Sun Bum vs La Roche-Posay

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: February 20, 2024

As a skincare editor who regularly test-drives sun protection for both body and face, Sun Bum and La Roche-Posay frequently rank among the most popular brands readers ask me about. […]

As a skincare editor who regularly test-drives sun protection for both body and face, Sun Bum and La Roche-Posay frequently rank among the most popular brands readers ask me about. At first glance, Sun Bum’s kitschy packaging covered in mermaids and palm trees couldn’t appear more different than the minimal French pharmacy aesthetic of La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios sunscreen line. But how do they truly compare where it counts - at the ingredients list and on the skin? I’m breaking it all down based on personal use.


The star SPF ingredients for these brands fall into distinct camps. Sun Bum sunscreens rely on either zinc oxide, a mineral that sits atop skin to physically deflect UV rays, or chemical filters like avobenzone, homosalate, octocrylene, octisalate for absorption-based protection. Meanwhile, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios line contains only traditional chemical sunscreen filters without any mineral options in sight. There’s no right or wrong here - just personal tolerance. Those with sensitive skin might react better zinc formulations from Sun Bum, while chemical filters from Anthelios often please users who dislike the white cast minerals can leave behind.


Here’s where these brands really live up to their opposing vibes. Take a whiff of Sun Bum sunscreens and delightful piña colada-esque tropical scents abound. La Roche-Posay sunscreens contain added fragrance as well, opting for more low key floral-citrusy notes. Neither brand is overwhelmingly scented, but Sun Bum embraces that beachy aesthetic full on. Whether you find that charming or nauseating is personal preference!


When it comes to texture and finish, Sun Bum offers signature thick creams that feel nourishing going on and have some gleam to match their fun scents. The mineral-based options especially provide hydrating protection that’s almost like applying lotion. La Roche-Posay takes the classic European sunscreen texture approach - liquidy, fast-absorbing formulas that rub in cleanly and totally disappear into skin for an imperceptible matte finish. So Sun Bum provides a richer protective experience while La Roche-Posay wears lighter.


Sun Bum SPF formulas retail squarely in line with typical drugstore pricing, ranging from $15-20 USD for 3-6 oz bottles. La Roche-Posay Anthelios sunscreens clock in a bit higher as a French pharmacy favorite, averaging around $30+ USD for 1.7 oz containers. However, La Roche-Posay products do go on promotion fairly regularly. Overall, Sun Bum pulls ahead value-wise for budget-focused buyers who will slather on cans of SPF all season. But La Roche-Posay offers expected European quality for a still-reasonable non-luxe price point.

So there you have it - the key differences broken down! At the end of the day, both Sun Bum and La Roche-Posay formulate stellar sun protection. Choose Sun Bum for yummy scents, nourishing mineral textures, and wallet-friendly value. Opt for La Roche-Posay if you prefer lightweight chemical SPF that disappears completely into skin. Whichever route you take, make sure to reapply every 80 minutes for safe sun guarding! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Article written by Tom Qiao

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