Brand Break Down: SunButter

Updated: Mar 16

*This feature is not sponsored or paid for in any way by SunButter or any other invested party


We love it when products are born out of a need to modify an essential item to make it more friendly to Mother Nature and that's exactly how SunButter was born.

It all started in 2016 when marine biologist and conservation ecologist team Sacha Guggenheimer and Tom Hiney learned about just how harmful chemical sunscreen pollution was on our oceans and coral reefs. As they were working in Western Australia, they found it hard to reconcile the need to protect themselves from the sun with their passion to protect the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Reef. So, they worked on developing a natural high quality sun protection formula and handmade a product "for the whale shark guides, photographers, spearo's, divers, and fisherman of the Ningaloo Reef."


Since August 2019, they expanded from handmade sunblock to an SPF50, 4 hours water resistant, reef safe sunscreen that's been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. They've even expanded to include skin and hair care in their range, with products made especially for those who spend long hours exposed to the elements.


We had a chat with SunButter co-founder Sacha to learn about how they keep the brand earth-friendly.

OWNERSHIP

The brand is wholly owned by co-founders Sacha Guggenheimer and Tom Hiney.


The brand is an independent small business and does not have a parent company.





INGREDIENTS & RAW MATERIALS

SunButter does not use chemical UV filters in their products. Instead, the main hero ingredient in their sunscreens is non-nano particle zinc oxide - a mineral ingredient that is considered as "the safest and most non-reactive UV blocker for the environment" and "one of the safest, non-toxic UV blockers to use on human skin"


The rest of their formulation consists of coconut oil, candelilla wax (a vegan alternative to beeswax), vitamin E, and other plant-based ingredients which come with a myriad of benefits for your skin.

As for their range of skin and hair care, these are all made with a mix of seed oils, leaf oils, essential oils, butters, other plant derived ingredients, and, in the case of their hair serum, beeswax.


All the ingredients used in each of their products are disclosed on each product page on the SunButter website:

SunButter is registered with the Vegan Trademark by The Vegan Society as all their products are vegan, except for their surf zincs and hair serum, which contain beeswax. For those, they use locally sourced beeswax from ethical beekeepers (more on this later). Their products are also certified cruelty free by The Vegan Society and they do not have any physical retailers in China. They are, however, not certified organic.


SunButter was Australia's first Palm Oil Free certified sunscreen. However, we have been informed that recent changes in a link in their supply chain have made it so they could no longer guarantee that claim. Sacha tells us that the brand is doing everything they can to reclaim their Palm Oil Free certification by working on a new formulation which is undergoing stability testing at the time of writing.



SOURCING & PRODUCTION

All of SunButter's ingredients are certified sustainably sourced by respective independent regulators. The beeswax they use for their surf zincs (which they still make by hand in small batches) and hair serums are sustainably sourced from small local suppliers - Moe The Bee Man and Peninsula Pure Honey.

There's good news for vegans though because co-founder Sacha has informed us that they are now finalising a vegan version of their surf zinc! They've decided to move in this direction because they haven't found a cruelty-free beeswax supplier that can meet their needs when they move into making larger quantities in a TGA approved facility.


SunButter sunscreen is also manufactured in a solar powered factory in Australia which is audited by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. However, their tin packaging is made and printed in China. Sacha explains that this is because they have not been able to source any that are manufactured in Australia.



PACKAGING & RECYCLING OPTIONS

SunButter packages their products in aluminium tins & cardboard, and ships them in home compostable satchels.


The use of aluminium is great as it is one of the most recyclable and most recycled materials on the market. (Nearly 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use) It can be recycled back into itself endlessly in a true closed loop, and for consumers' purposes, the packaging can easily be repurposed and upcycled.


Sadly, SunButter is unable to have a refilling program for their sunscreens as the Therapeutic Goods Administration does not allow it. As sunscreen is classed as a medicine in Australia, there are tight guidelines for packaging and use. SunButter is communicating with the TGA on a possible solution but until then, they encourage their customers to reuse their tins or upcycle them. (Check out #SpreadTheButterFurther on Instagram for ideas!)



GIVING BACK & ADVOCACY

SunButter is carbon neutral through Green Fleet Australia and a member of 1% For The Planet. They also donate a minimum of 10% of company profits to charitable partners:

Sacha shared that SunButter also has an emergency fund which they use in moments of need. For example, it was used to help wildlife impacted by bushfires and the Save Westernport Campaign, among others.


Additionally, 10% of the profits from their skin and hair care range is donated to Living Culture to continue teaching community about First Nations culture and connection to country.


DIVERSITY & INCLUSIVITY

At the moment, the company is only made up of four team members - three women and one man. You can learn a little more about them here.


*Also, they are currently hiring and encourage anyone and everyone to apply.


*February 2021

We all know by now how important it is to protect ourselves when we're going out in the sun. Thankfully, thanks to brands like SunButter, it no longer means harming the environment while we do it! We encourage you lot of conscious consumers to check them out and see if their stuff is right for you.

SunButter ships worldwide via their website and in various retailers throughout every state and territory in Australia.