Does your sunscreen contain nanoparticles?

Keys Solar Rx SPF30+ Sunblock

And more importantly, do you know?

The regular sunscreen I’m using, Keys Solar Rx SPF30+, contains nano zinc oxide. I’ve been using it with a clear knowledge that there are some controversy regarding their safety level and despite having written that skincare containing such ingredients should be avoided. I know I am shooting myself in the foot but well, I can’t make up my mind especially since nothing conclusive has been reached about their safety. But at the least, I know what it contains because apparently, some sunscreens makers haven’t been as truthful.

Is your sunscreen on the list?
Nanoparticles in mineral-based sunscreens are more widespread than it appears to be according to this report sunscreen particles prove to be big issue. According to the report, Consumer Reports commissioned tests of five brands of sunscreen that company representatives stated did not contain nano-size particles of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Four of them, all labeled natural or organic, actually did contain nanoparticles and these are:
- Aubrey Organics Natural Sun SPF 25 Green Tea Protective Sunscreen
- Badger SPF 30 Sunscreen
- Kiss My Face SPF 30+ Sun Screen with oat protein complex
- Mexitan SPF 30 Sunscreen

So if any of you are using these sunscreens and are not aware of the nano-ingredients, now you know. Actually I’m kind of surprised that Badger SPF30 Sunscreen is on the list because I remember the product does leave a bit of white residue upon application. If it contains nanoparticles of zinc oxide, then it should be entirely clear when rubbed on the skin.

What’s wrong with nanoparticles in sunscreen?
While the advantage is that they are great cosmetically, lab studies indicated that nano-ingredients in sunscreen create free radicals that damage the DNA of cells, and even low exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide can damage the lungs of animals if inhaled. However, for them to pose direct health risks to humans, they have to penetrate the protective outer layers of dead skin and studies suggest they don’t reach live tissue under normal circumstances.

But if you’re someone with sensitive skin or acne-proned skin, then you want to be careful because the same article quoted Kristen Kulinowski, director of the International Council on Nanotechnology as saying that “It’s not known whether skin damaged by acne, eczema, sunburn, or nicks from shaving is more vulnerable to penetration.”

So to use sunscreens with nanoparticles or not, you have to decide for yourself. However, it isn’t fair if you do not even know what it really contains in the first place.

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Blog editor of Viva Woman, Sesame is a skin care addict who is fond of using natural & organic beauty products. She also enjoys ogling at handmade jewelry & cute stationery.



  1. I’d read about nano particles being bad so I usually steer clear of skincare with nano in its name. I’m not familiar with the names of sunscreen you mentioned but its good to bear in mind. Thanks!

    ParisB: I’m torned. I love zinc oxide but I hate it when it makes me all white. So I’m using one with nano zinc oxide. But I’m comforted on the grounds that they’re all saying it shouldn’t create harm under normal circumstances.

  2. i am just going to taje the chance… haiz… nothing is 100% safe.

    Faeryberry: Yeah, that’s why it all depends on our threshold.

  3. Here is some info on nanotech in makeup, which is a health hazard for teens and women and highly not recommended, even in ‘mineral’ makeups.

    This one is a rather long research on nano tech in sunscreen, from my conclusion, it depends on the brand and how much of the nano tech is involved, equivalent to russian roulette. Do avoid ‘mineral’ based sun-screen. Link.

    cowsandlemonade: Yeah, it’s not recommended for mineral makeup. The breathing of it is a danger for our lungs. I will need to give more thoughts about continuing with the sunscreen once it runs out but I won’t avoid mineral sunscreens as of now since not all of them contains nano-ingredients.

  4. Hello VivaWoman,

    Thank you for your recent article regarding nanoparticles in sunscreens. This is an important topic, and Badger is happy to be a part of the discussion.

    Let me start by saying that Badger is in full support of Consumer Reports request of the FDA to further study the safety of the myriad of nano-sized particles now being introduced into food, drugs and cosmetics. We are also in support of manufacturers declaring, on their packaging, the presence of nano-sized particles in their products.

    The Badger SPF 30 mentioned in the Consumer Reports article does contain some nanoparticles. The Consumer Reports article implied that the companies called were somehow trying to deceive their customers. I don’t think that was the case.

    A customer service representative at Badger did say, in answer to the question, “Does your SPF product contain nanoparticles?” “No. Our sunscreen uses ‘Micronized Zinc’ that stays on the surface of the skin and is not absorbed.” They should have answered, “Yes. Our sunscreen uses ‘Micronized Zinc’ that stays on the surface of the skin and is not absorbed.” – that was our mistake, and certainly not an attempt to deceive.

    “Micronized zinc” means zinc particles measured in microns (another unit of measurement). At the time of the call, our web site clearly described Badger’s use of nano-sized particles of zinc oxide in our sunscreen, and our reasons for doing so. Our customer service rep did their best to answer the question correctly. It was not “intent to deceive”.

    For the record, the US Government defines a nanoparticle as a solid particle between 1 and 100nm (nanometers, or billionths of a meter). Badger uses micronized zinc oxide with average and median particle sizes both greater than 100nm. These particles range in size from about 70nm to 300nm, so yes there are some nanoparticles among them. The presence of the larger particles is what accounts for the slightly whitening effect of our sunscreen (as you pointed out).

    Badger SPF 30 is currently rated by the Environmental Working Group as One of the Top 5 Safest Sunscreens in the World, out of the 951 national and international brands studied—including all of the top commercial brands. This study included both nanoparticle zinc and titanium based sunscreens, as well as chemical based sun-screening formulas. The Badger SPF products use nano-sized particles of zinc in their formulas because we feel they are the safest option available. We have no reason to hide this. Link.

    There are a number of substantial studies supporting the safety of “micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide” used in sunscreens. Link.

    Even the EWG article linked in cowsandlemonade’s post says the following in its conclusion:

    “But we find nano-scale zine and titanium to be reasonable choices for use in sunscreen, particularly given the known hazards of UV exposure, and the limited choices for UV protection in the United States. We are concerned about the potential for nanoparticle inhalation with powder or spray forms of mineral sunscreens, particularly given marketing claims touting their use on faces and for children. EWG urges consumers to avoid mineral-based sunscreens sold in powder or spray forms, and for manufacturers of these products to avoid using nano-scale particles in these products. Consumers will not have complete confidence in the safety and efficacy of any product until FDA finalizes comprehensive sunscreen standards and reassesses the safety of all susncreens to ensure they they are effective and that they are safe for people and the environment alike.”

    The bottom line: Badger makes products for people we love. We use these products on ourselves and our children and loved ones, and would never intentionally deceive or mislead our customers. We have chosen to use micronized zinc because we feel it is the safest option (other than full clothing cover). If you (or anyone) have questions regarding this topic, feel free to call us at Badger: 800-603-6100. Or please visit our website which has information on our zinc:

    Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to respond.
    All the Best,
    Badger Jentri

    Badger Jentri: Hello. Thanks for dropping by and giving your point of view regarding the recent nano ingredient issue raised by Consumer Reports. I’m glad to hear from you and understand Badger’s take on the matter. I’m very fond of your products and have been using some of them on myself and my child. I have tried your sunscreen but I’m not using it at the moment because the formulation is too rich for me. However, your clarifications is definitely good for those who are concerned.

  5. Thank you for providing a forum in which to discuss this important topic!

    Badger Jentri: Hey, you’re welcome! I’ve been contemplating putting up your comments as a separate entry but I got carried away with some other information. I will review and see if I can give it more highlight because you have raised some interesting and useful pointers.

  6. I guess I’m comfused now. If Badger is saying they use micronized zinc, then that shouldn’t be termed a nanoparticle from what has been mentioned in this afformentioned information. If a nano is measured in nanometers and microns are considered to be larger than a nanoparticle, they why is is being stated that micronized is a nanoparticle?

  7. No, what Badger said above is that they do include nanoparticles – which are defined as being sized between 1 and 100 nanometers – because their zinc oxide includes particles down to 70 nm. That is why they address the issue of nanoparticle safety in such detail.


  1. [...] can read the entire comment in my original entry Do your sunscreen contain nanoparticles? In addition, you may wish to note that the mineral-based sunscreens sold in powder or spray forms [...]

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