A Comparison of Sun Bum vs. Vacation Sunscreen

📅 June 14, 2024

In a Rush? Get the Fast Facts

  • Formulations:

    • Sun Bum: Available in sprays, sticks, and lotions.
    • Vacation: Focuses on lotions and creams.
  • Eco-Friendly:

    • Both brands are reef-friendly and oxybenzone-free.
  • User Experience:

    • Sun Bum: Lightweight, non-greasy, and water-resistant.
    • Vacation: Creamy texture with a matte finish.
  • Pricing:

    • Sun Bum: $10-$20, widely available.
    • Vacation: $15-$25, premium feel.
  • Ideal For:

    • Sun Bum: Variety of formats and a tropical scent.
    • Vacation: Sensitive skin and nostalgic experience.

July 4th is almost here! Aside from Independence Day, it’s unofficially “national beach weekend.” While there are many things you should pack, one of the most important items for your beach vacation is sunscreen. 

But there are so many different options: sprays, sticks, lotions. Which one do you choose? Here we compare two popular brands: Sun Bum and Vacation, side by side.

Sun Bum vs. Vacation: The Basics

Both Sun Bum and Vacation brands offer non-nano zinc sunscreen formulas (in a nutshell: better for you and the ocean critters). Vacation comes in lotions and creams, while Sun Bum includes various options like sprays, sticks, and lotions. However, we should note that spray-on sunscreens are notoriously bad for coral reefs and all the critters that live in them.

Product Overview

Sun Bum offers a comprehensive range of sun protection products that cater to various needs and preferences. Known for its distinctive branding and commitment to quality, Sun Bum products are designed to provide effective protection against both UVA and UVB rays, crucial for preventing sunburn and long-term skin damage.


Sun Bum’s product lineup includes a variety of formats such as sprays, lotions, and sticks, making it easy to find a product that suits different activities and lifestyles. Their formulations often boast water resistance, making them ideal for beach-goers and outdoor enthusiasts.


On the other hand, Vacation is relatively newer on the scene but has quickly made a name for itself with its distinctive, nostalgic branding and a focus on creating a “leisure-enhancing” sunscreen experience.


Vacation’s offerings are more streamlined, focusing primarily on lotions and creams. Their products are designed to evoke a sense of nostalgia for classic sunscreens but with modern formulations that cater to contemporary health and environmental standards.


Both Sun Bum and Vacation offer unique advantages depending on what consumers value most, from ingredient transparency and skin health to environmental impact and sensory experience.


Key Features

Focused on skin-friendly ingredients, Sun Bum sunscreens are formulated without parabens, gluten, and are vegan and reef-friendly. They often use mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which are less likely to irritate sensitive skin and are better for the environment.


Many of Sun Bum’s products are infused with nourishing ingredients like vitamin E, which helps to moisturize the skin while protecting it from environmental elements. The brand is also known for its appealing tropical scents, which enhance the user experience without being overpowering. It is important to note that the ingredient that creates Sun Bum’s signature scent can be harsh for those with sensitive skin.


Alternatively, Vacation emphasizes clean, effective ingredients, including non-nano zinc oxide for UV protection. Their products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, appealing to environmentally conscious consumers. They are formulated without harmful chemicals and prioritize ingredients that are safe for both the skin and the environment.


One of the standout features of Vacation sunscreen is its signature coconut-based fragrance, developed to mimic the classic sunscreen scents many associate with pleasant beach memories. This fragrance is crafted to be enjoyable without irritating sensitive skin.


Sustainability is crucial for sunscreen brands, as poorly made sunscreen can wreak havoc on our health and the health of our oceans. Both Sun Bum and Vacation Sunscreen are cruelty-free, and Vacation Sunscreen is 100% vegan. Both brands allow you to enjoy some fun in the sun without guilt.

Both Vacation and Sun Bum are oxybenzone-free, keeping our oceans safe and clear. Aside from us not wanting to kill sea turtles and all, Hawaii and Florida have banned sunscreens with oxybenzone, so both of these sunscreens are safe for your next beach vacation.

User Experience

Sun Bum sunscreens are often praised for their lightweight and non-greasy formulas. Users appreciate that the sunscreen absorbs quickly without leaving a white residue, which is a common issue with mineral sunscreens. The spray versions are particularly favored for their ease of application, allowing for quick, even coverage. Regular users of Sun Bum sunscreen report high satisfaction with the level of sun protection offered, noting that it effectively prevents sunburn during prolonged exposure. The water-resistant formulations are also highlighted as beneficial for swimmers and those engaging in water sports.

Vacation sunscreen is lauded for its creamy texture that spreads easily on the skin without leaving a heavy or sticky feeling. It absorbs well, providing a matte finish rather than a greasy one, which is a critical attribute that appeals to users who dislike the typical sunscreen shine. Users report that Vacation sunscreen offers robust protection against UV rays, with a lasting effect that doesn’t require too frequent reapplication. It’s particularly noted for not running into the eyes, a common issue with many sunscreens, which enhances comfort during use, especially in hot and sweaty condition

Pricing and Availability

Sun Bum sunscreen products are competitively priced, generally ranging from about $10 to $20 depending on the type and size of the product. For example, a standard bottle of Sun Bum sunscreen lotion or spray typically costs around $15. These prices make Sun Bum a mid-range option in the sunscreen market, accessible for those looking for quality sun protection without a high price tag. Sun Bum is also widely available in a variety of retail outlets like Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, as well as in specialty outdoor and surf shops.

Vacation sunscreen tends to be slightly more premium-priced compared to Sun Bum, with prices typically ranging from $15 to $25. This pricing reflects the brand’s positioning as offering a unique, nostalgic experience with a focus on high-quality ingredients and innovative formulations.

Though not as ubiquitous as Sun Bum, Vacation sunscreen is available at select retailers and is extensively available online. You can purchase it through its official website, which offers the full range of products, as well as through other online retailers like Amazon.

So, Which sunscreen is better?

It depends on what specifically ticks your boxes. If you prefer sunscreens in a rub-on stick format for when you’re on the go or to fit in your handbag, Sun Bum is the one for you. 

On the other hand, if you have allergies and want something genuinely unscented, we recommend choosing Vacation sunscreens. But with two Americans dying of skin cancer every hour, no matter what brand you choose, please wear sunscreen this summer!

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