Titanium Dioxide vs. Zinc Oxide Sunscreens – Which one is better?

Titanium Dioxide vs Zinc Oxide Sunscreens - Citra CakraLogam - Detail


Selecting the right sunscreen can often feel like reading a foreign language. You may have seen many sources suggesting the use of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide sunscreens — but what makes those ingredients so crucial to sun protection?


Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two naturally occurring minerals. They are considered broad spectrum as their ability to block the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation from being absorbed into your skin. They’re commonly found in physical (or mineral) sunscreens.


Read More: Zinc Oxide Formula – Properties & Manufacturing



The definition of UV-A and UV-B

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun come in three different wavelengths: UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-A and UV-B rays are the most dangerous, as UV-C, fortunately, is stopped by the earth’s atmosphere before it ever makes it down to our skin.


  • UV-A rays: they deeply penetrate the skin, reaching far beyond the dermis—the skin’s thickest layer. This type of UV radiation can cause aging and wrinkles.
  • UV-B rays: they are shorter and burn the surface of our skin, only reaching the most superficial layers. These initially lead to sunburns and, over time, cause skin cancer.


It’s essential that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection against both UV-A radiation and UV-B radiation to protect your skin from both photo-aging and sun damage. In this case, zinc oxide and titanium oxide sunscreens are the best recommendation to prevent the damage.



Chemical vs. Physical Sunscreen

While many sunscreens block both UV-A and UV-B rays, they fall into two separate categories: chemical sunscreen and physical/mineral sunscreen. Zinc oxide sunscreens and titanium dioxide sunscreens fall into the latter category.



The difference between these two types of sunscreen is quite clear, check out the explanation below:


  • Chemical sunscreen is a mixture of chemicals that come together to block UV-A and UV-B rays. These ingredients are tasked with degrading or deactivating sunlight, creating a chemical reaction that transforms UV rays into heat, which is then released from the skin.
  • Physical sunscreen, on the other hand, is made of natural compounds that sit on the surface of the skin. They absorb and deflect sunlight so that UV radiation doesn’t penetrate the epidermis. These ingredients act similarly to aluminum foil or a mirror, keeping sunlight from penetrating deeply. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens fall into this category.



Countless dermatologists recommend physical sunscreen over chemical. The various benefits of natural mineral sunscreen, such as sunscreen with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are shown below:


  • Physical sunscreen protects from the sun as soon as it’s applied, while chemical sunscreen takes approximately 20 minutes to begin to work.
  • Physical sunscreen lasts longer when in direct UV light, while chemical sunscreen stops working much more rapidly and must be applied more frequently.
  • Physical sunscreen is gentle on the skin and less likely to clog pores, making it better for sensitive skin, while chemical sunscreen is much harsher.


Read More: Zinc Oxide in Sunscreens – Best Sun Protection According to Dermatologists



Zinc Oxide Sunscreens is Better

In conclusion, zinc oxide sunscreens have a slight edge over titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is effective at blocking UV-B and short-wave UV-A rays, but it is less effective than zinc dioxide at blocking long UV-A rays. Zinc oxide’s ability to block various types of rays makes it one of the most effective sun protection products on the market at preventing sun damage.


However, zinc oxide often is combined with additional UV-B blockers to provide the most complete broad-spectrum sunscreen. As zinc oxide sunscreens offer slightly better coverage across the sun’s UV spectrum, it is recommended to begin with this ingredient.