About a week ago, I was introduced to the concept of a clear zinc sunscreen. Well, forgive my ignorance, but it was the first time I had seen a zinc oxide sunscreen that goes on clear on the skin.
Zinc Oxide is a physical barrier ingredient used sunscreens, and it is granted not too popular with adults simply because it tends to leave a whitish cast on the skin when applied. However, Zinc Oxide is possibly the most effective sunscreen ingredient because it provides complete broad spectrum sunblocking properties, protecting the skin against both UVA and UVB properties. In a nutshell, this means that Zinc Oxide can exist on its own as an active ingredient in a sunscreen and yet provide that much-needed broad spectrum protection.
Comparatively, other sunscreen ingredients need to go hand in hand with other ingredients if a complete broad spectrum protection of UVA and UVB is to be attained.
Having said that, we can see now that Zinc Oxide is probably the most effective ingredient in sunscreen. So when I was told there was a CLEAR Zinc sunscreen, I was tempted … yes. But I also wondered what the catch was, so I quickly read up on what might have caused it to look clear.
The answer I found: NANO-particles.
You see, zinc oxide on its own, when applied on the skin, will reflect light from the sun, and because zinc oxide as a physical ingredient, is not absorbed into the skin, the reflection of light gives off a whitish cast on the skin.
The fact that some sunscreens containing zinc oxide can remain CLEAR when applied on the skin implies that there could be nanoparticles of zinc oxide in that sunscreen, which are so minute that they do not reflect light, and hence giving the CLEAR look. Now the controversy with nanoparticles is that they could be absorbed into the body and into the bloodstream and thus may cause potential health problems. There are no substantiated claims yet though, but if you ask me, I will choose to err on the side of caution.
So yes…I was tempted by the prospect of using a CLEAR zinc sunscreen, but in view of the concern of nanoparticles in it, I would rather walk around with a somewhat whitish cast on my face. Guess I’d be returning that tube of clear zinc sunscreen I purchased!
What say you?