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Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide

We all understand protecting ourselves from the sun is important for our skin health, but with so much conflicting information out there, how do we know which products do the best job? 

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two of the most widely used sunscreen ingredients, but how they work isn’t general knowledge. If chemistry isn’t your forte, we’re here to break it down for you. In this article, we’ll be explaining what these ingredients are, how they work, and whether they’re good for your skin.


What Are Zinc Oxide And Titanium Dioxide?  

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two types of natural ingredients used in “physical sunscreen”. 

Physical sunscreen, or mineral sunscreen, is made from natural ingredients which sit on the skin’s surface. They act as a shield, bouncing the sun’s rays off the skin.

Chemical sunscreen meanwhile, uses a combination of chemical ingredients that deactivate sunlight, converting UV rays into heat.

Dermatologists widely recommend that we choose physical sunscreen over chemical sunscreen for the following reasons:

  • It lasts longer than chemical sunscreen.
  • It is gentler on the skin and won’t clog pores.
  • It works immediately on application (chemical sunscreen doesn’t work for around 20 minutes).

What Do They Do?

In order to understand how zinc oxide and titanium dioxide work, we first need to get to the bottom of how the sun’s UV (ultraviolet) rays operate. 

There are three different types of UV rays, UVA, UVB, and UVC. The two we most need to worry about are UVA and UVB, as UVC is filtered out by the atmosphere before it can make it to the Earth’s surface. 

  • UVA rays are able to deeply penetrate our skin, damaging cells and leading to premature ageing. 
  • UVB rays don’t penetrate as deeply, only reaching the skin’s surface. These are the rays that can cause sunburn and ultimately, skin cancer. 

In order to protect ourselves from both UVA and UVB rays, a “broad-spectrum” or “full-spectrum” sunscreen is needed. While there are a number of natural ingredients that can shield skin from either UVA or UVB rays, there are only two ingredients that can do both – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Top tip: An easy way to remember which UV ray is responsible for an outcome is, UVA(geing) and UVB(urning).


Who Can Benefit From Using Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide?

Ultimately, we all need to be using sunscreen daily, particularly during the warmer months, but choosing the right sunscreen is an important part of the process. Which natural ingredient is best suited for your skin will depend on your skin’s sensitivity and tone.

Zinc oxide has slightly larger particles which create a slightly opaque white sheen on the skin. This makes it ideal for pale skin, as it creates a nice, even coverage, so is often used in SPF makeup products. It’s also great for those with oily skin or acne, as it has natural antimicrobial properties and is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores. Zinc oxide is also the most effective natural ingredient against both UVA and UVB rays.

Titanium dioxide has smaller particles and doesn’t leave a milky sheen, which makes it ideal for darker complexions. For this reason, it’s often used as an ingredient in cosmetics as it can offer protection without diluting the colour. Like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide is non-comedogenic, but it’s also very gentle on the skin, making it great for oily and sensitive skin alike.


What Products Contain Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide?

At allbeauty, we stock a wide range of products that include both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. While titanium dioxide is the more common of the two, increasingly, beauty brands are combining both ingredients in order to get the superior protection of zinc oxide and the gentle, invisible coverage of titanium dioxide

Here are a few of our top-selling sun protection products:

Sun Protection

Ultrasun Anti-Ageing Sun Protection For Sensitive Skin SPF50+ – Zinc oxide only

With a combination of antioxidants and natural minerals, this face cream protects your skin against the sun’s rays while restoring moisture and reducing the appearance of wrinkles. 

Perricone MD Face Finishing & Firming Tinted Moisturizer SPF30Titanium dioxide only

For an all-in-one moisturiser that boasts sun protection and light coverage, look no further than this best-seller from Perricone. Suitable for all skin types.

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