A Comparison of Sun Bum vs. Vacation Sunscreen

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 are non-nano zinc 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.

What About the Bunnies? Is it Cruelty-Free?

We all love bunnies and hate to think about any little ball of fluff unnecessarily enduring animal testing. Both Sun Bum and Vacation sunscreen are cruelty-free, and Vacation Sunscreen is 100% vegan. Sun Bum should double-check the label of their favorite products, as not all of their options are vegan. Both brands allow you to enjoy some fun in the sun without guilt.

Are they Reef Safe?

If you’ve been shopping for sunscreen, no doubt you’ve heard of oxybenzone, a common sunscreen ingredient. Aside from being a mouthful to say, it is killing our coral reefs. Which might also lead you to think, “if it’s taking out big, beautiful reefs, what’s it doing to my skin?”

Never fear. Both Vacation and Sun Bum are oxybenzone-free, which is vital for your next vacation. Aside from us not wanting to kill sea turtles and all, Hawaii and Florida have banned sunscreens with oxybenzone. 

What About Fragrance?

If you suffer from asthma or allergies, you know the fragrance that so many love doesn’t love you back. Both brands do contain fragranced options. Sun Bum’s original line smells like bananas. But if you don’t want to smell like you just got picked off a tree, Vacation has other fragrance options, including none. Yep, people with asthma rejoice! You can actually buy a sunscreen that smells like sweet nothing (as rare as finding a whole sand dollar these days).

While Sun Bum claims it’s fragrance-free, it contains vanillin, which isn’t to be confused with your vanilla milkshake. Vanillin can trigger allergic reactions, including a rash. And you don’t want a massive rash around your mouth or face to crash your beach party. This is where Vacation pulls ahead: its fragrance-free option has no vanillin.

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 or prefer to smell like something different than a banana, we recommend choosing Vacation sunscreens. But with two Americans dying of skin cancer every hour, no matter what brand you choose, please wear sunscreen.

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The opinions expressed on Finders & Keep are entirely our own. The content was chosen by our editorial team. Any product claim or representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.