How to Buy the Best Vegan Sunscreen
There a number of natural, vegan sunscreens on the market
Evergreen Writer | contactable via hello@livekindly.co

Vegan sunscreen is protecting our skin and our planet from long term damage.

With the summer finally upon us, we can all start to enjoy the sunny season to its fullest. Especially for those living in more drizzly climes, those few weeks where you can risk leaving your cardigan at home and enjoy traveling back from work in broad daylight are truly halcyon.

During these sunlit months, many of us take every opportunity to get outside and often find ourselves involved in outdoor pursuits such as hiking, gardening or just lazing happily on the nearest available patch of grass. But with the center of our solar system blazing Ultraviolet (UV) rays down upon our deck chairs, it is important to protect our skin with a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) vegan sunscreen.

Sunscreen is designed to protect us from the sun’s UV rays, which are essentially waves of electromagnetic radiation. UV rays can be divided into three types, UVA, UVB, and UVC. If you’ve not heard of UVC rays before, it’s because they are still short enough to be stopped by the Earth’s ozone layer, so aren’t something you’re likely to encounter unless you’re an astronaut.

The UVA rays are the longest and can penetrate deep into the skin’s dermis, causing damage to collagen and resulting in wrinkling and skin aging. This is why many dermatologists recommend using skincare with UVA protection.

UVB rays, on the other hand, are shorter, so are absorbed into the skin’s outermost epidermis. It is UVB rays that cause our skin to darken, or in worse cases, turn the color of pickled beetroot before blistering. Both kinds of UV light can lead to melanoma, making a good sunscreen essential for anyone braving the blaze. Just remember the invaluable advice from Baz Luhrmann’s 1999 classic.

What Is Vegan Sunscreen?

Not all sunscreen is vegan and cruelty-free 

Like all products, whether edible, wearable, or drivable, for a product to be vegan, it must not have been tested on animals or contain any animal derived ingredients. While cosmetic animal-testing was banned in the UK in 1998, and it has been illegal to sell animal-tested products in the EU since 2013, certain clauses in the legislature mean this practice still occurs.

In the US, there are no laws restricting the testing of cosmetics on animals. Furthermore, in America sunscreen is classified as an over the counter drug, so it is subject to the same testing procedures as other pharmaceuticals. To ensure a cruelty-free product, it is advisable to check products for the Leaping Bunny logo or the Cruelty-Free stamp.

While all vegan products are cruelty-free, not all cruelty-free products are vegan. The difference is down to the contents that make up the shower-gel/lipstick/foot-scrub you’re applying.

Like many personal-care products, sunscreen can contain ingredients such as lanolin (from sheep wool) and elastin (from animal’s connective tissue). Beeswax is a particularly common component of many sunscreens due to its waterproofing properties. These elements won’t necessarily be listed clearly on the packaging, so obvious tags like the Vegan Certified stamp are useful guarantees.

As well as animal welfare, another ethical consideration that dictates people’s buying choices is the product’s environmental impact. Alongside packaging and the distribution footprint, the toxicity of ingredients can render products incredibly harmful to the planet. In terms of sunscreen, the serial offender is the organic compound Benzophenone-3, usually referred to as oxybenzone.

Sunscreen Destroying Coral Reefs

Sunscreen can harm coral reefs

The UV absorbing properties of oxybenzone have made it a popular ingredient in sunscreens since 1978. However, research has shown that the substance has been causing irreparable damage to our coral reefs, in some cases, leaving the reef completely ravaged.

In 2015, forensic eco-toxicologist Craig Downs, Ph.D. published his research on the hazardous effects of oxybenzone upon coral reefs in Hawaii and the US Virgin Islands. During this research, Dr. Downs discovered that 14,000 tonnes of sunscreen ends up in coral reefs every year, with the oxybenzone disrupting the growth of coral larvae.

The coral larvae (or planula) either deform or stop growing prematurely, with death being the end result. Dr. Downs’ research also showed that oxybenzone acts as an endocrine disruptor, and causes the coral planula to entomb itself in its own exoskeleton, where they simply starve to death.

With the effects of oxybenzone upon coral sounding more like an underwater horror movie by the second, we move on to the creation of “reef zombies.” This phrase was coined by Dr. Downs and describes a reef without any active marine life inhabitants.

Dr. Downs, Director of the non-profit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory,  said of oxybenzone in his paper, “ecologically, it can slowly kill a coral reef. But, even more importantly, it creates coral reef zombies.”

He continues, “These reefs, from the untrained eye, look ok, but everything is sterile. No new coral, sea urchin, or fish recruits will enter and settle on the reef. It is, from a demographic and evolutionary perspective, already dead.”

Coral reefs house a full third of all marine biodiversity, making them an essential part of our marine ecosystem.  Our vital reefs desperately need protecting, but it is not only coral that oxybenzone is endangering. The chemical can also be harmful to other marine wildlife, and not just because so many sea-creatures rely upon reefs as a source of food and protection. Due to being an endocrine disruptor, oxybenzone can cause feminization of male fish and deformities in echinoderms such as sea-urchin embryos.

Banning of Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is dangerous for marine life

The harmful effects of oxybenzone upon our marine life have led some countries to take action. Hawaii, which is home to over 2000 kilometers of coral reefs spanning the Pacific ocean, has led the fight against toxic sunscreen. In May 2018, Hawaii passed a bill, banning sunscreens which contain oxybenzone, effective from January 2021. The bill also bans the use of octinoxate which has been shown to be harmful to coral reefs and sea life.

While Hawaii was the first state to ban oxybenzone sunscreen, in November 2018 the Pacific island Palau became the first country to impose such a ban. The bill which will come into effect in 2020 prohibits sunscreens which include oxybenzone, octinoxate, and eight other chemicals which have been proven as harmful to the ocean.

In April 2019, popular tourist location, Key West Florida also voted to ban the sale and importing of all oxybenzone sunscreens, which will be active from January 2021. The Caribbean island Bonaire has followed suit, with an active oxybenzone ban to be in place from 2021. While  Mexico does not currently hold a ban, the country seems to be heading this way. Upmarket holiday resorts such as ecotourism preserve Xcaret Park and other tourist spots in Playa del Carmen are routinely requesting that guests use natural sunscreens.

Natural Suncare

Natural sunscreen is made with minerals

Natural sunscreens are typically made of minerals such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which reflect UV rays rather than absorbing them like oxybenzone. Zinc oxide, sometimes known as philosopher’s wool, is the leader in mineral-based sun protection, making UV rays bounce off your face like bullets off shatterproof glass. The minerals are usually blended with oil and other plant-extracts and compounds to make them easier to apply.

Benefits of Natural Sunscreens

Natural sunscreen has a number of benefits

When we think of artificial ingredients, we usually think of the fatty acids in our snacks or the e-numbers floating in our soft drinks. But our bathroom cabinet is often crammed with enough synthetic chemicals to start a high school science lab. It is estimated that we slather, smear, and dab 168 chemicals onto our bodies each day in the name of grooming.

While not all chemicals are automatically harmful, substances such as parabens, often used as preservatives in cosmetics, have been linked to certain cancers due to their tendency to mimic estrogen. Other common ingredients include formaldehyde, polyethylene which has been shown to be carcinogenic and hormone-disrupting phthalates. Opting for natural products means that you’re not exposing your skin (the biggest organ in the body) to toxic and potentially harmful chemicals.

Natural ingredients are also better for the planet. Everything we put on our bodies eventually ends up in the water system, whether it drips off in the shower or is rinsed away during a seaside swim. Choosing products made from naturally occurring ingredients avoids your bathwater disrupting your nearest waterway’s chemical balance, or harming organisms living within various aquatic habitats.

There are many reasons to opt for a natural sunscreen and the excellent news is, there are plenty of vegan, mineral-based sunscreens on the market. Whether you’re in the market for a sports sunscreen, a baby sunblock, face protection or cover for your whole body, there is a vegan sun-cream which will be best suited to your needs. 

31 of the Best 30+ SPF Vegan Sunscreen Brands


1. Suntegrity

Suntegrity Skincare uses natural ingredients like green tea

This fully vegan company makes all of its products using minerals and natural extracts such as green tea and cucumber.

Buy it here.

2. All Good

All Good’s vegan sunscreen works for up to 80 minutes

This vegan sweat-resistant sunscreen is formulated with green tea, rose hip oil, and buriti oil.

Buy it here.

 

3. Keys Solar RX from Keys Pure

This sunscreen was made to suit all skin types

This vegan-friendly company was started by Wendy Steele in the early 2000s. She and her partner developed the products after she beat melanoma and found the suncare prescriptions too harsh. Made with Zinc-Oxide and a moisturizing base, the products are made to suit all skin types.

 Buy it here.

4. True Natural

True Natural offers cruelty-free sunscreen

Made with minerals and coconut oil, True Natural has been offering natural skin care since 1987. The cruelty-free company offers numerous sunscreens, including ones for sport and tan acceleration.

Buy it here.

5. Let it Block

Keep yourself pale with Goth Block

For Morrissey lovers and fans of all things velvet, this sunscreen ensures you will retain your pale and interesting appearance. Plus it comes in a recyclable pouch.

Buy it here.

6. Green People

 

Green People sunscreen is reef safe

This cruelty-free company is fully organic and all of its sunscreens are certified reef-safe.

Buy it here.

 

7. Sunology

 

Vegan Sunology does high factor sunscreen for kids

Fully vegan Sunology specializes in natural suncare and uses candelilla wax and minerals in its products.

Buy it here.

8. Lavanila

Most of Lavanilla’s sunscreens are vegan

Most of Lavanila’s products are vegan, and its vegan suncare is made using essential oil and beta-glucan technology. (That means oats).

Buy it here.

9. Tropic

This vegan suncare range is made with minerals and plant extracts

Vegan company Tropic is based in the UK and its suncare range is created using minerals, plant extracts, and natural oils.

Buy it here.

10. Kabana Organic Skincare

 

Kabana Skincare is fully organic

This fully organic, cruelty-free company makes all of its sun care products with minerals and other natural ingredients. Most of its suncare is vegan, but check the labeling as beeswax slips into a couple of products.

 Buy it here.

11. Jason Natural

Jason Naturals has offered cruelty-free products since the fifties

Proffering cruelty-free products since 1959, this company’s vegan suncare is reef safe and certified organic. The website also offers a handy vegan filter tab.

Buy it here.

 

12. Goddess Garden Organics

This natural sunscreen is packed with minerals

Specialising in sun care, this vegan-friendly company is based in Colorado and uses minerals, natural botanicals, and oils in all of its products.

Buy it here.

13. EQ Sun Protection

This cruelty-free sunscreen is a surfer-favorite

Tested by surfers all over the world, according to its website, EQ is cruelty-free and all of its organic products are made in France. Many of its sun care products are vegan but check the ingredients.

Buy it here.

14. Bare Republic

Bare Republic has an environmental focus

Based in California, this cruelty- free brand was launched in 2016 with a specific environmental focus. All of its products are biodegradable and reef friendly.

Buy it here.

15. Green Energy Organics

Italian Green Energy Organics is organic

Italian and fully organic, this vegan-friendly company uses plant stem cells and minerals to keep UVA at bay.

Buy it here.

16. Arbonne

Natural company Arbonne is PETA-certified

PETA-certified company Arbonne bases its suncare on natural botanicals and its suncare is infused with a superfood cocktail of vitamins.

Buy it here.

17. Lush

Lush offers a few vegan-friendly sunblock products

Makers of sweet-smelling skincare, Lush is cruelty-free and recently removed eggs from all its products. The UK company offers three suncare products which are a mineral powder, a sesame suntan lotion and a calamine powder infused block.

Buy it here.

 

18. Eco Cosmetics

 

German company Eco Cosmetics is cruelty-free

This cruelty-free company is based in Germany and all of its suncare is mineral based.

Buy it here.

19. Alba Botanica

Apart from its lip balms, all of Alba Botanic’s products are vegan

All of this Leaping Bunny certified company’s products are vegan EXCEPT for its lip products which have beeswax in them. The sun-creams are made from minerals and plant extracts.

Buy it here.

20. Odylique

Odylique’s sunscreen is award-winning

This UK based, PETA-approved company only sells the one suncare product, but considering it’s won awards, we reckoned it was worth including.

Buy it here.

21. Erbaviva

Erbaviva uses natural cruelty-free ingredients

Italian for “living herbs” Erbaviva uses non-animal tested ingredients such as lavender oil and aloe to create a soothing sunscreen.

Buy it here.

22. Supergoop!

The majority of Supergoop! products are vegan

With the exception of beeswax in its Fusion Lip Balm formulas, Lip Shield, and Perfect Day 2-in-1 SPF, all Supergoop! products are vegan.

Buy it here.

23. Coola

Coola is vegan with the exception of four products

Cruelty-free brand Coola makes its products using ingredients that are as organic, naturally, and locally sourced as possible. Only four of its products contain beeswax – the Liplux Organic Lip Balm and the Mineral Baby range.

Buy it here.

24. Pacifica Beauty

Pacifica Beauty is vegan

This 100 percent cruelty-free and vegan brand has multiple options for protecting your skin from the sun’s rays.

Buy it here.

25. Josie Maran

Josie Maran is cruelty-free

Known for its argan oil products, cruelty-free brand Josie Maran’s Daily Moisturizer SPF 47 is vegan.

Buy it here.

26. Australian Gold

Australian Gold is cruelty-free and vegan

Cruelty-free brand Austrlian Gold is suitable for vegans, according to PETA. Its botanical sunscreens are infused with antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Buy it here.

27. CoTZ

CoTZ sunscreen is completely plant-based

All products from this healthier sunscreen brand and cruelty-free and vegan.

Buy it here.

28. Juice Beauty

Most Juice Beauty products are vegan

Only a small handful of Juice Beauty products aren’t vegan due to the addition of beeswax. The brand’s suncare products, except for the SPF 8 Mineral Lip Moisturizer, are free from animal products.

Buy it here.

29. Derma E

All Derma E products are vegan

All of this natural skincare brand’s products are cruelty-free and vegan. Its mineral sunscreen is reef-safe and suitable for all skin types.

Buy it here.

30. MyChelle

This cruelty-free brand specializes in multi-tasking products

This cruelty-free brand formulates its products without petroleum, parabens, sulfates, and artificial colors and fragrances. With the exception of beeswax in the Sun Shield Clear Stick, all sun care products are vegan.

Buy it here.

31. HydroPeptide

HydroPeptide targets fine lines and wrinkles

This vegan sunscreen does double-duty: not only will it protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ray, it’s also formulated with brightening antioxidants and hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Buy it here.


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How to Buy the Best Vegan Sunscreen
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How to Buy the Best Vegan Sunscreen
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A number of brands offer vegan, reef-safe, cruelty-free, natural sunscreen, which is protecting our skin and our planet from long term damage.
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LIVEKINDLY
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