Why use a Non-Nano Particle Zinc Oxide?

June 12, 2018

Zinc oxide is a powdered mineral that sits on top of the skin, scattering, reflecting, and absorbing UVA & UVB rays. Although zinc oxide is the safest and most effective active sunscreen ingredient, the best protection from the sun is to seek shade and cover up with clothes and a hat. All Coco Bee Naturals sunscreen products use pharmaceutical grade uncoated Non-Nano Zinc Oxide as their only active ingredient.

What is zinc oxide?

Zinc oxide is the metal zinc that has been oxidized. The chemical formula is ZnO, 1 zinc atom and 1 oxygen atom held together by an ionic bond. Zinc oxide does occur in nature as the mineral zincite, but it is quite rare and commercially unavailable.

Coco Bee sunscreens are often called ‘chemical free sunscreens’. Isn’t zinc oxide just another chemical?

The term ‘chemical-free sunscreens’ is commonly used to describe ‘physical’ or ‘mineral’ sunscreens, those that use the minerals zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide as their only active ingredients. Conversely ‘chemical sunscreens’ use only non-mineral, or chemical, active ingredients such as oxybenzone, oxtinoxate, and octisalate.

Zinc oxide is a mineral that does not dissolve into our sunscreens and does not absorb into your skin and we consider it to be significantly different than the synthetic sunscreen chemicals that only work by absorbing into your skin. ‘Chemical-free sunscreens’ is a commonly used term to describe mineral sunscreens.

What is the zinc oxide nanoparticle controversy about anyway?

The nanoparticle controversy stems from the potential health risks caused by nanoparticles if they were to enter the human body. When a substance is so small that it is measured in nanometers (1 to 100 billionths of a meter), the surface area to volume ratio is so great that the actual properties of the substance may change.

Comprehensive scientific reviews show that nano-particles of zinc oxide greater than 30nm do not exhibit properties any different than those of larger non-nano sized particles. Science overwhelmingly shows that particles of zinc oxide greater than 30nm, when applied to the skin in a lotion or cream based product, do not get absorbed into the body, do not enter the bloodstream, and are not a threat to human health. There are no studies showing that nanoparticles of zinc oxide can penetrate healthy human skin, whereas chemical sunscreen ingredients, which are molecular in size and thus significantly smaller than nanoparticles, are designed to be absorbed into the skin, and thereby they can get into the blood. The biggest concern with nanoparticles in cosmetics is the threat of inhalation when they are used in powders and sprays. This is not a concern when the zinc oxide is dispersed in a cream or lotion base. Even the Environmental Working Group recommends the use of nano-sized mineral sunscreens over chemical sunscreens.

Why does Coco Bee use non-nano zinc oxide?

We use non-nano zinc oxide because we discovered a new way of working with larger particle zinc oxide that makes our sunscreens just as effective while using less zinc oxide. Our sunscreens are now even less whitening than when we used the smaller particles.

What does uncoated zinc oxide mean?

Many sunscreens use zinc oxide particles that have been coated with an inert substance. The reasons for coating zinc oxide particles are usually to make them less reactive, and to make them easier to mix with the other ingredients. The zinc oxide we use in all our sunscreens is uncoated pharmaceutical grade zinc oxide, the same kind used in calamine lotion and diaper rash cream. We know that uncoated zinc oxide is somewhat more photo-reactive than coated zinc oxide, but we believe that this is not a health risk.

Are there any health risks with zinc oxide?

Zinc oxide, like most powders, can be a health risk if inhaled. This is not a concern with zinc oxide in cream and lotion-based sunscreens. Zinc oxide can also be photo-reactive, meaning that UV exposure can generate reactive oxygen species, or free radicals, which can damage living cells.

How does zinc oxide work as a sunscreen?

Zinc oxide is one of only 17 active ingredients currently approved by the FDA for use in sunscreens. Upon application, zinc oxide particles sit on the outermost layer of your skin, the stratum corneum, where they scatter, absorb, and reflect ultraviolet radiation, protecting your living skin below. Zinc oxide is unique among sunscreen ingredients in that it is truly a broad-spectrum blocker, protecting from UVA, UVB, and even UVC. Titanium dioxide is another mineral active ingredient you may see in other brands’ sunscreens. While it protects from UVB rays very well it does not protect from UVA as well as zinc oxide does.

Why does Coco Bee Naturals use zinc oxide as the only active ingredient?

We’ve determined that zinc oxide is the safest, most effective active sunscreen ingredient available. It also stands alone in that it is a truly effective, single-ingredient, broad spectrum blocker, meaning that it protects from UVA, UVB, and even UVC rays. It also has a time tested safety record having been used in other topical drugs such as calamine lotion and diaper cream for a long time.

Why doesn’t every sunscreen just use minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide instead of chemicals?

You have to use a lot of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide to get an SPF 30. This makes these mineral sunscreens expensive and whitening, so not everyone likes it. Have you noticed how much less expensive chemical based sunscreens are compared to mineral sunscreens? We feel that peace of mind is worth the additional cost and a little whitening on the skin.

What does Coco Bee Naturals think about chemical sunscreens?

We don’t like them. We are concerned about the potential toxic effects of the chemicals when they enter the body. Oxybenzone, for example, is in about 60% of sunscreens sold in the US. The US Center for Disease Control found that 97% of Americans have oxybenzone in their blood. This ingredient has been shown to disrupt normal hormone functions and some health professionals are recommending that products containing this ingredient not be used on babies and kids. We are particularly concerned with the ‘continuous spray’ chemical sunscreens that are becoming so popular, mainly because of the risk of inhalation. We are also a Reef Safe brand!

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