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Zinc Oxide: Is this something we should worry about?

Suzanne Price

As summer approaches and people are concerned about sunscreens, we have been getting questions about zinc oxide. People seem to be concerned that it can contain nano particles, and I was not sure I understood the concern and if it's really about the zinc itself or the nano aspect. I decided to ask our most respected source, Dr. Philip Landrigan, Director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai Hospital. Here is his response...

"Zinc oxide itself is a perfectly benign compound.

Nano particles are tiny manufactured - not natural - particles that by definition are no greater than 1 nanometer in diameter. Health concerns about nanoparticles are still at an early stage but are growing. These concerns are based on the fact that nanoparticles by virtue of their small size can penetrate the skin from sunscreen and other cosmetics to enter the bloodstream and then can get into the heart, brain and other organs. The health effects - if any - of nanoparticles in these organs are largely unknown, but it is worrisome that cosmetics containing nanoparticles are coming into increasingly wide use and yet the nanoparticles have not been assessed for their potential health effects.

Because nanoparticles are a manmade and not a natural product, zinc oxide sunscreen will not contain nanoparticles unless they are deliberately introduced into the formulation."

This is a relief to us at Sprout, as our sunscreens do not contain nano particles. Often, people complain that natural sunscreens sit on top of the skin and don't rub in well. We believe that it is better to have sunscreen as a barrier than as something that could be creating a biological reaction within the skin. 

See our top sunscreen choices here

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