GET TO KNOW, NON-NANO
Why Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Sunscreen is Your Best Bet for the Beach
When you’re hitting the beach, you may just throw any old sunscreen into your bag. But did you know that some sunscreens can be harmful to marine life? To help protect the ocean’s delicate ecosystem, you’ll want to go with a non-nano zinc oxide formula like new Wear SPF Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Sunscreen. Experts consider these formulas to be the safest for ocean life, so read on to get in the know about non-nano.
What Is Zinc Oxide?
First, let’s talk about zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a powdered mineral that’s one of the main active ingredients in many mineral sunscreens. It sits on top of your skin, rather than soaking in like chemical sunscreens, and protects you by scattering, absorbing, and reflecting the sun’s rays. (Read more about chemical vs. mineral sunscreens here.)
It’s considered a broad-spectrum sunblock because it’s effective against both UVA and UVB rays. (Titanium dioxide, another mineral ingredient found in mineral sunscreens, is not as effective against UVA rays.)
What Are the Benefits of Zinc Oxide?
Because they form a barrier on skin’s surface, zinc oxide sunscreens are better for sensitive or acne-prone skin than chemical-based formulas, which use chemical filters to absorb UV rays before they reach your skin (and can be potentially irritating).
Plus, zinc oxide isn’t just effective at blocking the sun’s harmful rays—it’s actually good for your skin. It’s known to help prevent redness and inflammation and have a soothing effect. It’s even used in diaper creams because of its safety and effectiveness on the most delicate skin.
Another benefit of zinc oxide sunscreens is that they offer protection as soon as they’re applied, as they do not need additional time to soak into skin.
What Is Non-Nano Zinc Oxide?
We know zinc oxide is a safe, effective sunscreen option—but not all zinc oxide sunscreens are created equal.
Nano comes from the Greek word “nanos,” which means “dwarf”—and nanoparticles are, therefore, extremely small. Specifically, nanoparticles are those smaller than 100 nanometers, while non-nano particles are 100 nanometers or larger.
The nanoparticles used in many mineral sunscreens are as small as 10-20 nanometers, which means they can be more easily absorbed into skin. That’s something humans might prefer, but it can be potentially deadly for marine life. Non-nano zinc oxide contains larger particles, which means they’re not absorbed by skin or marine life.
How Can Sunscreen Harm Marine Life?
When you apply chemical or traditional mineral sunscreens before swimming in the ocean, they can come off in the water. The tiny nanoparticles found in these formulas are small enough to be ingested by marine animals including coral. This causes the deterioration of coral reefs, and can lead to coral bleaching, a process that causes coral to turn white and even die.
Coral reefs are a vital part of the ocean’s ecosystem, helping marine life grow and live, so it’s critical to preserve them. In fact, chemical sunscreens including the active ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate have even been recently banned in places like Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands because of their negative effects on reefs.
Why Is Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Preferable?
Non-nano zinc oxide does not dissolve in seawater when it comes off skin, but instead rapidly settles to the seafloor and becomes part of the sediment. Therefore, non-nano zinc oxide is considered marine and reef safe because it does not damage or adversely affect wildlife or water habitats or the animals that use them.
However, the term “reef safe” is not regulated, so you can’t always trust that label when you see it. Your best bet is to check the ingredients yourself, and make sure no reef-harming chemicals are included, and that the formula contains non-nano zinc oxide.
Should I Stop Using Other Kinds of Sunscreen?
You don’t have to toss any sunscreen you own that doesn’t use non-nano zinc oxide. But you should choose your sunscreen carefully based on your activities. If you’re hitting the beach and swimming in the ocean, you should only use non-nano zinc oxide formulas. But, for daily use, you can still use chemical or mineral sunscreens that use nanoparticles for their lightweight, fast-absorbing texture.
The bottom line is that you should stock up on all different kinds of sunscreen for different occasions—and luckily, Wear SPF has a range of formulas to satisfy every need.