White Cream on Cricketers Face: Why Use It & Is it Safe?

As an avid cricket fan, I’ve always had friends who would come over to watch a cricket match. One of the questions that we have often wondered is about the white cream that cricket players apply on their face. So I decided to dig a little deeper and here’s what I found out!

The White Cream that cricketers use on their face is a special sunscreen made from zinc oxide. It is a sunscreen that provides extra protection to the players from the sun’s harmful UVA & UVB rays. Cricketers are exposed to direct sunlight for hours and players use this cream on sensitive parts of the face.

Now that we have the basics out of our way, I’ll try and answer all the queries that you may have by covering various aspects related to the white cream used by the cricketers. Read on to know everything about it.

What Exactly is the White Cream Used by Cricketers?

Zinc Oxide Powder (Image Credit)

The white cream used by the Cricketers for skin protection is the physical sunscreen made from Zinc Oxide. Zinc oxide is the main and the strongest ingredient in any physical sunscreen used by cricketers.  It is a white powdery mineral with a long history of use against harmful sun rays.

The Zinc Oxide white cream is not an ordinary sunscreen that cricketers apply on their face. It has the capability to provide extra protection than a regular sunscreen. Your everyday sunscreens are “chemical sunscreens”. Those sunscreens soak into the body, and hence UVA and UVB rays can pierce the top layer of the skin. Thus, such creams are not ideal and cannot be used by the Cricketers or anyone who must stay under the sun for long hours.

Such skin protectant generic creams do not require a prescription. The primary characteristics of zinc oxide are the high refractive index, high thermal conductivity, binding, antibacterial, and UV-protection. The suntan lotions or the sunscreen based on zinc oxide protect against both UVA and UVB ultraviolet radiation.

Why do Cricketers Use Zinc Oxide White Cream on their Faces?

We have already understood that it is not merely out of fashion or as a style statement that the cricketers apply sunscreen on their faces. The main purpose of such a white cream application is for the protection of the skin from the sunlight.

Let’s dive deeper into this topic and know why the cricketers need to use the white cream. The section below covers the detailed explanation, about the effect of the harmful sun rays on the skin and the cream’s primary constituents.

Skin Protection from Solar UV Rays

The reason for using such creams is to protect the skin from the effects of solar UV rays exposure. Most skin cancer is caused by ultraviolet (UV) light damaging the DNA in skin cells and the prime source of UV lights is sunlight.

The sunlight contains ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB), and ultraviolet C (UVC) rays. While UVC is filtered by the earth’s atmosphere, our skin is exposed to UVA and UVB through direct sunlight.

Effects of UVA and UVB rays (Image Credit)

We should be aware of the detrimental effects of both UVA and UVB as highlighted below –

  • UVA Rays can penetrate the deepest layer of the skin and cause premature aging. It is more dangerous as its effect goes unnoticed initially.
  • UVB Rays cause burning and tanning by damaging the outer layer of the skin.

Cricketers spend a significant amount of time out in the field under the scorching sun before, during a practice session, and also during a cricket match.

Umar Akmal with full sleeves and face cream (Image Credit)

As the cricketers get the sunlight exposure for hours, it becomes imperative to protect the skin from the overexposure of UV rays which could damage the skin over time and, in certain extreme cases, making it susceptible to develop skin cancer.

Hence, in addition to sunglasses and hats, a skin protection cream could avoid or minimize the damage to a significant degree. Cricketers generally use full-length pants and full-sleeve shirts or use compression arm sleeves during the match or practice in the sun hence the skincare is mainly required for the face.

How is Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Different from a Regular Sunscreen?

Zinc Oxide sunscreens are special types of sunscreens that provide extra protection from the harmful rays of the sun. These are designed for athletes spending too much time outdoors.

Let’s take a look at how this zinc oxide sunscreen provides extra protection over a typical sunscreen.

A visual representation of how zinc oxide sunscreen (physical sunscreen) provides extra protection as compared to a standard chemical sunscreen (Image Credit)

The Zinc Oxide sunscreen is also called physical sunscreens as they sit on top of the skin and physically block the potentially damaging UV rays.

As represented in the image above, unlike their chemical counterparts that work by absorbing the sun’s rays, the zinc oxide sunscreens actually work by scattering the sun’s rays.

Thus, the zinc oxide sunscreen stops harmful ultraviolet rays from entering the skin layer thereby providing extra protection.

Benefits of the Zinc Oxide Sunscreen

As discussed in some of the previous sections, the core benefit of the physical sunscreen is that it offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Let’s see some other benefits of the cream.

  1. The Zinc Oxide sunscreen is safe to use for kids. Thus, if you or your child is starting your career as a budding cricketer, you can definitely use the zinc oxide sunscreen.
  2. Zinc Oxide sunscreen acts instantly. This means, the moment it is applied, it starts protecting your skin from the sun and hence eliminating the wait time before heading outdoors.
  3. Zinc Oxide sunscreen is good for sensitive skin as it rarely gives you skin irritations. Thus, it is better for people prone to skin conditions such as rosacea (causing redness and visible blood vessels in your face).
  4. It has a long shelf life. It doesn’t get spoiled easily when stored at ambient temperature.

How to Apply the Zinc Oxide Sunscreen?

Applying zinc oxide sunscreen is quite simple. But, it is important for us to know what all parts should the sunscreen be applied on! Let’s understand this in detail.

Where to Apply the Sunscreen?

The cricketers apply zinc oxide cream at various parts of the face and neck. Where to apply it depends on an individual’s choice and which portion of the exposed skin is more sensitive or prone to the sunburn.

Cricketers generally apply Zinc oxide on the nose, cheeks, lips, back of the neck, or their hands, as these are the areas directly exposed to the sunlight.

These are the priority areas given the fact that the cricketers’ shirts are generally full sleeve, while the full-length pants cover the legs and feet are covered by the shoes.

The parts. of the body that are usually exposed to the sun are ears, nose, and lips. You can surely put the cream on other parts of the body if you know that it’s going to be exposed to the sunlight for hours.

How Much Sunscreen Should You Apply?

One thing that we should be aware of when it comes to sunscreen application is that “Less is NOT good”. More the cream, better and longer the protection you shall receive.

To apply the cream, here are the steps that you should follow –

Step 1 – Extract a good amount of cream from the tube (or from the powdered paste that you may have just created) onto the fingertips. Make sure you have it aplenty.

Step 2 – Then spread it on the desired part of the body. The actual amount of cream to be applied may vary from person to person.

That’s pretty much it! It’s that simple.

Tips for Applying the Sunscreen as a Cricketer

Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind while applying the sunscreen on your body –

  • Tip 1 – If the cream is a bit chalky or less “creamy” such that it doesn’t spread easily, then you must take more.
  • Tip 2 – If you have sensitive skin, make sure you apply more cream on your skin as compared to others who may be less sensitive to sun exposure.
  • Tip 3 – Take into account the amount of time that you will spend on the ground. If you know that you are going to spend more time under the scorching sunlight, you should use more cream.
  • Tip 4 – If you feel like reapplying some more, make sure that you remove the previous layer before reapplying it. If you reapply the cream, without removing the earlier layer of cream, you would just trap oil and dirt between the layers of the cream.
  • Tip 5 – Make sure you remove the sunscreen properly once you’re done playing. By removing the sunscreen properly, you can get rid of dirt and avoid breakouts of the layers on your skin.

How to Remove the Sunscreen Properly?

It’s better to keep the skin free from any cream especially when it is not needed anymore. However, the sunscreen CANNOT be removed completely just by washing your face using water.

Physical sunscreens are oil-based, so you can just wash off the sunscreen. It’s quite easy to remove it with the oil cleansing method as described in simple steps below.

Steps to Remove the Sunscreen Properly –

  1. First take some coconut oil (or any other oil of your choice like sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or olive oil would also work).
  2. Pour a little bit of oil into your palm and then massage it gently on the body where the cream was applied. Keep it as it is for a minute or two so that it is soaked.
  3. Take a small towel, drench it in warm water (not too hot). Squeeze it out and hold it over the skin area where the sunscreen is and keep it for around 10 seconds before gently wiping away the sunscreen.
  4. Repeat the above steps until all the sunscreen is gone.

Some people use cream or gel-based makeup remover or even use face wipes with some good oils. However, in order to get the best results, use the method that I’ve describe above.

Is it Safe to Use Zinc Oxide White Cream on Your Face?

The zinc oxide white cream or the physical sunscreens are safe and provide more protection to the skin. Using the physical sunscreen is definitely better than dealing with damage the skin gets due to overexposure of the sun’s glare.

In fact, a research study done by the University of Queensland, Australia concluded that Sunscreen Use is a Safe and Effective Approach to Skin Cancer Prevention [link to the research].

Scientific studies have supported wearing sunscreen regularly to protect against skin cancer.

The FDA also continued to urge Americans that they should apply sunscreen, though they sought more information about sunscreen ingredients from the manufacturers.

The reports that the sunscreens are unsafe has no merits. In fact, people are using sunscreens for years. As per the FDA’s proposed rules, the Zinc oxide is “generally recognized as safe and effective” (GRASE).

Are There Any Drawbacks of Using Zinc Oxide Sunscreens?

Although there are several benefits to using the Zinc Oxide White Sunscreen, it also has a few drawbacks as mentioned below –

  1. It is required to be applied more frequently as it can go away due to sweating or rubbing. As per the FDA (USA’s Food and Drugs Administration) guidelines, the sunscreen should be reapplied approximately every two hours.
  2. When applied, it is prominently visible on one’s skin.
  3. It increases perspiration.
  4. While applying, more efforts are needed as it is thicker than the regular creams.

What Factors Should You Consider while Purchasing Zinc Oxide White Cream?

The physical sunscreen is available everywhere, including e-retail portal. Price-wise, it is a little more expensive compared to the chemical sunscreen. Two main factors one should consider when purchasing the Zinc oxide based cream are as described below.

1. SPF Factor

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It somewhat indicates how well the sunscreen could protect us against the harmful UVB sun rays.

For people having very sensitive skin, choosing to go with a higher SPF factor is advisable. Though the SPF number is not linear in its protection capabilities.

For example – SPF of 30 can keep out 97% of UV rays, whereas a sunscreen having SPF of 50 can give you 98% protection against the UVB rays. One needs to know that sunscreens with high SPF numbers like SPF 75 or SPF 100, do not offer significantly greater protection compared to SPF 30.

If the SPF factor is not mentioned on the product, you should research a bit and find out more about the product to see if it would suit you.

What is the Ideal SPF Number to go for in a Sunscreen?

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, dermatologists suggest using a sunscreen that has an SPF number of at least 30, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.

It is important to note that higher-number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s UVB rays, but no sunscreen can block 100 percent of the sun’s UVB rays.

2. Color Availability

Zinc oxide sunscreens are available in many different nowadays. The creams are now being made with the colors relatively less prominent or less visible. Check out the colors and select based on your suitability and requirements before purchasing the cream.

3. Price

The Zinc Oxide White Cream Powder comes at different price points based on its capability. Usually, it can be easily bought for around £25 – £50.

I highly recommend going with this Zinc Oxide Powder [on Amazon]. You get a huge pouch of the zinc oxide powder cream that can be used for a few several times. Although the price of about £45 might seem on the higher side, you actually get a whole pound of the powder! This turns out to be about 3 to 4 times cheaper than a Zinc Oxide cream.

If, however, you would want to avoid preparing the cream using the powder every time, and instead want to go with a cream, I would highly recommend Heliocare 360 Fluid Cream [on Amazon] which comes with a SPF50 protection.

How do Cricketers Protect themselves for UV rays apart from Sunscreen?

Applying physical sunscreen is not the only thing cricketers do to maintain the skin as no sunscreen can give you a guaranteed 100 percent protection. The cricketers use Cricket Goggles or Sunglasses, wear caps or hats, or use arm sleeves.

Harbhajan Singh with face cream (Image Credit)

Cricketers also often tend to wear full sleeves shirt. Another gear that cricketers often use are the arm sleeves. While the arm sleeves (also known as compression sleeves) are helpful in several other ways. We wrote a detailed post on this topic. Be sure to check it out!

Does the Sunscreen help in Shining the Ball?

You may be surprised to know that the white cream can get you to shine on a cricket ball!

While the bowlers and fielders grab the ball on numerous occasions and spend a lot of time with it, accidentally the ball may get some cream rubbed on it.

The cream can give the ball unwanted, accidental extra shine. While it would work in favor of the bowling side, such use of the cream is legally not permissible. Hence one should be extremely careful while dealing with the ball if the white cream is on.

If noticed by an umpire, the team can be penalised for this under the “using external substance to affect the condition of the ball” rule of the ICC.

A few Famous Cricketers who Wear White Cream Sunscreen

There are a number of cricketers who have been seen using the white zinc oxide cream on their face!

Allan Donald with white sunscreen on his face
(Image Credit)

Alan Donald, former South African fast bowler and also one of the most successful pacers for South Africa, was famous for applying a thick layer of the white cream over his nose, cheeks, and on the lips.

Alan Donald was affectionately known as White Lightening due to the application of the cream.

Years later, Donald’s autobiography was titled the same.

There are several other famous cricketers for eg. Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds, and Shane Warne who have often been remarked for consistently using white cream on their faces while playing cricket.

Final Thoughts

With this, I am sure you got to know most of the aspects related to the white cream used by the cricketers. I hope this article has helped you in understanding the nuances of the white zinc oxide sunscreen used by cricketers.

While buying a sunscreen, make sure you choose the one that comes with at least an SPF30 protection. Stay safe, and keep reading more stuff on our website!

Shrot Katewa

Shrot is an avid cricket fan! He has played and endorsed the sport ever since he was in School. In fact, he played as a professional cricketer represented his state team in National Indoor Cricket Championship held in Pune, India. Shrot loves the game, loves talking to other people who play the game and share his learnings with other interested individuals. He is the founder of CricketMastery.com. This website is a culmination of his desire to help others understand this wonderful Game of Cricket!

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