Quest for the Perfect Sunscreen, Part 2: Zinc Oxide

Just in time for our sunniest holiday, here is the second installment of my sunscreen series. My previous post focused on avoiding oxybenzone, a popular sunscreen ingredient, because of its toxicity. That only leaves American sunscreen buyers two sunblocking ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both minerals (as opposed to oxybenzone, which is a chemical). Zinc oxide protects from UVA, UVB, and UVC rays, but titanium dioxide only provides UVB protection, not broad spectrum protection. Since zinc oxide is a broad spectrum blocker and only has a very small risk of toxicity (I know, not completely comforting is it?), it is the best sunscreen ingredient available to us here in America. If you’d like to read more about SPF and zinc oxide as an ingredient, Badger has a great website.

Clearly, once I’d done this research it was time to buy some zinc oxide sunscreen. The problem was how to avoid the Kabuki dancer white face effect I’ve gotten from previous zinc oxide sunscreens. I’ve tried at least half a dozen already and they definitely have the whitening effect, but they were all full sunscreens, as opposed to moisturizers plus sunscreen, so I decided to try one with a moisturizer. I already have a moisturizer that I love, but I can always use that at night and the one with SPF during the day. I also have oily skin that gets dry after I wash it – I guess you’d call that problem skin – so I need something that isn’t going to be greasy.

I decided to buy the one Valeria is using, since she swore that it wasn’t greasy and the ingredients matched up with my new specifications: Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+. I got it a few days ago and have been subjecting it to our 90 degree days, and so far, so good. It doesn’t feel greasy, although it leaves a bit of a shine on my nose. I wear foundation and powder anyway, so I can cover up the shine. But it’s miles better than any other zinc oxide sunscreen I’ve tried, so it makes the grade. We’re going to Gloucester next week so that should be the true test. If I come back without any new freckles, it’s won me over for life.

I’m still not happy using zinc oxide, since it has its own health risks. They’re lower than oxybenzone’s, but they’re there. I’ve been trying to eliminate the worst ingredients from all of the products I use, but it’s slow going. I think I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m sure there are still things I’m putting in and on my body that aren’t good for it. At least I’ve got a decent sunscreen now – if I’m feeling motivated I will look into how to get the European sunscreens with the even better ingredients. I don’t know quite where to start, but that’s what the internet is for, right?

Happy Fourth,


2 responses to “Quest for the Perfect Sunscreen, Part 2: Zinc Oxide

  1. Great post Jenny! That’s the sunscreen I use too! It is the least shine inducing one that I’ve found currently, doesn’t run into my eyes an hour after application to my oily-but-dry skin, nor does it feel like it is suffocating it, and has a nice ingredient listing IMO…plus, it is gluten free, so pretty great all around for me! 😉

    • How do you think it does for blocking the sun? I feel like it doesn’t do it as well as the others. I don’t sit out in the sun, but I do walk around outside, sometimes a lot during the day, and I feel browner than I used to. Is it because it is a moisturizer? I could try the body block on my face I suppose.

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