If we asked you to play a little word association game with zinc, we reckon we may get some of the following responses: metal, thing in my sunscreen, periodic table element. And that might be about it. However, a few recent launches health and beauty launches have highlighted the really rather remarkable properties of this not-so humble mineral – because it turns out whether you're looking to banish a cold, get stronger hair, or even clear up your acne, zinc could be what you're looking for...
_**_Zinc is a trace mineral element which is essential for we humans - it plays a big role in the growth and replication of our cells, and has healing properties too. Because of its involvement in cell multiplication, it's fundamental for helping our skin, hair and nails get back to their truer, healthier state and quicker. Plus, there's evidence that suggests zinc can affect the absorption of other minerals and vitamins in our diet. Zinc is best known for its use in sunscreens, where it helps prevent against UV damage.
Zinc and Acne:
_**_Acne can be one of the most frustrating and tricky skin conditions to treat (especially adult acne - Spots AND council tax? No thanks). While everyone and their mum has a theory about clearing up spots, zinc has long been associated with busting acne. Firstly because its healing properties are great for reducing scarring and inflammation, but also because a number of studies have shown that it can mop up excess oil. This mean means topical treatments with a good amount of zinc (ie those applied on the surface of the skin) are a winner. Plus, when taken in supplement or dietary form, it helps your body absorb Vitamin A (which retinol, the spot-fighting super star, comes from) better. Men and women with severe acne tend to have lower levels of zinc in their blood, too.
Zinc Beauty Products
Long beloved by French women (who know everything about skincare), this cult classic is now available in the UK. A quick second step, this spray on toner has zinc for oily skin and is great to instantly mattify and help heal.
Another cult classic, this on-the-spot treatment has a sulfur and zinc sediment which acts to quickly dry out spots while promoting healing and reducing inflammation and redness. A Grazia fave.
Fortified with zinc to help combat the fungus that causes dandruff, this shampoo also has the benefit of adding extra volume.
With zinc oxide to stop UV rays in their tracks, this lightweight facial sunscreen mattifies the skin and doesn't feel greasy.
With zinc to help combat oiliness and shine, and cucumber to soothe, these are a great quick-fix for acne-prone skin.
For when your diet isn't giving you as much as you need, or for a helping hand.
Zinc and Nails:
White spots on your nails? Constant hangnails? You could very well be zinc deficient. Zinc's cell-repairing properties make it a must-have for healthy, happy nails. Good dietary sources include beef, oysters, chicken, lamb, cashews, spinach, pumpkin seeds and cocoa. So chocolate's not just good for your soul!
Zinc and Hair:
If you're struggling with dandruff, it might be worth switching up to a zinc-rich shampoo. Dr Rolanda J Wilkerson, Principal Scientist for Head and Shoulders, told us 'ZPT or Zinc Pyrithione is the most successful and most widely used anti dandruff active. It was first introduced over 50 years ago and effectively fights the fungus from the first wash.' Plus, just like nails, the getting enough zinc will lead to longer, stronger hair.
Zinc and Sniffing:
There's no cure for the common cold. But, even the NHS have agreed that zinc can shorten the length of your cold by up to one or two days. Zinc helps trigger the birth of more white blood cells and has a big role to play in over 300 enzymes in the body. It's worth nothing that the NHS advise that you should be able to get all the zinc you need from your diet - those who might want supplements are maybe vegetarians or vegans who don't eat zinc-rich meat and dairy products.