Why Is Sun Bum So Expensive? Breaking Down The Hidden Costs!

A walk down the sunscreen aisle at your local CVS or Target reveals a spectrum of prices for protecting your skin from UV rays. On one end sit shelves full of generic store brands and old school Coppertone, with bottles often marked down for less than $10.

But nestled amongst them you’ll spot flashy black and yellow packaging declaring higher SPF protection for 2-3x the cost.

This is Sun Bum, whose mineral-based formulas, responsible sourcing, and carefree branding all command premium pricing anywhere between $15-20 per bottle.

But why exactly are you paying so much more for Sun Bum compared to other sunscreens? Is it purely marketing hype or do their products justify the higher cost?

As a brand built around a coastal, adventure-seeking lifestyle, Sun Bum promises more than just adequate SPF defense. Their sunscreens vow to be “reef friendly”, made with “good stuff”, and deliver “trust the Bum” level protection so you can fully embrace sun-drenched experiences.

But what’s behind this messaging and surfer cool identity?

After thorough examination, there are four key reasons why Sun Bum sunscreens cost more than rivals like Banana Boat, Coppertone, and Neutrogena.

Also Read: Reasons For Corn Huskers Lotion Being So Expensive.

The Ingredients Matter: Broad-Spectrum SPF Defense with Safer, Natural Extracts

Central to any sunscreen is the set of UV filters responsible for actually blocking those harmful rays. Two main types exist in the active ingredients of most formulas:

Sun Bum sunscreen

Chemical filters – These ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, and octisalate work by absorbing UV radiation to convert it into small amounts of heat.

This prevents the energy from damaging skin cells.

While often more cosmetically-elegant, concerns around environmental build-up and endocrine disruption have challenged some chemical filters.

Mineral filters – Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both to provide physical blocking of UV rays. These ingredients sit on top of skin and reflect/scatter sunlight.

While mineral formulas were historically thick and chalky, new encapsulation methods have improved application. They also offer broad protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

Nearly all Sun Bum sunscreen products rely on non-nano zinc oxide as the primary active ingredient. Some also add small amounts of chemical filters like octocrylene or octisalate.

But why does Sun Bum emphasize mineral formulas so heavily?

First, the physical blocking nature of zinc oxide provides the most reliable broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB compared to some chemical filters. Minerals are less prone to breaking down over time as well.

Second, multiple studies have shown zinc oxide to be among the safest sunscreen ingredients available:

  • The [FDA] deems zinc oxide as GRASE or “generally recognized as safe and effective” based on extensive review of available safety data.
  • The [Environmental Working Group] gives zinc oxide their highest rating as far as not posing health concerns from skin penetration or toxicity.
  • Researchers publishing in [Photochemistry and Photobiology] found zinc oxide exhibits strong UVA protection, antioxidant properties, and demonstrates about 5% skin absorption at very minute levels without bioaccumulation concerns.

Finally, zinc and titanium oxides meet the [FDA’s proposed guidelines] for reef safe sunscreen standards. These mineral filters show little to no marine toxicity compared to chemical ingredients like oxybenzone.

Sun Bum touts their commitment to ocean preservation across their messaging and product lines. So relying on mineral UV filters allows them to deliver on these values.

But safe, effective broad-spectrum protection comes at a cost. Sourcing high-grade zinc and titanium oxides then engineering them into cosmetically-elegant formulas requires significant upfront investment.

Exact pricing breakdowns are hard to find, but these mineral ingredients can cost anywhere from 2-100x more than chemical filters.

Sun Bum only uses non-nano zinc oxide particles meeting FDA guidelines based on best available science. Competitors offering cheaper mineral sunscreens likely rely on nano-processing for smoother application. But questions remain around the long-term safety of nanomaterials.

Key Takeaway – By emphasizing non-nano zinc oxide filters in their formulas, Sun Bum provides protection you can trust while keeping the ocean and your skin health as priorities.

But these high-standards around safety, quality and responsible sourcing drive prices higher than sunscreens using only chemical filters.

Also Read: Differences Between Sun Bum And Blue Lizard Sunscreens.

Inactive But Active: Nourishing, Clean Ingredients That Deliver

Now you might be thinking, okay it’s really the active sun filtering ingredients that matter, the other stuff is just filler right?

Wrong. Those supporting inactive ingredients make up 80-90% of any sunscreen. And Sun Bum packs their formulas with nourishing oils, butters, extracts and emollients carefully chosen for skin health rather than labeling buzzwords.

Take their [Face formula with SPF 50] for example. A breakdown of the top inactive ingredients reveals:

  • Sunflower Seed Oil – Rich in vitamin E to prevent oxidative damage and linoleic acid to calm inflammation. Soothes skin while retaining moisture.
  • Cocoa Seed Butter – Natural plant extract shown to improve skin hydration and elasticity while protecting against photo-aging.
  • Papaya Fruit Extract – Papain enzymes gently exfoliate for renewed radiance. Anti-inflammatory effects reduce redness.
  • Cucumber Fruit Extract – Potent antioxidant and hydration benefits. Cucumber soothes, cools and helps mineral particles spread evenly.
  • Beeswax – Provides a protective barrier to seal moisture in. Emollient properties leave skin smooth.

You’ll notice familiar skin care ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, aloe vera and avocado oil across Sun Bum’s sunscreens as well. Their formulas feature fewer inactive components compared to major brands. But these nutrient-dense additions offer real benefits beyond basic hydration or silkiness.

Sun Bum also stands apart with what you won’t spot on most of their ingredient labels. They say no to:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Oxybenzone
  • Octinoxate
  • Added fragrance

You’d likely ingest some of the more questionable preservatives and stabilizers found in cheaper sun care products. Sun Bum forgoes these extra synthetics despite how they allow for cheaper, longer-lasting formulas.

Instead they turn to food-grade preservatives like radish root ferment and rely on dark UV-protective bottles over added fragrance. While likely requiring more frequent manufacturing, Sun Bum considers skin health and safety as more important than maximizing shelf-life.

Key Takeaway – Plenty of scientific data supports the skin nourishing potential of oils, butters and anti-oxidants included in Sun Bum sunscreens. And they say no to concerning additives found in most mass market formulas. So again, you end up paying more but benefit from the carefully chosen roster of inactive ingredients.

Where It’s Made Matters: American-Made Facilities With Extensive Testing

Proven protection requires more than rounding up internationally sourced ingredients and mixing them together. All Sun Bum sunscreen products get manufactured right here in the USA at FDA-approved facilities.

But why does made in America production increase costs? And how does this translate into quality assurance?


Labor drives a significant chunk of any manufacturing outlay.

And while machines produce the actual sunscreen liquids and lotions, trained technicians oversee the proprietary processes from raw materials through quality control.

Hourly wages for factory line workers, equipment sterilization, and facility upkeep pad the budget quickly.

Outsourcing production to countries with lower wages can dramatically cut costs.

But Sun Bum mitigates this financial pressure by keeping everything based stateside.

Beyond labor, maintaining FDA-approved facilities with rigorous quality control steps ensures every bottle provides the promised SPF protection. This requires costly specialized equipment for:

  • Mixing active and inactive ingredients in tight predetermined ranges
  • Filling thousands of units reliably and consistently
  • Testing finished products against strict standards

And Sun Bum goes further by using independent labs to analyze a random sample from each batch:

  • Quantifies actual SPF, UVA/UVB protection levels
  • Screens for contaminants or stability issues

Very few competitors shell out for this level of third-party batch testing. But it brings customers peace of mind seeing that SPF 50 stamp they can truly count on.

Plus keeping manufacturing American-based lets Sun Bum oversee and control the entire end-to-end process. Many low-cost sunscreens import pre-made formulas with little visibility into the supply chain.

Key Takeaway – Sun Bum’s investment into US facilities, equipment, and extensive quality testing drives pricing higher than offshore production methods. But customers benefit from the assurance of effective protection meeting FDA standards.

Also Read: Comparison of Supergoop PLAY And Unseen Sunscreen.

Branding That Resonates: Marketing the Sun Bum Lifestyle

Walk down any beach boardwalk store and you’ll undoubtedly spot Sun Bum’s signature black and yellow logo popping on shelves. The colorful packaging, playful fonts and happy-go-lucky vibe mirrors the escapism their customers crave.

But this branding represents only the tip of efforts promoting an aspirational Sun Bum lifestyle. The company spends millions annually on:

  • Influencer sponsorships
  • Surf team ambassador partnerships
  • Cross-promotions with complementary brands like Roxy and Billabong
  • Premium placement in major retailers like Sephora, Ulta, and Target

Seed investor and Shark Tank celebrity Mark Cuban noted pricing comes down to supply vs. demand rather than intrinsic value. He said:

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen

“Consumers don’t always appreciate why one brand costs more than another similar brand. In many cases one or both of the brands have to spend a lot of money on advertising and promotions to generate sales and brand awareness.”

For health and beauty products especially, establishment as a premium brand directly ties to higher retail prices. And Sun Bum dedicates serious capital towards building brand affinity and growing market share.

They resonate as a household name not just for sunscreens, but as a representation of the sunny, beach-going lifestyle consumers aspire towards.

Sun Bum’s mission invokes positive vibes most would say position well being ahead of profits. But make no mistake, they operate firmly as a business with 40% compound growth year over year.

From a customer perspective, you certainly pay more compared to generic sunscreen.

But what you trade off in dollars gets returned through emotional value from the sights, smells, and memories Sun Bum encapsulates.

Research around consumer behavior and [willingness-to-pay] shows buyers happily spend more on brands connecting to their identity.

Positioning drives customer loyalty even when cheaper (potentially comparable) options exist.

So Sun Bum’s marketing-heavy approach effectively targets those willing to pay premium prices for association to beachgoing escapism. Their messaging convinces customers to overlook cheaper sunscreens lacking the sights, sounds, and vibes connecting memories of blissful ocean adventures.

Key Takeaway – Significant upfront investment into building the Sun Bum brand through influencers, ambassadors and premium shelf space drives emotional connection with customers. This allows the company to ultimately command higher prices compared to generic sun care options.

The Safety Standards

In addition to using quality active and natural ingredients, Sun Bum adheres to the most stringent standards for testing and regulating sunscreens.

Sun Bum

All Sun Bum products are dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic, oxybenzone and octinoxate free, and made without parabens or harsh chemicals.

Their mineral sunscreen formulas are non-nano so the zinc oxide particles can’t penetrate deeply into the skin.

Sun Bum also meets European regulations for UVA protection and routinely sends products to third-party labs for testing to ensure they provide the full SPF protection stated on the label.

You can feel confident Sun Bum formulas thoroughly shield skin from sun damage without exposing you to questionable ingredients.

The extra product testing and compliance with overseas standards come at an added cost that gets passed onto consumers. However, it provides peace of mind that Sun Bum lives up to its claims.

A Focus on Skin Health, Not Just Protection

Most drugstore sunscreen brands focus solely on providing the bare minimum SPF protection. Sun Bum takes it a step further by actively caring for skin too. Its mineral formulas soothe and protect sensitive skin. Added vitamins nourish the skin.

Natural oils hydrate without clogging pores. Moisturizing ingredients prevent the drying effects of the sun, wind, and water. Essentially, Sun Bum provides both protection AND skincare benefits. This added skin nourishment comes at a cost.

So Is Sun Bum Worth The Money?

Determining worth comes down to the value you place on certain factors over saving a few dollars. From an ingredient and manufacturing standpoint, Sun Bum undoubtedly delivers high-quality sun protection rooted in responsible choices.

And their brand convinces consumers they’re purchasing more than just liquid in a bottle, but memories connecting to cherished life moments.

However if you view sunscreen as merely a functional product to prevent sunburn, probably not worth paying the Sun Bum premium. In that case a cheaper drugstore formula offering similar SPF protection makes more sense over perfect ingredients, extensive testing or aspirational branding.

But for shoppers prioritizing responsibility, performance and preferences for natural formulas free of concerning additives, Sun Bum sunscreens undoubtedly justify their higher price point.

Also Read: Comparison of Supergoop Unseen And Glowscreen.

Sun Bum Sunscreen FAQs

Still have some lingering questions around why Sun Bum costs more compared to other sunscreen brands? Here’s answers to some of the most common inquiries:

Is Sun Bum worth the money?

For most consumers, yes Sun Bum is worth paying a bit extra for. The mineral-based formulas provide reliable broad-spectrum protection using quality ingredients. And the brand has strong values around responsible manufacturing and environmental initiatives. So while more expensive than generic brands, Sun Bum offers excellent UVA/UVB defense you can trust.

What makes Sun Bum so good?

A few key things make Sun Bum a standout sun care brand:
1. Their mineral sunscreen formulas effectively defend against sunburn using non-nano zinc oxide while feeling smooth and nourishing on skin.
2. Sun Bum invests in rigorous internal testing and third-party quality control to guarantee labeled SPF protection.
3. Responsible sourcing initiatives around eco-friendly packaging and sustainability-certified ingredients.

Has Sun Bum faced any controversies?

Sun Bum has managed to avoid major controversy so far unlike some competitors dealing with allegations around their sun filtering claims or safety studies. As an environmentally-conscious brand, some customers have raised questions about mining impacts of the zinc oxide used. However Sun Bum has been transparent that their zinc comes from the most regulated, sustainable sources with external certifications.

Why don’t more sunscreens use zinc oxide?

Good question! More brands actually have started offering zinc-based mineral formulas as concerns around chemical filters increased. However zinc (and titanium dioxide) remain much more expensive ingredients compared to chemical UV filters.
Their physical blocking mechanism also makes achieving high SPF values more challenging while keeping textures smooth. Cheaper brands often opt for easier to formulate chemical sunscreens rather than investing in product development.
But Sun Bum stands behind non-nano zinc as the safest, most effective sun filtering approach aligned to their brand values. So they willingly take on those formulation challenges and higher costs.

What is the problem with Sun Bum?

While Sun Bum makes quality sunscreen, the higher prices do put it out of reach for some consumers. Those just wanting basic protection without add-ons can get cheaper mineral SPF options. And while Sun Bum aims to be responsible, no brand is perfect. Critics occasionally take issue with certain ingredients, manufacturing practices, or marketing tactics.

Is Sun Bum better than Hawaiian Tropic?

Sun Bum emphasizes mineral formulas with reef-safe, natural ingredients while Hawaiian Tropic leans towards cheaper chemical filters and synthetic oils. For those with sensitive skin or who want eco-friendly options, Sun Bum is likely the better choice. But Hawaiian Tropic offers decent SPF at drugstore prices for budget buyers less concerned about additives.

Closing Remarks

In reviewing why Sun Bum sunscreens come with a higher price tag compared to other brands, a few major factors stand out. First, Sun Bum invests in high-quality zinc oxide as the active UV filtering ingredient rather than cheaper chemical alternatives.

This mineral provides reliable broad-spectrum protection that is reef-safe and gentle for most skin types.

Second, the inactive ingredients in Sun Bum’s formulas feature skin-nourishing oils, butters and extracts lacking concerning additives found in many mass market sunscreens. Third, production in FDA-approved American facilities with extensive third-party batch testing guarantees the promised SPF levels while meeting strict standards.

Finally, Sun Bum pours millions into building an aspirational brand identity that resonates powerfully with their beach lifestyle consumer base. This branding justifies the emotional value customers attach to memories of sun-drenched adventures.

Taken together, these key ingredients, manufacturing approaches, and branding efforts warrant the premium pricing of Sun Bum’s sun care offerings compared to generic competitors.

While not the most affordable, Sun Bum provides trusted protection you can feel good about applying both for your skin and the planet.

Clyde Mitchell

I run a hardware store nearby Court Anaheim, CA. Over the last 7 years, I have been blogging about home improvement and yes, I own ReliefInBath.com From me and this website, you can expect some useful tips on great ideas for a modern bathroom.

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