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Ingredient Spotlight: Zinc Oxide

As you may be aware, the FDA just this week announced new regulations that purport to enhance sunscreen efficacy and make it easier for consumers to navigate the confusing labeling system currently in place. Still, with changes in sunscreen regulations constantly coming down the pipeline, it's important for us to educate our clients on proper skin protection.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the various sunscreen ingredients – mineral vs. chemical – and what constitutes adequate protection. Consumers need to know about the dangers of chemical blockers and what natural alternatives are available, such as Zinc Oxide. If you're not up-to-speed on this wonder ingredient, read on.

What It Is
Zinc Oxide (ZnO) is an inorganic compound that typically appears as a white powder, nearly insoluble in water. The natural mineral form comes from the Earth's crust, but it can also be produced synthetically.

While it has almost countless uses (it serves as an additive in ceramics, glass, plastics, cement, pigments, food, and the list goes on), aesthetically it has been used as an alternative topical for hundreds of years for its non-irritating characteristics. Even today it is used to in baby powder, calamine cream and antiseptic ointments to treat various skin conditions. In our work, we may most commonly see zinc in sunscreen formulas, because it makes for a superb broad-spectrum blocker. Zinc is also an essential mineral for our bodies, and plays an important role in cell production, promotes healthy skin and hair, and boosts the immune system.

How It Works
Zinc works by forming a protective physical barrier over the skin to block the sun's rays – actually working as a natural reflective shield. This powerful mineral provides broad spectrum protection, which in turn reduces UVA-induced free-radical production in the deeper layers of the skin.

Why is zinc such a great protector? Unlike the chemical agents commonly used in mainstream sunscreen formulas, zinc oxide is not absorbed by the skin; rather it sits on the skin's surface, blocking both UVA and UVB rays, and as I mentioned it is also non-irritating and non-allergenic. Many of the chemicals used in today's sunscreens permeate the skin and have been linked to a number of side effects and the proliferation of cancerous cells.

Where to Find It
All of our sunscreen formulas are mineral-based – using zinc oxide. Though zinc sunscreen formulas have commonly been associated with the chalky, paste-like creams that leave a messy residue, we've uncovered new ways of using the mineral that allows for a transparent dispersion.

All of the sunscreens can also be blended with other formulas to create any desired consistency or result. For instance, to eliminate dryness or create a creamier feel, blend the Daytime Defense SPF 30 or eZinc Protection Cream with a dab of the Moisture Au Lait, Amino Peptide Moisturizer, Exotica Rhodiola Cream, or your favorite moisturizer. For men, blend the RAW EnviroProtect with the Complex VI hydrating serum. Of course, if you are after a tinted look, combine foundation or concealer with the sunscreen before applying it to the skin.

Educate clients on the importance of using a mineral-based, broad-spectrum blocker like zinc, and remind them to always opt for an SPF30 or higher. For more information on zinc oxide download the white papers for Daytime Defense SPF 30, eZinc Protection Cream or the RAW EnviroProtect.

Question: How do get your clients to use daily protection? Are they receptive to it?

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