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February 10, 2021

You could say we’re a little ambitious when it comes to our products. We don’t just want them to be amazing concoctions that you use and love and keep coming back for — we also want them to tick every possible box in the planet-loving column (reef-safe? Check! Plastic-free? Check! All-natural? You betcha!). Naturally, this means our sunscreen formula is plant-based and vegan. 

What does “plant-based” and “vegan” mean?

Most of us are pretty familiar with the concept of veganism these days, but for the uninitiated, vegans refrain from eating or consuming any product that’s been derived from an animal. This includes not just meat and dairy but also honey, and products-wise it means steering clear of materials like leather and silk, plus cosmetics derived from animal sources. Vegans avoid these products because they don’t agree with the unethical treatment of animals by the (often) big industries that create them, or with the effect that these practices are having on our planet and climate.

For SunButter, the term “plant-based” means that we derive our ingredients from plant sources — not from animals or synthetic chemicals. We know that plant medicine is powerful, and our mission has always been to protect the natural world as well as humans. SunButter sunscreen is both vegan and plant-based.

Where does “cruelty-free” come in?

It’s no secret that a large number of cosmetics companies test their products on animals in conditions that are far from friendly.

Fortunately, all of our ingredients are vegan, natural and chemical-free, so we don’t need any expensive methods of testing. We test exclusively on humans (which has the added benefit of helping us gather feedback and maintain quality control!), so our sunscreen is certified vegan.

 Is all sunscreen plant-based and vegan?

Sadly, no. A little investigating uncovers the reality that there are all types of bizarre animal-based ingredients thrown into sunscreens — the kinds of ingredients you probably don’t really want to be applying to your lovely skin. The trouble is that you often won’t recognise these products as animal-derived when scanning an ingredients list. Here are a few examples from The Vegan Society:

  • Beeswax — an emollient often added to skincare (more on this below)
  • Chithin – a polysaccharide usually taken from the exoskeletons of crustaceans, insects and arachnids.
  • Collagen – a protein derived from the connective tissue of cows, pigs, fish and other species.
  • Elastin – a protein that comes from animals’ artery walls, intestines, lungs and skin.
  • Lanolin – A kind of fat found in sheep’s wool
  • Stearin/Stearic Acid – An ingredient that comes from cow, sheep or pig fat. 

How is SunButter made?

SunButter sunscreen is made using coconut oil, candelilla wax, vitamin E and other plant-based ingredients. As an added bonus, these ingredients have myriad benefits for your skin. Vitamin E, for example — which can be derived from a variety of plants, such as the prickly pear cactus and plenty of vegetables — is incredibly nourishing. Among other things, this amazing nutrient contributes to antioxidant defences, minimises UV radiation damage, neutralises airborne pollutants and locks in skin moisture. The wax in our sunscreen is candelilla — a plant-derived and vegan alternative to beeswax.  

What’s the deal with beeswax? 

As we mentioned above, quite a few cosmetic products contain beeswax. But isn’t beeswax a naturally-occurring by-product of bee activity? We hear you asking. Well, yes. Beeswax on its own is harmless, but beeswax, honey and other bee-related products have become big business, and are being produced in some pretty cruel and unsustainable ways. We’re talking about practices such as wing-clipping, over-harvesting and poor harvest hive-culling, not to mention the use of poor quality wax derived from petrochemicals. 

When making our surf zincs, we use beeswax that’s been locally-sourced from ethical beekeepers using sustainable practices. We’re able to do this because our surf zincs are handmade by us in small quantities. However, as we continue to expand as a company, we’re now product testing completely vegan surf zincs. Watch this space!

Why is it important to be reef safe? 

To us, there’s no point being plant-based, vegan or cruelty-free if the product you’re sending out into the world is going to harm Mother Nature.

There are many ways in which chemical sunscreens damage our oceans and waterways, from coral bleaching to interfering with the health and development of dolphins and other marine life. Creating a reef-safe sunscreen is where it all started for SunButter, and it’s from that original desire to invent a product that wasn’t going to harm the oceans that all of our planet-loving business endeavours began.

In conclusion?

If you’re seriously passionate about caring for our beloved Planet Earth, it pays to look at all the aspects of a business, their products and their practices when deciding where to spend your hard-earned cashola. Help us keep fighting the good fight!

SunButter sustainable beeswax zinc