Is Australian gold sunscreen biodegradable? (5 classifications of sunscreens)

This article shall address the question, ” is Australian gold sunscreen biodegradable?”.

In addition, other topics that will be addressed includes:

  • The properties of Australian gold sunscreen.
  • The ingredients of Australian Gold sunscreen and their functions.
  • The biodegradation process.
  • The eco-friendliness of Australian Gold sunscreen.

Is Australian gold sunscreen biodegradable?

No,  Australian gold sunscreen is not biodegradable because it is made of natural minerals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Titanium dioxide has been found to contain antibacterial and fungicidal properties. The mineral kills the microorganisms through photocatalysis, and since these microorganisms are the primary agents of biodegradation, it is therefore concluded that any titanium dioxide-containing compound does not undergo biodegradation.

Australian gold sunscreen also contains plant products such as eucalyptus extract and other botanical compounds which are highly susceptible to microbial degradation, although their degradation will be highly affected by the action of titanium dioxide on microorganisms.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi into the water, carbon dioxide, methane, and minerals. Heat energy is produced in the process.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

Biodeterioration is the first stage of biodegradation that involves abiotic factors such as light, UV radiation, and water to help in the weakening of the structure of organic substances.

Bio-fragmentation is the second stage that involves the physical breakdown of organic matter into small particles, this is due to the biodeterioration of the organic matter in the first stage.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation. It involves the bacteria and the fungi taking up the minerals and small biomass produced by the previous two stages into their biological systems.

The minerals are used as a source of energy and carbon for the synthesis of cells and tissues.

Biodegradation can occur in the presence or absence of oxygen. When biodegradation involves the microorganisms using oxygen, the process is called aerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation produces carbon dioxide, water, and small biomass. Heat energy is also produced in the process. Aerobic biodegradation occurs very fast but it is not very efficient.

When biodegradation occurs in the absence of oxygen, it is called anaerobic biodegradation. The products of anaerobic biodegradation include water, carbon dioxide, and small biomass. 

In addition to these products, methane gas is also produced. Heat energy is released during the breakdown. 

Anaerobic biodegradation occurs slowly but is more efficient than aerobic biodegradation.

Biodegradation can be affected by several factors such as water, light, temperatures, the bioavailability of a molecule, and pH.

Water helps in the biodeterioration and mechanical fragmentation of substances, increasing the surface area for microbial degradation.

Light emits radiations that help in the biodeterioration and bio-fragmentation of organic matter. UV radiation is the most effective radiation. 

Temperature affects the rate of biodegradation. Some microorganisms are very active in high temperatures while others are active in low temperatures. The optimum temperatures for the microorganisms increase the rate of biodegradation.

Bioavailability is the availability of an organic substance to microorganisms. Highly concentrated organic matter has high bioavailability and this increases the rate of biodegradation.

pH is the measure of acidity or basicity of a substance. Some microorganisms are very active in acidic pH while others are active in neutral or alkaline pH. Optimum pH increases the rate of biodegradation.

What is Australian Gold sunscreen?

Australian gold sunscreen is a skin care product that is produced by New Sunshine, LLC, which is located in Indiana, USA. The product is sold to over 50 nations countrywide.

Sunscreen is a compound that is used to protect the body against UV radiation.

 Australian gold sunscreen is classified as an SPF 50 sunscreen. 

SPF in sunscreen stands for sun protection factor.

It is a measure of absorption of ultraviolet radiation.

SPF correlates with the percentage of ultraviolet type B absorption.

The different SPF and their percentage equivalents include:

SPF 15 equates to 93.3% of UVB absorption.

SPF 30 equates to 96.7% of UVB absorption.

SPF 45 equates to 97.8% of UVB absorption.

SPF 50 equates to 98% of UVB absorption.

According to the Food and Drug Administration( FDA) body, the best sunscreen must have an SPF of 45 and above.

What are the components of Australian gold sunscreen?

Australian gold sunscreen contains many compounds in its list of ingredients, but the main sunscreen minerals are:

  • Titanium dioxide is contained at a 4% concentration.
  • Zinc oxide is also contained at a 4% concentration.

Titanium dioxide.

It protects the skin from ultraviolet radiations by reflecting them away since it has a shiny surface

Advantages of using titanium dioxide as sunscreen?

Advantages of titanium dioxide as a sunscreen include:

  • The particles of titanium dioxide are not absorbed by the body hence it is safe to use.
  • It has a broad-spectrum activity.

Disadvantages of using titanium dioxide as sunscreen?

The following are the disadvantages of titanium dioxide as a sunscreen.

  • When used, it leaves a white pigment on the skin surface.
  • It is not biodegradable, hence it pollutes the environment.

Zinc oxide.

It works almost the same way as titanium dioxide.

It protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation by either absorption or reflection.

Advantages of using zinc oxide as sunscreen?

The following are the advantages of using zinc oxide as sunscreen.

  • It has a broad spectrum.
  • Its particles are not absorbed by the body.

Disadvantages of using zinc oxide as sunscreen?

The following are the disadvantages of zinc oxide as a sunscreen.

  • It is not organic and hence is not biodegradable; polluting the environment.
  • When used, it leaves a white pigment on the skin.

What are the advantages of zinc oxide sunscreen over titanium dioxide?

Zinc oxide is usually considered more effective than titanium dioxide in its functions as sunscreens, although mostly they are used together. 

The advantages of zinc oxide over titanium dioxide include:

  • Zinc oxide has a broader spectrum than Titanium oxide.
  • It is highly stable.
  • It has no irritation.
  • Can be used to treat skin irritation such as diaper rash.

What is the classification of Australian Gold sunscreen?

Sunscreens can be categorized using two main properties: their ingredients and their mode of action.

Classification based on ingredients results in a physical and chemical sunscreen.

Classification based on the mode of action results in the narrow spectrum and broad-spectrum sunscreens.

Australian Gold sunscreen is classified both as a physical and broad spectrum sunscreen.

Physical sunscreens.

These are sunscreens that contain synthetic or inorganic chemicals which are non-biodegradable.

They protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation by absorbing or reflecting the ultraviolet radiation.

They include the following:

  • Titanium dioxide 
  • Zinc oxide.

Chemical sunscreens.

These are sunscreens that are made from organic, mostly aromatic compounds.

Aromatic compounds are unsaturated hydrocarbons produced by plants and have medicinal characteristics.

Chemical sunscreens absorb high-intensity ultraviolet radiation.

The common types of chemical sunscreen ingredients are divided according to the type of ultraviolet radiation they absorb.

  • Chemicals against ultraviolet radiation B (UVB)
  • Chemicals against ultraviolet radiation A ( UVA).

Chemicals against ultraviolet radiation B include the following:

  • Padimate O.
  • Octinoxate.
  • Octisalate.
  • Octocrylene.
  • Ensulizole.

Chemicals against ultraviolet radiation A include the following :

  • Oxybenzone.
  • Meradimate.
  • Avobenzone.
  • Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid.

Broad-spectrum sunscreen.

These are sunscreens that protect the skin against a wide variety of ultraviolet radiations.

Narrow-spectrum sunscreen.

This is a type of sunscreen that protects the skin against only one type of ultraviolet radiation.

Is Australian gold sunscreen toxic?

No, Australian Gold sunscreen has been categorized as safe and non-toxic. The sunscreen is categorized as a physical set, with no chemical compounds that are toxic to the body.

According to a study, physical sunscreens are safe because they lack toxic chemicals such as parabens (which affects the endocrine system), oxybenzone (an allergen), and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) which is highly allergic, and retinol or retinyl palmitate (it is a photo-carcinogen).

Concerns have been raised over the use of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide which can easily infiltrate the body and cause harmful effects. 

Another concern about titanium oxide is that it is a skin and eye irritant and is carcinogenic to animals, although these claims are yet to be substantiated. For now, Australian gold remains a safe product.


This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of Australian gold sunscreen.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Components of Australian gold sunscreen.
  • The classification of Australian gold sunscreen.
  • The toxicity of Australian gold sunscreen.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is Australian gold sunscreen biodegradable?

How do I know if my sunscreen is biodegradable?

The biodegradability of sunscreens can be told by looking at the ingredient label. Biodegradable sunscreens should be made from organic or organic products.

Non-biodegradable sunscreens contain chemicals such as parabens, PABA, octinoxate, or methyl benzylidene camphor.

Is Australian gold sunscreen reef-friendly?

Yes, Australian gold sunscreen is reef-friendly. It is made up of natural ingredients; zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and other botanical compounds. 

These compounds are not toxic to coral reefs.

Is Australian gold sunscreen vegan?

Yes, Australian gold sunscreen can be said to be partially vegan because it contains some botanical products. Other ingredients are natural minerals; zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

It does not contain any animal product in its ingredients and is, therefore, cruelty-free.


Product description and review on

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H L Noss. ( March 03, 2022). Everything You Need To Know About Biodegradable Sunscreens.

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