Us cricketers have a lot of habits that may seem weird to someone who doesn’t watch the sport that often! Things like rubbing the ball on our trousers, tapping the pitch with our bats in between deliveries, or even more superstitious habits like kissing the ball before bowling! Aside from all of those, one question you’ll often hear asked is ‘what is that weird stuff on that players face?’. After all, it doesn’t look like normal sun cream! Your usual every day sun cream that you would wear whilst on holiday or living in a hot country will often soak into the skin, making it invisible to others. The white substance that many cricketers apply will usually be very obvious to other people, and applied in a pattern onto the face! So what is this cream? And why is it used? Allow me to explain…
The white cream you’ll often see cricketers wear on their face is Zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a ‘physical sunscreen’, often referred to as a ‘reflector’ that sits on top of the skin. It forms a strong protective layer that helps to reflect the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays away from the body. Your everyday sunscreens are ‘chemical sunscreens’, or ‘absorbers’. These soak into the body and allow UVA & UVB rays to penetrate the top layer of the skin before they are dealt with below the surface. Cricketers use Zinc oxide because they can be exposed to direct sunlight for up to 6 hours during a game! This much exposure can be very harmful, and applying a reflective physical sun screen like Zinc oxide to sensitive areas is the best way to limit damage to your skin.
Zinc oxide offers numerous advantages over the common chemical sunscreens. Here are just a few for you to browse through:
- Zinc oxide starts working immediately! With the majority of chemical sunscreens there is a recommended waiting time of 20 minutes after application before you should expose yourself to the sunlight. In the case of Zinc oxide cream, as soon as you have it applied, you’re good to go!
- It’s suitable for sensitive skin! Whereas, a lot of chemical sunscreens can cause irritation!
- Zinc Oxide can help to heal skin and reduce inflammation!
Where & How To Apply Zinc Oxide Sunscreen
Where you apply the Zinc oxide sunscreen all comes down to individual preference. Wherever you feel you are susceptible to being burned by the sun, you should make sure that you apply a decent amount in that area. Most cricketers that you will see wearing Zinc oxide will apply it to the head/face, back of the neck or their hands, as these are the areas most exposed to the sun’s glare. In my view, your first priority should be to concentrate the application of the sunscreen around specific areas of the head/face that usually burn first. These are usually the ears, nose and the lips. Wherever you choose to put the cream after that is entirely up to you!
To apply the cream, take the tube/container and extract a good amount of it onto your fingertips. I know your next question may be ‘how much is a good amount?’, and that’s a difficult question to answer! When I am applying sunscreen, I tend to pour/squeeze it onto the top sections of my index and middle fingers before spreading it onto the desired area of the body. I think this amount of sunscreen is enough to cover an area that is the same size of your face! I have included a photo of the amount and how I measure it onto my fingers below for reference!
This is the amount that roughly works for me, but I do not burn very easily! Some of you may have skin that is more susceptible to burning and you may need to apply more! Also, depending on the consistency of the sunscreen, you may need to use more or less than you see in that photo. So it’s not necessarily a one size fits all approach! If you have a sunscreen that is more chalky and abrasive, you may need to use a little more as it won’t spread as easy!
You may also wish to apply it to other areas on the body too, but as I said earlier, this is completely up to you! I only ever applied it to my face! I would definitely recommend looking in a mirror as you apply the sunscreen to ensure that you are covering the areas that you want, and also to ensure that you keep it away from your eyes. You may also have noticed that some cricketers choose to apply the sunscreen in a pattern so it stands out and is visible to other people. Some players almost use it like war paint – a way to make themselves look scarier! A mirror is very useful if you want to apply the sunscreen in a pattern like this!
Here are a few more important things to remember:
- You shouldn’t be taking the ‘less is more’ approach when applying sunscreen. Ensure that the areas of your body you want to protect are sufficiently covered. No sunscreen will completely protect you from the sun’s rays, but if you apply a large enough amount of Zinc oxide with enough regularity, it will do the best job possible.
- FDA guidelines state that sunscreen should be reapplied approximately every two hours. If you’re engaging in activity which causes you to sweat a lot (such as playing cricket in the heat), you may even have to reapply more often!
How To Remove Zinc Oxide Sunscreen From The Body
It is important to remove Zinc oxide sunscreen from the body after we have finished using it as we don’t want dirt to become trapped in between the layers of sunscreen that are on top of each other. This could lead to all sorts of nasty things happening to our skin, therefore it’s best to avoid it! So, what’s the best way to get rid of the Zinc cream? Sadly, it is often not quite as simple as just giving your face a quick rinse under some cold water. I’ve found that that method often doesn’t remove it entirely! Don’t worry though, follow these simple steps and you shouldn’t have much of a problem:
- Apply a generous amount of warm water to the areas of the body where the Zinc cream has been used. Warm water should ideally be applied periodically throughout the process of removal as it provides lubrication and makes things a lot easier! The easiest way to do this is by stepping in to a shower but if you do not have immediate access to one then make sure you repeatedly use your hands to apply the water.
- Now get yourself some soap and run this under the warm water. At this point you should add a soft flannel or a soft sponge to the mix, and work the soap and the flannel/sponge together so that it forms a nice lather.
- Now use the flannel/sponge to apply the soap to the area where the Zinc cream was used. You should use slow and short rubbing motions to gently free the Zinc from the skin. There really is no need to rub the area too aggressively if the Zinc does not start to come off the skin straight away. Just repeat the process, and continue to add water and soap until the Zinc is removed.
Where Can You Buy Zinc Oxide Sunscreen?
Zinc oxide sunscreen is available all over the internet, and also at most popular health and beauty retailers as well as pharmacies! It is often a little more expensive than your standard chemical sunscreen due to the quality of materials included within it. In my experience, you can pick up a quality bottle/tube of Zinc oxide cream for less than £15, however prices can go higher up in to the £20 range!
Two main things you should consider when purchasing the Zinc cream are as follows:
- The SPF Factor – This is something you should look out for when buying sunscreen products, although not all Zinc oxide sunscreens will have the SPF factor listed. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) tells us how well the sunscreen will protect us against the harmful rays of the sun. Those of you with skin that is more sensitive to burning should buy sunscreen with a higher SPF factor. SPF 30 will keep out 97% of the sun’s harmful UVB rays, whereas a sunscreen which has an SPF of 50 will keep out 98% of the UVB rays. Again, those of you with very sensitive skin may choose to go with the higher factor! If the SPF factor is not listed, make sure you check the reviews and other information about the product to see if it is suitable for you before you make your purchase.
- The Colour – Zinc oxide sunscreens are available in many different colours. Advancements in technology have also allowed scientists to develop Zinc oxide sunscreens that are relatively invisible to the naked eye, rather than leaving the obvious white/coloured marks on the face! Make sure that the colour you choose is suitable to the type of cricket that you’re playing. If you’re playing cricket in coloured clothing, you may wish to choose a product that matches your team’s colours, whereas if you play in white, you may wish to choose a white cream. And of course, if you want the Zinc to be less noticeable, look for a version that becomes relatively invisible after application!
If you’re looking to make an online purchase, I would recommend starting with Amazon as they’re a widely trusted seller! You can’t really go too far wrong with Amazon in my view. They stock many different types of Zinc sunscreen that should cover most individual requirements! If you’re looking to buy a product that rubs in relatively clearly and is less visible when it is applied, then click here to go to Amazon to see a great one that is pretty cheap! If you’re looking for a Zinc sunscreen that is more visible, I’d recommend checking out this one by clicking here! Again, it’s not that expensive and the company that manufactures them has them in a range of colours, including white, red and blue!
If you decide not to buy your Zinc sunscreen online then I’d stick to popular health and beauty retailers or local pharmacies as I mentioned above! Just go ask at the desk and the staff should have all of the information you require on what sunscreen will be suitable for you!
Another Interesting Fact!
Zinc oxide sunscreen is also very useful for getting shine on a cricket ball! If you’re a bowler or one of the fielders who spends a lot of the time with the ball in their hand then you may want to be careful about accidentally getting it on to the surface of the ball! Some umpires or opposing teams may not take kindly to this, and may accuse you of tampering with the match ball. In my experience it is always best to avoid those sorts of allegations!
If you made it right through to the end of this post, thanks for reading! As always, I hope you found it helpful! Protection from the sun really is a critical issue that all cricketers should be aware of! We don’t want to damage our skin irreparably in our youth because we will certainly regret that as we get older! If you have any serious concerns about what sunscreen you should be using and whether certain ones are suitable for your skin, you should ask your doctor. The advice I’ve given here is a guide based only on my experiences of cricket and what protection I required! As I’ve said many times previously, each cricketer is different!
Also, remember that Zinc oxide sunscreen is just one of the methods we can use to protect ourselves! You can use regular chemical sunscreens that are more commercially available, and you could also choose to pair your Zinc sunscreen with a hat and sunglasses for extra coverage! In fact, I actually wrote a post containing a list of all the different types of equipment a cricketer will ever need! It lists all the essential items first, as well as covering the optional items that you may also wish to purchase. If you’d like to read the complete guide to cricket equipment, click here!