4/14/21 Update: TSA retracted this recent change
“Our website incorrectly reported that sunscreen containers larger than 3.4 oz. were allowed in carry-on bags if medically necessary. That error has been corrected. Sunscreen in carry-on bags must be 3.4 oz. or less. Larger quantities should be placed in checked baggage.”
The original article is below.
I’ve written a lot about TSA rules over the years.
The liquids rule states that you can bring liquids with you but they must fit in containers no larger than 3.4 fluid ounces and all of your containers must fit comfortably within 1 quart-sized resealable bag.
TSA has made exceptions to this rule for certain medications and more recently hand sanitizer.
And now they are making a new exception for sunscreen and basically classifying it as a medical exception.
This change is the product of the department of dermatology at Brown University, which challenged the restriction on the basis that it’s needed to protect against skin cancer.
You will be able to bring in a full sized bottle of sunscreen if you wish on your next journey through TSA.
You will likely need to “delcare” the item which just means telling an agent that you have a sunscreen bottle. They may ask you to take it out and they might also give it a close inspection but YMMV with “medical” items.
This is a pretty big rule change.
I can only imagine the number of tourists who have had to throw out their sunscreen or just not bothered with it because of this TSA rule. I’m sure many have suffered severe sunburns in large part because of this rule.
Yes, you can buy small travel-sized containers of sunscreen but you might have to buy several of those for a long trip at the beach, especially with a family.
The average adult requires 1.4 ounce of sunscreen per application and reapplication is recommended every two hours.
So if you are spending a week at the beach, that is a lot of little sunscreen bottles that would be needed.
So you have to worry about buying a lot of extra travel-sized bottles, keeping up with all of them, hoping they don’t leak, etc.
Purchasing sunscreen at resorts can also be crazy expensive. We once bought a little bottle for something like $27 and I believe that was with a “discount.”
So this new rule will simplify protecting yourself from the Sun which is a very good thing in my book!
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.