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Kat's Guide to Vegan Sunscreen

If you're new to veganism or cruelty free living and are serious about making a change, you start thinking about everything you buy - yes, even sunscreen! Protecting our skin from harmful UV rays is SO important, so I wanted to put together a list of some vegan and cruelty free sunscreen on the market.


How does sunscreen work?

First, let's take a look at the two kinds of sunscreen - mineral and chemical.

  • Chemical sunscreens penetrate the top layers of skin so they can absorb the harmful rays. The issue with that of course, is that chemicals are penetrating the skin. Ingredients: oxybenzone, octinoxate, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate.

  • Mineral sunscreens on the other hand stay on the surface and reflect those rays right off. These ingredients are more natural and therefore less harmful long term. Ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Both are deemed safe by the FDA but there could be negative long term effects with chemical absorption.


UVA vs. UVB

The two main ultraviolet rays you often hear about are UVA and UVB.

  • UVA rays penetrate deep into the skin and lead to the long term effects of sun damage, like wrinkles.

  • UVB rays are responsible for burns and blisters.

Both can lead to skin cancer. Read more about this from the Skin Cancer Foundation.


What is SPF?

Sun protection factor. This measures the fraction of UV rays that reach the skin. The higher the SPF, the more it will block the UV rays, and the longer it will take for your skin to burn.

  • SPF 15 blocks 93%

  • SPF 30 blocks 97%

  • SPF 50 blocks 98%

To work out which SPF is best for you, take the number of minutes it takes for your skin to burn without protection, and multiply it by the SPF to get an idea of how long your skin will be protected. Keep in mind though that depending on what you're doing, the sunscreen can rub off so it is best to reapply it throughout your time outside. Don't forget that your feet, ears, lips and scalp can also burn so take measures to protect these areas as well.


What about skin tone?

The more melanin present in your skin, the better protected you are - but that doesn't mean you won't get any sun damage at all. The Fitzpatrick Scale, a classification of skin types, was created in 1975 by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick. The scale is by no means a replacement for medical advice, but more of a reference point. It looks like this:

  • Type I: very fair/ivory skin color - always burns, never tans

  • Type II: fair skin color - burns often, sometimes tans

  • Type II: fair/beige skin color - burns sometimes, but tans

  • Type IV: olive/light brown skin color - rarely burns, tans well

  • Type V: dark brown skin color - very rarely burns, tans easily

  • Type VI: deeply pigmented to darkest brown skin color - never burns

Those on the fair end should always use SPF 30 or more. Those on the darker end should still wear SPF 15, as skin cancer present in African-Americans is usually diagnosed at a later stage.


Cruelty Free & Vegan Sunscreen

All the brands below are truly cruelty free, but some cannot be called vegan because they use honey or beeswax in some of their products. I've included these because most of the sunscreens are vegan, and are indicated on their website. Also some folks are ok with ethically sourced beeswax and honey!


Pacifica

Vegan and Cruelty Free

Price range: $4-$16

Shop


Bare Republic

Vegan and Cruelty Free

Price range: $10-20

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Thrive Skincare

Vegan and Cruelty Free

Price range: $20-50

Shop


Coola

Cruelty Free, Some products not vegan (beeswax)

Price range: $10-55

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Suntegrity

Cruelty Free, Some products not vegan (beeswax)

Price range: $20-55

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Supergoop!

Cruelty Free, Vegan with 2 exceptions (100% Mineral Sunscreen Stick and Sunnyscreen™ 100% Mineral Stick contain Beeswax)

Price range: $10-70

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Andalou Naturals

Cruelty Free, Sunscreens at the link below are vegan

Price range: $15-20

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MyCHELLE

Cruelty Free, Some products not vegan

Price range: $12-30

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Alba Botanica

Cruelty Free, Some products not vegan (honey and beeswax)

Price range: $10-20

Website (found in stores like Target)


Kiss My Face

Cruelty Free, Some products not vegan (honey and beeswax)

Price range: $10-22

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Sun Bum

Cruelty Free, some products not vegan

Price range: $4-$18

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Babo Botanicals

Cruelty Free - some products not vegan

Price range: $10-56

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