Best Vegan Sunscreen (Summer 2021) | Reef Safe + Cruelty-Free

vegan sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses on blue towel

Looking for a safe and natural vegan sunscreen? In this guide, I’m sharing my top sunscreen recommendations that are completely vegan and cruelty-free, have an EWG rating of 1, and are reef safe!

We have come a long way from sunscreen that left you covered in a white ghostly cast and caused breakouts reminiscent of teenage puberty. I won't lie, this is why I skipped using sunscreen for so long.

Now I cringe at the thought of ever foregoing sun protection.

Today we know that using a good vegan sunscreen year round is non-negotiable. Besides the essential protection against sun cancer, sunscreen is crucial for anti-aging and should be included in everyone’s skincare routine.

With that said, did you know that many sunscreens on the market contain harmful ingredients that actually accelerate sun damage and disrupt hormones? Even worse, many of these sunscreens are tested on animals through cruel and unnecessary procedures and also destroy coral reefs.

Luckily, nowadays you can find great cruelty-free sunscreens for any skin type and SPF level. It personally took me a bit of trial and error to find a sunscreen that fit my following 4 requirements:

  1. Vegan and cruelty-free (obviously!)
  2. Have a low EWG rating score, preferably a 1
  3. Be reef safe
  4. Blend well and be non comedogenic

Read on to learn why you should use sunscreen everyday, how to find a vegan reef safe sunscreen, and my go-to choices!

On This Page:

Importance of Using Sunscreen 365 Days a Year

crashing waves at beach

There is no longer any doubt that extended and unprotected exposure to the sun causes skin cancer and a range of other related health issues.

Even if you never actually burn, regular exposure to the sun without a sunscreen puts you at risk for several types of cancer including melanoma. It has also been proven that the UV rays from the sun are strong enough to harm your skin even when you’re covered by the shade, and we all know that these risks increase the fairer your skin is.

But that’s not all.

The sun also accelerates the aging process of your skin by breaking down the elastin cells. In turn, this makes your much less elastic and prone to wrinkling and photoaging.

There are ways for doctors to measure the cellular age of your skin, and a good cruelty-free sunscreen can save you as much as 10 years in skin health!

Since my 20's are coming to an end, I've learned that using sunscreen every day is indispensable to preventing premature aging and wrinkles. Seriously, the benefits of sunscreen for anti-aging are far too numerous to ignore.

Finding a Vegan Reef Safe Sunscreen

seashell on beach

So is sunscreen vegan?

You would think so. But often times conventional sunscreens contain ingredients derived from animals and many are also tested on animals.

In reality, the cosmetic industry is one of the biggest animal abusers on the planet. It is an industry that causes thousands of unnecessary deaths and is responsible for countless animals living under horrible conditions where they are repeatedly tortured with chemicals.

However, unlike food items, the ingredients in cosmetics are normally not clearly marked so you need to know your terminology in order to find a vegan sunscreen.

Avoid these commonly used non-vegan ingredients:

  • Collagen
  • Lanolin
  • Elastin
  • Stearic Acid
  • Beeswax
  • Chitosan
fish swimming in ocean

In addition, you also want to avoid using sunscreens that aren’t reef safe.

You see, one of the main issues that most conventional sunscreens pose and many seem to overlook is the effect that sunblock has on our reefs. Since most people use sunscreen when they’re swimming at the beach, the sunscreen washes off in the ocean even if it is water resistant.

During the last few years, several studies have been performed to see how sunscreen interacts with coral reefs and marine life, and it's not pretty.

In 2015, a scientific study found that most sunscreens are very harmful to coral reefs. Not only do some of the ingredients harm the reefs themselves and limit their ability to grow, but in certain areas of the world, sunscreen has been responsible for extensive coral bleaching.

Oxybenzone, which is an ingredient that can be found in most sunscreens, has been pointed out as the biggest culprit. However, Butylparaben, Octinoxate, 4-Methylbenzylidine Camphor have also been shown to hurt reefs and marine life.

In fact, these chemicals have been proven to hurt reefs to such an extent that sunscreen bans have been implemented around the world.

In early 2018, Hawaii passed a law banning all sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate from its beaches. And at the end of 2018, the Pacific Island of Palau decided to completely ban several sunscreen brands to help save their struggling reefs.

It should come as no surprise then that these chemical ingredients used in sunscreen mimic hormones and cause skin-related allergies in humans and should be completely avoided for the sake of the reefs and your health.

Instead, opt for products with mineral-based sun protection. For example, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two minerals that are often used in reef safe sunscreen since they protect against UV rays and are dissolved in the ocean without hurting reefs.

- My Top Picks of The Best Vegan Sunscreen -

Over the last couple of years, I’ve tried more than my fair share of cruelty-free sunscreen products with mixed results. So in order to help you find the best option for yourself and your family, I've listed my vegan favorites below.

As mentioned, all of my top picks are reef safe, have an EWG rating of 1, and are free from parabens and other nasty ingredients.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream - Vegan Sunscreen for Face

Juice Beauty Vegan Sunscreen Bottle

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 30 using Zinc Oxide
  • Tinted CC cream that provides sheer coverage
  • Can be worn alone or under make up
  • Helps prevent and reverse signs of aging

I personally love this 12-in-1 multi-tasking CC cream because it is packed with antioxidants and has built-in sunscreen which is super practical. Juice Beauty makes great organic skincare products, and their Stem Cellular CC cream is no exception.

I find this makes an excellent primer for makeup or pairs well just on its own. The cell stem technology used in this sunscreen helps prevent signs of aging such as fine lines, and leaves a youthful dewy glow while providing minimal coverage.

To top it off, Juice Beauty can proudly boast about meeting one of the industry's most prestigious Organic Farming standards.

MyChelle Replenishing Solar Defense SPF 30 - Best Vegan Sunscreen for Acne Prone Skin

MyChelle Replenishing Solar Defense Cruelty Free Sunscreen

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 30 provided by ZinClear – a form of transparent non-nano Zinc Oxide
  • Does not leave a white film
  • Non-greasy – leaves a matte finish
  • Best vegan sunscreen for acne prone skin

I have to say, I have yet to try a MyChelle product I don’t like, and the MyChelle Solar Defense sunscreen is probably my favorite.

This is my go-to everyday vegan face sunscreen because of how non-greasy it is. I didn’t know if I could truly commit to wearing sunscreen every day until I tried this.

I love that this cruelty-free sunscreen goes on clear, doesn’t clog my pores, and leaves a matte finish. There is also no flaking off and piling during the day which seems to happen with a lot of other sunscreens.

Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 - Great Vegan Moisturzer

Suntegrity Bottle of Broad Spectrum Vegan SPF

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 30 from Zinc Oxide
  • 3 in 1 product providing face moisturizer, sunscreen, and make-up primer
  • Several organic ingredients for optimal skin health
  • Cruelty-free and approved by both PETA and Leaping Bunny

If you’re looking for a vegan moisturizer that doubles as a sunscreen, Suntegrity’s Face Sunscreen and Primer is a great option. It goes on a little thick but easily rubs in. Suntegrity is well-known for their non-toxic products and has been a leading force behind the development of natural sunscreens for years.

I love this vegan moisturizer because it is a 3 in 1 product which means you don't need to use as many things on your face. It also has a nice fresh citrus scent. This particular sunscreen is only one of many in Suntegrity’s extensive selection!

Thinksport Kids - The Best Vegan Sunscreen for Kids

Thinksport Kid Sunscreen Bottle

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ from Zinc Oxide
  • Produced in the USA
  • Water-proof for up to 90 Minutes
  • Member of Leaping Bunny
  • Best vegan sunscreen for kids

Naturally, one has to be extra careful when picking a sunscreen for kids since they tend to be more sensitive to both the sun and skin products. All of the sunscreens that I’ve listed so far can be used by anyone, but Thinksport has specifically designed a sunscreen for kids.

Besides offering a broad-spectrum of UVA and UVB protection and being SPF 50+, this sunscreen quickly absorbs and falls under the highest category for water-resistance, making it easy to use on active kids at the beach or the pool.

Replenishing Solar Defense Body Lotion SPF 50 - Great Cruelty-Free Body Sunscreen

MyChelle Bottle of SPF Body Lotion

  • Broad Spectrum SPF 50 from Zinc Oxide
  • Intended as a full body sunscreen and lotion
  • Excellent sun protection without feeling greasy
  • Water resistant and perfect for the beach
  • Rich in coconut oil and shea butter which makes it a great everyday moisturizer

MyChelle’s Solar Defense Body Lotion is one of my all-time top picks. I have used it extensively under the tropical sun and can vouch for its unparalleled sun protection. However, my favorite part is how moisturizing it is. In fact, MyChelle’s Solar Defense Body Lotion is my go-to body moisturizer right now.

Being the fact that this sunscreen doesn't leave a residue or white cast, I tend to use it every day. And since it's water-resistant, you can wear it to the beach or even when working out.

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