Every time I need to buy sunscreen, I forget what makes one good or bad.
This time, I’ve done the research and summarized it so that you know exactly what to look for in a vegan sunscreen.
I also spent a few hours looking at all easily available options, and compiled a list of the best vegan sunscreens.
If you’re primarily looking for a moisturizer that offers some sun protection, I’d suggest my post on the best vegan moisturizers with SPF instead.
What To Look For In a Vegan Sunscreen
You can find my recommendations below, but in case you want to find a different option, you should always look for these criteria:
- It’s more about testing than ingredients – Other than beeswax occasionally, most sunscreens have vegan ingredients, but not all are cruelty-free.
- SPF 30 to 50 – Most doctors recommend SPF 30, it blocks 97% of UVB rays. Any SPF higher than 30 can’t offer significantly more protection. For comparison, SPF 15 blocks 94% of UVB rays, so it’s still quite good if that’s the best you can find in a pinch.
- UVA and UVB protection – UVA rays actually cause deeper skin damage than UVB does. You need a sunscreen that has ingredients that also protect against UVA, which includes avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide, among others. Oxybenzone is the most well known and bad for the environment. Most of those are not extensively tested other than zinc-oxide or titanium oxide – stick to either of those.
- Zinc oxide or Titanium oxide – These are the best 2 ingredients to look for. Not only do they give you UVA protection as well, they are not absorbed like other ingredients because they are virtually insoluble in water and oil (main components of your outer layer of skin – the epithelium). They make a coat on your skin instead, which also makes it easier to tell when you’re well protected or not.
Sunscreens based on a metal oxide (zinc or titanium) are called “mineral sunscreens.” These used to be incredibly white and chalky, but now the particle sized used for the metals is smaller, which makes the sunscreen as a whole less chalky.
Some sunscreens use nano-sized zinc or titanium particles. While the research isn’t conclusive, it shows that if they are used on a regular basis, or are somehow ingested (from sprays or lip sunscreens), they have the potential to cause significant health effects
I recommend avoiding them. All the sunscreens below use non-nano sized minerals.
The 3 Best Vegan Sunscreens You’ll Find
Based on all the criteria above, I found several vegan sunscreens, and then filtered all the ones that weren’t good enough.
Sunscreen is not something you want to cheap out on, or use a sub-par product.
The 3 options below are all are cruelty-free with vegan ingredients, offer both UVA and UVB protection, and use zinc oxide or titanium oxide.
Some have both zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which are typically easier on the skin than zinc oxide alone.
|7th Avenue Organic Sunscreen||30||Titanium oxide, Zinc oxide|
|Bodylines Broad Spectrum Sunscreen||50||Titanium oxide, Zinc oxide|
|MyChelle Sun Shield Liquid Tint||50||Zinc oxide|
There’s not a huge difference between them, any of them will do a good job in most cases.
But I’ve pointed out the main distinctions in the products that might lead you to choose one over another.
7th Avenue Organic Sunscreen: Best for Sensitive Skin and Water Resistant
This is the lowest of the three in terms of SPF – only 30. But that’s still an excellent rating, and unless you’re going to be spending a ton of time in the sun, there’s not a big need to go for a higher SPF rating.
7th Avenue’s organic sunscreen is:
- Rated 80 minutes waterproof and sweat proof
- Is thin
- Easy to spread
- Moisturizes, rather than dries out skin
It’s probably the most general purpose of these 3.
Bodylines Broad Spectrum Sunscreen: Most Eco-Friendly and Good Under Make-Up
Pretty much all sunscreen comes in plastic containers, which sucks for the eco-friendly vegan. However, at least Bodylines uses recyclable packaging for the rest.
Like the other 2 sunscreens here, by not using harmful chemicals like oxybenzone, you won’t be damaging the environment (particularly reefs if you like by an ocean) by using sunscreen.
Bodyline is made in the United States, and is made to provide protection while still being used under makeup. And even though it’s not made specifically for water sports, it’s non-eye irritating, so it’s okay if you sweat or wash some into your eyes.
MyChelle Sun Shield: Best For Under Make-Up
This sunscreen from MyChelle is certified vegan and biodegradable.
It’s specifically made for use under makeup. The cream blends to match your skin tone.
There are two shades to choose from – nude (light/medium) and natural tan (medium/dark).
(Bonus) Best Sunscreen for Canadians: All Good Sunscreen
It’s hard to find the three above options in Canada.
The best option I could find for us is All Good Sunscreen. You can find it online, and in most camping stores.
It has an SPF of 33, completely vegan and cruelty-free, and is based on zinc oxide.
Which Vegan Sunscreen is Best for You?
The 3 sunscreens I recommended above are all the highest quality you can get.
But that does come with a higher price compared to lower quality sunscreens. In my opinion, it’s worth it to spend extra on sunscreen to protect your skin and health, but if budget is a big concern, you now know what to look for in other options.
I highly recommend buying sunscreen online, since you should be looking for such a specific type of product. But, you can also find vegan sunscreen in stores like Sephora and other skin-care stores if you prefer to shop in person, you just won’t get the same level of selection.