Zinc Oxide has finally been approved as a UV filter! On the 22nd of October, the EU Standing Committee on Cosmetic Products has authorized Zinc Oxide as a UV filter, in both its nano and non-nano form.
UV filters are used to protect our skin from the harmful effects of UV light, and can be organic or inorganic. The organic filters absorb the ultraviolet light and convert it into heat; they are also the UV filter most commonly used, though their efficiency is rather low and are often supplemented with inorganic filters. Inorganic filters, depending on the size of the particles (the smaller the size, the more increased their efficacy is), can reflect, scatter and absorb the UV light, and protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
Zinc Oxide, as well as Titanium Dioxide, are renowned broad-spectrum “active semiconductor photocatalysts used extensively in heterogeneous photocatalysis to destroy environmental pollutants that are organic in nature. They are also extensively used in sunscreen lotions as active broadband sunscreens that screen both UVB (290–320 nm) and UVA (320–400 nm) sunlight radiation and as high SPF makers. When photoactivated by UV light, these two particular metal oxides are, however, also known to generate highly oxidizing radicals” (Nick Serpone, Daniele Dondi, Angelo Albini,University of Pavia – “Inorganic and organic UV filters: their role and efficacy in sunscreens and suncare products”).
The list of UV filters allowed in cosmetic products in Europe currently comprises 28 substances and represents Annex VI of the EU Cosmetics Regulation EC 1223/2009. Zinc Oxide will be officially included in early 2016.