TMTM
Young attractive woman attentively applying sunscreen on her sho
Wavebreakmedia/istockphoto

Is a Trader Joe's $9 Supergoop Sunscreen Dupe Better Than the Original?

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 $36 Unseen formulation. 


Since TikTokers discovered the Trader Joe’s clone, 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 finally managed to reserve a bottle. With both the Supergoop Unseen original and Trader Joe’s copycat in hand, I tested to see how the two compare. And there’s a clear winner.


Comparing the Ingredients

Supergoop Unseen Versus Trader Joe’s Dupe
From the directions to the ingredients, Trader Joe's copied Supergoop's sunscreen nearly to the letter. Both formulas are 40 SPF and use the same four 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 Dupe

Supergoop vs. TJ's Dupe
Supergoop and the Trader Joe’s knockoff are both excellent 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 dupe for not being greasy or oily, and these seem like apt descriptors. When you first apply either sunscreen, it feels like rubbing in an extra-light, quick-to-absorb petroleum jelly rather than a cream.


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 indistinguishable. Sure, maybe Trader Joe’s version is a bit thicker and lighter in color. But after applying both — one on each side of my face — I couldn’t tell the difference.


Which brings me to 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.


The Verdict

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 at a low price. 


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.


What do experts say about the Trader Joe’s dupe?

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.


Since Trader Joe’s product came on the market this summer, everyone from Wirecutter to the Wall Street Journal has covered Trader Joe’s viral dupe.


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.


More from Cheapism

For more great shopping guides, please sign up for our free newsletter.


Live Well For Less

Behind every budget is a bucket list. From travel, food and lifestyle to product reviews and deals, we’re here to show you how to save and what’s worth saving for.

Cheapism in the News
msn
today
nytimes
cnbc
newyorker
cbs