Exploring Zinc Oxide Sunscreens: Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50

Thinksport has one of the highest percentages of zinc oxide I've seen: 20%. Let's take a closer look at the ingredients in this physical sunscreen.

I thought my lifelong search for the perfect facial sunscreen was over when I discovered Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face Sunscreen (SPF 50). I really do love this sunscreen, but I’m a bit concerned about its low concentration of active ingredients: 4% zinc oxide and 4% titanium dioxide. When I emailed the company to ask, Australian Gold said that it hasn’t applied for the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation, and has no plans to do so. So, as summer approaches, I’ve been on the hunt for a suitable physical sunscreen alternative to work into my everyday routine.

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 ingredients

Price: $12.99 for 3 oz. directly from Thinksport

Active Ingredient: Zinc Oxide 20% (Non-nano)

Inactive Ingredients: purified water, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, capric caprylic triglycerides, sorbitan stearate (coconut based), pine wood resin, vegetable glycerin, cetyl dimethicone, hydrogenated castor oil, magnesium sulfate (epsom salt), sunflower oil, jojoba oil, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), tocopherols (vitamin e), olive oil, raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, hyaluronic acid (made from vegetable), glucose & glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase, currant grapefruit

Noteworthy thoughts:

  • I love that it contains such a high percentage of zinc oxide!
  • It looks like this product tries to derive ingredients from natural sources and vegetables rather than animals wherever possible (e.g., vegetable glycerin and hyaluronic acid derived from vegetables).
  • Water-resistant up to 80 minutes
  • I like that it contains vitamins C and E, and hyaluronic acid, to help moisturize and protect from free radicals
  • Like Australian Gold, this product does not have the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation
  • The company also makes Kids and Baby versions of this sunscreen, with the exact same ingredients except for the last ingredient is Papaya

My Dad the Chemist’s take on Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 (and on “non-nano” zinc oxide)

I asked my dad for his thoughts on this list of sunscreen ingredients, and also asked him for his opinion on the term “non-nano” when applied to zinc oxide. Here’s what he had to say…

Dear Emily, this formula composed of mostly natural or naturally derived ingredients, I like the formula and hope it's stable throughout the usage (not breaking down, I.e, starts separating or viscosity changes over time)

You're correct, if company doesn't claim their Zinc Oxide is Non Nano, doesn't mean they are dangerous in this type of lotion application, because Zinc Oxide is the active ingredient as a sun block on the skin therefore there is no reason to formulate with Nano size of Zinc Oxide , it's not only more expensive but also the safety concern/impact. (it may penetrate through skin potentially or after drying out Zinc Oxide could be breathed.

Love,

Dad

So it looks like my dad likes this formula, although he is somewhat concerned about its ability to remain stable—maybe because it doesn’t contain ingredients that normally help not-so-natural sunscreens remain stable under various conditions.

Re: the non-nano claim, my dad thinks that there’s no reason not to use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide but doesn’t say that it’s “non-nano.” Furthermore, the FDA does not regulate who can and cannot say “non-nano” in their ingredient label, so we don’t have a way to verify these claims anyway.

TL;DR: It’s probably still safe to use zinc oxide products even if they don’t say anything about “non-nano”. We can hope that manufacturers don’t use zinc oxide nanoparticles, and we have two reasons to be hopeful:

  1. nanoparticles are more expensive, so manufacturers are less likely to use them
  2. nanoparticles may introduce some potential health concerns, such as being absorbed into the skin or inhaled.

However, we can’t always trust manufacturers to act in consumers’ best health interests, can we? I wonder if many BB or CC creams contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles? I imagine that it would probably help the product blend in more smoothly. And maybe this is also what makes these products so expensive?

I will definitely have to research this some more. I’m so intrigued by the idea of “non-nano” vs. nano-sized zinc oxide. Look out for more details in a future post.

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