Does the Zinc in Sunscreen Get into Your Bloodstream?
Zinc is an essential mineral that has many beneficial effects, including acting as a physical sunscreen. Zinc oxide is found in many of the best natural mineral sunscreens, providing a physical barrier on the skin’s surface that reflects away UVA and UVB light.
Many people also take zinc supplements because zinc is an anti-inflammatory and is necessary for many cellular processes.
This often leads to questions such as, “Will zinc sunscreen be absorbed into my body,” and “Is zinc a healthier sunscreen ingredient.” Here, you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about zinc and how to choose the best mineral sunscreen.
Is Zinc Absorbed into Skin When Applied Topically?
A recent study found that nearly all active chemical sunscreen ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream. While more research is needed to determine the effects of these findings, many people are looking for a sunscreen alternative that is not absorbed into the skin.
Zinc is not believed to enter the bloodstream when applied topically, because zinc particles are too large to penetrate into the skin. Rather, they form a protective layer on the skin’s surface. Zinc oxide is found in mineral sunscreens that are also called physical sunscreens.
Is Zinc Ingested When Used in Lip Sunscreens?
Zinc is most likely absorbed into the body when zinc-containing sunscreens are applied to the lips. However, this would be a small amount under the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc, which is 11 mg for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.
To put this in perspective, a three-ounce serving of red meat contains around 7 mg of zinc, and a half-cup of chickpeas contains 1.3 mgs of zinc. Red meat and legumes are some of the most plentiful food sources of zinc. So it is unlikely that ingesting a small amount of zinc from a lip SPF will have adverse effects. In fact- it could be beneficial.
What Is the Healthiest Sunscreen?
Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide are among the best SPFs to use because they stay on the skin’s surface and reflect away light. Although the zinc particles do not penetrate into the skin, they can be eaten when applied to the lips. (We lick our lips a lot, and some studies show that 50% or more of what you put on your lips is ingested.) Since zinc is a beneficial essential mineral, ingesting small amounts of zinc might be beneficial and is certainly not toxic nor dangerous.
Which Sunscreens Are Non-Toxic?
Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as the only active SPF ingredients. You’ll find both tinted and untinted options. Note that sunscreens with iron oxides are always tinted because iron oxides have a color. The darker the color, the more blue light protection your skin will have.
Our favorites are:
The Best Tinted Mineral Sunscreens
- EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44: The best tinted zinc-containing sunscreen with iron oxides
- Elta MD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41: The best tinted sunscreen with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide
- SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defence SPF 50: The best lightweight, tinted sunscreen with zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and iron oxide
- Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield, Bronze: The best tinted sunscreen with zinc oxide and iron oxide for darker skin types
The Best Untinted Mineral Sunscreens
- EltaMD UV Replenish Broad-Spectrum SPF 44: The best untinted sunscreen with zinc for dry skin
- SkinMedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 32: The best untinted sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide for all skin types
Zinc-containing mineral sunscreens can be a good choice if you are looking for a healthier alternative to chemical sunscreens. Zinc is not known to be absorbed into the body when applied topically, although it may be ingested when used on the lips. There are many tinted and untinted mineral sunscreen options available, making it easy to find one that works well for your skin type and preferences.
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