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How to wash off zinc oxide sunscreen from your face, body and more!

How to wash off zinc oxide sunscreen from your face, body and more!

We had a reader ask about the how-tos of removing zinc oxide sunscreen. Now, zinc oxide is a type of mineral sunscreen (also called "natural sunscreen" or "physical sunscreen"). Mineral sunscreens are non-toxic and not irritating. They also work well to block the sun's rays and protect your skin physically. Zinc is water insoluble, so it doesn’t sweat off easily. That’s great—until you want to get it off!

We've been using zinc-based creams for years. We have a few tips we can share, like how to remove or wash off sunscreen stains from clothes and skin.

Why you need to remove sunscreen from your face

What happens when you don’t wash off 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 reapplying sunscreen (or we hope you are!), and you’re trapping oil and dirt between the layers. Properly removing sunscreen means that you’re getting rid of the dirt and dead skin cells that could cause breakouts and skin irritation.

Further Reading: Shopping Guide to Natural Sunscreen

Tip 1: you can use a makeup remover for sunscreen on your face

Your sunscreen won't wash off with water or simple water based cleanser. Chemical sunscreens are oil soluble, and physical sunscreens are oil based, so you can wash off sunscreen with a cleansing oil. But you don't need a special sunscreen cleanser. We've always found that zinc sunscreen is easy to remove with just regular makeup remover. For us, the best cleanser to remove sunscreen is oil cleansing.

Double cleansing is highly effective for thoroughly removing sunscreen and makeup, ensuring your skin is completely clean. The first step uses an oil based cleanser to dissolve makeup and impurities, followed by a water based cleanser to remove any residue and clean deep into the pores.

To remember how to wash off zinc sunscreen, using an oil-based cleanser such as coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or even olive oil is important. Pour a little oil 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.

We 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. Using a facial cleanser with surfactants is also crucial, as it helps dissolve oil and surround the broken-down sunscreen and dirt for easy removal with water.

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 we 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 ones or wipe off with oil based cleansers using soft facial pads.

Further Reading: Best Natural Sunscreen Cheat Sheet

Tip 2: consider using these products to remove sunscreen from your body

Are you still figuring out how to wash off zinc oxide sunscreen effectively? 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 lot of oil in the shower will make things mighty slippery. However, an oil cleanser can be highly effective in removing excess oil, makeup, sebum, and heavy sunscreen from the body, much like it does for the face. Oil cleansers can be more efficient than other methods in breaking down stubborn sunscreen.

Instead, we recommend rinsing off in warm water and lathering up with a natural soap. We use Dr. Bronner's for just about everything, so we know this works well. We also recommend the Noosa Basics Body & Hand Wash - Rosalina & Lavender. Get a good lather going, then rub gently with a face wash.

If you're dealing with particularly stubborn zinc sunscreen, consider using a soap with a gentle scrub. Products like Downunder Wash Co's Ruffy Cleansing & Exfoliating Bar Soap - Body Buff or The ANSC Solid Soap - Peppermint & Pumice can be effective. Alternatively, you can place a regular bar soap in 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. But if you’ve still got stubborn patches, try the oil trick and use a hot face washer to ensure all sunscreen residue is removed, allowing your skin to breathe and repair overnight.

Tip 3: remove zinc sunscreen using face washers

You'll also get a build up of zinc on your face washers after a while. Removing sunscreen stains is doable, and 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.

Tip 4: how to remove sunscreen residue stains from clothes

Are you still wondering how to remove sunscreen from clothes after a day at the beach? We've got a few tips for that, too.

  1. Scrape off any excess sunscreen and apply baking soda to the stain.
  2. Brush off with your hand after 24 hours.
  3. Treat it with your normal laundry stain remover or a bit of diluted laundry detergent. Leave overnight.
  4. Wash the fabric as normal, and pop in a bit of oxygen based natural laundry bleach.
  5. Allow the clothing to air dry after washing to ensure the stain is fully gone.

Make sure not to tumble dry the clothes until you're sure that the stain is out. If it still hasn't gone once the clothing is dry, you'll need to do the treatment again. We find that it's the best way of removing sunscreen stains from clothing.

Effective ways to wash off and remove mineral sunscreen

You can remove zinc sunscreen from your skin and clothes in many different ways. But it’s still important to note that some methods are more effective than others. If you’re in a hurry, baby wipes or a damp cloth will do the trick. If you have more time, an oil-based cleanser will help remove the sunscreen more completely. Be sure to wipe it well and avoid getting sunscreen in your eyes. Effective cleansing is crucial to remove mineral sunscreens and prevent skin issues. Removing mineral sunscreen properly helps maintain healthy and vibrant skin.

For sensitive skin and acne-prone skin, it is important to use gentle products that cleanse effectively without causing irritation or breakouts.

Do you have any other tips on how to remove zinc sunscreen? Let us know if you’ve got more!

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