For most people, spending $30+ on checking a bag is a last resort. And since you're only allowed to bring 3.4 ounces of sunscreen (or any liquid) inside your carry-on, we don't get nearly enough of the required SPF dose during travel, despite the fact that most excursions typically involve increased exposure to sunlight.
But we have some good news. In case you didn't already have enough reasons not to skimp on sunscreen, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) just created a total game changer: Sunscreens are now on TSA's medically approved list of items, and therefore allowed in your carry-on bag in full size.
Previously, the TSA has strictly enforced its 3-1-1 liquids rule, which states that "each passenger may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in travel-size containers that are 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters." The exception? Larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in "reasonable quantities for your trip."
The department of dermatology at Brown University challenged the TSA on what falls— or doesn't fall— under this list, considering that sunscreen is an essential item in preventing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and according to the National Foundation for Cancer Research, approximately 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the U.S.
On top of that, the Skin Cancer Foundation says that regular use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma by about 40 percent, and lower your melanoma risk by 50 percent.
TSA took the note and officially made it so that SPF products now sit alongside other medical items like inhalers, contact solution, and medications. (The TSA also made an exception for hand sanitizer at the start of the pandemic.) This important change comes just ahead of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May.
There is one (small) caveat to traveling with your full-sized Coppertone bottle—while this change means your full-size sunscreen will no longer be confiscated at security, you will need to alert officials that you have it. This may slightly increase your time at screening, a worthy sacrifice for protecting your skin.
So thank you, TSA, you've made practicing good suncare habits so much easier. And remember, the average adult requires 1.4 ounce of sunscreen per application, and reapplication is recommended every two hours. If your skin is going to be exposed to a lot of sun, always protect yourself by applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.