Zinc oxide has been used as a form of sun protection for thousands of years but only started appearing in color form in the early 1980s thanks to a brand called Zinka. Surfers in Australia actually started using it as face paint, because naturally you want to look cool while you're catching some waves. It made its first onscreen appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when surfer dude Spicoli (played by a young Sean Penn) wore it in a dream sequence. After that, its popularity skyrocketed, especially because neon colors went perfectly with '80s fashion.
Like most funky, retro looks from a simpler time, Zinka has been making a comeback in a serious way. There's an Instagram hashtag dedicated to wearers of it, which has more than 6,000 posts, and it's in the media again because Colin Firth's wife, Livia, posted a picture of herself decked out in pink and orange zebra stripes on the beach.
Colors aside, it's a particularly effective form of sunblock that does a heck of a lot more than keep harmful UVA and UVB rays at bay. Where most sunblocks absorb these harmful rays, zinc oxide actually works like a sun reflector, because it sits on top of your skin like a cream shield. As such, it offers some of the strongest broad spectrum sun protection you can buy and even works to combat age lines caused by sun exposure.
It also sticks around on your skin much longer than average, non-zinc-oxide-based sunscreens. As long as you don't rub it or sweat it off, you're good to go. It's great to see a trend that's good for your skin resurfacing, especially in the wake of the most ridiculous (and dangerous) tanning trend, sunburn art.
If you like the idea of skin art but not the subsequent skin damage that can come from a burn, this body paint sunblock will be right up your alley. You can create awesome designs on your body and face, all the while protecting your body from harmful UV rays. It's also a great way to get your kids into the habit of putting on sunblock.
I used to hate having my mom put it on my face when I was little, but if she had presented me with multicolored Zinka, I think I would've been much more inclined to wear it. If your kids are still dubious about putting it on themselves, you can encourage them by letting them paint you first (as long as you don't mind sporting crazy, colorful designs).
Suddenly, putting on sun protection becomes a fun, cool activity that you can do as a family. It also makes your beach vacation pictures much more interesting.
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