8 Cruelty-Free, Vegan and Reef-Safe Sunscreens

The sun is out – and that means beach days aren’t far behind (fingers crossed)! If you’re looking for eco-friendly sun protection, we’ve got you.

As a responsible 8Shader, there are three key things you’ll want to look for in sunscreen, apart from how effective it is in protecting your skin against harmful UVA and UVB rays, that is:

  • the product must be cruelty-free (not tested on animals)
  • vegan (doesn’t use any animal-derived ingredients),
  • and reef-safe if using at the beach.

Ingredients to look for and avoid

When selecting sunscreen, go for products that use mineral compounds, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, to block UV rays. The size of the minerals matters as well, as nanoparticles, which are smaller than micro particles, can be toxic in high concentrations. Check the label and opt for those that mention ‘micro-sized’ or ‘non-nano’ minerals, and avoid anything with exfoliating beads, as this is a form of microplastic that can harm ocean life.  

Organic compounds like oxybenzone can induce allergies and affect hormones in humans, and ingredients like octocrylene and octinoxate can cause bleaching and death to corals. To keep your skin, and ocean life happy, formulations must not contain any of these harmful substances either: homosalate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor, para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), parabens and triclosan.

Skincare experts also advise sticking with lotions and avoiding sprays as much as possible, especially if they contain titanium dioxide, as these can be harmful to health when inhaled.

The final deciding factor would be for products that cut back on single use plastic packaging and have containers that are recycled, reusable or are made of biodegradable, plant-based materials, like cardboard.

Here are eight of the best cruelty-free, vegan and reef-safe sunscreens for daily use:

1. Best Tinted Sunscreen

Source: Revolve

ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 combines skincare, makeup and sun protection into one, with an ultra lightweight coverage shielding skin from UVA, UVB, UVC and blue and infrared light, using non-nano zinc oxide. Silicon, oil and fragrance-free, the tinted moisturiser comes in 27 shades to match every skintone, and is enhanced with hyaluronic acids, plant-based squalene, and niacinamide, sealing in hydration, while softening the skin and working to diminish fine lines.

ILIA has also partnered with 1% for the Planet and is donating 1% of all its Super Serum Skin Tint sales toward reforestation efforts, with a goal of planting 1 million trees by the end of 2023.

Available at Revolve

2. Best Daily Sunscreen for the Face

Source: Supergoop

A cult fave, Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen is invisible and glides on like a dream. Perfect for wearing alone or under makeup, it’s antioxidant-rich while providing SPF 40 and protection from blue light, to. Formulated without oil, it ensures a shine-free finish while keeping your makeup in place. What’s not to love?

Available at Sephora

3. Best Daily Sunscreen for the Body

Source: Coola

Perfect for sun-soaked days but light enough for daily use, COOLA’s Classic Sunscreen Spray is both antioxidant-rich and moisturising with broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection. It features a natural guava mango scent and is housed in recyclable, plant-based tubes sourced from sugar cane. Of course, it’s also vegan, gluten-free, paraban-free and reef-safe!

Available at Goxip

4. Best Sunscreen for the Beach

Mimitika’s Summer Essentials SPF Face and Body Set
Source: @theorganicstore.hk on Instagram

With its lightweight and water-resistant formulation, Mimitika’s Summer Essentials SPF Face and Body Set is all you need for your next trip to the beach. The set comes with an SPF50 face sunscreen, SPF30 sunscreen for the body, as well as a soothing after-sun body lotion with aloe vera and coconut oil. Mimitika’s sunscreen contains seaweed extract, which stimulates melanin production ensuring a glowing, healthy tan, and vitamin E, which neutralises free radicals promoting a youthful glow.

Available at The Organic Store

5. Best Mineral Sunscreen

Source: Sephora HK

Supergoop’s Mineral Sheerscreen SPF 30 is a non-nano zinc oxide sheer skin protector that helps filter blue light and prep the skin for makeup. Developed with the brand’s breakthrough SheerMatrix Technology, the formula suspends the sunscreen actives in a matrix without compromising efficacy, so it instantly blends to a natural, smooth finish that wears well alone or as a primer under makeup.

Available at Sephora HK

6. Best Sunscreen for Outdoor Sports

Juice Beauty
Source: Juice Beauty

Created for those with active lifestyles and love the outdoors, Juice Beauty’s Sport sunscreen is made with certified organic ingredients like jojoba, soothing aloe and mineral broad spectrum zinc, offering ideal, water- and sweat-resistant protection for up to 80 minutes. Re-applying is easy as the formula absorbs quickly. Juice Beauty also comes in sustainable FSC paper packaging.

Available at Juice Beauty

7. Best Sunscreen for Babies and Kids

Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen
Source: @nourishcleanbeauty on Instagram

Use as much of the Erbaviva Baby Sunscreen as you want– this award-winning, organically crafted sunscreen provides full spectrum protection and is gentle enough for babies, so it’s great for the entire family. Infused with sunflower, jojoba oil and essential oils of chamomile and lavender, it features a lightweight and silky formula that absorbs quickly and is water-resistant.

Available at Nourish Clean Beauty

8. Best Sun Protection for the Lips

Source: Goxip

Don’t forget to protect your lips! Keep chapping and dryness at bay with Babo Botanicals’ Lip Tint SPF 15, which comes in three shades: beach rose, wild rose and crimson rose. A proprietary Nutri-Sooth Complex with antioxidants and vitamins smoothes and conditions while offering protection and a pretty sheen.

Available at Goxip

See also: How to Have a Sustainable Day at the Beach

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