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As wonderful as the sun’s rays are, protection from them is vital. Summertime is full of fun in the water and long days out in the open air, so finding a vegan, cruelty-free sunscreen is a summer essential when it comes to protecting your skin and your overall wellbeing.
A growing number of people are becoming uncomfortable with the common chemicals and harmful radicals in regular sunscreen – not to mention the animal testing and nasty by-products found in some of the mainstream formulas. That’s why many turn to a more natural, vegan sunscreen as an alternative.
Just like regular sunscreen, vegan sun cream comes in many options such as spray-on, lotions, and water resistant formulas, but also has the added benefit of being both cruelty-free and kinder to the wider environment. It’s also better for your own skin, too!
By finding the best cruelty-free sunscreen (i.e. the one that works for you), you can spend less time worrying about harmful, cancer-causing rays and shady, unpronounceable chemicals, and enjoy more time safely having fun in the sun.
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Why buy vegan sun cream?
Sunscreen is highly important for preventing skin cancer. Depending on whereabouts you live, applying sunscreen can even become a daily routine, so you’ll want to know exactly what it is that you’re putting onto your skin, right?
Unfortunately, normal sunscreens can be loaded with a multitude of synthetic chemicals. These can be irritating to existing dermatological issues, cause new rashes to appear, feel greasy to the touch, and can leave annoying white streaks as they are virtually impossible to absorb.
Mainstream sunscreen brands may also contain artificial fragrances too. These not only smell odd, they can also have a detrimental effect on the health of your skin.
Then there’s the impact such chemicals have on the environment. Sunscreens that contain these unnatural products can have a devastating effect on marine life.
For example, toxic ingredients such as oxybenzone can affect the growth of coral, while other chemicals found within commercial sunscreens can have a direct impact on sea creatures, ranging from fish down to the smallest algae and marine worms. (1, 2)
Oxybenzone is also thought to a major contributing factor to premature aging, can cause serious skin allergies to occur, and even disrupt the hormonal balance within the body. Who wouldn’t want to avoid that combination?
However, the problems don’t stop at synthetic chemicals. Many suntan lotions contain ingredients derived from animals as well, and an absurd number of them still use animals during their testing phases.
Naturally, this is unacceptable to vegans, but there’s also an ever-increasing number of non-vegans who cannot see the reason for such cruelty when there are now perfectly acceptable natural alternatives available.
Thankfully, there are a growing number of cruelty-free sunscreen formulas hitting the shelves, which gives us a lot more choice and helps lower the impact we have when we purchase such products.
Not only do they ditch animal products, vegan sun cream manufacturers often switch synthetic nasties with more natural and skin-friendly ingredients, such as plant extracts and essential oils, all of which benefits your health, the planet, and helps prevent cruelty happening to millions of innocent animals across the globe.
So, transitioning across to a more natural, vegan sun cream can make a huge difference. Both your skin and the environment will thank you for it.
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What should I look for in cruelty-free sunscreen?
To make sure you’re avoiding any harsh chemicals that do more harm than good, keep an eye out for a vegan sunscreen that is free of any parabens, phthalates, polyethylene glycols, propylene glycols, SLS/SLES, and other similar synthetic chemicals, especially oxybenzone.
As mentioned before, oxybenzone can break down in sunlight and release free radicals that speed up the skin’s aging process. It’s also extremely bad for the environment, so steer clear of it if you see it listed on any product.
You should also consider sunscreen with micronized zinc or titanium. Compared to nano titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, there’s less concern over their particles having higher photo-reactivity than coarser particles which may generate the free radicals that can cause cell damage. Micronized particles pass through the skin more easily, which is why they often aren’t as white as nano particle sunscreens.
Be sure to look out for Vitamin A, or retinyl palmitate, as well – it’s now thought to potentially speed up skin lesion and tumor growth. While this issue is still controversial, most companies have already eliminated it in their sunscreen formulas, so it’s relatively easy to avoid. (3)
For optimum protection from the sun, a natural sunscreen with both UVA and UVB rays is ideal. Many vegan sunscreens contain the primary ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which both provide broad spectrum protection.
Regarding the blocking of harmful sun rays, an SPF of 15 blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF of 30 blocks 97%, and an SPF of 45 block 98%. Generally speaking, an SPF of 30 or higher is the most practical for good sun protection, and anything higher than 45 doesn’t really matter.
How to effectively use sunscreen
The sun’s rays don’t take a break, so your skin shouldn’t either. To prevent skin cancer and premature aging, you should follow these tips on how to apply sunscreen properly.
Choose a sunscreen that’s at least SPF 30 or higher (lower can be used if you’re willing to reapply regularly, but still try and keep it above SPF 25), is water resistant, and has broad spectrum protection so you don’t have to worry about skin damage from UVB and UVA rays.
Before going outside, apply your sunscreen generously and wait around 10 to 15 minutes. If you wait to apply sunscreen until you’re out in the sun, your skin can still burn since it’s essentially unprotected.
Most need at least an ounce of sunscreen to fully cover exposed areas of skin. Apply it wherever your skin will be exposed, for example onto your face, neck, legs, tops of your feet, and your back. If you have thinning hair, you can apply it to your scalp or simply wear a hat.
To stay protected for long days in the sun, be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours and immediately after swimming or long periods of sweating. Those who get sunburned most likely didn’t put on enough sunblock or didn’t regularly reapply it while outside.
Your skin is constantly exposed to the sun’s harmful UV rays, so it’s smart to apply it even on cloudy days and in the winter. (4)
Don’t rely too heavily on any sunscreen, vegan or otherwise
As a final word, the best protection against the sun’s harmful rays is to stay out of them as much as possible. Obviously, this doesn’t mean locking yourself indoors, but you should try and use sunscreen largely as a last resort rather than relying on it to keep you safe at all times.
Simple things like wearing loose fitting clothes which cover large areas of skin and seeking out shade wherever possible can make a huge difference to the amount of UV rays you will be exposed to.
Another great tip is to try and avoid the sun at peak times, so get things done outside during the mornings or late afternoons rather than being out at midday, for example.
We all love the life-giving properties that the sun brings us, but it’s important to be sensible about the amount of exposure we allow ourselves to enjoy. In short, be aware and stay safe.
best cruelty-free sunscreen Reviews
As with so many cosmetics products, finding the best cruelty-free sunscreen can often be a case of trial and error. A friend will recommend a product, swearing that it’s the best thing since sliced bread, only for you to be left disappointed. Vegan sunscreen is no different.
However, there are a few things that all decent products in this marketplace will have in common. Obviously, the lack of ingredients derived from animals and no animal testing are the most important qualifying factors, but the use of more natural ingredients should also be looked at too.
In the list of vegan sunscreen options listed below, I’ve tried to bring you some of the most popular cruelty-free sunscreen brands currently on the market today.
Inevitably, some great brands will be missed out, but I hope it’ll give you an idea of some of the options available to you if you want to ditch your non-vegan sunscreen and embrace a cruelty-free product instead.
Let’s get started, shall we?
MyChelle Sun Shield Mineral-Based Sunscreen
This SPF 28 natural vegan sunscreen from MyChelle has a lightweight formula that is quickly absorbed by the skin for a smooth and clear finish.
It contains translucent zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which makes this sunscreen a safer alternative compared to harsh chemical sunscreens and is practical for virtually all skin types. It’s also free of artificial fragrances and has Aloe and Vitamin E to protect and soothe the skin.
It’s great for daily use and is effective underneath makeup. As with most sunscreens, it’s recommended that you apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside. MyChelle additionally follows the EU definition of non-nano – where the primary particle size is greater than 100nm – along with being rich in antioxidants.
You won’t have to worry about skin damage from the sun since this mineral-based sunscreen protects you from both UVB and UVA rays, but some may find they sweat a little more than usual once this product has been applied.
- Biodegradable and reef safe
- Gentle enough for infants and young children
- Not as greasy as some sunscreens, so ideal for acne prone skin
- MyChelle give one per cent of their profits to the SurfRider
- Feels like a little stays on even after bathing
- Not water resistant, so you’ll need to reapply if you go swimming or sweat excessively
- Goes on thick, so a bit difficult to apply
- Can cause some to sweat a little more
Original Sprout Face & Body SPF 27 Sunscreen
Original Sprout’s Face & Body SPF 27 Sunscreen is made of all natural ingredients and is free of any harmful hormone disruptors and artificial fragrances. It’s made of a light and non-greasy formula and can also be used as a makeup primer, additionally acting as a daily moisturizer that can naturally help with acne due to its 10% zinc oxide ingredient.
There is no titanium dioxide or nano particles contained in its natural formula and it’s free of phytoestrogens, phthalates, clove, and musk too. It’s also free of soy, gluten, honey, peanut, and dairy ingredients, which is perfect for both vegans and anyone with allergies to such substances.
For optimal protection from the sun, the Original Sprout sunscreen has broad spectrum protection (UVB and UVA) and soothes the skin thanks to the lavender, cucumber, and rosemary found within the formula. This is great news for anyone who lives with dry skin issues such as eczema.
- Not too heavy, oily, or thick once applied
- Doesn’t irritate those with skin conditions like rosacea and eczema
- Dries quickly to a matte finish
- Ideal for sensitive skin
- Mild coconut smell but dissipates eventually
- SPF could be higher for those that spend long hours outside
- Not water resistant
- Can be difficult to apply. Warm in your hands first for best results
Nature’s Gate Aqua Block Sunscreen Lotion
Made with certified organic ingredients, this organic vegan sun cream from Nature’s Gate has an SPF of 50 which provides high protection against sunburn and skin cancer causing sun rays.
It’s made of an advanced eight-hour water-resistant formula, making it very practical for those that like to spend time in the pool or sea during the summertime.
Infused with aloe vera, chamomile, shea butter, and rosemary, it also soothes as it protects along with other natural botanicals. Nature’s Gate sunscreen is free of any parabens, gluten, fragrances, phthalates, oxybenzones, and is, of course, cruelty free.
It’s recommended to be applied 15 minutes before going out in the sun or swimming. However, like so many other vegan sunscreen products, it is rather thick and can be awkward to apply. It can be just as difficult to remove once the day is over, but it is effective at the job it sets out to do, protect you from the sun.
- Ideal for sensitive skin and gentle enough for children
- Waterproof so you can’t sweat it off
- Dries completely, so skin won’t be left feeling oily or sticky
- Virtually no smell
- Goes on thick leaving a grey color, but eventually disappears
- May irritate those with sensitive eyes
- A bit difficult to wash off in shower
Alba Botanica Hawaiian Aloe Vera Sunscreen
Great for the surfing enthusiast, Alba Botanical’s Hawaiian aloe vera cruelty-free sunscreen is extremely water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
It’s also biodegradable, making it less impactful to marine life when some of it inevitably washes off into the ocean, rivers, or lakes. Alba Botanica’s gluten-free formula offers broad spectrum with an SPF rating of 30 for effective protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays.
This sunscreen is made of 100% vegetarian ingredients, and it’s recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. As with all products on this list, Alba Botanica do not test on animals either, and your skin gets gently moisturized with aloe vera, sunflower oil, and tropical fruit extracts.
Additionally, it’s free of toxic parabens, phthalates, and artificial fragrances, which is great. However, not everyone is entirely happy with its sun-blocking capabilities. Many have reported burns after use and the product doesn’t score well on EWG, either, which is a pity.
- Easily absorbs into skin and doesn’t leave white streaks
- Smell is pleasant and natural
- Eighty minutes of highly-effective water resistance
- Can separate in bottle when heated, can turn runny
- Goes on thick and feels a bit greasy after application
- Oil based, so can potentially clog pores if applied on face
- Some users have reported burns after use
- Poor EWG rating
Ocean Potion Sunscreen Lotion
Ocean Potion’s Protect and Nourish sunscreen lotion provides a cruelty free, clean and dry formula that’s specially formulated for fair skin, protecting and nourishing with sea plant botanical extracts and fortified with Vitamin D3TM and antioxidants.
These apparently help aid in reducing cell damaging radicals for more radiant and younger looking skin.
Its Solaplex technology enhances the stability of Parsol 1789 (or Avobenzone), making Ocean Potion sunscreens last longer and be more reliable during your time out in the sun. Free of parabens and oxybenzone, Ocean Potion is water resistant for up to 80 minutes so you can enjoy your time in the water and feel safe from the sun’s harmful rays.
That being said, EWG give Ocean Potion’s Protect and Nourish sunscreen a pretty disappointing 5 in its popular sunscreen rating. This vegan suntan lotion is also pretty greasy and the smell won’t be to everyone’s taste, either.
While it has a powerful SPF of 50 and can be used on all skin types, some users do still report burns after use. However, it’s always important to remember that there is absolutely no way of knowing whether or not the sunscreen was applied correctly in these instances.
- High protection against UVA I, II and UVB sunrays
- Great for fair skin
- Works well as a daily moisturizer
- No problems reported by those with sensitive skin
- Doesn’t score well on EWG
- Sweet smell will not be for everyone and may attract bugs
- Irritant if applied near the eyes
- May turn runny when in direct heat and can also run off the skin when you sweat
TotLogic Safe Sunscreen
TotLogic’s safe sunscreen is highly effective for those seeking ultimate protection from the sun and is made of all natural ingredients.
It’s reef safe, vegan, doesn’t contain any nano particles, parabens, or phthalates, and is cruelty free. Totlogic’s formula is safe for use on babies over six months old and can be used on virtually any skin type.
One thing stands out about TotLogic – its EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database rating. This vegan sunscreen gets the lowest hazard rating possible – 1 – so you can feel confident when using it.
This will be especially welcomed by parents and guardians. That being said, any sunscreen should be used as a last resort when you simply cannot stay out of the shade or do not have adequate coverage by clothing.
A prime example of this is when swimming or surfing. Thankfully, this vegan sun cream is water and sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes and has an SPF of 30, providing both UVA and UVB protection.
You can safely use this on your face, too, and it has no potentially irritating artificial colors and fragrances, yet it is said to be rich in antioxidants.
Downsides? Well, it’s a little on the thick side, which can make it difficult to apply evenly. This can sometimes lead to patches of skin being missed, so there are some reports of people still burning after use.
Others find that it leaves a white sheen to the skin, but this can usually be avoided if warmed in the hands before rubbing onto the areas you want to protect.
Overall, TotLogic is a decent product worthy of your consideration if you are looking for a different cruelty-free sunscreen to try.
- High in zinc oxide and ideal for acne prone skin
- Creamy texture and doesn’t leave skin feeling too sticky or greasy, but can leave skin looking a little white
- Pleasant and natural smell
- Good water resistance for a vegan sunscreen, up to 80 minutes before needing to reapply
- Safe for anyone over 6 months of age
- Great score on EWG
- A bit difficult to rub in thoroughly
- Might be a little thick for some to use on their face
- Can leave you a bit white at first
- Not that great under makeup
Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion
This vegan suntan lotion from Sun Bum is tested and approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation and provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection along with Parsol 1789 for optimal sun guard. Its all organic formula is paraben free, PABA free, gluten free, and oil free, ideal for many skin types since it won’t clog up your pores or cause breakouts.
Being that it’s hypoallergenic, this photostable lotion is said to be safe to use on young children and is enriched with Vitamin E to better nourish the skin and neutralize free radicals, which are the main cause of premature skin aging. After applying, it’s water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes, suiting your outdoor lifestyle and keeping your skin safe.
There is, however, a problem – the fact that Sun Bum scores quite poorly on EWG hazard ratings system. Upon closer inspection it’s clear why – it contains oxybenzone! This is surely going to be a deal-breaker for many of you, and is another reminder of the importance of checking the ingredient list carefully.
Further concerns surround the use of fragrances and methylisothiazolinone, which can affect allergy sufferers and cause irritation. Come on Sun Bum, you can do better!
- Washes off quite easily, despite being water resistant
- Smells nice, but the fragrances used are questionable
- Feels light on the skin
- Contains oxybenzone and other nasties
- Can irritate eyes if applied near them
- You may find a white film left on skin after applying
- Can flake off
- May cause itchiness and irritation
- Not great for acne sufferers
- Sweet smell may attract bugs
Which is the best cruelty-free, vegan sunscreen?
Of all the products mentioned, my vote goes to TotLogic Safe Sunscreen for the best cruelty-free sunscreen of the group. It hits pretty much everything on the checklist.
It’s biodegradable, 100% vegan, free of nano particles, parabens, and phthalates, is cruelty free (obviously!), and scores brilliantly on EWG. TotLogic also doubles as both a sunscreen and a moisturizer since its enriched with antioxidants and has an SPF of 30, which is an ideal amount for good protection from the sun.
What else? Well, it does a good job of its main task – providing UVA and UVB ray protection, which are harmful and can speed up the skin’s aging process. In addition, this sunscreen doesn’t have any artificial fragrances, so it doesn’t tend to irritate as much as others, and it even protects you in the water for up to 80 minutes.
As noted before, oxybenzone and vitamin A are to be avoided in sunscreens, and fortunately, none of these are found in TotLogic’s Safe Sunscreen.
To keep both you and your family safe under the sun, TotLogic’s sunscreen is the most practical and it provides you with sun protection without worrying about your skin absorbing toxic chemicals which can sometimes be even more dangerous than the sun’s rays.
It’s eco-friendly, has a broad spectrum, and boasts an all-natural ingredient list, making it a safe and great choice for all your summertime adventures. Give it a try!
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That’s it! Our review of the best cruelty-free sunscreens is complete. We hope you found it useful. If you know of a great vegan suntan lotion that hasn’t been included on our list, do let us know by dropping a comment below.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- Reuters | Sunscreen contributing to decline of coral reefs, study shows | https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/21/sunscreen-contributing-to-decline-of-coral-reefs-study-shows
- Craig Welch | Do Sunscreens’ Tiny Particles Harm Ocean Life in Big Ways? | https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/150514-sunscreen-nanoparticle-nanotechnology-oceans-marine-beach-boat-toxic
- EWG | The problem with vitamin A | https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/the-problem-with-vitamin-a/
- Mayo Clinic Staff | Winter doesn’t mean you can sideline the sunscreen | https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/wrinkles/in-depth/health-tip/art-20048629