Why Badger Now Uses Clear Zinc Oxide

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.

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.

Clear zinc oxide is made from nanoparticles (particles smaller than 100 nanometers) that have been fused together into larger particles called “aggregates.” After the particles are fused together, no detectable nanoparticles remain. We know this thanks to light scatter analysis of the finished product. The results 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.

At low magnification, you can see the large porous aggregates.


At higher magnification, you can see the much smaller particles fused together.

Safety First.

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.’ Since the primary particle used in manufacturing clear zinc is technically a nanomaterial, we believe that language could be misleading.

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!

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