Skincare FAQ

Ingredient Explained: Zinc

  • A potent antioxidant and skin soother
  • Photostable, absorbs UV rays, shielding skin against sun damage
  • Non-comedogenic and non-sensitizing
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation, evening skin tone

Zinc is a trace Earth-derived mineral that the body can’t synthesize. As such, the ideal way to get most of the zinc skin benefits is by topical application and oral supplementation (lentils, nuts, eggs, rice, oats). Now, here’s how zinc can improve your skin.

Zinc for acne

Often used in products that address acneic skin types, zinc does wonders for breakout-prone folks for a few reasons. Foremost, zinc is both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, reducing inflamed pimples and redness while preventing bacteria from clogging the pores. Plus, zinc accelerates wound healing, making it one of the go-tos for rosacea, eczema, and acne. Oral zinc is also effective for inflammatory and bacterial acne.[1]

Besides, some evidence suggests acne might be somewhat associated with a reduced zinc supply in the body. The reason is linked to zinc’s ability to minimize sebum production. 

Zinc for sun protection

Wanna know why zinc is the selling pitch for lots of physical sunscreens — the ones that sit on top of the skin? It’s due to zinc’s photostable nature and ability to absorb UVA and UVB rays. Zinc act as a physical barrier to UV beams, protecting skin against sun damage. Plus, zinc is an antioxidant, meaning it defends against free radical damage that can lead to premature skin aging.[2]

Zinc for skin discolorations

Lesser known is zinc’s ability to diminish hyperpigmentation and lighten skin tone by suppressing melanocyte stimulating factors.

Melanocytes are responsible for melanin production (that gives skin dark pigment), and when these are stimulated, it leads to dark patches apparition. What zinc does is hinder the activity of melanocytes that can increase melanin levels, hence, preventing skin from darkening.[3] And if that weren’t enough, zinc also inhibits tyrosinase activity, which in turn reduces melanin production.

Zinc for firm skin

Collagen is produced by zinc-dependent enzymes (collagenases). Consequently, zinc is a key element in type 1 and 3 collagen and collagen cross-linking that gives collagen stability and durability. What does this mean? Topical zinc firms skin and increases its elasticity while speeding up wound healing.[4]

references
  1. Decker A, Graber EM. Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012
  2. Elizabeth F. Rostan, MD, Holly V. DeBuys, MD, Doren L. Madey, PhD, and Sheldon R. Pinnell, MD, Evidence supporting zinc as an important antioxidant for skin
  3. Ochiai Y, Kaburagi S, Okano Y, Masaki H, Ichihashi M, Funasaka Y, Sakurai H. A Zn(II)-glycine complex suppresses UVB-induced melanin production by stimulating metallothionein expression.
  4. Lansdown AB, Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, Scanlon E, Agren MS. Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound Repair Regen. 2007
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