Can You Bring Sunscreen on a Plane? Traveling with Sunscreen 101

Vacations and time off can mean long days frolicking in the sun, which can also lead to arriving home with a painful sunburn. When packing for your next getaway, sunscreen is a must. Those harmful UV rays don’t take vacations, so it’s important to make sure to keep up your sun protection regimen even while traveling.

Sure, you could buy sunscreen when you arrive at your destination, but depending on where you go, they might be marked up substantially. Plus, they might not have your favorite kind. It’s best to come prepared.

But you’re probably wondering, “Can you bring sunscreen on a plane?” Yes, you can and should bring sunscreen with you on that plane, you’ll just need to adhere to a few rules. Let’s take a look at the various restrictions and recommendations and unpack the best ways to travel by plane with sunscreen.

Sunscreen Size Restrictions for Air Travel

With TSA restrictions, bringing sunscreen and other toiletries on planes can be a stressful endeavor, and the last thing you want is to have to throw out your precious skincare products in the airport security line because they were over the limit. But don’t let that intimidate you; we’ve laid it out for you.

Carry-On Rules

Carry-on limit for sunscreen

Carrying on can be the preferred choice for people who don’t want to pay extra fees to check their luggage or for those who want to ensure their bags don’t get lost. Carry-on luggage is subject to more restrictions when it comes to bringing liquids like sunscreen onboard.

So, can you take sunscreen on a plane currently? According to the most recent TSA guidelines, you’re allowed to bring sunscreen with a volume of less than or equal to 3.4oz/100 ml in your carry on bags.

If you’re looking for a carry-on-friendly sunscreen, look no further, as all Colorescience mineral sunscreens are carry-on approved. As a matter of fact, all of our skin treatments, with the exception of Barrier Pro™ 1-Step Cleanser, are carry-on approved.

Woman packing a suitcase.

Checked Baggage Rules

If you pack your sunscreen in a checked bag, the rules are much more lenient. The capacity of each container must not exceed 0.5 kg (18 ounces) or 500 ml (17 fluid ounces).

Powder sunscreens like Sunforgettable® Total Protection® Brush-On Shield SPF 50 and Sunforgettable® Total Protection® Sheer Matte SPF 30 Sunscreen Brush are always TSA-approved and are great options to bring with you on the plane. Powder sunscreens won’t explode at increased elevation and are easy to reapply while flying.

It’s important to note that TSA guidelines and restrictions can change at any time. That’s why it’s always advisable to keep up with the latest TSA regulations before packing your beauty and skincare products for your next plane trip.

Rules Around Different Types of Sunscreens

Powder sunscreens are allowed, but if you’re bringing a powder larger than 12 oz/350 ml, TSA encourages you to pack it in a checked bag.

But can you bring spray sunscreen on a plane? You can! TSA considers any aerosol, cream, lotion or gel sunscreen to be a liquid, so they fall under the liquid restriction, which is 3.4oz/100 ml or less for carry ons and 17 oz/500 ml or less for checked bags.

Thankfully, none of these restrictions are a problem if you’re planning on using our sunscreen, as all Colorescience products (except Barrier Pro™ 1-Step Cleanser) are carry-on friendly. We even have solid sunscreen sticks, which have no TSA restrictions.

Country-Specific Sunscreen Rules

Countries with sunscreen bans.

Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need to bring a specific kind of sunscreen to adhere to local policies. You might know about the more widely publicized Hawaii sunscreen ban enacted in 2021, which banned the sale of sunscreens with the chemical ingredients oxybenzone and octinoxate in the state of Hawaii.

These chemical sunscreen ingredients have been shown to negatively impact Hawaii’s marine life and ecosystems, specifically its reefs, which have been suffering from coral bleaching in recent years. Since 2021, the island of Maui and the Big Island have banned the sale of all sunscreens containing chemical filters.

This ban also applies to bringing your own. You won’t be able to wear sunscreen with those ingredients when you’re visiting.

Several other countries and territories have also enacted similar policies:

  • Palau: Palau was the first country to announce a sunscreen ban back in 2018 with the goal of protecting their coral reefs from chemical ingredients that can be toxic to some marine ecosystems. The ban prohibits the import, sale, distribution, and production of any sunscreen that contains oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene, among others.
  • US Virgin Islands: In March 2020, the US Virgin Islands banned sunscreens containing the ingredients oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene.
  • Aruba: Aruba passed a comprehensive ban on sunscreens containing oxybenzone, a policy that went into effect in 2020.
  • Bonaire: A small Caribbean island and sought-after destination for avid scuba divers, Bonaire has followed the lead of its Caribbean neighbors and banned the sale of oxybenzone sunscreens and encourages tourists to only bring reef-safe sunscreen with them when they visit.
  • Mexico: Mexico as a whole has not banned chemical sunscreens, but certain Mexican eco-reserves like the Xel-Ha water park prohibit the use of chemical sunscreens and solely permit the use of mineral sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide while visiting.

If you find yourself jetting off to any of these destinations, be sure to look into the most updated regulations and check the ingredients in the sunscreens you plan on bringing with you. When in doubt, only pack mineral sunscreens formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to guarantee you’ll comply with local laws and do your part in keeping the native wildlife healthy.

Woman putting sunscreen on while standing on the beach.

Reef-Safe Mineral Sunscreen

Reef-safe sunscreens are becoming increasingly important because they are formulated without the chemicals that can harm marine ecosystems, especially coral reefs. Chemical ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are found in most traditional sunscreens and have been shown to contribute to coral bleaching, disrupt coral reproduction, and hurt marine life.

By using sunscreens with mineral-based ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, we can help reduce our impact on marine environments and promote their preservation. With reef-safe choices like the Colorescience Sunforgettable® Total Protection® Face Shield Classic SPF 50 or the Total Protection® No-Show™ Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50, you can do right by the environment and your skin.

Can You Apply Sunscreen Before You De-board?

Of course, you can! If you’re stepping straight into the sun when you get off the plane, it’s understandable that you might want to apply your sunscreen right before you de-board. You can utilize that stretch of time when the plane is taxiing to the gate to get out your sunscreen and prepare your skin for the great outdoors.

For easy application, use our Sunforgettable® Total Protection® Brush-On Shield SPF 50. You can stick this compact sunscreen in your purse for convenient access. With the brush, you simply pop the cap off and sweep over your skin to put on your sunscreen–even in the small confines of your airplane seat.

Packing Sunscreen for Air Travel: Practical Tips and Tricks

Tips for packing sunscreen for a trip

How do you choose the right sunscreen for your next plane journey? If you’re checking a bag, make sure you choose one that meets the TSA restrictions. When selecting a sunscreen to bring with you on a flight, Colorescience is a safe bet since all our sunscreens are travel-friendly and carry-on approved in accordance with TSA regulations.

If you’re wondering how to pack sunscreen in carry-on luggage, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • When packing aerosol spray sunscreen, make sure the cap is on tight - you can even tape the cap down to ensure it doesn’t come off.
  • Place your sunscreen in a sealed plastic bag to protect your other items from surprise spills or leaks.
  • Keep your sunscreen easily accessible so you can grab it and apply it before you de-board.

Protect Your Skin on Vacation

Traveling and having fun in the sun doesn’t mean that your skin has to suffer the consequences. With the right sun protection knowledge and preparation, you can set yourself up for a successful trip.

Colorescience has a wide range of mineral sunscreens to choose from, from the sheerest of the sheer to smoothing and perfecting matte sunscreens.