Concerns related to overexposure to the sun have been tirelessly discussed but there is still so much controversy around this subject that we have decided to sum up the important points. Why is it important to wear a sunscreen? The difference between UVA, UVB and UVC? What is the difference between mineral and physical sunscreens? What is vitamin D deficiency and is it related to wearing a sunscreen? And why is it important to choose an SPF by certified cruelty free and sustainable brands.

We believe that with so much misinformation about SPF and sunscreens it is critical to receive information from official and trusted sources. Cancer Research UK, The British Association of Dermatologists, Harvard Medical School and The American Academy of Dermatology are the most trustworthy platforms which cover two slightly different views on SPF and sunscreens, a European view and an American view. Please visit their websites should you wish to read further, more in-depth information on this subject.

Historically the ingredients used in SPF products have been tested on animals more than in any other cosmetic category. One of the main reasons is that this category of products in America is considered to be a drug and therefore needs to comply with different rules and regulations compare to other cosmetics.


UV radiation from the sun is transmitted in three wavelengths – UVA, UVB and UVC but UVC does not penetrate the earth’s atmosphere.

UV irradiation in the form of UVA is associated with skin ageing. UVA protection in a sunscreen will help defend the skin against photo ageing and potentially skin cancer.

UVB is the form of UV irradiation most responsible for sunburn and has strong links to malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma risk (types of skin cancer). A sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor) will help block UVB rays and prevent the skin from burning, and by extension damage that can cause skin cancer.

Chemical (mineral) vs Physical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens work like a sponge, absorbing the sun’s rays. They contain one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate. These formulations tend to be easier to rub into the skin without leaving a white residue.

Physical sunscreens work like a shield, sitting on the surface of your skin and deflecting the sun’s rays. They contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. Opt for this sunscreen if you have sensitive skin.

How much SPF do you need

The SPF value is calculated based on people applying 2mg of sunscreen for every square centimetre of skin. This means that people need around 35ml (a large shotglass or two tablespoonfuls) to cover their entire body.

Vitamin D deficiency & SPF products

Sunscreen prevents sunburn by blocking UVB light. Theoretically, that means sunscreen use lowers vitamin D levels. But as a practical matter, very few people put on enough sunscreen to block all UVB light, or they use sunscreen irregularly, so sunscreen’s effects on vitamin D might not be that important. An Australian study that’s often cited showed no difference in vitamin D between adults randomly assigned to use sunscreen one summer and those assigned a placebo cream.

Important to remember

No sunscreen can provide complete protection from the sun. This means that in strong sunlight, or for long exposures, they need to be used together with other protective measures like clothing or shade.

We put together a list of certified cruelty free brands which either exclusively produce cruelty free SPF products and sunscreens or offer SPS products as part of their range alongside other cosmetics. These brands do not test their products on animals, do not commission third parties to test on their behalf, do not work with the non cruelty free suppliers and do not sell their products in mainland China. Should you wish to learn more about the brands, their certifications, origin etc. click on the brand and you will be directed to brand’s page on our website.

Cruelty Free SPF & Sunscreen Brands

A list of certified cruelty free brands that offer SPF products:

A list of certified cruelty free skincare brands that offer SPF products:

To help you switch to cruelty free cosmetics, we have certified cruelty free and certified vegan lists of brands for you to explore.