Spend enough time in Trader Joe’s and you’re likely to see dispirited shoppers gaze longingly at the skincare shelf before walking away empty-handed. Love isn’t at the heart of their disappointment — at least not the romantic kind. No, these shoppers are crestfallen and weary because they’re after Trader Joe’s $9 Daily Facial Sunscreen, a near ingredient-for-ingredient dupe of Supergoop’s Unseen sunscreen, which retails for $36.
Since TikTokers discovered the budget-friendly Trader Joe’s clone last summer, Zoomers have been snatching up bottles of the coveted sunscreen from stores across the country. In Sacramento, I called Trader Joe’s at least four times to track down the Supergoop dupe, but shipments kept getting delayed. After driving 400 miles to Los Angeles (for a move, not for the sunscreen), I finallymanaged to reserve a bottle. With both the Supergoop Unseen original and Trader Joe’s sunscreen in hand, I tested to see how the two compare. And there’s a clear winner.
Comparing the Ingredients
From the directions to the ingredients list, Trader Joe's copied Supergoop's sunscreen nearly to the letter. Both formulas are SPF 40 and use the same four broad-spectrum UV-blocking chemicals (avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene), though their percentages aren’t identical. The story is much the same for the long list of arcane “Inactive Ingredients,” both containing impossible-to-pronounce additives like “isododecane” and “polymethylsilsesquioxane.” But again, Trader Joe’s ingredients are similar but not identical.
Testing Supergoop Unseen Versus Trader Joe’s Sunscreen
Supergoop and the Trader Joe’s knockoff are both excellent oil-free sunscreens, particularly for people of color who struggle to find products that don’t leave a white cast. Thanks to the sunscreens’ translucent gel formulation, they’re both “invisible” and apply in a matte gloss, unlike most difficult-to-absorb products. Multiple reviewers have lauded Supergoop and Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen for being smooth and light, and these seem like apt descriptors. When you first apply either sunscreen, it feels like rubbing in a lightweight, quick-to-absorb petroleum jelly rather than a cream. Other reviewers report that this unique texture means that the sunscreens work well as makeup primers, too, boosting coverage and staying power
On top of how light these sunscreens are, they’re also fragrance-free, making them perfect for acne-prone and sensitive skin. My skin — oily and slightly acne-prone — tolerated both the Trader Joe’s dupe and Supergoop’s original without producing any blemishes or extra oil.
You’ll notice that I’ve described Supergoop’s original and Trader Joe’s knockoff in tandem, and that’s because they’re nearly indistinguishable. After using both sunscreens for months, one of the only significant differences I found was that Trader Joe’s formula liquified over time, as if the ingredients began to separate. That said, a quick shake restored the gel to its original consistency.
Of course, there’s also the price. For the same 1.7-ounce bottle, Trader Joe’s clone is four times cheaper at just $9, which explains why Gen Z is losing it over this sunscreen.
Supergoop developed a superb sunscreen. But $36 for a tiny bottle? No thanks. In the end, Trader Joe’s wins by doing what it does best: offering a high-quality in-house product that lives up to the hype — and at a low price.
But good luck trying to get your hands on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find Trader Joe’s viral Daily Facial Sunscreen?
Call your nearest Trader Joe’s and ask if they have the sunscreen in stock. If they do, ask if they can put a bottle on hold (this is how I snagged one). If not, ask when their next shipment is, be patient, and call again. Because of the sunscreen’s popularity, each store is only allowed a limited supply — and thanks to articles like this one (sorry), the shortage might last a while. Truly desperate shoppers can also try eBay, where resellers are upcharging for Trader Joe’s dupe.
Has Trader Joe’s Face sunscreen been discontinued?
Although rumors have been swirling for months on r/TraderJoe’s, superfans have reported that the SPF 40 sunscreen is still available. If you still have trouble finding the TJ’s formula, another Supergoop dupe appears to have cropped up: an $11 gel sunscreen from Kroger.
What do experts say about the Trader Joe’s sunscreen?
In an interview with the fitness magazine Shape, the dermatologist Geeta Yadav explained that while Trader Joe’s formula is “excellent,” Supergoop has the edge when it comes to unique ingredients like meadowfoam and mannitol. That said, plenty of TikTok derms have endorsed the Trader Joe’s formula.
@teawithmd Have you tried either yet? Both are AWESOME invisible matte chemical #sunscreens! #spf #dermbypark #dermatologist #traderjoes #supergoop ♬ original sound - Dr. Joyce Dermatologist
Where did the Trader Joe’s sunscreen trend come from?
Teen Vogue traces the trend’s origins to this June 29 TikTok, which has racked up 2 million views. Given that TikTokers were already in love with Supergoop’s 2018 original — #supergoop has nearly 200 million views on the platform — conditions were optimal for Trader Joe’s to steal the spotlight.
Is Trader Joe’s sunscreen reef-safe or reef-friendly?
No. While Supergoop claims its Unseen sunscreen is “reef-friendly,” both it and the Trader Joe’s dupe include octocrylene, a UV-blocker that the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory lists as an environmentally harmful ingredient.
Is what Trader Joe’s did legal?
It’s legal. According to the Wall Street Journal, Supergoop’s sunscreen isn’t patented, and beauty products like sunscreen usually aren’t patented anyway.
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