7 of the Best Cruelty-Free Vegan Sunscreens

Down in the deep South where we live, it can sometimes feel like the sun is sitting right on your shoulder. Even if it’s not quite as hot where you live, protecting your skin from the sun all year long is crucial to preventing skin cancer.

For vegans and vegetarians, being conscious about what we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our bodies. Using cruelty-free vegan sunscreen is one way to protect our skin from the sun and help combat animal cruelty.

You can listen to us discuss cruelty-free vegan sunscreens in this episode of the podcast or read on for a summary of everything we discuss.

Vegetarian Zen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a monetary commission. Additionally, the information presented is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor.  Learn More.

Looking for some quick picks? Here are our Top 3 cruelty-free sunscreens

Skin Protection All Year Long

Summer isn’t the only time we need to worry about protecting our skin from the sun. While it’s true that most of us spend a lot more time in the sun during the summer months, our skin is exposed to the sun almost every day of the year. A good quality sunscreen plays a BIG role in skin protection.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

Regular daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent.

Skin Cancer Foundation

But not all sunscreens are created equally! If you’re a health-conscious, eco-conscious consumer, you’ll want to understand the difference between conventional sunscreens and vegan sunscreens.

7 vegan sunscreens

Definitions

Before we discuss the benefits of vegan sunscreen and provide our top picks, let’s go over a few definitions.

What Does “Cruelty-Free” Mean?

For a product to be considered “cruelty-free,” neither the finished product nor any of its ingredients can have been tested on animals. This term can be very confusing, and some companies try to fool consumers into thinking their products are cruelty-free when, in fact, they’re not.  For a more in-depth understanding of exactly what “cruelty-free” means, check out Vegetarian Zen podcast episode 64, “Cruelty-Free 101.

What Does “Vegan” Mean?

When we first became vegetarians in 2013, I was confused when I heard something other than food being described as “vegan.” I thought vegan was a term used exclusively for food items, but I was wrong!

Unfortunately, animal-derived ingredients can be found in a lot of products, not just food. “Vegan” refers to anything that doesn’t contain any animals or animal byproducts and is not tested on animals. Yes, that means skincare products, too!

What Does SPF mean?

“SPF” is short for “sun protection factor.” On a sunscreen label, the number that follows SPF is best explained by The Skin Cancer Foundation as follows:

The SPF number tells you how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen.

Skin Cancer Foundation

What are Sunscreen Nanoparticles?

Back in the day, sunscreens were white and chalky and left a not-so-appealing white cast on your skin. To increase the likelihood that consumers would wear their sunscreen every day, manufacturers found ways to shrink some of the mineral ingredients in their sunscreen products. The result was less white residue on your skin. Yeah! But wait

Some studies have shown that these nanoparticles can have adverse health effects, especially on the lungs. This is a big reason that some companies make it a point to say that their products do not contain nanoparticles. The issue here is that nanoparticle regulations are somewhat loose so, like “cruelty-free” claims on products, “no nanoparticles” claims can be misleading.

While there is still ambiguity around this topic, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has stated that, in general, sun protection made with the minerals zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are usually safe because they provide strong sun protection with few health concerns.

man putting on sunscreen

Benefits of Vegan Sunscreen

Using sunscreen lowers your risk of skin cancer and helps prevent premature aging that comes from exposure to the harsh sun. But choosing cruelty-free sunscreen has several other benefits.

1. Environmentally Friendly and Reef Safe

Choosing vegan sunscreen is an eco-conscious decision. These sunscreens often avoid chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can cause significant damage to coral reefs and marine life.

By opting for vegan, reef-safe sunscreens, you’re not only protecting your skin but also contributing to the health and preservation of our oceans and marine ecosystems.

According to Save the Reef’s guide, “reef safe” or natural sunscreens are those that do not contain any of the following chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor
  • PABA
  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Any nanoparticles or “nano-sized” zinc or titanium (if it doesn’t explicitly say “micro-sized” or “non-nano” and it can rub in, it’s probably nano-sized)
  • Any form of microplastic, such as “exfoliating beads”

Note: According to a Consumer Reports article on reef safe sunscreens, it’s important to know that the term “reef safe” isn’t something that has an agreed-upon definition nor is it a strictly regulated term. As with anything, be sure to do your research!

To learn more, check out Save the Reef and Haereticus Environmental Laboratory.

coral reef with fish which are sometimes damaged by harsh sunscreens

2. Gentle on Sensitive Skin

For individuals with sensitive skin, finding a suitable sunscreen can be challenging. Vegan sunscreens, particularly those with mineral-based ingredients, are a gentle yet effective option. They avoid common irritants and are formulated with skin-loving ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile which soothe and protect delicate skin, reducing the risk of allergic reactions or irritation.

Many conventional sunscreens contain harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances. These substances can irritate sensitive skin and potentially lead to long-term skin issues. In contrast, vegan sunscreens prioritize natural and organic ingredients to protect skin without exposing it to potentially harmful substances.

Vegan sunscreens are often made with mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. These minerals provide broad-spectrum protection by physically blocking UV rays from penetrating the skin. This type of sun protection is generally considered safer for sensitive skin and less likely to cause irritation compared to chemical sunscreens, which absorb UV rays. While chemical sunscreens are effective, they can sometimes contain harsh ingredients that may lead to skin issues over time, especially for those with sensitive or allergy-prone skin.

By choosing vegan sunscreens with mineral-based ingredients, you can avoid these potential problems and enjoy a safer, more natural form of sun protection. Healthy skin is happy skin!

3. Cruelty-Free and Ethical

Choosing cruelty-free sunscreen means you’re opting for a product that aligns with a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle. Vegan sunscreens are not tested on animals and do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, such as beeswax or lanolin. 

By choosing vegan sunscreen, you’re supporting cruelty-free practices and companies that prioritize ethical production methods. This aligns with a compassionate lifestyle and ensures that no animals are harmed in the process of creating your sun protection products.

Vegetarian Zen’s Top 7 Picks for Best Cruelty-Free Sunscreens

In a market where people are becoming more conscious about the products they use, there are plenty of vegan sunscreen choices for all skin types and skin tones. Whether you have oily, dry, or combination skin, there’s a vegan sunscreen for you.

These sunscreens offer broad-spectrum protection, ensuring your skin is safeguarded from the sun’s harmful rays. Many formulations are lightweight and non-greasy, making them suitable for everyday use.

1. Sun Bum Sunscreen (Our Top Pick!)

We use Sun Bum every day when we take our dogs Ruthie and Cosmo walking around our local duck pond. We use their spray for our body and their lotion for our faces.

sun bum spray and face vegan sunscreen sitting on a car with dog in the background

The founders of Sun Bum started out making their sunscreen for family and friends. They formed a company in 2010 and grew their business from there.

Their mission is simple:

  • We care about the planet
  • We care about the animals
  • We care about our families

So, of course, we don’t use any ingredients that could harm any of them.

According to the Sun Bum website’s “About Us” page, at their Cocoa Beach office, employees:

  • Play too much ping pong during work hours
  • Listen to old albums
  • Take surf breaks
  • Bring dogs and kids to work

#Trustthebum

Our Pick
Sun Bum Original Spray (2 Pack)
  • Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free)
  • Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E


Buy on Amazon!

2. Alba Botanica Green Tea Hawaiian SPF 45 Sunscreen

We LOVE Alba Botanica products! Not only are their products great, the company has a great vision and message. Here’s an excerpt from their mission statement (taken from their website):

“Do beautiful” means keeping our Earth healthy and happy, too. We appreciate the importance of being good stewards of natural resources, so we do beautiful by reducing our environmental footprint whenever we can. We believe in keeping our friends close, including the furry kind. That’s why we never test our products, or any of the ingredients used in them, on animals. We’re on a do beautiful mission to create vibrant products that treat the Earth and all its inhabitants as well as they do our bodies.

Alba Botanica’s cruelty-free sunscreen is Leaping Bunny certified and contains green tea and aloe vera to help soothe your skin. It is free from gluten and synthetic fragrances.

Runner Up
Alba Botanica Green Tea Hawaiian SPF 45 Sunscreen

This formula is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation and is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. Our reef-friendly formula is made with 100% vegetarian ingredients, and it does not contain any oxybenzone, octinoxate, gluten, or synthetic fragrances. It's also biodegradable and not tested on animals.

Buy on Amazon!

3. All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen

Founded in 2006, All Good is a women-owned and women-staffed company. They also source their ingredients from women farmers. Yeah!

Like all of the products we’ve mentioned in our list, their sunscreen is cruelty-free and reef-friendly. Per their About page:

“Things we like: Finding Nemo. Things we don’t like: Dead Nemo.”

All Good also donates 1% of their annual sales to causes including (but not limited to):

  • Sustainable Coastlines
  • Conservation Alliance
  • Plant Savers
  • Pacific Whale Foundation
Runner Up
All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen
  • We use Zinc Oxide as the active sun protecting ingredient which works as a barrier between your skin and the sun.
  • We avoid chemical UV absorbers, parabens, and harmful additives and all our products are 3rd-party tested. Our Sunscreen Lotions are oxybenzone free, cruelty-free, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, biodegradable, and coral reef-friendly.



Buy on Amazon!

4. Supergoop! Play

Founded in 2007 by Holly Thaggard, Supergoop was born out of a desire to supply local schools with sunblock protection. After a friend was diagnosed with melanoma at a young age, Holly made it her mission to provide safe and affordable sun protection for everyone, starting with kids. You can read more about Holly and Supergoop here.

Supergoop! Play calls itself an “everyday” lotion. It’s sweat- and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Supergoop! PLAY Everyday SPF 50 Lotion
  • Reef-safe
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Water and Sweat-resistant
  • Cruelty-free
Buy on Amazon!

5. Purito

Founded in 2014, Purito is a Korean skincare company.

The name “Purito” comes from a combination of the word “purify” and the letters “t” and “o” (which together represent a Chinese character meaning soil). The “purify” portion refers to their natural clean ingredients. The “to” is all about going back to the basics of strengthening and repairing.

Purito Daily Go-To Sunscreen SPF50
  • +SPF50+ PA++++ UVA1,2 UVB Broad Spectrum
  • +Reef safe sunscreen & Clean ingredients
  • + Oil-free/ Non-nano /Cruelty Free/ Vegan sun cream
  • + No-sticky & No-white cast
  • + Calming & Moisturizing & Anti-wrinkle


Buy on Amazon!

6. Goddess Garden Sport

Goddess Garden was created by partners Nova Covington and Paul Halter to offer skincare products that utilized the “power of nature.” Their first daughter was allergic to many of the chemicals in traditional cosmetics so they decided to create their own. You can read more about their story here.

Goddess Garden - Sport SPF 50
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Reef Safe
  • Sheer Zinc
  • Water-Resistant
  • Vegan and Certified Cruelty-free
Buy on Amazon!

7. JĀSÖN Kids Broad Spectrum 45

We LOVE JĀSÖN products. Larissa has used their shampoo for YEARS!

Founded in 1959, JĀSÖN sought to discredit the big companies and their dangerous chemical-laden products.

They state:

The team set to work creating body-loving products made with plant-based ingredients that lived up to their original mission, never compromising on quality or care.

JĀSÖN

That kind of sustained commitment is why we love JĀSÖN.

JASON Kids Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Sunscreen
  • One 4 oz. bottle of JASON Kids Broad Spectrum SPF 45 Sunscreen
  • Gently pampers sensitive skin while protecting it from the sun
  • Water-resistant for up to 80 minutes
  • Infused with calendula and chamomile-extract
  • Free of parabens, phthalates, octinoxate, oxybenzone, and harsh sulfates
  • Certified Cruelty-Free


Buy on Amazon!

As more people become aware of the benefits of vegan and eco-friendly products, the demand for vegan sunscreen is growing. Brands are continuously improving their formulations to provide effective, skin-safe, and environmentally friendly sun protection.

Vegan sunscreen is a smart and compassionate choice for anyone looking to protect their skin while supporting cruelty-free and eco-friendly practices. With a variety of options available, from mineral-based sunscreens to tinted formulas, there’s a vegan sunscreen for every skin type and preference. Remember to check the ingredients, look for broad-spectrum protection, and choose a product that suits your lifestyle and needs.


FAQ

What’s the difference between vegan and regular sunscreen?

Vegan sunscreen does not contain animal products (or ingredients derived from animals) and is not tested on animals, while regular sunscreen may contain animal-derived ingredients and be tested on animals.

Is vegan sunscreen effective?

Yes, vegan sunscreen is effective. It provides the same level of sun protection as regular sunscreen when applied correctly and often uses mineral-based ingredients for broad-spectrum protection.

Can sunscreen prevent premature aging?

Absolutely. By protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, it can prevent signs of premature aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and sunspots.

Is mineral sunscreen better for sensitive skin?

Mineral sunscreen is generally better for sensitive skin because it sits on top of the skin and reflects UV rays without absorbing into the skin, reducing the risk of irritation.

Are vegan sunscreens safe for coral reefs?

Many vegan sunscreens are formulated to be reef-safe, avoiding harmful ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate that can damage coral reefs.

What ingredients should I look for in vegan sunscreen?

Look for natural ingredients like non-nano zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and plant-derived oils and extracts. These ingredients provide effective sun protection while being gentle on the skin.

More Episodes about Cruelty-Free Products

Mentioned in the Podcast

Our Pick
From A to Vegan: Vegan Starter Kit by Nutriciously
$49

Everything you need to make a healthy vegan diet work in one place! Bundle includes:

  • Vegan Recipe eBook
  • 2-Week Meal Plan
  • From A to Vegan Main eBook
  • Restaurant Guide
  • FAQs Answered eBook
  • Build Your Bowl Formulas
  • Printables & Cheat Sheets
  • No-Risk 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
Buy Now Learn More
Vegetarian Zen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a monetary commission. Additionally, the information presented is for educational purposes only. Always consult with your doctor.

Further Reading and Resources Used for this Episode

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