People tend to use sunscreen the most during the summer when the sun is strongest. However, fair-skinned individuals like myself often need to wear sunscreen year-round since our skin is more vulnerable to UV rays and burns very easily.
The only time of year that I really take a break from sunscreen is during the winter when the sun is the weakest.
There’s only one small problem: a lot of sunscreens aren’t vegan-friendly.
Many of the top-selling mainstream brands you’ll find in your local beach shop contain animal by-products or are developed with cruel animal testing.
Naturally, I try to avoid buying these sunscreens whenever possible. So, I buy most of my vegan-friendly sunscreen online before heading out to the beach.
If you’ve been looking for a good-quality, reliable sunscreen, then you’ve come to the right place! Today, I’ll be showing you some of the best vegan sunscreen brands on the market.
- Everyday facial protection
- Tanning, direct sunlight
- Tinted face sunscreen that blends with your complexion
Can Sunscreen Be Vegan?
Yes! Sunscreen can be vegan.
The only problem is that many sunscreen brands aren’t vegan. Sadly, like much of the cosmetics industry, large corporations try to cut corners by using cheap animal by-products that they can obtain for very low costs from slaughterhouses.
The slaughterhouses repurpose animal bones, ligaments, and other animal parts they can’t sell as “meat” and give them to cosmetic companies to use in their products.
Since they’re technically getting rid of waste, cosmetic companies can buy these animal-derived products for very cheap and make a higher profit from their products.
Some products are even crueler and specifically breed animals in order to turn them into beauty additives!
Vegan sunscreen, on the other hand, is cruelty-free and contains zero animal by-products.
Is Neutrogena Sunblock Vegan?
For the most part, Neutrogena sunblock appears to be vegan. The main ingredient in question is the glyceryl stearate used in their sunscreen products.
While this additive can be vegan and plant-derived, it’s often the result of boiling down animal bones into a thick, fatty broth. It’s used as a stabilizer and emulsifier in many cosmetics and lotions.
Neutrogena is unclear on whether the stearate they use is vegan-friendly or not. So, it’s best to play it safe and go with a certified vegan sunscreen instead!
Vegan Mineral Sunscreen vs. Chemical Sunscreen: What’s Better?
Sunscreen is typically classified into two categories: mineral sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. The first uses naturally-derived minerals to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
Although it’s a bit more expensive, it’s usually more natural, safer for your skin, and contains fewer questionable ingredients.
Chemical sunscreen, on the other hand, is cheaper and more affordable. However, it can be irritating to sensitive skin and there’s a higher likelihood that it was tested on animals or contains animal by-products (unless the label says otherwise).
For sensitive skin, I generally recommend vegan mineral sunscreen over a chemical sunscreen. But both are effective at keeping your skin safe!
|Mineral Sunscreen||Chemical Sunscreen|
|Uses natural mineral derivatives to block UV rays from your skin.||Uses artificial chemicals to protect your skin from UV rays.|
|Better for sensitive skin.||Can cause inflammation or breakouts in sensitive skin.|
|Tends to be more natural and vegan-friendly.||Can be vegan-friendly, but more often is not.|
|Usually a bit more expensive.||Usually a bit more affordable.|
To learn more, check out this video by dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe:
The Best Vegan Sunscreen To Protect Your Skin With (2023)
Many of the mainstream brands of sunscreen on the market use non-vegan ingredients and can also damage oceanic ecosystems. Vegan sunscreen, on the other hand, is animal-free and is usually “reef-safe,” meaning that it won’t damage sea creatures or coral reefs.
1) Thrive Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 30 (link)
- Best For: Everyday facial protection
Thrive offers a number of great vegan-friendly sunscreens and cosmetics as well.
Thrive Natural Moisturizing Mineral Face Sunscreen is a great choice for everyday facial protection. It’s only an SPF 30, so it’s not quite as powerful as some of the other full-sun sunscreens on this list, but that’s perfect if you’re just going on a walk or spending a day in partial sunlight.
If you’re going to be out on the beach, tanning, or on the boat, then you’ll probably need to reapply this every couple of hours to make sure you don’t burn.
For fair-skinned people like me, who need to wear some form of sunblock year-round, this is perfect though. It’s 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and uses a combination of plant-based ingredients with minerals to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Clear zinc oxide is the main active ingredient. I really like the fact that it’s clear, so it doesn’t leave a greasy white film on your skin like other zinc oxide sunscreens I’ve used. Plus, it’s a very lightweight sunscreen, so it won’t clog your pores and leave you with acne the next day!
- 30 SPF is good for everyday use.
- Uses clear zinc oxide that won’t leave a residue.
- Made with plant-based ingredients and natural minerals.
- 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
- Broad-spectrum formula protects from UV, UVA, and UVB rays.
- It’s one of the more expensive vegan sunscreens I’ve used.
2) Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Vegan Sunscreen (link)
- Best For: Tanning, direct sunlight
While Thrive may be great for everyday use, Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Vegan Facial Sunscreen is better suited to long days at the beach. The SPF 50 rating ensures that your face will remain protected on even the hottest, sunniest days with limited reapplication.
This broad-spectrum formula protects your skin from the most harmful types of UV rays (UVA and UVB), which means there’s a far lower chance of your skin getting burnt.
It’s specially formulated for facial care and is 100% fragrance-free. It also contains added vitamin E oil, which keeps your face moisturized and prevents it from being dried out by the minerals in the sunscreen.
Unlike Thrive Sunscreen, which uses mineral-based zinc oxide, Sun Bum uses chemical-based avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene.
Although it’s not quite as natural of a product, Sun Bum’s Facial Sunscreen is 100% vegan and is reef-safe, so it won’t damage natural oceanic ecosystems.
It’s also a lot more affordable and comes at half the price of Thrive! It is a bit thicker and more oily, though, so I typically only use it when I plan on being out in the sun all day.
- Offers SPF 50 protection.
- Added vitamin E oil keeps your skin moisturized.
- Affordable vegan sunscreen.
- It’s a bit thicker and more oily than Thrive Facial Sunscreen.
- It’s chemical sunscreen instead of mineral sunscreen.
3) Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face BB Cream SPF 50 (link)
- Best For: Tinted face sunscreen that blends with your complexion.
One of the biggest problems I’ve had with sunscreen is that it can cause your face to look pasty. Australian Gold Botanical Tinted Face Sunscreen is the perfect solution.
Not only is it 100% vegan and reef-safe but they offer eight different varieties designed for varying shades of natural skin color. This means that it blends perfectly with your skin tone!
It’s a broad spectrum mineral-based sunscreen that uses titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as the main active ingredients.
It also contains soothing all-natural botanicals, such as Kakadu plum, eucalyptus, and even red algae, all of which are rich in antioxidants and prevent UV rays from forming damaging free radicals in your skin.
- Mineral-based sunscreen.
- Contains natural antioxidant botanicals.
- Blends with your natural skin tone.
- Reef-safe vegan sunscreen.
- It can cause dry skin in individuals who have sensitive skin.
4) Alba Botanica Vegan Sunscreen Clear Spray SPF 50 (link)
- Best For: Vegan spray-on sunscreen
It’s hard to beat the simplicity of an easy-to-use spray-on sunscreen. Unfortunately, most of the spray-on sunscreens on the market aren’t vegan.
Alba Botanica’s Vegan Spray-On Sunscreen is one of the only 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and reef-safe spray-ons that I’ve found.
It’s a broad spectrum chemical-based sunscreen that uses avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, and octyl salicylate as the main ingredients. It also contains added avocado oil to ensure that it’s not too drying.
Although it’s not my first pick in terms of overall effectiveness or quality, I do really like the convenience it offers. If you’re in a rush and need an easy-to-apply, fast-drying vegan sunscreen, you can’t beat Alba Botanica’s Vegan Spray-On Sunscreen!
- Super-convenient vegan spray-on sunscreen.
- SPF 50 makes it perfect for a long day at the beach.
- Fast-drying formula.
- Aerosols can cause dry skin.
Conclusion – What’s The Best Vegan Sunscreen?
Of all the vegan sunscreen brands I’ve used, my favorite is Sun Bum’s SPF 50 Tinted Vegan Sunscreen.
The natural botanicals give it a wonderful natural scent and I really like how it blends in naturally with my skin tone. I’ve even applied makeup over it before! Plus, the SPF 50 protection is perfect for my vulnerable fair skin.
Even the highest-quality vegan sunscreen can leave your skin a bit dry. That’s why it’s important to moisturize daily. To learn more about vegan lotion and see my top picks, check out my list of the best vegan lotion brands next!