Which Sunscreen Should I Avoid in Summer 2018?

Don't pack these sunscreens for your summer travel

Woman applying sunscreen to shoulder
BonninStudio/Stocksy United

No matter where we go, summertime goes hand-in-hand with fun in the sun. Whether it's the ultimate golf vacation, a trip to the beach, or a long-awaited cruise, summer has a way of drawing travelers out into the great outdoors. However, with long days outdoors comes another major problem: sunburn.

Around the world, sunburn is a concern for anyone planning on spending on long days outside. On any given day, the sun is strongest between Noon and 4 pm, exposing vacationers to a barrage of UV rays that can create long-lasting damage. Such is the reason that sunscreen often makes every traveler's packing list.

While sunscreen can make or break a vacation, not all products are equal. Just like any vital accessory, modern adventurers need to make sure they pack the right sunscreen for their planned activities. When deciding on a travel sunscreen, you can avoid these following products.

Sunscreens over 30 SPF

Sun Protection Factor (or SPF) is the international standard measure of how effective sunscreen is. One common misconception is that sunscreens with a higher SPF offer a better level of protection. As a result, travelers will either apply high-SPF sunscreen less often, or stay under the sun longer with the belief their higher SPF sunscreen protects them.

However, doctors and experts agree that most sunscreens over 30 SPF are not as effective as the bottle may claim. Although some sunscreens may advertise higher SPF ratings, most sunscreens above 30 SPF offer the exact same amount of protection: 30 SPF and above sunscreen protects travelers from 97 percent of UVB rays.

Many travelers have no need to choose a sunscreen beyond 30 SPF, and should always plan on applying it in regular intervals so long as they are outside. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed a list of over 100 high-quality sunscreens that can be found at many pharmacies and retail stores.

Potentially Allergenic Sunscreens

Many sunscreens offer the same common active ingredients, including benzophenones, retinyl palmitate, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. Once again, not all of these active ingredients are equal. In fact, some experts believe that certain active ingredients can cause more harm than good.

Certain active ingredients, including benzophenones, can cause allergic reactions for some travelers. One of the most common reactions is contact dermatitis: an irritating rash caused by a benzophenone making contact with the skin.

The EWG identified 34 sunscreens that contain ingredients which can create problems. Before packing that sunscreen, make sure to know what's in it. Otherwise, you may be forced into a travel insurance claim for using sunscreen in the first place.

Aerosol Sunscreens

One of the latest products to hit the marketplace, aerosol sunscreens offer travelers convenience in applying their sunscreen. But aerosol-based products may not be the best method for overall sun protection.

The EWG warns that spray sunscreens include two inherent hazards. First, spray sunscreen can be inadvertently inhaled during application, which can trigger problems for those who have breathing problems. What's more, because spray sunscreens require less physical contact to apply, these sunscreens may not provide complete skin coverage.

Furthermore, Transportation Security Administration policy prohibits aerosols in luggage on American commercial aircraft. However, TSA policy also clearly states that personal care aerosols (like sunscreen) can be carried on in a 3-1-1 bag, As a result of the conflict, a can of spray sunscreen may get confiscated prior to your final destination at the discretion of the agents.

While sunscreen should be at the top of every summer traveler's packing list, not all products make good traveling companions. Ahead of boarding your plane or packing up the car, make sure your preferred product passes this list - or you could run into trouble later down the line. 

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