Zinka’s colorful nosecoat sunscreens are trending again. (Photo: Jon Paterson)
When surfers talk about earning their stripes, they aren’t just talking about waves. One of the biggest sunscreen trends we’re seeing is surfers, athletes, celebs, and kids applying thick stripes of Zinka sunscreen on their faces. Think of it as colorful warrior stripes that are doing your face good too. The product contains zinc oxide to help protect against the sun’s damaging rays.
Zinka is definitely having a moment but this indie, California-based company has been around for 30 years. It was launched by Russ Freebury, who was inspired by memories of lifeguards wearing a thick coat of zinc oxide on their nose, but he made it cooler by introducing a colored product. Zinka peaked in the 80s — it was, after all, the decade of fluorescence. But when the 90’s and grunge rolled in, bright colors were no longer in vogue, so Zinka introduced clear formulas.
Flash forward to 2015, and bright colors are back in fashion, and zinc oxide is still one of the best sunscreen ingredients on the market as it acts like a physical barrier to the sun. Zinka’s colored nosecoat contains 25% zinc oxide and is water resistant and sweat proof for up to 80 minutes. It’s available in 12 colors, including pink, teal, orange and purple.
Dr. Will Kirby, an LA-based, board certified dermatologist, said that while “barrier protection” such as a hat and long sleeves offer some of the best defense against rays, “as a surfer, I’ll acknowledge that barrier protection isn’t always practical.”
“That’s why dermatologists recommend physical blocks, like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide,” he explains. “They are water resistant, non-allergenic and non-irritating so even those with the most sensitive skin can use them. They also offer the broadest spectrum UVA and UVB reflector that is approved for use as a sunscreen by the FDA.”
Zinc oxide works, but Zinka makes it fun. The colored sticks help make great face art, which is also why they’re beloved by moms at the pool, as well as young-at-heart adults.
Livia Firth puts Zinka to the test at the beach. (Photo: Instagram)
The eco-activist Livia Firth (wife of Colin) recently took to Instagram to profess her love of Zinka, and show off her pink and orange warrior stripes. She wrote, “Did I find the perfect recipe for being in the sun wrinkle-free although looking like a lunatic? Just discovered Zinka, which surfers in California use to stay in the sun all day.”
Apryl DeLancey, a surfer and president of Social Age Media, says “I love Zinka because you can draw silly and colorful things on your face while protecting it from the sun.”
— USA Field Hockey (@USAFieldHockey)June 10, 2015
The USA Field Hockey team tweeted a picture of athletes “casually dabbling in sunscreen art” before a game.
— Ross Gale (@rossgale)August 23, 2013
But surfer Ross Gale’s tweet might offer some insight about why the brand is so popular with surfers: “@zinkainc I just purchased some blue nosecoat for my fair skin on #kauai. It will match my blue eyes and make me catch bigger waves.”