How to Remove Zinc Cream

Typically used as a natural sunscreen or a treatment for minor skin irritations, zinc oxide cream has a lot to offer -- it physically blocks nearly all harmful UV rays when applied topically, handily resists water and doesn't soak into the skin, unlike penetrating sunscreens that sometimes contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals. On the flip side, some of the qualities that make zinc cream useful -- namely its water resistance and barrier-like properties -- also mean it requires extra care when it comes to removal.

A mother an daughter on the beach apply zinc cream to each other's faces. (Image: Dejan Ristovski/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Rinse your face or the area to which you have applied zinc oxide cream or sunscreen thoroughly with warm water. If you have lots of zinc on your body, hop into a warm shower for easier, more contained removal.

Step 2

Work mild, natural liquid or bar soap between your wet hands to generate a thick, foamy lather. Ingredients such as jojoba oil, peppermint oil, hempseed and soybean make for effective natural soaps. For particularly stubborn or dried-on zinc, turn to a soap with light exfoliating elements, such as burnt sugar or vanilla beans.

Step 3

Work the lather into a clean, gently abrasive or textured sponge, loofah or washcloth. Massage the zinc with the lathered sponge, loofah or washcloth, applying a bit of pressure and working in circular motions. This method slowly but surely removes zinc from the skin.

Step 4

Rinse thoroughly with warm water and repeat the rinsing, lathering and massaging process until your skin is free of zinc.

Things You'll Need

  • Natural soap

  • Loofah, sponge or washcloth


As a topical cream, zinc oxide treats minor burns, cuts and scrapes, but not deep or severe wounds. To prevent irritation and pain, turn to softer cleaning cloths and focus on rinsing the zinc with warm water rather than scrubbing when removing zinc from injured skin.

To avoid staining your clothes with zinc-based sunscreen or other zinc oxide creams, wait for any topical application of the product to dry completely for a few minutes before letting clothing or fabrics touch it directly.

Remove chalky white zinc oxide stains from clothes by dabbing the stain with a solution of 1 part water and 1 part rubbing alcohol until the spot lifts. Then, launder your clothes as usual.


Always read and follow any instructions or warnings provided by the manufacturer or your zinc oxide cream or sunscreen.

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