Sunscreens might contain animal or animal-derived ingredients such as collagen and elastin. So, for those who follow a vegan lifestyle, you might want to look specifically for sunscreens that are labeled as vegan. Since vegan sunscreens come in different consistencies and levels of sun protection factor, though, it might be tough to know which product is right for you.
If you're looking for some suggestions, check out our list of favorites! Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen won our grand prize thanks to its lightweight and antioxidant-rich formula that's highly effective in defending your skin against the damages of UV rays. Read on to know about nine other great options and take a look at our buying guide at the end for some tips in choosing a vegan sunscreen.
Dr. Levy is a board certified dermatologist practicing in NYC and Westport, Connecticut. She has expertise in treating inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis. She has an interest in skincare and takes a personalized approach to all of her patients.
We asked her to evaluate our buying guide below for accuracy, and she also contributed some extra tips and advice. You can also follow her on Instagram for more skincare tips!
After looking through many reviews online, we've found the 10 best vegan sunscreens that are highly recommended based on their excellent sun protection and nourishing formula. For more details, read on!
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Dr. Lauren Levy.
|Nourishing ingredients||Meadowfoam seed, red algae, frankincense|
|Nourishing ingredients||Aloe vera, safflower seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil|
|Nourishing ingredients||Kakadu plum, eucalyptus, red algae|
|Nourishing ingredients||Coconut oil, aloe vera, white tea, chamomile flower|
|Nourishing ingredients||Sunflower seed oil, cocoa seed butter, coconut oil|
|Nourishing ingredients||Vitamin E|
|Nourishing ingredients||Aloe vera, honeysuckle flower extract, vitamin E|
|Nourishing ingredients||Squalene, glycerin|
|Nourishing ingredients||Dimethicone, vitamin E|
|Nourishing ingredients||Orange peel oil, aloe vera, lavender flower extract|
Kinesys Performance Sunscreen
Classic Face Sunscreen
Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face
Clear Zinc Sunscreen
Sun Shield SPF 28
Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion
Lightweight, Fast-Absorbing Gel Sunscreen
Sunscreen That Doubles as a Daily Moisturizer
A Two-in-One Sunscreen and Skin Tint
Safe for Both the Environment and Your Skin
Great for Those With Sensitive Skin, Including Babies
A Convenient Spray for Outdoor Activities
Gentle Sunscreen That Protects Skin from UVA and UVB Rays
Non-Irritating and Fragrance-Free
Vitamin E Offers Antioxidant Protection
Cruelty-Free and Moisturizing Sunscreen
|Amount||1.7 oz.||1.7 oz.||3 oz.||3 oz.||3 oz.||4 oz.||2.3 oz.||4 oz.||8 oz.||4 oz.|
|Type||Chemical sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Chemical sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Mineral sunscreen||Chemical sunscreen||Chemical sunscreen|
|Water-resistant||40 min.||80 min.||80 min.||80 min.||80 min.||80 min.||No||No||80 min.||80 min.|
|Nourishing ingredients||Meadowfoam seed, red algae, frankincense||Aloe vera, safflower seed oil, meadowfoam seed oil||Kakadu plum, eucalyptus, red algae||Coconut oil, aloe vera, white tea, chamomile flower||Sunflower seed oil, cocoa seed butter, coconut oil||Vitamin E||Aloe vera, honeysuckle flower extract, vitamin E||Squalene, glycerin||Dimethicone, vitamin E||Orange peel oil, aloe vera, lavender flower extract|
When choosing a vegan sunscreen, there are a few factors that you should keep in mind, including ingredients to avoid, the SPF number, and the sunscreen type.
The first step to check if a product is vegan is to look for the Vegan Certified logo! But if a product doesn't have a vegan certification, screen the ingredient list to make sure that it doesn't have any animal or animal-derived ingredients.
Some of the animal products or by-products commonly found in sunscreens include lanolin, beeswax, or elastin. Beeswax is derived from beehives and has strong waterproof characteristics that help give your sunscreen a thick consistency.
There's still debate about whether beeswax is vegan or not. Some arguments mention that harvesting the honey doesn't harm bees, while others say that disturbing the hives is technically against veganism.
Lanolin is an ingredient that can deeply moisturize your skin, treat sunburn, and minimize peeling. Unfortunately, lanolin is made from sheep's wool. But it's still unclear whether sheep are harmed in the process of extracting lanolin in the wool industry. Elastin, on the other hand, helps prevent signs of aging but is extracted from the connective tissue of animals.
Also, some consumers might assume that a cruelty-free product is also vegan. However, they're actually two different things!
Cruelty-free means that the product is not tested on animals, while vegan indicates that the product has no animal products or animal-derived ingredients. So, if you see a product with a cruelty-free certification, don't jump to the conclusion that it's vegan right away.
Sunscreens are categorized into two types: mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreens are great for those with sensitive skin, and chemical ones are highly effective. To know more about each type's pros and cons, continue reading!
Mineral sunscreens, also known as physical sunscreens, are usually formulated with active ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. They act as a mirror, reflecting sun rays away from the skin.
Keep in mind that mineral sunscreens wash off easily and require frequent re-application. They tend to leave behind an apparent white cast, too. So make sure to rub the sunscreen thoroughly into your skin to avoid looking like a ghost.
If you have sensitive skin or intend to use sunscreen on your baby's delicate skin, opt for mineral sunscreens! Compared to chemical sunscreens, mineral ones are less likely to cause allergic reactions. They're also reef-safe and are a great option for those who are environmentally conscious.
If you have eczema or rosacea, mineral sunscreens likely won’t burn or irritate your skin. These types of sunscreens are also recommended for people that have photosensitive skin disorders like connective tissue diseases (lupus) or melasma.
Look for a gel formulation for daily use, since many of the cream formulations can leave a white residue on your skin. Also, look for sunscreens with nanoparticles, as these tend to rub in easier.
Chemical sunscreens, or organic sunscreens, usually contain chemical UV filters like avobenzone, octisalate, and oxybenzone. They absorb damaging UV rays to keep your skin protected. One downside of chemical sunscreens is that they might be a bit irritating to sensitive skin or skin conditions like eczema.
However, chemical sunscreens are highly effective, and you don't have to use a lot to get adequate sun protection. They usually have a thin consistency that's easy to spread on the skin and won't leave behind any white streaks.
Chemical sunscreens also tend to rub in easier and can be used for daily facial wear under makeup. However, I recommend avoiding using these products for children and infants; stick with a mineral formulation in these cases.
UVA and UVB rays are the two types of ultraviolet rays that can damage our skin. Specifically, UVB rays lead to sunburns, and UVA rays cause tanning and accelerate your skin's aging process.
According to the American Cancer Society, both UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer. So, to make sure that your skin is getting the needed protection against both types of UV radiation, look for a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection.
Keep in mind that sunscreen can rinse off with sweat or in water. Therefore, if you live in a hot climate or intend to participate in outdoor activities like swimming, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. Remember to check how long it's effective for and re-apply as instructed for optimal protection.
Both UVA and UVB cause damage to the skin including wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, accelerated aging, and skin cancer. UVA can also go through glass windows. Wearing a sunscreen that can protect against both UVA and UVB will give you the most benefit and help keep your skin healthy.
The sun protection factor (SPF) number indicates how well the sunscreen protects your skin from UVB rays. But one of the first things you should know is that no sunscreen can provide you with 100 percent protection against UVB rays.
An SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 97 percent of UVB rays. An SPF 50 sunscreen can prevent about 98 percent, and an SPF 100 one can block 99 percent of UVB rays.
So there's not that much difference in protection from 30 on up. But overall, dermatologists suggest using a sunscreen that's SPF 30 or higher and emphasize the importance of reapplying every two hours when outdoors to keep your skin protected.
If you're spending a day at the beach or another outdoor setting, opt for higher SPF and remember to reapply.
For daily facial sunscreen, SPF 30 is the minimum you should use. I usually recommend SPF 45+, especially for those with skin conditions that are sensitive to the sun, melasma, or those who are on photosensitizing medications.
Sunscreens can come in the form of a lotion, cream, gel, or spray. A spray is easy and quick to apply. However, it might be tough to get even coverage with it. Make sure to spray generously until you see your skin is glistening in order to get enough protection.
A lotion sunscreen is usually formulated with moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated. It has a thin texture that's easy to spread, great for everyday use, and able to sit nicely under makeup.
A cream sunscreen often contains heavy moisturizers and has a slightly thicker consistency than a lotion sunscreen. Its highly-moisturizing formula is great for those with dry skin but can be too heavy for oily skin.
A gel sunscreen is the most lightweight option and absorbs into your skin quickly. It's less likely to leave your skin feeling greasy and layers invisibly under makeup. A gel sunscreen is useful for those with oily skin as it's water-based and won't add any extra oil to the skin.
If you want a sunscreen with extra benefits for your skin, look through the ingredient list to see if it contains any nourishing ingredients. Many sunscreens are formulated with moisturizers, such as shea butter, coconut oil, and glycerin to keep your skin hydrated.
Formulas are often also infused with antioxidant-rich ingredients like red algae, aloe vera, and sunflower seed oil. Those ingredients help soothe skin inflammation, neutralize the damaging impacts of UV rays, and prevent premature aging.
There are many sunscreens that have added hyaluronic acid. These are very helpful for keeping the skin hydrated, which you'll need as the ingredients in sunscreen can be drying.
Some sunscreens also may have vitamin C, which can provide protection against the free radicals that UV rays cause. Additionally, a sunscreen with ingredients like niacinamide can help soothe irritated or inflamed skin.
Dr. Levy says, "SPF is the most important product in the anti-aging skincare routine. Without SPF, all the other products are really useless, as your skin still receives damage from the sun.
SPF can actually prevent the skin from aging, as opposed to correcting the damage that's there. That's what the other skincare products do. Wearing SPF every other day can really improve your skin's health and reduce signs of aging."
You can take care of your skin and hair without compromising your morals. Check out our other recommendations on vegan beauty and self care products!
More and more makeup companies are adding SPF to their products, and that includes brands that produce vegan formulas as well. If you're looking for a skin tint serum, fashion and lifestyle blogger Allison Bucheleres recommends this SPF40 vegan option. Read up on the full details below!
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