Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen is a popular US sunscreen, but it’s a bit pricey at $38 USD for 50 mL. A few dupes have come out lately, including Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen, which is only $9 for the same sized tube!
I recently went to the US and picked them both up to try – here’s a comparison review. There’s also a video version with footage of their application here!
Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen
- SPF 40, PA+++
- 40 min water resistance (US)
- Filters: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 8%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 4%
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen is very popular in the US as a (relatively) cosmetically elegant daily face sunscreen. I got this as part of the Supergoop SPF Bestsellers Start Kit at Sephora – it has 15 mL mini tubes of Unseen Sunscreen and Glow Screen, as well as a 30 mL tube of Play.
It’s rated SPF 40 and PA+++ with 40 minutes water resistance. I was initially pretty pleased to see water resistance for a face sunscreen, since it’s quite rare! However, the protection ended up dropping to SPF 8 after 40 minutes of water exposure in the 2023 Consumer Reports tests, so I probably wouldn’t rely on it in wet conditions.
As you’d expect from a US sunscreen, it uses a blend of older chemical filters.
The sunscreen itself is really interesting – it’s completely transparent and colourless. It uses a water-free, silicone-based formula, similar to what’s used for many pore-filling makeup primers.
These sorts of silicone-rich formulas don’t tend to work well on my skin. I find them difficult to apply… or rather, too easy to apply.
For my sunscreen reviews, I weigh out the right amount of sunscreen for my face each time, so that everything is equal and fair. As I expected, Unseen Sunscreen glided on really nicely, but it felt like it just sat on my skin in a really thick layer without sinking in – I had trouble getting the full amount onto my face and it felt like I was trying to add more icing to a cake that was already covered in really thick icing. It just felt like it wouldn’t stop moving around.
Related post: How Much Sunscreen Do You Need For Your Face?
Unseen Sunscreen contains isododecane as the solvent instead of water. It’s volatile, so the sunscreen does dry down as it evaporates… or so I kept telling myself. But even after a few hours, I found that it hadn’t set properly. Bits of sunscreen came off on my fingers when I brushed them against my face.
There was also a very noticeable feeling of having a thick, greasy film on my face the whole time, similar to slugging with Vaseline. But it did look much more velvety and matte than it felt, thanks to the silicones! If you’re quite oily, this sort of formula can get shiny after a few hours, but I didn’t notice this the five or so times I tried it in relatively cool weather.
If you have dry skin these high-silicone formulas tend to set a bit better, and they do have a really nice smoothing, makeup-priming effect.
There is a sort of solvent smell as you’re applying it, but it goes away pretty quickly.
Overall, I can see why Unseen Sunscreen is so popular, especially in the US where lighter sunscreens are harder to find. I think a lot of people would love it, but it’s just not really for me.
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Active Ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 8%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 4%.
Inactive Ingredients: Isododecane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Isohexadecane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Meadowfoam Estolide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Polyester-7, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Lithothamnion Calcareum Extract, Caprylyl Glycol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Jojoba Esters, Mannitol, Boswellia Serrata Resin Extract, Lecithin, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Diatomaceous Earth, Zinc Sulfate, Silica, Tocopherol.
Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen
- SPF 40, PA+++
- 40 min water resistance (US)
- Filters: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 12%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 6%
Trader Joe’s Daily Facial Sunscreen is clearly designed to be a dupe of Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen, with a very similar ingredient list.
It really annoys me when people say two products are dupes when they’re designed completely differently, with different classes of ingredients, and literally the only thing in common are that they’re both sunscreens. But these two products are actual structural and functional dupes!
They have the same SPF and water resistance ratings, and are both broad spectrum, with the same active ingredients at slightly different concentrations. Most of the inactive ingredients overlap as well.
Subjectively, these were very similar as well. Trader Joe’s sunscreen also comes out clear, with a slightly less smooth texture. It feels a little thicker and heavier on my skin than Unseen Sunscreen, but the difference really wasn’t that big. It also starts off with a stronger solvent smell than the Unseen, but it still goes away pretty quickly after you start rubbing it in.
The biggest difference between these is definitely the price – Trader Joe’s is $9 for 50 mL compared to Supergoop’s $38 for 50 mL.
Trader Joe’s sunscreen is definitely worth a try if you think this kind of formula might work for you – they are very popular options! But I personally prefer products that are a bit lighter on the silicones, with a more gel-moisturiser-like formula instead of primer-like.
I personally didn’t experience any eye sting with either of these products, but I know other people have.
Active ingredients: Avobenzone 3%, Homosalate 12%, Octisalate 5%, Octocrylene 6%
Inactive ingredients: Isododecane, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Neopentyl Glycol Diheptanoate, Polyester-7, Isohexadecane, Jojoba Esters, Silica, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Tocopherol.
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