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Vegan. Ex-makeup artist. CFS/ME sufferer. Cares about human rights, equality, animal rights, conservation/climate change.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Protecting Your Skin, Protecting Animals – Vegan Sunscreen

The bright days of spring are getting longer, and soon they'll turn into the sun-drenched days of summer. Finally, we can emerge from under our coats, scarves and jumpers and spend some time outdoors without getting hypothermia! This is excellent news if you're like me - I loathe the freezing dreariness of winter - but it might not be such good news for your skin.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is at it's peak in summertime. This radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer and photoaging, so sunscreen should be a vital part of your skin-care regime.
We usually only spare a thought for sunscreens in summer, but sun damage occurs all year round, even on overcast, winter days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 70-80% of the sun's rays go through clouds and fog.
Hopefully this article will help you make an informed, cruelty-free and vegan choice about sun protection!

To protect ourselves fully, we need to know what we're up against. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave). UVA rays account for around 95% of all UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. It can penetrate clouds and glass, and is generally at the same intensity all year round, during daylight hours. This type of light does not cause sunburn, but can still cause skin damage that can lead to cancer.
UVA is the main cause of photoaging – that means wrinkles, dark spots and a dull, uneven skin tone.
Take a look at this guy. William McElligott was a truck driver for 28 years. The left side of his face was exposed to sunlight through his window, the right side was in the shade of the cab. This is the result.

UVA is also the chief cause of tanning. There is no such thing as a 'healthy tan', a tan is the skin's response to DNA damage – it darkens to try to protect itself from further damage. The healthiest way to get bronzed is from a self-tan bottle!
UVB rays are the kind that cause sunburn. They also cause photoaging, and are a leading cause of skin cancers. These rays are strongest in the summer months.
Darker skins generally have slightly more protection from the sun (due to higher levels of melanin) but even the deepest tones are not immune to burns and damage. Excess sun exposure tends to cause patchy areas of darker or lighter skin in these skin tones.

So now that we've exposed the sun's evil plot to kill us and/or make us look like wrinkly raisins, we need to protect ourselves!
Effective sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection – keeping both UVA and UVB rays at bay. Experts recommend a minimum of SPF15 all year round to prevent skin cancer and photoaging. For summertime or periods of extended exposure, higher protection may be necessary. At these times it's best to break out the SPF50.
Unfortunately, most of the stuff in the shops is tested on animals, and some contain animal byproducts. But don't worry! I'm here to offer my top vegan sunscreen recommendations!

Superdrug Solait Mattifying Face Fluid SPF50

This non-greasy lotion offers UVA and UVB protection in a hydrating formula. It leaves no white cast, and works perfectly under make-up. It does have a light scent, so it may not be suitable for the most sensitive of skins. It's currently on offer for only £1.99 at Superdrug! I would expect to pay a ton more for a product of this quality, so my advice is to snap it up quick!
I can also vouch for their Clear Spray SPF50 for body, which offers the same high protection and makes you feel wonderfully silky.

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

This is on the pricier side, but it has glowing reviews all over the internet. The brand is cruelty-free, and many of their products are vegan. It won't leave a ghostly white cast on your face, and contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. Available from DermStore, or UK-based peeps can get it from Amazon.

Lovea SPF50 Daily Face Cream

I've heard great things about this sunscreen. As well as high UVA/UVB protection, it contains organic nourishing ingredients like argan oil. It also contains no ingredients that may be harmful to ecosystems like coral reefs. Available at mypure for £17.99. There is also a version for the body available.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen SPF45

This sunscreen contains green tea, aloe vera and sunflower seed oil, as well as broad spectrum SPF. Water resistant for 80 minutes, it is paraben free and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It smells heavenly, but I'd suggest using it on your body only, as it stings your eyes like contact lenses made of onion. $11.49 in the US, £7.49 in UK health food shops and at Lucy Rose.

Fragrance and paraben free, this sunscreen is sweat resistant, which is handy when you're out and about on a hot summer's day (my sunscreen needs to withstand hot, crowded public transport – yikes!) UVA/UVB protection. $10.69 in the US, and around £7 to £9 at UK retailers. Available at health stores and VitaminGrocer.

Sun Tips!

  • Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to give it time to sink in, to ensure you are protected fully.
  • You should use around 1oz, or a shot glass full, to cover your whole body. For just your face, a quarter of a teaspoon is enough.
  • Wait 3 minutes after application before putting on make-up. Don't rely on make-up with an SPF, you'd have to apply a ton to get the SPF on the label, and that would look like a cakey mess!
  • Sunscreen degrades with continued sun exposure over time. If you are in the sun for more that 3 hours straight, reapply every 3 hours to ensure you are still protected.
  • Reapply after swimming or bathing.
  • Vitamin D is important, but getting it from the sun means risking skin damage. To stay sun safe and healthy, I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement, such as Vitashine vegan vitamin D3.
  • Wear sunglasses outside to prevent sun damage to the eyes (which can cause cataracts). This also stops you from squinting against the sun, which can cause crow's feet!
  • It's easy to get dehydrated in the heat. Carry a bottle of water at all times, and remember that most restaurants and coffee shops will refill it with tap water for free. Hydrated body = plump, healthy looking skin! If you do get dehydrated, drink coconut water to replace electrolytes.
  • Wear a hat. Not only will you look super stylish, it can prevent your head from overheating and your scalp from burning.

Now go forth and enjoy the sunshine!

Til next time,


This is not a sponsored post, and contains no affiliate links. William McElligott picture via Huffington Post. References: Skin Cancer Foundation, Paula's Choice