In my opinion, they are.
Seeing patient after patient in my dermatology practice, I've seen this proven to me over the years.
Why do zinc oxide sunscreens work the best for sun protection?
- Zinc oxide particles in sunscreen sit invisibly on the surface of your skin bouncing the UV rays off like balls bouncing off of a hard surface. There is no chemical reaction at your skin level as there is with chemical sunscreens.
- Zinc oxide is one of the two UV-A1 sunscreen ingredients approved by the FDA. The other one, avobenzone, is too fragile to depend, on in my opinion.
- Zinc oxide gives you broad spectrum protection from UVB all the way through to UV-A1, meaning your skin is getting the best sun protection possible.
- Zinc oxide is a stable sunscreen ingredient that is much less likely than chemical ingredients to break down in the bottle or on your skin.
- Zinc oxide gives broader UV protection than titanium dioxide and is cosmetically more elegant to use (aka invisible on your skin)
- Zinc oxide does not irritate sensitive skin.
- Zinc oxide is not absorbed into your body; it stays on your skin where you put it and where it can protect you from the sun.
One of my long-term patients came into my office right after returning from a sunny cruise vacation. She loves the sun and puts sunscreens to the ultimate test. As I was examining her skin, which looked like it had been well sun protected, she said,
"Those zinc oxide sunscreens are the best!"
"(During my) long vacation and cruise in the sun... I used a zinc oxide SPF 30 sunscreen every day and look how well it worked! Other people were using SPF 50s and burning. Because mine had zinc it worked - my skin didn't burn like theirs did." Brenda W Sebastopol, CA
Science says a lot of things about sunscreen, but the proof of what really works is visible in my dermatology office every day. Zinc oxide gave Brenda better protection than her fellow cruisers because it works better. I recommend you trust your own and your family's skin only to zinc oxide sunscreens.
Zinc Oxide Sunscreens I Recommend
Here are the zinc oxide sunscreen products I recommend to my dermatology patients and that I use for myself and my family.
It's very important that your sunscreen match your skin type and activities.
Find the right zinc oxide sunscreen for your skin. You need to love your sunscreen so that you will wear it every day and it needs to hold up to your activities so that you can trust your protection.
Dermatologist Dr. Bailey's tips for how to pick the right sunscreen.
- a water-resistant and rub-resistant sunscreen product that stays put:
- when you are wet or sweaty
- on skin rubbed by clothing
- on skin that you wash repeatedly (like the back of your hands)
- a sunscreen product that enhances your the look and feel of your complexion and that you love to use every day.
- oily complexions prefer oil-free and even matte sunscreen bases
- dry complexions prefer a more hydrating base
- hairy skin does best with a thin product capable of rubbing in easily around the hairs.
Tips to pick the correct sunscreen for your skin type and activities.
Best Facial Sunscreens:
Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50+ sunscreens work great for all complexion types. They are oil free, non-drying, non-irritating and rub in well to hairy skin. Sheer Strength Sunscreens are state-of-the-art in transparent non-nano size zinc oxide sunscreen. You can't compare these to any other sunscreen in terms of the great protection you get with a look and feel that's light and non-greasy on your skin.
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted Creme SPF 50+ Sunscreen is my personal daily wear sunscreen. The tinting comes from 4% mineral iron oxide which also blocks visible light known to play a role in some pigment problems such as melasma. The tinting technology blends in well with all skin tones - fair to darker pigmented complexions love this sunscreen!
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Creme Sunscreen SPF 50+ is the top choice for people not wanting a tinted product.
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+ is ideal for applying to hairy skin and larger expanses of skin as well as the face. I use it daily for my arms, neck, chest, ears and back of my hands. I wear it when I hike too because it is moderately water resistant. This is a favorite for men with beards and hairy arms and it is easy to use on thinning scalps and part lines too.
Suntegrity 5 in 1 BB Cream SPF 30 Sunscreen is a deeply hydrating tinted sunscreen that doubles as foundation for many people.
Best All-Over Sunscreens:
Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40. Great for neck, chest, ears, hands, arms, and legs. Trusted non-greasy water-resistant protection to 80 minutes that's invisible and easy to use. My family and patients have used this sunscreen for years and I know how trustworthy its protection is.
Solbar Zinc Sunscreen SPF 38 is trusted mineral protection that's economical and easy to apply to squirming children and hairy skin. I've used this for years swimming. My kids grew up on this sunscreen and it protected their skin well.
Raw Elements SPF 30 Sunscreen is stays on your skin like no other sunscreen. It's what I wear snorkeling because it is the most reef safe product I know of. Made with good old fashion large particle zinc oxide that somehow is almost transparent on your skin. No nano or microsized zinc oxide that might harm reef ecosystems. The formulation is made with certified organic ingredients and this tough sunscreen never stings eyes or runs. It's ideal for scuba divers too for that reason. Don't let the SPF 30 fool you, this is tougher sunscreen than any chemical SPF 100 product that I know - and it's kind to marine ecosystems.
Best gentle zinc oxide sunscreen for children and the entire family
Suntegrity Natural Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen is the product I recommend for those wanting a truly natural product for daily wear. Made with a hypoallergenic base that includes botanicals this is my favorite natural sunscreen for kids. It's reasonably light textured and feels good on the skin. Originally marketed for babies it's now loved by adults too.
Best Lip Sunscreen
Vanicream Lip Protectant Cosmetically elegant, hypoallergenic and moisturizing sun protection for delicate lip skin.
Suntegtity Lip Sunscreen SPF 30 is a lovely sun protecting lipstick with pretty shimmery color. It hydrates lips and looks beautiful making it smart, elegant and a pleasure to wear. It is made with a natural and non-toxic formulation too. This is the lipstick I wear every day. It comes in a nice range of colors.
SunSavvy UV detecting beads are a "must have" to learn when your UV exposed!
To see my full range of smart sun protection tools and sunscreens click here. I'm picky and I love the outdoors. I have the best sun protection products and tips to keep your skin healthy and UV protected while you fully enjoying the beautiful outdoors!
If you have found these zinc oxide sunscreen tips helpful, please show your thanks by commenting on, sharing, “liking,” Google+, tweeting, and “pinning,” using the social sharing buttons above and below this blog post with friends and family.
Sincerely, Dr. Bailey Skin Care Team
Photo attribution: Thanks and gratitude to © Andrew Plewes/ImageZoo/Corbis