Vegan Sunscreen

It’s nothing new and we all know it that it is important to protect yourself from harmful UV rays to prevent your skin from premature ageing, wrinkles and cancer. Even when you’re already tanned, remember that protection is important. It is recommended that anyone over the age of six months should use a sunscreen daily. Even those who work inside are exposed to ultraviolet radiation for brief periods throughout the day, especially if they work near windows, which generally filter out UVB but not UVA rays.Another common misperception is that you don’t need sunscreen on cloudy days. This is not true. Up to 40 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day leading to serious sunburns, because people spend all day outdoors with no protection from the sun.
But did you know that some might even say that sunscreen may be more harmful than the actual sun? Most conventional sunscreens contain dangerous ingredients like oxybenzone, which has been linked to allergies, hormone disruption, cell damage and even skin cancer. Whoever has been on the hunt to find the perfect natural, healthy and vegan sunscreen knows that it is near to impossible to find one. Most sunscreens are far from being vegan as they are tested on animals and some may even contain animal products like cow fat, glycerine and wax. Fortunately we took the time to do all the research for you and came up with a list of vegan, cruelty-free and health friendly alternatives.

When it comes to choosing the right UV filter, your sunscreen should have the following characteristics:
– should not penetrate the skin;
– should not cause allergies;
– should be photo stable;
– should have no effects on your metabolism.

Before we dig into our favourite brands let us have a look at the different types of filters. On the one hand you have a chemical filter. It is used in most conventional products, it deeply penetrates into the skin and absorbs the sun rays and transforms them into heat. The downside of this kind of filter is that the products are prone to cause allergic reactions  and the protective effect only starts about 20-30 minutes after applying them.
The other option is a mineral (or physical) sunscreen with ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both ingredients are small particles exist in nano and non-nano form and form some kind of a protection shield on the skin, as the product does not penetrate the skin. Sun rays will be reflected by this shield of particles and the protective effect is instant. The only negative effect is that these sunscreens tend to leave a very heavy white layer on your skin when the particles are very big, however if the particles are smaller, as in nano range, the safety of the product cannot be guaranteed as they may penetrate the skin after all.

Capture d’écran 2016-06-19 à 10.22.50

What about these nano particles? Nano particles are very tiny particles and  have physical effects that allow them to penetrate unusually deep into the skin. Some like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide (INCI: Zinc Oxide (Nano), Titanium Dioxide (Nano)), which also exist in a non-nano form, are used in sunscreens and other cosmetic as UV filters. Animal studies have shown that some nano particles can penetrate cells and tissues and cause biochemical damage. But whether these cosmetics and sunscreens pose any health risks remains largely unknown at this stage. To find out if a product contains nano particles check the ingredient list, they should be clearly marked with the word nano. So if nano particles can be dangerous why do they exist at all? Sunscreens with nano particles are easier to apply and will leave only a minimal white layer on your skin. So as long as the mineral filter stays on the skin you’re safe.

Here’s a chart with all different kinds of filters that are recommended. Those that are not recommended may cause allergic reactions, hormonal disruptions, may accumulate in your system or contain nano particles that may penetrate the skin.

Recommended mineral Recommended chemical Not recommended
Zinc Oxide

Titanium Dioxide

Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Metoxyphenyl Triazine

Drometrizole Trisiloxane

Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid

Ethylhexyl Triazone

Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane

Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate

Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone


Zinc Oxide (nano)

Titanium Dioxide (nano)


Octyl Methoxycinnamate


Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl
Tetramethylbutylphenol (nano)



Dimethyl PABA

Benzophenone-5, 4 and 3


What is a SPF and which one should you choose? The sun protection factor, short SPF, quotes how long the natural protection time of the skin to prevent a sunburn can be extended.This means, if a person develops a sunburn in 10 minutes when not wearing a sunscreen, the same person in the same intensity of sunlight will avoid sunburn for 150 minutes if wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 15. A user can determine the effectiveness of a sunscreen by multiplying the SPF factor by the length of time it takes for him to suffer a burn without sunscreen (Intrinsic protection X SPF = time you can stay in the sun with a lesser risk of sunburn). This specific time depends on your skin type.
Another way to look at it is in terms of percentages: SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent and SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent. Remember, no sunscreen can block all UV rays!
Note that the SPF mainly measures UVB protection. Individuals applying high-SPF sunscreens may not burn (UVB is the main culprit behind sunburn, while UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply, are associated with wrinkling, leathering and photoaging), but without UVA-screening ingredients they can still receive large amounts of skin-damaging radiation. So you see plenty of damage can be done without the red flag of sunburn being raised. To avoid such a scenario, choose sunscreens with both UVA and UVB protection, labelled multi spectrum, broad spectrum, or UVA/UVB protection.

Skin type Description Sunburn Tanning Skin intrinsic protection time
I Extremly pale skin, reddish hair, blue or green eyes, freckles Always burns Never tans 5-10 minutes
II Slightly darker than type I, rarely freckles, blond to brown hair, blue, green or grey eyes Generally burns Rarely tans 10-20 minutes
III Light brown skin, no freckles, dark blond or brown hair, green or brown eyes Occasionally burns Tans well 20-30 minutes
VI Brown to olive skin, dark brown or black hair, dark eyes Rarely burns Tans quickly and deeply Approx. 45 minutes
V Dark brown or black skin, black hair, dark eyes Rarely burns Tans quickly and deeply Approx. 60-90 minutes


Now here’s our list of products we tested along the last few months

  • Louis Widmer All Day 30 (ca. 18€ in most pharmacies)
    + no white coat while applying
    + nice consistency
    + not sticky
    + fragrance free, hypoallergenic formula
    + UVA and UVB protection
    + vegan and cruelty-free
    – synthetic sunscreen (Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane)
    – may contain palm oil
    – contains silicones
  • Alverde Sensitiv Sonnenmilch mit Jojoba 30 (6,95€ at DM)
    + mineral sunscreen
    + no palm oil
    + UVA and UVB protection
    + good price
    + vegan and cruelty-free
    – extreme white layer
    – nano particles
    – hard to apply, sticky
  • Lavera Sun Spray 20 (ca. 10€ on Amazon)
    + mineral sunscreen
    + organic
    + UVA and UVB protection
    + vegan and cruelty-free
    + no nano particles
    + nice smell
    – white layer, hard to apply, sticky
    – contains palm oil
  • EcoCosmetics Sunlotion neutral 30 (ca. 15€ on Amazon)
    + mineral sunscreen
    + organic, ECOCERT Label
    + UVA and UVB protection
    + vegan and cruelty-free
    + no nano particles
    + minimal to no white layer
    – greasy touch after application
    – may contain palm oil
  • EcoCosmetic Facial Cream toned 15 (ca. 14€ on Amazon)
    + mineral sunscreen
    + organic
    + UVA and UVB protection
    + vegan and cruelty-free
    + no nano particles
    + no white layer while applying
    – contains palm oil
    – slightly sticky

From all the sunscreens we tested, the EcoCosmetics Neutral Sunlotion SPF30 is the clear winner. For all those too vain to wear a little white cream on the beach the Louis Widmer All Day 30 would be the best alternative in our eyes.
We recommend sunscreens with mineral filters. If you go for a chemical one, make sure to consult our list to avoid all nasty filters.
We also recommend getting a suncsreen with broad spectrum filter, protecting the skin against both UVA and UVB rays.
We recommend deciding for a product with a high SPF of minimum 20. But be aware that very high SPFs may also encourage people to neglect their skin protection, like seeking the shade and wearing sun-protective clothing.  By preventing sunburn, sunscreens with very high SPFs can create a false sense of security, prompting consumers to stay out in the sun longer.  Sun damage (for example, UVA damage) can take place without skin-reddening doses of UV radiation, and even the best sunscreens will not block out all UV rays.
Make sure to apply enough product to your skin. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of the recommended amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, towelling off or sweating.

If you want more information on this topic make sure to check out this and this website for a full list of vegan an cruelty free products and look up your products on to get more details on the ingredients.
If you do end up having a sunburn, make sure to stay hydrated and apply some cold pure aloe vera.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s