I had a question from a reader this week about how to remove zinc sunscreen.
Now, zinc is a great ingredient for sunscreen. It’s non toxic, it’s not irritating and it works really well to physically block the sun’s rays and protect your skin. Zinc is water resistant, so it doesn’t sweat off easily. Which is great until you want to get it off!
I’ve been using zinc based creams for years, so I’ve got a few tips I can share.
Do you need to remove sunscreen?
If you’re using a good sunscreen, does it really matter if you leave it on after a day at the beach? Well, yes. It’s hot, you’re reapply sunscreen (or I hope you are!) and you’re trapping oil and dirt between the layers. Removing sunscreen properly means that you’re getting rid of dirt that could cause breakouts.
Do you need makeup remover for sunscreen?
Your sunscreen won’t wash off with water. Chemical sunscreens are oil soluble, and physical sunscreens are oil based, so you can just wash off sunscreen. But you don’t need a special sunscreen cleanser. I’ve always found that zinc sunscreen is easy to remove with my normal makeup remover. And for me, the best cleanser to remove sunscreen, is oil cleansing.
Pick an oil. You can use coconut oil to remove sunscreen, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, even olive oil works. Pour a little into the palm of your hand, then massage it all over your face. Leave it to soak in for a minute or two.
Grab a face washer, run it under some warm water, but not too hot. Wring it out, hold it over your face for around 10 seconds, and then gently wipe away the oil and the sunscreen.
Repeat if you need until all the sunscreen is gone.
I have never had as much success with a cream or gel based makeup remover. After a bit of reading around the interwebs, it seems that the oil grabs the zinc much more effectively than the water based cleansers.
If you like micellar water, remove waterproof sunscreen with this instead. The oils and surfactants in micellar water remove sunscreen just as well as oil cleansing.
Another great tip that I heard is to use a facial wipe to remove zinc sunscreen. You don’t need special sunscreen remover wipes, just a good natural face wipe with good oils, like the Wotnot or JAK organic ones.
How to remove zinc oxide sunscreen from your body
While oil cleansing is perfect to remove zinc sunscreen from your face, it’s not so simple for your body. For a start, rinsing off a whole lot of oil in the shower is going to make things mighty slippy.
Instead, I recommend rinsing off in warm water, then lathering up with a natural soap. I use Dr Bronner’s for just about everything, so I know this works well. I’ve also been using (and loving) The Base Collective’s White Tea & Magnesium Hand and Body Wash.
Get a good lather going, then rub gently with a face washer. For really stubborn zinc, you can try using a soap with a gentle scrub, like Washpool Farm’s Rosemary & Mint Loofah Bar, Sea Salt & Madder Root Bar, or the Coffee, Mint & Sea Salt Scrub Bar.
Or pop a normal bar soap into a sisal soap holder or body glove for easy all over exfoliation.
The wipes trick will work here, too. Choose a good natural baby wipe and give yourself a swipe over. Then shower as normal. This should make it a lot easier to get the zinc off your body.
If you’ve still got stubborn patches, try the oil trick and use a hot face washer.
Removing zinc from your facewashers
And finally, you will get a build up of zinc on your facewashers after a while. The best way to remove this is to pop your face washers into a hot wash. Run them through once with no laundry detergent. Instead, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash.
You can do this with your towels at the same time so that you have a full wash, if you like. They’ll be more absorbent afterwards, too.
How to remove zinc sunscreen from clothes
If you’ve wondering how to get zinc off clothes after a day at the beach, I’ve got a few tips for that, too.
- scrap off any excess sunscreen and apply baking soda to the stain
- brush off with your hand after 24 hours
- treat it with your normal laundry stain remover, or a bit of dilute laundry detergent. Leave overnight
- wash the fabric as normal, and pop in a bit of oxygen based natural laundry bleach
- let it air dry
Make sure not to tumble dry the clothes until you’re sure that the stain is out. If the stain still hasn’t gone once the clothing is dry, you’ll need to do the treatment again.
I find that this is the best way of removing zinc sunscreen from clothes.
How do you remove zinc sunscreen? Let us know if you’ve got any other tips!
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Great advice, thank you. Any tips for removing it from a baby/toddler?
Hi Sara, for a baby or toddler I’d definitely do the oil thing first. Just a light layer of oil, and let it soak in for a minute or two. Lather up the skin with some gentle baby soap like Dr Bronner’s unscented, and then very gently wipe away with a soft facewasher and warm water. I’ve done this in the past with toddlers and facepaint, too! Vanessa xx