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Why You Should Use Zinc in Your Skincare Regimen

The skin-soothing, sun-protecting ingredient your beauty routine didn’t know it needed.
By Natasha Marsh

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Note: All content and information in this article are for information purposes only. You should consult a medical professional prior to starting new skincare regimens.

For most of us, zinc conjures up images of lifeguards, who slather the white stuff on their noses to shield against UV rays. But experts say that zinc does far more than protect skin from the sun. Some of the superpowers that have been associated with this nutrient include helping to minimize the appearance of pesky acne, reduce the appearance of redness, and generally calm skin. To learn more about this underrated beauty hero, we tapped Dr. Barbara Sturm, founder and CEO of the eponymous beauty brand. Read on to get the inside scoop on zinc’s benefits, as well as discover how to incorporate the all-star ingredient into your skincare routine.

What Is Zinc?

According to Dr. Sturm, “zinc is a trace material composed of more than 200 enzymes and proteins and is essential for their stability and function.” Usually, UV rays from sunlight stimulate enzymes that break down collagen and elastin in the skin–leading to premature aging. “Zinc counteracts this process by reducing the production of these enzymes after UV exposure,” Dr. Sturm explains.

Applied topically, zinc helps to soothe the skin, and acts as a physical barrier to UV light. “Unlike chemical sunscreens which absorb into the skin, it sits on the surface, and deflects the sun’s rays, providing instant protection against any sun damage,” Dr. Sturm continues. But the benefits don’t stop there. “Zinc ions have a slight antibacterial and astringent effect, which can balance sebum production and help refine the complexion.” Translation: a potentially brighter, more even skin tone.

Zinc Works For All Skin Types

Those with sensitive skin will be fans of zinc’s powerful UV-protection qualities. Used in high-performing sunscreens, zinc reflects the sun’s rays and blocks UV penetration into the skin—aiding in protection against sun damage. “Zinc compounds can also be used to prevent skin aging, as they act as antioxidants and counteract collagen degradation by UV radiation,” Dr. Sturm adds. (Note: alert your doctor if you experience any side effects.)

How To Add Zinc Into Your Skincare Regimen

Zinc is a compelling addition to any beauty routine. “It’s incredibly effective when combined with vitamin C [or other antioxidants] to facilitate absorption, and has wound healing properties,” Dr. Sturm says. As for products containing zinc: you can find zinc-infused sunscreens, as well as clarifying cleansers, moisturizers, and serums in certain clarifying formulas, such as Dr. Sturm’s own. If you have a zinc deficiency, zinc supplements are great for the immune system. Dr. Sturm recommends applying a zinc-based product twice daily for acne-prone skin, and once nightly for antioxidant benefits and to reduce the appearance of signs of aging. For sunscreen, apply throughout the day. Trust us, your skin will thank you for the zinc boost.