Is Elta MD sunscreen biodegradable? (5 reasons why it is one of the most used sunscreens)

This blog shall answer the question,” is elta MD sunscreen biodegradable?

It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • EltaMd ingredients.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of EltaMd.
  • Ultraviolet radiation and the impact.
  • Importance of sunscreens.
  • Class of sunscreens.
  • Forms in which sunscreen is acquired.

Is EltaMd sunscreen biodegradable?

No, EltaMd sunscreen is not biodegradable. EltaMd is made up of chemical components which can not be broken down by microorganisms. Biodegradation occurs in natural organic materials which can easily be broken down by microorganisms.

What is sunscreen?

Sunscreen is a substance that prevents a person’s skin from ultraviolet radiation.

What are the classes of sunscreen?

Sunscreens are divided into 2 major classes:

  • Chemical sunscreens.
  • Physical sunscreens/ blockers.

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.
  • Tetraphthalydine dicamphor sulfonic acid.

Physical sunscreens/blockers.

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.

Titanium dioxide.

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

What are the advantages of using titanium dioxide as sunscreen?
  • The particles of titanium dioxide are not absorbed by the body hence it is safe to use.
  • It has a broad-spectrum activity.
What are the disadvantages of using titanium dioxide as 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.

What are the advantages of using zinc oxide as sunscreen?
  • It has a broad spectrum.
  • Its particles are not absorbed by the body.
What are the disadvantages of using zinc oxide as 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 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 are the categories of sunscreens based on the mode of action?

Sunscreens can be classified into two categories based on their mode of action.

  • Broad-spectrum sunscreens.
  • Narrow spectrum sunscreens.

What is broad-spectrum sunscreen?

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

What is a narrow spectrum sunscreen?

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

What is SPF in 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 forms in which sunscreens are acquired?

Sunscreens occur in different forms which include:

Oil-in-water or water-in-oil lotions.

These are the most common forms of sunscreen.

Their advantages include; being easy to apply and the oil easily absorbing ultraviolet radiation.

Their disadvantage is that they are thick and form a thick lining on the skin.


These sunscreens are water-based.

They are good for people with oily skin.

They are less oily than oil-based ones but are easily washed away by water.

They can cause facial and eye irritation


These sunscreens are hard to apply evenly and they leave patches on the skin.


These sunscreens are lipid-soluble.

They are best for lips, nose, or around the eyes.


They include foundation makeup. 

They are easy to acquire and use daily.

What are the advantages of using sunscreens?

The advantages of sunscreens include the following:

  • Prevent skin photosensitivity.
  • Prevent actinic keratosis.
  • Prevent skin cancer.
  • Prevent UV- induced immunosuppression.
  • Prevent solar elastosis.
  • Prevent skin wrinkling.
  • Prevent skin rashes.

What are the disadvantages of using sunscreen?

The disadvantages of using sunscreens include the following:

  • They can cause skin reactions.
  • They can cause eye burns.
  • They can cause contact dermatitis.
  • They can cause skin acne.

What are ultraviolet radiations(UVR)?

Ultraviolet radiations are radiations produced by the sun.

They are found in the wavelength of 100-400 nm.

They are divided into 3 different types.

  • Ultraviolet A. 
  • Ultraviolet B.
  • Ultraviolet C.

Ultraviolet radiation A (UVA).

These are found in the wavelength of 320-400 nm.

They have a long wavelength and hence penetrate deep into the skin.

Divided into 2 categories.

  • UVA1-  their wavelength is 320-400 nm, hence they are said to be far UVA.
  • UVA2- their wavelength is 320-340 nm, hence they are said to be near UVA.

UVA radiation can penetrate glasses and as such, photosensitive people can be affected even when they are indoors.

They are transmitted by the atmosphere.           

Ultraviolet radiation B (UVB).  

They are found in the wavelength of 290-320 nm.

They are also called burn rays.

They are mostly blocked by sunscreen.

Some are transmitted by the atmosphere and some are absorbed by the ozone layer.

Ultraviolet radiation C (UVC).  

They have a wavelength of 100-280 nm.

They are absorbed by the ozone layer.  

What are the advantages of ultraviolet radiation?

The ultraviolet advantages include the activation of vitamin D which in return helps the body to absorb calcium.

Eventually, the absorption of calcium prevents diseases like:

  • Ricketts.
  • Osteomalacia.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Sarcoidosis.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Mycosis fungoides.

What are the disadvantages of ultraviolet radiation?

Ultraviolet radiation has the following disadvantages to the skin.

  • Cause skin cancer.
  • Cause skin wrinkles.
  • Causes hair loss.
  • Cause rashes.
  • Cause UV-induced immunosuppression. 

What is EltaMd sunscreen?

This is a type of physical sunscreen produced by the EltaMd swiss company.

Its full name is EltaMd UV clear SPF 46.

What are the components of EltaMd sunscreen?

EltaMd contains active and inactive components.

The active components include:

  • Zinc oxide (9%).
  • Titanium oxide (7%).
  • Octinoxate.

Both zinc oxide and titanium oxide are physical components that are UV radiation absorbers.

Octinoxate is used as a UV radiation filter.

The inactive components include:

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3).

It is hydrophilic, that is, it is attracted to water, hence keeping the skin moist.

It has anti-inflammatory properties.

It has antimicrobial properties.

Hyaluronic acid.

This is used as a hydrating agent.

It helps to keep the skin moist.

Tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E).

This is used as an antioxidant, preventing skin damage by ultraviolet free radicals.

Lactic acid.

This is used to increase skin cell multiplication, enhancing skin thickness.

What are the advantages of using EltaMd sunscreen?

The advantage of using EltaMd sunscreen include:

  • It has a lightweight feel.
  • It’s not sticky or greasy.
  • It’s easy to apply.
  • It absorbs quickly.
  • It has no deep smell.
  • It doesn’t leave residues on the skin.
  • It has a broad spectrum against UVA and UVB.

What are the disadvantages of using EltaMd sunscreen?

The disadvantages include:

  • If used alongside retinol, it irritates.
  • It is expensive to acquire.
  • It has octinoxate which acts as a UV filter. The chemical has been questioned due to its effects on the environment.

Is EltaMd sunscreen eco-friendly?

No, according to an article, EltaMd is not eco-friendly because octinoxate is toxic to the environment.

Octinoxate is non-biodegradable and therefore accumulates in the environment, polluting water and killing coral reefs found in oceans.


This blog has answered the question, “is EltaMd biodegradable?”.

In addition, other areas covered include:

  • Definition and classes of sunscreens.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of sunscreens.
  • Definition and types of ultraviolet radiations.
  • Advantages and disadvantages of EltaMd.
  • The advantages and disadvantages of ultraviolet radiation.

You can leave your comment or question in the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs): Is EltaMd sunscreen biodegradable?

Is EltaMd sunscreen biodegradable?

No, EltaMd sunscreen is not biodegradable because it is made from chemicals that can not be broken down by microorganisms. 

Do biodegradable sunscreens work?

Yes, biodegradable sunscreens are also effective when used according to the directives provided.

Does EltaMD sunscreen have nanoparticles?

Yes, EltaMd sunscreen contains nanoparticles that are small enough to provide a good layer on the skin, but the particles are bigger enough to prevent them from getting into the body through skin pores.


Wacker, Matthias; Holick, Michael F. (1 January 2013). “Sunlight and Vitamin D”. Dermato-endocrinology. 5 (1): 51–108. doi:10.4161/derm.24494.

Daniel Dresden. (December 22, 2021). EltaMD sunscreen review 2022. Journal on EltaMD.

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Daphne. ( November 11, 2020). EltaMD Skincare Line: Our Newest Obsession.

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