How to wash off zinc oxide sunscreen from your face, body and more!
Apr 05, 2022
I had a question from a reader about how to wash off zinc oxide sunscreen. Now, zinc is a great ingredient for sunscreen. It's non toxic and not irritating. It also 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. That's 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, like how to remove sunscreen stains from clothes and from your 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 I 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 that could cause breakouts.
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. Chemical sunscreens are oil soluble, and physical sunscreens are oil based. So you can’t 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. I've done a bit of reading around the interwebs. And it seems that the oil grabs the zinc much more effectively than the water based cleansers.
Also, does micellar water remove zinc sunscreen? Yes, it does! The oils and surfactants in micellar water remove sunscreen just as well as oil cleansing.
Another great tip I heard is to use a facial wipe to remove zinc sunscreen. You don't need special sunscreen remover wipes. Just use a good natural face wipe with good oils, like the Wotnot or JAK organic ones.
Further Reading: Best Natural Sunscreen Cheat Sheet
Tip 2: consider using these products to remove sunscreen from your body
While oil cleansing is perfect for removing 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.
For really stubborn zinc, you can try using a soap with a gentle scrub like ANSC’s Peppermint & Pumice. You can also try Viva La Body’s Lavender Scrub Soap, which has walnut shells for natural exfoliation. Or pop a normal bar soap into a sisal 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 take a shower. The wipes should make it a lot easier when removing the zinc off of your body. But if you've still got stubborn patches, try the oil trick and use a hot face washer.
Tip 3: remove zinc sunscreen using facewashers
You’ll also get a build up of zinc on your facewashers 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 afterward, too.
Tip 4: how to remove sunscreen stains from clothes
- Scrape 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 diluted laundry detergent. Leave overnight.
- Wash the fabric as normal, and pop in a bit of oxygen based natural laundry bleach.
- Remove zinc oxide from clothing by letting it air dry.
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. I find that it's the best way of removing sunscreen stains from clothing.
Effective ways to wash off zinc oxide 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.
Do you have any other tips on how to remove zinc sunscreen? Let us know if you've got more!