Zinc Is the Powerful Skin-Healing Mineral You Never Knew You Needed

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If you have acne, rosacea, eczema, or another pesky condition that leaves you with irritated skin, zinc is here to save the day. Even if you’ve never heard of zinc before, you’re likely using a product with the mineral in it right now, whether it be your sunscreen, serum or cleanser. This multifaceted mineral—Nicole Kidman says she “covers” herself with it on a daily basis—is essential for your body’s daily function, and adding it to your skin-care routine may be the only thing standing between you and a healthier complexion.

What is zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that your body needs in order to function properly. According to Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD, the mineral helps your immune system and metabolism function and plays a key role in helping to heal wounds. Beyond the vital part zinc plays inside your body, it also delivers a skin-healing boost on the outside, too.

Why is zinc good for our skin?

Zinc comes to the rescue after an injury by helping recover wounds, and it can do the same when your skin is in peril. According to Dr. Loss, zinc’s strong, anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent ingredient to address eczema, rosacea and acne. The mineral is also a super-antioxidant, making it a perfect addition to anti-aging products. Zinc is also a popular ingredient in sunscreen, as most physical options consist of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

What’s the difference between topical and oral zinc?

Zinc can be taken orally through supplements or used topically in skin-care products. Both methods have their merits and ultimately aim for the same results. However, when it comes to skin care, Dr. Loss says she’s more inclined to prescribe topical zinc to her patients because it’s more easily absorbed and processed this way.

How can I get more zinc in my diet?

What you eat can play a big role in how your skin looks and feels, so consuming foods rich in zinc could contribute to increased skin health. Luckily many zinc-rich foods happen to be delicious. According to Aesthetic Medicine, to mix some zinc into your diet, you should toss some of these items in your shopping cart next time you hit the store: oysters, milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, cereals, nuts, and animal protein.

What are the potential side effects of zinc?

While zinc offers a myriad of benefits, it can also lead to some undesirable side effects if you go overboard when taking it orally. If you do begin taking zinc supplements, be mindful that too much of the mineral can lead to nausea, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, headaches, and other side effects, according to the National Institutes of Health. The only potential side effect of topical zinc is skin irritation, but Dr. Loss says it’s rare.

How to use zinc safely

Los Angeles aesthetician Nerida Joy believes uncovering how zinc best agrees with your body is an individual journey that depends on your personal make up, skin, and the other medications you’re taking. “I think it’s always important to recognize that everyone is different with different body sensitivities and individual complexities,” says Joy. This is why Dr. Loss suggests exploring oral zinc under the direction of a physician who can monitor your dosage and results.

If you have acne, another inflammatory skin condition, or you just want to ensure that you keep your skin clear, you could benefit from products that feature zinc. The mineral can be found in a variety of skin-care products, including moisturizers, essences, serums, masks, night creams and more, so there’s sure to be a product that’s right for you.

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