Traveling with sunscreen is one of the greatest (and typically most cost-effective) ways to protect your skin from dangerous rays, no matter where you go. If checking luggage isn’t part of your flying routine, pack a travel-size sunscreen that fits within the 3.4-ounce size restriction.
Almost every prominent sunscreen and skincare brand sells a tiny version of their full-size products, so we investigated and tested 20 different TSA-friendly solutions for your next sunny holiday.
As a result, it is critical that we protect our skin by wearing SPF and we’re listing the best budget-friendly sunscreens to use for last-minute travels.
It’s important to note that even on cloudy or overcast days, UV rays can still penetrate through the clouds and reach our skin.
Therefore, it’s essential to wear SPF daily, regardless of the weather or our travel plans.
By using SPF while traveling, we can enjoy our adventures while protecting our skin and maintaining its health and beauty.
Steps to Choose the Best Budget-friendly Sunscreens While Traveling
There are several aspects to consider when choosing the best SPF for travel, including your skin type, the environment you’ll be visiting, and the activities you’ll be participating in.
SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, is a measurement of how well a sunscreen protects the skin from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and leads to skin cancer.
Here are some general guidelines to help you select the best SPF for your travel needs:
- Choose a broad-spectrum SPF: Look for an SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Choose at least SPF 30: The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using at least SPF 30 to provide adequate protection.
- Consider your skin type: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, search for a lightweight, oil-free formula. If you have dry or sensitive skin, choose a moisturizing formula.
- search for water-resistant formulas: If you plan on swimming or sweating, search for a formula that can handle moisture.
- Choose a travel-friendly size: Look for a travel-sized SPF that is easy to carry in your bag or luggage.
Best Budget-friendly Sunscreens in 2023:
The Coppertone Pure & Simple sunscreen lotion took the top spot on our list of the best sunscreens for 2023 as the best mineral-based alternative. If you want SPF 50 protection for your face that rubs in beautifully, this 2-ounce jar is a wonderful travel-sized alternative to the full-sized bottle. The water-resistant sunscreen provides broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection and is devoid of perfumes, dyes, parabens, PABA, alcohol, octinoxate, and oxybenzone.
The Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen was created for people who despise the idea of slathering themselves with chalky white lotion before going outside in the sun. The invisible sunscreen is ultra-lightweight and sheer, so it won’t leave any lotion residue behind. However, it still provides adequate SPF 40 protection for all skin types while remaining water-resistant and sweat-resistant. This 1.7-ounce jar is ideal for packing in a trip backpack and passing through security, and it’s also reef-friendly, being free of oxybenzone and octinoxate.
This water-based cream formula was created and crafted in Korea for all skin types and was designed to be worn daily — whether you’re spending hours in the sun or not. The broad-spectrum SPF 36 sunscreen is ultra-hydrating and leaves the skin with a pleasantly dewy finish, which helps to lock in moisture without leaving a greasy or white cast look. Green tea extract is also included in the recipe, which helps to smooth fine wrinkles and discoloration that can arise around the eyes.
Alba Botanica sells this SPF 45 face sunscreen in a convenient 2-ounce tube. The ultra-light texture makes it exceedingly easy to apply and rubs into the skin without leaving streaks or white traces. The 100% vegetarian formula is free of harsh substances such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and synthetic perfumes, and it is also Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified.
Sun Bum sunscreen, with its light texture, 3-ounce bottle, and creamy banana aroma, is another of our top travel selections. We liked the aroma so much throughout our testing that we chose it over the other possibilities. The vegan and reef-friendly recipe is rich in Vitamin E and other skin-nourishing elements, leaving you feeling moisturized and comfortable after a day in the sun. The water-resistant SPF 70 sunscreen is excellent for all skin types, but if you plan to spend time in the water or work up a sweat, reapply it every 80 minutes or so.
Another standout option for folks with dry or sensitive skin who need sunscreen that won’t irritate their skin is the Cetaphil Sheer Mineral Sunscreen Lotion. The chemical-free mineral sunscreen moisturizes and protects the skin’s sensitive microbiota against the sun and other environmental stressors.
It makes no difference if you’re planning a trip filled with sun-drenched beach volleyball games or hours of trekking through metropolitan streets. If you plan on sweating in the sun, you should choose a sweat-resistant sunscreen. Coola Organic Sunscreen & Sunblock Spray is water and perspiration resistant, so you won’t have to reapply it all the time. The ultra-sheer SPF 50 spray contains antioxidants and skin-nourishing elements that help keep the skin moisturized throughout the day.
For travelers, this 3-ounce tube of SPF 55 sunscreen from Amazon brand Solimo is an excellent choice. Its tiny size not only meets the TSA’s hand luggage criteria, but it’s also reef-friendly and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. This fairly priced choice is worth considering if you’re searching for a facial sunscreen with a light and clean feel.
The CeraVe Mineral Sunscreen Stick is ideal for those with sensitive skin. CeraVe’s fragrance-free and soothing compositions are dermatologist-recommended, and this SPF 50 sunscreen stick is no exception. The 100% mineral-based sunscreen is gentle enough to use on the most delicate regions, such as the lips, around the eyes, and on the nose, while the microfine zinc oxide spreads smoothly and leaves the skin with a clear, moisturized finish.
Looking for something you can easily incorporate into your current skincare routine? Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s 1.7-ounce Instant Radiance Sun Defence Sunscreen can help streamline your holiday makeup routine by performing double duty and reducing the number of products you’ll need to put in your cosmetic bag. The tinted moisturizer provides broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection, so you won’t have to worry about applying sunscreen on top of other products.
Saie Sunvisor moisturizing sunscreen contains skin-nourishing elements such as hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, and licorice to leave the skin feeling and looking healthy and shining. The 1.35-ounce, pocket-sized sunscreen is cruelty-free, reef-safe, and comes in 100% recyclable packaging. We particularly appreciate how effortlessly this mineral-based SPF 35 mixes into the skin because of the buttery composition.