primer SPF 30
This primer offers an easy way to incorporate SPF into your routine, protecting against UV rays while concealing imperfections.
Badger Balm Sunscreen Lip Balm with SPF 15
The lips are commonly forgotten when it comes to sun protection. This zinc oxide-infused, moisturizing lip balm, made with ingredients like beeswax and cocoa butter, will help you work sun protection into your routine seamlessly.
Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50
The "dry touch" claim of this sunscreen means your skin won't feel greasy or wet after you apply it. It's also ideal for anyone who suffers with eczema, as it won't cause more itchiness or irritation. It even has the National Eczema Association's stamp of approval.
DRUNK ELEPHANT Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
You've probably seen this SPF all over top-shelf Instagram posts, and it's worth the hype. The natural, skin-calming sunscreen absorbs quickly and is completely sheer, so you won't have to cover up a white cast with your foundation.