Zinc Oxide Sunscreen vs Titanium Oxide Sunscreen

Following my post on Cancer Alert: Protect Your Skin this Summer, I have been researching on commercial [tag]sunscreens[/tag] and [tag]organic sunscreens[/tag].

To my utmost dismay, some reputable “organic” companies claimed to make “organic sunscreen” that is safe and free of dangerous chemicals. How deceiving their claims are! When you scrutinize their ingredient lists, you will notice Titanium Oxide as part of the list.

Now, we know how dangerous Titanium Oxide are, yet this ingredient is prevalent in many commercialize sunscreen products. If you missed my post on that, Titanium Oxide is a photo-activator that can react with other sunscreen chemicals and promote their free radical production or their cancer forming abilities. Recent studies have shown that Titanium damages the cells’ DNA and it has been listed as a potential carcinogen.

As I move along, I managed to find a couple of trustworthy companies that truly live to their claims of making safe sunscreen. Rather than using Titanium Oxide, these companies use Zinc Oxide.

Since both of these ingredients are inorganic, what makes Zinc Oxide safer than Titanium Oxide?

Zinc oxide has been used as the natural blocking agent as it is the only ingredient synthetic chemical or natural to effectively provide comprehensive protection against UVB and both short and long UVA radiation.

Zinc oxide is the closest thing to a total sunblock on the market today. It uniformly covers from 290 to 380 nm, thus protecting against UVB and most of the UVA spectrum. No other sunscreen ingredient provides broader protection.

And unlike many chemical sunscreen agents, zinc oxide is never irritating. In fact, it is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a Category I skin protectant, meaning that it is safe for compromised or environmentally challenged skin.

Zinc oxide has over a 300-year history of safety, with no known adverse reactions (which is why it is often used to treat babies). Now, in its microfine form, it is ideal for use in sunscreens and daily moisturizers.


New and Improved Daily Photoprotection by Surgery.org


  1. Shari says

    I, too, am searching for an all natural, chemical free sunscreen that my kids (ages 6 and 8), my husband and I can all use. I have searched on line and was wondering if you’ve heard of “UV Natural” sunscreens. They’re expensive but possible worth it (I’ve yet to purchase it…I’m still researching). I’d be curious to hear your opinion on this particular one or if you’ve found anything great to use!

  2. says

    UV Naturals sunscreens are great – they’re on my list of recommended sunscreens (see my article, http://www.e-vok.com/2457/2624.html) – but I am a little concerned about particle size. Zinc oxide needs to be micronized (pulverized) – otherwise it spreads on as a white cream. But many companies micronize to the point of nanoparticles, which can pass through cells. One of the reasons zinc oxide has been used “with no known adverse reactions” for so many years is because it sits on top of the skin. So particle size is important…and UV Naturals uses particles that are “on the larger end of the nano scale.” Smaller than I’d like, but still in my opinion better than any sunscreen with chemical sunblocks or titanium dioxide (which is also usually micronized to nanoparticle size).

    My top recommendations for sunscreen are Miessence Reflect Outdoor Balm, which uses microfine zinc oxide (measured in microns, not nanometers – a whole different ballgame) – available on my website http://www.organics4me.com – and Badger Sunscreens. Badger measures its zinc oxide in nanometers but I appreciate that they are straight about the particle size on their website (www.badgerbalm.com), and 100 nanometers is on the large size for nanoparticles. (Plus their formula includes ylang ylang, which I love.)

    BTW there’s a fantastic report about nanomaterials and sunscreens/cosmetics published by the Friends of the Earth Foundation available at http://www.foe.org/camps/comm/nanotech/index.html.

  3. kimberly says

    Does the author mean titanium dioxide? Also, I saw some zinc oxide in powder for at a store today, I was wondering can we some of this to our favorite organic moisturizer and use that for sunscreen. And if so how much? I’ll look at the Badger Sunblock also.

  4. Chayla says

    I too have been looking for sunscreens without Titanium Dioxide. You have to be carefull because this ingredient may not be listed in active ingredients (usually where I look most often in sunscreens, not so any more though).

    Alba Botanicals has some that are free of this chemical (I have been using this so far this summer on me and my kids and like it). I know people who use UV Naturals and swear by this brand.

    I don’t like anything with Titanium Dioxide and stear clear of it but apparently it’s only the micornized particles that are potenially dangerous. How are we, as consumers, supposed to know what size the particles are that go into these things.

    It’s disturbing!!!

  5. says

    Badger is very good stuff. Earlier this summer, I also found some zinc oxide only sunscreen on Etsy for half the price of Badger. It’s working well – no burns, and this even after I added some almond oil to it for better spread.

    I plan to make my own after I run out …just copy the ingredients of the sunscreen that was homemade from Etsy.

  6. mommy2katrina says

    I have been using Earth’s Best on my kids and I see that it contains both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Very frustrating! I also use Alba Botanica, which smells good and easy to use but now I see it is one that is chemical-based, and a powder sunscreen from Peter Thomas Roth, for our faces, because it is not greasy. What do you think of powder sunscreens? I really like it and it is easy to use but very expensive, and it seems like it isn’t as effective as lotion sunscreen. Maybe I’m not applying it heavily enough? It is so frustrating to me that there are so many personal care products out there that have all these harmful chemicals, even the ones that claim to be natural, especially when I have young children to think about.

  7. says

    You should check Simply Me Naturally (www.simplymenaturally.com) This is a zinc only sunscreen with coconut oil and coconut milk as the base, so your getting the benefits from all of it. A mild preservative is used as well. There are no other chemicals added. The particle size for the zinc is .24microns and not class as NANO. Economic too, concidering it is very concentrated and you would mix a little of your daily moisturizer or water with it for good spreadability. They also have great natural skincare products as well.


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