Clear Zinc Oxide in Badger Sunscreens

Yes, Badger now offers two sunscreens with clear zinc oxide! You can read about them here.

clear zinc oxide sunscreen

Just to be clear (pun intended), we will not be changing any of our current sunscreens. But we realize that many people are reluctant to use zinc oxide sunscreens because they are whitening.

So our decision to use clear zinc oxide is both practical and philosophical. Ultimately we hope that everyone will feel comfortable in Badger sunscreens. Our goal has always been to provide safe and effective protection from UVA and UVB rays.

Clear Zinc Oxide: A Brief Background

Mineral sunscreens, especially those made with larger particle non-nano zinc oxide, leave a white residue on the skin which many people don’t like. We didn’t like it either, but we figured it was a tradeoff for really safe and effective sunscreen. The other option was to use chemicals or smaller nanoparticles of zinc oxide in our formulas, which we chose not to do. This year, we decided we had all the information we needed to confidently add clear zinc oxide sunscreens to our line.

Badger’s ‘clear zinc’ sunscreen products use a specialized zinc oxide powder made of micron-sized mesoporous zinc oxide aggregates. Light scatter analysis of the finished product show a particle size range of 565nm to 19,000nm with an average particle size of 3400nm and no detectable nanoparticles.

These aggregates are porous, almost like a sea sponge, so they don’t reflect light in the same way as non-nano particles. The result: you get the less-whitening properties of nanoparticles with the safety and efficacy of larger particles.

Is Clear Zinc Oxide Safe?

When clear zinc oxide first came out, we chose to take a “wait and see” approach. This new technology was exciting, but we wanted to be sure there were no problems or concerns that arose from use over time. So we’ve followed the research for the last ten years and have not seen any health or safety issue arise. We even conducted our own research and analyzed clear zinc oxide via scanning electron microscope and light scatter analysis to better understand the particle structure and size distribution. See our zinc oxide page for details.

Furthermore, reports from independent human phototoxicity testing confirm no health concerns due to photoreactivity. Clear zinc oxide is approved as a UV filter in the US and all major international markets, and it meets the natural cosmetic standards of the Natural Products Association (USA) and ECOCERT (EU). We’re confident that clear zinc oxide meets Badger’s high standards for ingredient safety, and we are excited to share these new sunscreens with you!

Transparency within Transparency

You might be wondering: “If these particles are larger and act like non-nano particles, why not call it “non-nano?”

Most regulatory standards outside of the US don’t allow clear zinc to be labeled as ‘non-nano.’ However, there are no such regulations here in the US, and you can find other brands of sunscreens marketing their clear zinc as ‘non-nano.’

After considering it carefully, we chose not to label our clear zinc as ‘non-nano.’

Feel comfortable and confident in your Badger sunscreen

While many people love our original non-nano sunscreens, a lot of people do have a hard time with the whitening effect, including a lot of us Badgers. And being comfortable in your sunscreen is really important because you need to apply the full recommended amount to get the full UV protection. Underapplication of sunscreen can lead to a drastic reduction in UV protection and possibly painful burns.

Did you know that using ½ the required amount of sunscreen gives you only the square root of the SPF? So if you apply ½ the amount of an SPF 30 sunscreen, you’re only getting the protection of an SPF 5.5!

We hope that these new clear zinc oxide sunscreens will make it easier for you (and your loved ones) to find one that is a perfect fit.

Check out the whole line of Badger Sunscreens here!

21 comments on “Clear Zinc Oxide in Badger Sunscreens

  • Midori Matsuyama says:

    Hello – I just bought my second tube of spf30 Badger clear zinc sunscreen; it came in a bigger tube but looked like the same stuff. I notice that it is different now – it’s much thinner and less oily. Did you change the formula? I tried shaking and kneading the tube but it’s still thinner. That’s ok as long as it still protects but whereas I used to use “about the size of an edamame bean” on my face, I wonder if I should use more now. How much should I use?

    • At this time, studies that investigate risk to aquatic life are focused on the ingestion of nano particles. Because there are no detectable nano particles in our finished Clear Zinc product, these large particles would be more likely to sink inertly among the sediment floor. Furthermore, the existing research has not addressed the question of water resistance in mineral sunscreens. Our sunscreen creams are rated for 40 and 80 minutes of water resistance which is calculated by people being submerged in tubs with hot water jets pointed at them, then testing the SPF value. With hot jets of water hitting subjects for 40 or 80 minutes, Badger sunscreens retain their full, claimed SPF value. This suggests that not much sunscreen is coming off! There’s further information here on why we would never use synthetic chemicals such as oxybenzone which do an enormous amount of damage to the coral reefs: Thanks for the great question! -Emily

    • Great question but a tricky one to answer. In general, we do recommend our unscented products for sensitive, unbroken skin. We are not able to offer medical advice, however, and our products are formulated for external use only so we cannot advise specifically for eczema. We would suggest that you check with a doctor and would also suggest conducting a skin patch test to monitor for irritation prior to broader application. You may also find some guides online that speak to this question. I know has one on this topic, but is an excellent source of consumer safety information as well.
      We hope you find something that works beautifully for you!

  • Anna-Lena says:

    Very informative blog post. Thanks for explaining your reasoning behind using clear zinc. I always appreciate how careful Badger is regarding which ingredients to put in their products. I have always been able to trust that the product is safe if Badger put it together. I have been loving your Tinted Damascus Rose Sunscreen and the Unscented Sunscreen Lotion. That being said something non whitening was intriguing so I tried the clear sunscreen and really like it. It has a soothing and emollient feel. I don’t mind the slightly shiny appearance since I don’t worry about my face being shiny when out in the sun. It doesn’t stain my clothes or car interior which I am very excited about. It’s amazing how clear it looks on the skin-great formula. Definitely hoping for further clear zinc Badger sunscreens like lotions and facial SPF. Thanks for doing all the research and making sure the end product is safe for your customers as well as the environment. It’s so important to use reef safe and biodegradable skin care-Not only in the oceans but also in lakes! Keep up the great work-job well done!

  • This is super exciting! I tried the Sport 35 SPF clear zinc sunscreen today, and it’s amazing! It has the delightful emollient feel of a Bager sunscreen but truly rubs in clear. I shared it with my co-worker (an outdoors enthusiast and longtime Badger fan) and she’s stoked, too! She’ll be taking it camping this weekend!

    Thank you so much for the abundance of caution you have demonstrated in considering this ingredient, and for continuing on with your original line! Do you have any plans to expand the clear zinc line, at all? I see that the the Unscented Broad Spectrum SPF 30 is good for face and body, but I would also love to see a face-specific clear zinc sunscreen, in a similar vein as your Damascus Rose face sunscreen.

    • Hi Olivia!

      Thanks so much for dropping by the Badger Blog, and for your kind words. We’re honored! 🙂

      We will likely expand the clear zinc line, though I haven’t heard any official launch plans yet. Stay tuned!


    • Anna-Lena says:

      Couldn’t agree with you more! I also really like the clear zinc Badger sunscreens and think they came out with a solid product! Love the emollient feel and appreciate how simple but yet nourishing the ingredients are. You are right, Badger is very cautious regarding introducing new products or ingredients which is why I always trust in their brand. I would also like to see a clear zinc sunscreen for the face and body similar to the damaskus rose and unscented lotion they already offer (love those two products by the way). Have been recommending Badger sunscreens to my friends also.

  • Melody Lynn says:

    I’m still not comfortable with clear zinc-oxide because aggregated nanoparticles must inevitably be less safe than avoiding nanoparticles altogether. Could you please continue to make your non nano versions? Your non-nano zinc oxide is literally the only sun lotion I trust for myself or my kids. I often use your tinted version to, which appears to be a good solution to avoid any whitening. Thank you!

    • I agree with this Melody. Clear nano-zinc has been used by other sunscreen makers for years now, earning them bragging rights for a clear zinc product. But it’s known to cause increased risks. Aggregates do not reflect the sun as well as regular coated particles, hence more chemical reactions occur within the skin layers, no matter how many “antioxident plant oils” use put in the mixture. This can’t be good and the precautionary principle should trump profit. So I’m looking elsewhere after 10 years with Badger.

      • Jones, we are sorry to hear that Clear Zinc is troubling you. As always, you are welcome to send any specific research that you find concerning to us and we’ll be glad to go through it with you ( Our experience with the safety, efficacy and over 10 years of research on this ingredient is precisely why we are confident using it ourselves and sharing it out with the world. And of course, we continue to make original zinc oxide sunscreens so there’s no need to purchase Clear Zinc unless you want to! Per the concern that we made a decision for profit over safety, please know that we are family owned and operated. Everything we formulate is made for our own loved ones first and foremost. I encourage you to check out our work with B Corp. I think you may be relieved and delighted to know that not only have we always been a mission-driven company rather than profit-led, we also worked for legislative change in NH to allow fellow mission-driven businesses like ours to ability to legally elevate people and planet to their bottom line: Our focus is on being the change we’d like to see in the world. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you have further questions – we are here! Kindly, Emily


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