Hello Veg Peeps!
I just had to repurchase my current favorite sunscreen and thought I’d let you in on my reviews of the best sunscreens you can find and add it to the Best of Vegan Guide here on VegGirl. Why? You ask. Well, here’s my tip for any vegan guy or gal; don’t skip the sunscreen! We’re just too knowledgeable nowadays about the ill effects of the sun to forgo this crucial aspect of self-care and really, hygiene. I mean when you think it about damaged skin or prematurely wrinkled/crinkled skin is so much more prone to trapping dirt, bacteria, and causing disease (skin cancer). We really need to be thinking about sunscreen as a nonexpendable aspect of our preventative health care. I use sunscreen religiously, and in the course of being vegan, over 11 years now, as well as having a couple of sun-reactive disorders, I tried every single one that I could get my hands on. In this article, I’m going to show you my top ten favs for sunscreen including my favorite vegan sunscreen makeup products as I recently got to test-drive the new (to me) sunscreen lipstick.
My favorite vegan sunscreen foundation is Tarte Rainforest of The Sea.
Truth be told, my number 1 vegan sunscreen is not my current favorite, but I think it’s the best bang for your buck. The best vegan sunscreen comes in at half the price of most high-quality, healthy sunscreens and boasts the same major elements. Those elements I am referring to shouldn’t feel like a mystery. The best feature of all the sunscreens that I’m going to show you is that they each have an EWG Rating of a 1, which is the highest score a product can obtain with 10 being the worst possible score. The scoring system is a Likert scale that is very similar to a threat warning or danger scale that as the threat level rises so does the value assigned to the product. The products scoring low on the EWG scale get that score due to being free and clear of chemicals that are known to correlate with adverse reactions, as well as being high in mineral sunscreens with little to no chemical sunscreens. If you do not know about the EWG (Environmental Working Group), you need to take a look at their site since they are helping empower consumers with knowledge about harmful ingredients and the safety of skin and beauty products. It’s very educational and simple to understand. You search for a product, see the overall safety score of that product, and then can expand to read why each ingredient is considered unhealthy. Of course, if reading about each ingredient is too much info for you, you can just look at the overall score and leave it at that. Easy peasy! You can visit the site directly here or download the app to your phone here.
I personally have a low tolerance for cancer-causing chemicals but rarely have allergic or skin breakout-type reactions due to chemicals. I don’t have sensitive skin in that sense, so non-cancer causing chemicals are often less of a concern for me. You’ll have to think about your skin, current environmental exposure, and personal tolerability for these things. Not all vegans are alike, thus you may want to go down the EcoVeganGal road and only use natural, organic, and chemical-free products, or be a little more balanced, like me, in using some chemicals that are known to be safe. I tend to trust and refer to the UK’s ratings of safety over US ratings, though I absolutely trust EWG.
On EWG, 1 is the best score, and you might naturally assume many vegan products end up being this score, but that is not the case as a fair amount of vegan sunscreens are not as healthy for you as those I list below. In short, it comes down to products keeping out the junk such as benzones (which seriously mess with your hormones), parabens, alcohol, certain oils or plant extracts that may be natural but also irritating, and various other chemicals that correlate with high rates of cancer and disease. Check out the EWG website where you can search how healthy your current cosmetics, sunscreens, and other products are for you. If you’re not satisfied with your current sunscreen’s rating or are just generally curious, keep reading!
Lastly, before going on to my list for the best vegan sunscreens, I want to add a few healthy-in-the-sun tips:
- Car tint does not protect from UVs. Wear a sunscreen.
- Just because it’s cloudy does not mean you are avoiding sun exposure. When the sun is out, you absorb 90% of the UVs, and when cloudy, you absorb 80%. The clouds only minimally shield, so apply sunscreen every day!
- Your eyes need sun protection too, so wear sunglasses every day when outdoors.
- Your lips also need sun protection, so use a sunscreen lip balm or lipstick every day.
- You should aim for an SPF of at least 30 in order to be sufficiently protected.
- Foundation sunscreens rarely have this high of protection, so you need a separate sunscreen.
- It should take you 2-3 minutes to fully rub in your sunscreen and then you need to let it set for another 3 minutes. After that, you likely won’t see any white cast. If you’re not taking this long to rub it in, you are not using enough and should aim for a nickel-sized dollop.
- Sunscreens typically expire after 1 year of purchase. Do not hoard these or think you can stock-up for years to come.
- Shoot for a sunscreen that is Reef Safe as our reefs are in grave danger and need all the help we can provide.
Now, let’s on to my list of the Best Vegan Sunscreens…
My number 1 favorite vegan sunscreen is the DermaE Antioxidant Sunscreen Face with an EWG rating of 1, SPF of 30, zinc concentration of 20% for about $15-17 per bottle. This is just such a balanced product for many reasons. First, it contains no chemical sunscreens nor harmful skin irritants. I used this for many years and went through many bottles, because it was readily available at the local grocery store, online, or the local beauty store, such as Ulta. It also has a high zinc concentration which makes all the difference. Many sunscreens will say they are 50 SPF and have absolutely no zinc in them. When it comes to preventing cancer (truly blocking UVs), zinc is a must, and you’re better off using sunscreens with the highest zinc concentration possible. Some sunscreens can have no zinc or only have as little as 4% which is not sufficiently protective. No matter what the SPF says, you need to look for the zinc concentration on the back of the label and avoid purchasing a product with less than 20% zinc. When I discontinued this product, the zinc concentration was only at 16%, thus they have increased it to 20% without raising the price. Score! This is also very hydrating. I wore it under makeup and had no trouble. It will be a little white, but as long as you take the time to rub it in, you’ll be fine. I am considering going back to this when my other sunscreen runs out. Great price, great ingredients, and high protection.
My next and currently used vegan sunscreen is the Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen with an SPF of 30, zinc at 20%, 3.4 ounces, EWG rating of 1, and it runs about $24 per bottle.
I switched over to this from the DermaE to get a higher concentration of zinc. This brand has also won a lot of awards by users and testers. It boasts a high zinc concentration, no chemical sunscreens, and is free of a lot of junk chemicals such as parabens.
I personally have used both the face and body versions. I prefer to use the body version as a face sunscreen, because the cost is far reduced. The face sunscreen runs $45 per bottle, and the body sunscreen is only $24, with double the product. You get more for your money doing it that way, and I do not get any adverse facial reactions. If you read my post on moisturizers, you’ll have read that I cringe at the idea of having to have separate products for face and body when essentially it’s the same product. I do not think most people need a separate product, though I recognize some people have troublesome skin on their face and feel that need. So you may be one of those persons, and either way, Suntegrity has you covered. The facial sunscreen was just more watery but had the same concentration of zinc and is reported to double as a primer and triple as a moisturizer. In that sense, I do not think it is as moisturizing as my lotion, and I do not use primers.
Additionally, I love how high the protection is by way of the zinc contained in this product, 20%. I just feel like I’m putting an organic cotton, white t-shirt over my face when I wear this. That said. You will need to spend a good amount of time rubbing this in, but that’s how all good sunscreens should be. According to a dermatologist, if sunscreen disappears too fast, you’re either not using enough or the zinc concentration is too low to be a healthy, effective sunscreen. They said it should take at least 2-3 minutes to rub it in, and you’d need to use a nickel size dollop or more to cover your face. The only thing I’d change about this product is that I’ve developed a huge affinity for zinc, so I’d really like to see this hit 25% zinc.
By far the highest concentration of zinc (with no other chemical sunscreens) you can find in a vegan sunscreen, Block Island Organics Natural Face Moisturizer with an EWG rating of 1, SPF 30, 22% zinc at $28 for a 3.4oz bottle is my third favorite vegan sunscreen. It is vegan labeled. No chemical sunscreens, no irritating chemicals, minimal oils, and a high zinc concentration. Considering protection over price, this has amazing value. It’s very hydrating and can be worn under makeup, technically all of these can as that’s the only way I wear sunscreen. I loved how my skin looked in this as the day wore on. The smell is more lotion-like than sunscreen. The color is more yellow and does not leave a white-cast (though for most sunscreens that fades with good rubbing in and time to dry). The only warning is that a little goes a long way with this one. I really overdid it the first time by using my usual nickel-sized amount. It’s made to be rubbed in less, so feel free to use sparingly! This is just such an amazing sunscreen for the price. You just cannot go wrong with this one. There’s even a cute story on their webpage about how they support and invest in their community. I’ve personally been to Block Island and can attest to the amazing feel of this culture, so it feels good knowing you’re supporting something more in purchasing this product. The only drawback is that some report feeling this is a sticky formulation, and I noticed that for about the first 20 minutes. It reminds me exactly of the DermaE sunscreen just with a higher concentration of zinc and a clearer zinc formulation which is why it is my second favorite.
If these products are out of your budget, don’t fret and keep reading! From number 4 and beyond, the sunscreens are just going to offer lower zinc concentrations or added chemicals that raise their EWG rating of potential danger, but it’s rather minimal. I would not recommend dangerous products nor ineffective ones. It’s just these products have more stuff that I don’t feel is needed and/or less zinc.
Next is my fifth favorite vegan sunscreen, which is the bareMinerals Prep Step Mineral Shield Daily Prep Lotion with an SPF 50 (23.8% Zinc plus 4.1% Titanium Dioxide), EWG rating of 1, and $30 per 1 ounce. It is not labeled vegan, but I communicated with the company myself to confirm all ingredients are vegan and not tested on animals. This contains a high zinc concentration, an SPF of 50, and does not contain parabens. You cannot find a more highly rated product by EWG while also getting that high zinc, high SPF, moisturizing formula, and is average in price. You can also purchase this from Nordstrom which offers free shipping with your single-item purchase and free samples (just like Sephora)! The only drawback is that titanium dioxide which EWG reports can be toxic when exposed to sun, but that seems to be balanced well with their formulation since the EWG score is a 1!!! You really get everything you need in this sunscreen.
With that said, my sixth favorite vegan sunscreen is the Herbal Choice Mari Face & Body Lotion, Unscented, SPF 30 (20.5% zinc), 3.4 ounces for around $20. It is labeled vegan and can be found on Amazon. It is tinted which means if desired this can be worn as your only facial coverup. For me, I do not prefer these since it will rub off on clothing and hands, much like a foundation. I want certain parts of my face (lower cheeks and forehead) to be free of pigment, so that I do not have to worry when I lean in for a hug or get a couple of hands pulling me in for that kiss!
Additionally, I’ve tried many over the years which again are not healthy, thus have poor EWG ratings. Just because something is vegan or ‘natural’ does not mean it is good for you. I went to the store and inserted some pics of those I’ve used in the past. Check out their prices and ingredient lists to see for yourself if you’re considering these or have limited options. Obviously, none of these companies are putting out really horrible stuff. This all just relatively speaking.
My next favorite vegan sunscreen is the Attitude Sensitive Skin Care Mineral Sunscreen with an SPF 30, 20% Zinc, EWG rating of 1 and also EWG verified, and costs about $30 per 2.6oz bottle. This is a really clean formula and is even labeled vegan. They have a variety of variations including those for children and sensitive skin.
My fourth favorite vegan sunscreen is the DeVita Natural Skin Care at SPF 30 and 19% Zinc with an EWG rating of 1. It does have a $30 price tag, but it is a great vegan sunscreen. It also contains squalene oil which if you’re not using on your skin, you need to be as it’s known to be anti-aging. I have a whole bottle of squalene oil on hand as I love it that much, so in that way, this product could also be a two-in-one, sunscreen and moisturizer. For that, it’s great to wear under makeup.
#7 Bare Republic – Natural Mineral Sunscreen (Sport Stick)
This is such a great vegan find, because unlike the others listed above, this is a stick sunscreen. So it’s great for re-applying in a snap without having to use aerosols (spray cans), which are bad for the ozone. The next best vegan sunscreen is the Bare Republic – Natural Mineral Sunscreen (Sport Stick) with an SPF of 50, 17% zinc, EWG rating of 4 (though I wonder if this is an error since none of the ingredients is scored above a 2, very odd), and you get 0.5 ounces for $10. It’s also available at Target, which is super convient for me. I keep this in my purse makeup bag, because it’s small and light which gives me the opportunity to have sunscreen on the go! I also LOVE the smell it just reminds me of California beach days slipping into a gorgeous sunset and pure relaxation. For me, the smell of sunscreen is like aromatherapy. I associate the smell with beach days, relaxing, calm, fun, soothing water, and warmth.
By far, the best all around vegan sunscreen. Tarte’s rainforest of the sea foundation is my favorite vegan sunscreen foundation it is SPF 15 with 4% zinc for is just packed with high-quality, clean ingredients, and is buildable, so it can be your low to full coverage foundation. It wears so well. It never looks cracky, cakey, nor does it oxide into a wacked darker shade than you intended it to be. It just holds so well, and I do not even use powder over it. It dies but still keeps my face moist. It comes in a plethora of shades, and Tarte is just amazing if you order the wrong shade you can just send it back and exchange it.
From Suntegrity, I also picked up the Lip CPR, which is a vegan sunscreen lipstick with an SPF of 30, 18% zinc, EWG rating of 1, and it is priced at $28 per tube. Initially, upon wearing, I was a little weary since it seemed to perfectly cling and highlight my dry lips, mainly due to the shimmer, but it actually finished nicely and seemed to settle into a more flawless-like finish. In my experience, shimmer in lip products usually gives way to highlighting the ridges of dry skin, so I was not too hopeful that this would become a staple of mine even though I really wanted it to since the product has oils to reduce the appearance of fine lines and a whopping 18% zinc oxide (SPF 30) which will invariably slow the aging process down for my lips. After a few wears, I really came to love this. I may just go darker next time I purchase it.
The tube is a sleek silver/mirror finish. It’s light and beautiful to hold and carry. It’s nothing short of absolutely amazing! I love the color, wearability, and protective factor. The idea with vegan sunscreen lipstick is not so much to prevent sunburn (but damn! does that sound painful?) rather reduce any premature aging that occurs with sun exposure to the lips. Along the topic of lines, the lipstick is packed with konjac root, as mentioned, to reduce the appearance of lips lines. The vegan sunscreen lipstick color I chose, Sunny Blush, is a beautiful frosty shade of baby pink, and they have 7 other shades to choose from. I much more of a mauvey-nude type lipstick wearer, so the shade is a bit frostier than the swatch makes it seem. I wonder if that’s how all the shades are or if there is a more matte color in the collection?
Suntegrity’s Lip CPR smells like most lipsticks, no annoying scents added, nor does it have that typical sunscreen smell. It has a great taste and contains stevia to help sweeten it without making you feel that you doused your lips in candy. It’s one of those products that you wear, and it gives you that leg-up-feeling since many people are not thinking to put such a high-quality product in their beauty-regimen. When I’ve seen sunscreen as a feature in lipstick, similar to foundation or powders, it usually has a very small SPF of about 5-15% with maybe only a few products going beyond that. I did find a few non-vegan lip glosses/lipsticks (often having beeswax). Most of those had chemical sunscreens, but even then, those had very little zinc in their product (the Coola version had just 1.4% zinc). Often in the way of color, these other products rarely went above a basic tint (lip gloss style) and very few were actually pigmented enough to be lipsticks. Suntegrity is just a highly protective and beautiful lipstick. Suntegrity vegan sunscreen lipstick is just superior across the board in this arena!
And the runners up!
Alba was one of the first vegan sunscreens I used, but their products use a myriad of ingredients and chemical sunscreens which are not considered the healthiest by EWG. This one in particular scores a 3, and the best alba product scores a 2 with the worst in the Alba line scoring a 5 which by comparison puts in the “good” range for me, not best nor worst. If you need one in a pinch, these are a good option as they tend to be widely available. No matter where I travel in the US, I can always find and Alba product. Also, the MyChelle is widely available too.
Let me know what your favorite sunscreens are, Veg Peeps?