Change To TSA Liquids Rule: Full-Sized Suncreens Are Permitted Now Through Airport Security.

Update: TSA says this change was posted to their website in error.

Since 2006 the TSA has limited travelers to 3.4 ounce containers of liquids that fit in a single quart-sized bag. The War On Water has gone on for 15 years, but there have been a few recent concessions.

At the start of the pandemic the TSA began allowing passengers to bring 12 ounces of hand sanitizer through the checkpoint, separate from their freedom baggie of liquids.

And now travelers can also bring a full-sized bottle of sunscreen, since sunscreen has been added to the TSA’s list of ‘medically necessary’ liquids, gels and aerosols. However you must separately declare these items at the screening checkpoint, and they may receive extra scrutiny.

The TSA’s liquid rule was literally killing people by discouraging them from bringing sunscreen with them on trips, since they’d have to check it in luggage.

  • Nearly 10,000 people per day are diagnosed with skin cancer.

  • “[I]ncreasing sunscreen use by 5 percent per year over 10 years would lead to a 10 percent reduction in melanomas in the United States.”

  • Skin cancer researchers led the push for this change by TSA,

    Because inadequate access to sunscreen can lead to severe sunburns and subsequent skin cancers, this is an important public health initiative. We hope that this change will promote sun-safety and encourage travelers to use the recommended amount of sunscreen. The average adult requires 1.4 ounce of sunscreen per application, and reapplication is recommended every two hours.

The TSA’s War on Water has been waging about as long as World Wars I and II combined plus the Korean War. But did you know that if you freeze your liquids, they’re no longer liquid and can pass through security as a solid. If they melt at all the drops are liquid and not in three ounce containers — so can be confiscated.

The TSA does not actually believe your liquids are dangerous. If they did they would bring in hazmat teams to handle with care when taking them away. Instead screeners just leave them piled up at the checkpoint.

You now have the right to bring sunscreen through, though, but if you’re planning to do so be prepared for a little bit of extra time asserting your rights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. So they will allow this while continuing to confiscate bottles of water? Last I checked only one of these is essential for life and it’s not sunscreen.

  2. I guess people are too stupid or cheap to just buy suntan lotion when they reach their destination! Even if a small bottle is way over priced (the case at many resorts) you can buy one for around $20. If you have a car or can walk to a grocery store or pharmacy it is much cheaper.

    Why do people let some like not taking suntan lotion through airport security stop them from buying it is needed? Again are they cheap, stupid or both?

  3. Toothpaste, hair products, perfume, and coffee continue to be imminent threats to national security.

  4. Your war on deciding to write stupid stories has also been going on as long as World Wars I and II and the Korean War combined. Wish you just stuck with analyses of the industry which you’re really good at.

  5. Can’t travelers buy sunscreen at their destination? I’d say that fir the vast majority, that answer is yes. Not buying that the rule was “literally killing people” who have a choice to spend $10 on a new bottle when they get where they’re going.

  6. @TMF – people can, but you’ve got the cost in cash and time/hassle, so fewer people were doing so than if they were permitted to bring it with them. they also might not get around to it on the first day of a trip / when they land. so even if they buy it they may go longer without it. that’s a greater risk of skin cancer, multiplied across all of the passengers every day who might bring sunscreen with them.

    tsa banning full-sized sunscreen through the checkpoint was statistical murder.

  7. Well, this has done a lot for the concessions within airports where all drinks are typically expensive. I just bring empty sport bottles and fill them up at the fountains. But it is pretty stupid, as one person with 1 liter is considered a potential threat, but 10 people traveling together each with 1/10th of a liter are not. My wife’s yogurt was confiscated but I wonder if oranges would be…how about squishy apples? A man in my flying club is an airline dispatcher so he’s well vetted but they took away his spaghetti dinner because it had too much sauce. Are we going crazy here?

  8. Did TSA reach an agreement with the terrorists that they would not bring explosives on board contained in sunscreen containers?? What a farce. When the 3/3/1 went into effect I happened to be in a conference with a number of ATF explosive experts. They were laughing at such a ridiculous policy, but our government has all the sheeple baaing their way through security.

  9. Is it going to be like the bigger bottles of hand sanitizer that you can bring through security throughout the pandemic which will, in my experience, be a sure fire way to get pulled over so they can do special screening on this bigger allowable bottle? Folks just because you can doesn’t mean you should …..

  10. Im perplexed by the sudden focus on statistics when it comes to sunscreen but then reading previous posts on covid and a differing attitude on statistics in those. hmm.

    What this post is actually about is celebrating another “freedom” by sticking it to the man “the TSA” and nothing to do with actually saving lives.

    Hence the sly comment about not having hazmat teams take away your liquids. Did you know gasoline is clear, just like water? You don’t need hazmat to handle gasoline, but i sure wouldn’t mind having a guy carry 400ml of gasoline on a plane. TSA might be security “theater” but they serve an important purpose.

  11. Several years ago I found 4oz plastic jars of expensive zinc sunscreen on clearance at Walgreens for about a dollar. I’ve been squirting my sunscreen from larger bottles into these TSA compliant jars ever since. A stupid chore — just like squirting my contact lens solution into smaller bottles to avoid TSA hassles — but an easy stupid chore. I will say you don’t really want to shop for sunscreen during travel because it can be a very overpriced product if you don’t find a sale. In a pinch, you can buy a small bottle of passable sunscreen for a buck at Dollartree. Personally, the new rule won’t end my repackaging because I’m not looking for excuses for the TSA to delay me at their checkpoints.

  12. To people saying you can buy it at your destination, you have clearly never travelled to the third world.

    Imagine if large bottles of liquids were actually risky and TSA was just leaving around unmonitored piles of explosives at the airport.

  13. To the people who ask about the ability to buy sunscreen at their destination, it depends a lot on where one is going. When I travelled to Tanazania with students, we found that the sunscreen there was not at the same level as the sunscreen that some of us brought from the US. The students who used the local sunscreen got really sunburned, while the people who brought sunscreen from the US did not have any issues. From this, I have learned that one cannot always count on local sunscreen.

  14. In my experience, traveling in some odd countries, I admit, sunscreen is not always easily available, ditto bug repellant and even some medications available in any US drugstore without a prescription.

  15. For years, I have brought a sturdy plastic bottle on FROZEN water, um block of ice through TSA. Passes every time. And as it slowly liquifies, a cold beverage is enjoyed….

  16. Its such a shame that the vendors and shops charge so much for bottled water, when they know that people cannot bring it through security. the shops could charge 50 cents for a bottle of water and still make a profit. I am suprised that someone has not filed a law suit against the TSA or the vendors for charging so much for water when people have no options except to purchase after going through security.

  17. “The TSA’s liquid rule was literally killing people”

    Wow, over dramatic much? You can, and always have been able to, put it in a checked bag or just have a small one. Or buy in the airport. Or buy at destination. TSA’s rule didn’t kill anyone, quit with the click-bait style of writing.

    As for the water – come on people. Lots of explosives look like water (clear liquid). TSA can test to make sure our bottles are water and not explosives, but if they allowed everyone to bring water they would ALL have to be checked, and that would SLOW DOWN everything. It’s not about safety it’s about processing passengers faster.

  18. “I’m surprised they didn’t stipulate that it has to be coral safe.”

    Ugh. That would be a can of worms because there’s no agreement on what is considered coral safe sunscreen. Certain chemicals, yeah there’s universal agreement on…but some sunscreen manufacturers omit other chemicals and other manufacturers do not. Hawaii has one list of banned chemicals. Other countries have different lists.

  19. Article is false

    LAS TSA supervisors rejected and asked me to show them proof thay was NOT media or blogger. They said they been briefed on this.

    They referred me to
    which clearly says 3.4oz

    The TSA website had a small change that simply re emphasises some medically necessary items can still be brought

    I WAS given the option to declare as medically necessary but they tried to convince me not to. They warned of a long item-by-item complete unpack and check of all our carry on items which they would need to touch, plus a very thorough pat down search. All while 2 officers stood 2 inches from me.

    In the end, my “contactless” TSA Pre experience took 10 minutes extra while the rest of our group took under a minute.

    Also thought I would mention we have tried to get a prescription for OTC sunscreen, but only two types are approved which if I recall correculy are more of a solution with an additional medication, only prescribed for certain conditions.

  20. During a trip to the Galapagos in February, I discovered the entire islands were out of sunscreen. Every shop owner has to import their own inventory and things were jammed up. So no, it is not always easy to purchase sunscreen at your destination…

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