Traveling with Sunscreen: Tips to Avoid Problems with TSA
Vertra’s guide to traveling with sunscreen breaks down everything you need to know about navigating TSA rules.
Gearing up for your next trip? Whether you plan to bask on the beach, hit the slopes, or explore a new city, don't forget your sunscreen. Regardless of your destination’s climate or your planned itinerary, protecting your skin from always-present UV rays is a must.
But packing sunscreen for air travel isn’t as simple as tossing a product in your bag and assuming you’re good to go. When it comes to liquid and aerosol sunscreen, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has strict size and packing requirements.
At Vertra, we want to make sure you stay covered for all of your adventures. In this comprehensive guide, we break down TSA rules for packing every type of sunscreen in carry-on and checked bags, tips for choosing the right sunscreen for your trip, and the reason why solid sunscreen, like our line of high-performance face sticks, is the most convenient option for travelers.
What are TSA liquid sunscreen rules?
TSA considers any lotion, aerosols, cream, or gel sunscreen to be a liquid (just like other toiletries such as shampoo, perfume, or toothpaste), which means you can only bring a set amount in your carry-on bag.
To make it easy, follow the 3-1-1 liquids rule:
- Liquid items can’t be over 3.4 ounces / 100 ml in volume.
- All items must fit in one clear, resealable quart-sized bag.
- Every passenger is allowed one plastic bag.
In 2021, TSA created some confusion when it stated you could pack more than 3.4 ounces of liquid in a carry-on if medically necessary. The TSA later clarified that liquid sunscreen must follow the same regulations as other liquid products.
The bottom line: if you are only taking a carry-on bag, check the descriptions on your products to make sure they are under 3.4 ounces. For example, Vertra’s Beach Break Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 30 comes in a 1.6-ounce bottle — the perfect size for your carry-on. When it comes time to go through security with your carry ons, TSA advises that liquids be placed in a small bag and made easily accessible to help speed up the screening process.
If you don’t want to worry about size limits of liquid products and would rather bring full-size bottles, checked bags are the way to go. Every passenger is allowed to bring 70 ounces (2 kg) or 68 fl ounces (2 L) total of liquid products, with each container no larger than 17 fl ounces (500 ml), which should be more than enough sunscreen for most trips.
Can I fly with aerosol spray sunscreen?
Since TSA considers aerosols a liquid, you’ll have to stick with bottles under 3.4 ounces for spray sunscreen as well. Since most spray sunscreens — like Vertra’s Coconut Vanilla Body Spray SPF 50 — are more than 3.4 ounces, it’s a safe bet they’ll need to be placed in a checked bag.
Like liquids, any container of spray sunscreen in a checked bag must be less than 17 fl ounces (500 ml). TSA also notes that all lids should be on securely to avoid any unwanted sprays along the journey, whether they’re in a carry-on or checked bag. Given the pressure in the cabin during air travel, it’s also a smart idea to place your aerosols in a ziplock bag to avoid discovering a mess at your destination.
Stick sunscreen and TSA: The best travel sunscreen to avoid issues
TSA considers sunscreen face sticks a solid; the agency confirmed that both stick sunscreens and deodorants don’t fall under the 3-1-1 liquids rule and are allowed in carry-ons without size limitation. So, if you’re looking to avoid liquid limits and resealable bags altogether, sunscreen face sticks are the most ideal form of sunscreen to travel with. Throw them in your carry-on or checked bag, and you’re ready for vacation.
Before you travel, check out Vertra’s full line-up of high-performance, water-resistant sunscreen face sticks designed to be easy to pack and ultra portable.
Tips for choosing the right sunscreen for travel
As you prepare for your next trip, ask the following questions to find the right sunscreen.
- What type of coverage will you need? If you’ll be on the beach in a swimsuit, sunscreen sprays can be helpful for full-body coverage. If you’re skiing or hiking and mostly covered by clothing, a moisturizer, face stick, and lip balm with SPF could do the trick.
- Will you be in the water? If you’ll be spending time swimming, surfing, or sweating, choose a water-resistant sunscreen. All of Vertra’s sunscreens are water resistant for up to 80 minutes.
- Does your destination have ingredient restrictions? Several tropical destinations ban certain ingredients in sunscreen due to their impact on coral reefs. For example, Hawaii Act 104 prohibits the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Outside of the United States, areas like Bonaire, Aruba, Palau, and regions of Mexico have instituted similar bans. Vertra products do not include oxybenzone or octinoxate.
- What other SPF products would help protect you? Beyond sunscreen, you should consider a moisturizer and lip balm with SPF protection. And if you’ve protected your skin well throughout the day, you’ll want to wash off sunscreen with a high-quality cleanser — something that can break through water resistant sunscreen like Vertra’s charcoal cleansing bar.
Why Vertra’s face sticks are a travel essential
No matter where your next vacation takes you, make sure you have what you need to protect your skin while abiding by TSA restrictions. For the easiest option, pack Vertra’s TSA-friendly face sticks — no need to worry about liquid restrictions or removing them from your bag at security checkpoints.