Suncare’s Secret Weapon: Zinc Oxide

by Michelle Li

We all know how important sun care is. If you’ve done your research on SPF, chances are, you’ll have noticed an ingredient on the back of many sunscreens: Zinc Oxide. So, what makes zinc oxide sunscreen different from other forms of SPF? 

As you may already know, sunscreens come in both chemical and physical types. Chemical sunscreen works by penetrating into skin’s layers and acts like a sponge, absorbing UV light and transforming it into non-damaging heat. 

On the other hand, physical sunscreens stay on the surface of the skin, and form a barrier between your skin and UV light - that’s where zinc oxide comes in. Zinc oxide is known for being a tried-and-true sun-care ingredient for its efficiency in filtering UV light, while being gentle and safe for sensitive skin. So, let’s get into why exactly this mineral is such a superpower when it comes to sun protection, so much so that you’ll even find it in other skincare products.

Broad Spectrum Defence

Torriden Dive IN Mild Sun Cream

If you’ve noticed our sticker ‘Broad Spectrum’ on any HIKOCO-stocked sunscreen and wondered what it meant, look no further. Even if a sunscreen has a high SPF, if it isn’t broad spectrum, you won’t be protected from all the harmful light rays. Broad spectrum indicates protection against two forms of UV radiation - UVA and UVB light. Zinc oxide, being a mineral, has one of the broadest coverages among all skincare ingredients on the market as it defends against infrared and blue light, on top of those harsh UVA and UVB radiations. 

Healing Properties

Zinc oxide contains many anti-inflammatory properties that support skin healing. This comes from the ingredient’s antiseptic properties that facilitate skin regeneration. With these soothing abilities, zinc oxide can be beneficial for those who struggle with conditions like acne or eczema. Combined with hydrators like hyaluronic acid, the healing properties in zinc are so effective, you’ll see it in other skincare products too, just like the Round Lab Eye Cream!

Sensitive Skin-Friendly

Dr. G Green Mild Sun+

As I mentioned earlier, zinc oxide doesn’t penetrate into the skin's layer, lessening the chances of breakouts. This is opposed to chemical filters, where they need to be absorbed into the skin to combat UV rays by generating heat - a process that may irritate sensitive skin. As zinc oxide won’t reach the bloodstream, combined with its soothing effects, it is well-tolerated by even those with the most sensitive of skin types.

FYI: most zinc-oxide based SPF is sensitive skin safe, but products that say ‘mild’ are formulated with extra care to ensure it’s super gentle!

Quick & Efficient


Many sunscreens need 20-30 minutes to absorb before exposure to direct sunlight for full effectiveness. However, because zinc oxide is a physical blocker, it is effective upon application and does not need time waiting - perfect for our ‘out the doors’!

In a nutshell, zinc oxide is a powerful multitasker against harmful sun rays. Its broad protection against all sorts of UV rays, combined with its gentle and soothing properties, makes this ingredient a holy grail suncare ingredient.

Cover Photo: Cosmopolitan Middle East

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