Do Plant-Based Sunscreens Work as Well As Regular Sunscreens?


We all rely on sunscreen to protect our skin from harsh rays. But if you prefer to live a natural lifestyle, then you may be hesitant to use regular sunscreen products.

Thankfully, there’s an alternative. Plant-based sunscreen can offer the protection of regular sunscreen with the benefits of a more natural formula.

Keep reading to learn why they work just as well as regular sunscreens and for more information on finding the right plant-based sun care products for your goals.

What is a plant-based sunscreen, exactly?

Before diving into the unique benefits of plant-based sunscreens, it’s worth first taking a moment to review what they are.

A plant-based sunscreen typically features a higher concentration of natural ingredients than regular sunscreen. These may include ingredients like aloe vera, coconut oil, and sunflower seed oil.

Is plant-based sunscreen the same as vegan?

Plant-based and vegan aren’t the same thing. When a sunscreen is plant-based, it means that its formula uses a higher concentration of plants than a traditional sunscreen. 

But a vegan sunscreen is one that uses no ingredients from animals and no ingredients that are tested on animals.

Many plant-based sunscreens end up also being vegan. But you can’t assume that plant-based means vegan, because the ingredients that companies use in plant-based formulas are tested on animals.

Is plant-based sunscreen the same as cruelty-free?

Plant-based sunscreens aren’t inherently cruelty-free, either. As mentioned in the previous section, a company might test its products on animals before putting them into a plant-based formula.

That’s why, if you want to make sure that the sunscreen you use is cruelty-free, you need to look for either the vegan or cruelty-free label – not just the plant-based one.

How do plant-based sunscreens compare to regular sunscreens?

Plant-based sunscreens have some similarities and differences with regular sun care products. We’ll take a closer look at those in this section.

Sun protection 

If you didn’t know, sun protection levels are measured on the SPF scale. When a sunscreen has a higher SPF level, it offers more protection against sunburns, UVA damage, and DNA damage, which can occur from excess sun exposure.

Plant-based sunscreens follow the same SPF scale as regular sun care products. That means, under ideal conditions, an SPF 50 plant-based sunscreen should offer the same protection as an SPF 50 regular sunscreen.

The way that a plant-based sunscreen protects your skin from the sun may involve blocking the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them, which differs from chemical sunscreen. But the result is typically the same functional level of protection.


Plant-based sunscreens have a higher concentration of plants like aloe vera in them. Studies show that aloe vera can increase skin flexibility while reducing its fragility.

Research also confirms that coconut oil (another major ingredient in plant-based formulas) moisturizes and soothes the skin.

So when you buy a plant-based sunscreen, you’re getting a higher concentration of all-natural skin-nourishing ingredients.

That’s not to say that regular sunscreen can’t support your skin as well. But if you prefer all-natural nourishment, then skincare is the way to go.


You might expect plant-based sunscreens to cost a lot more than regular ones just because of the natural ingredients they contain. But that’s not the case.

For example, Australian Gold sells plant-based SPF 30 lotion for $12.99. You can compare that to our general protection SPF 30 continuous spray sunscreen, which retails for $11.99.

This shows that if you prefer a plant-based formulation, price shouldn’t be a factor that prevents you from getting it.


When you look at ingredient lists for both types of sunscreen, you may see plant-based ingredients like aloe vera and coconut oil in both.

The difference isn’t necessarily the types of ingredients that each sunscreen contains, but the concentration of those ingredients.

For example, at Australian Gold, our plant-based sunscreens have the highest concentration of aloe vera out of our entire product line. That means you get more of the good stuff when you choose a plant-based product.

Production practices

The manufacturing process for plant-based sunscreens isn’t inherently different than it is for regular ones. A company may still use practices that you don’t agree with even while producing plant-based products.

If you want to make sure that the company you buy from uses production practices that you agree with, it’s better to look for labels like:

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Reef-friendly
  • Organic

How to pick the right plant-based sunscreen for you

Are you ready to try a plant-based sunscreen? If so, here are step-by-step instructions you can follow to make sure you pick up the right one for your goals and preferences.

Step 1: Pick your SPF level

First up, you want to make sure that the sunscreen you select will give you the sun protection that you need. That means figuring out which SPF level you should look for.

Dermatologists recommend using at least SPF 30. But should you go higher than that?

The answer could depend on your skin type. If you have fairer skin, then you may need a higher SPF level to prevent sunburn.

But the higher you go on the SPF scale, the less amount of added protection that you get. 

For example, the American Cancer Society says the following:

  • SPF 15 filters 93% of UVB rays
  • SPF 30 filters 97%
  • SPF 50 filters 98%
  • SPF 100 filters 99%

It’s up to you to decide whether the extra 1-2% of protection is worth it.

Step 2: Look for brands that support your values

Once you know your desired SPF level, you can start figuring out which brand you’re going to buy from. This will depend on what matters to you.

Are you looking for companies that use high-quality ingredients? Maybe you want to make sure that the brand doesn’t test any of its products on animals.

Or you might just want to find a company that will sell you the plant-based sunscreen that you want at the lowest price possible.

Figuring out which of these factors matters most to you should help you select the best brand for your skincare goals.

Step 3: Find a formula that offers the skin-nourishing benefits you want

Companies can use lots of different ingredients while creating a plant-based sunscreen. These will have different impacts on your skin.

For example, you can find plant-based formulas that offer extra moisture to care of dry skin. Or you can look for products that are oil-free to help with acne and oily skin.

The choice is yours. Figure out what your skin needs most and then pick a plant-based product that fits those goals.

Step 4: Select the best available option at your price point

At this point, you’ve figured out the SPF level that you need, the brands that support your values, and the skin-nourishing benefits you want. Now you’re ready to make a choice.

If multiple products satisfy each of the previous three points of consideration, then you can just pick the one with the lowest cost.

Is plant-based sunscreen a good fit for every skin type?

When you’re shopping for skincare products like sunscreen, the type of skin that you have can matter a lot. 

For example, people with oily skin look for non-comedogenic products, and those with dry skin try to find products that offer some extra moisturizing power.

But when it comes to plant-based sunscreen, the type of skin that you have shouldn’t matter as much. That’s because the main ingredient in most plant-based sunscreens is aloe vera.

Aloe vera is 98% water and rich in Vitamins A, C, and E – which are all powerful antioxidants. It’s non-comedogenic, which makes it a good fit for people with oily skin and moisturizing, making it a good fit for folks with dry skin as well.

That makes plant-based sunscreen one of the rare skincare products that nearly everyone can use.

Australian Gold offers everyday sun protection powered by plants

Experts recommend that you wear sunscreen every day and reapply it throughout the day. That means you’re going to want a plant-based product that nourishes your skin each time you put it on.

Australian Gold’s plant-based sunscreen line is perfect for this. Our formula is:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Full of nutritious aloe vera and coconut oil
  • Plant-based
  • Available across a broad range of SPF levels

It’s just what you need to keep your skin safe and healthy while enjoying your time in the sun.

Take a look at our online shop to get started.