9 Sunscreens I Swear By For Travel

July 15, 2017

I loooove sun.  I love warm weather, beaches, getting tan, rainforests, and fruity drinks.  So it’s no surprise that my travels often take me to warm climates and I soak up every second.

But things I *don’t* love:

  1. Being greasy or shiny in pictures
  2. Getting sunburned
  3. Having my face break out because my sunscreen clogged my pores

9 of the best sunscreens for travel | Face sunscreens, spray sunscreens, biodegradable and ocean-safe sunscreen, lip sunscreen | Best sunscreens for every kind of travel, that don't break the bank. #sunscreen #travel #bestsunscreen

You might also like:  Everything You Need To Pack For A Chill Beach Vacay

I absolutely hate wearing sunscreen, but it’s often a non-negotiable when traveling.  My skin—usually easygoing, smooth, clear, low-maintenance—pulls a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I feel like a greasy, red mess.  And that’s before the combo of sunscreen and sweat makes me break out.

So knowing I had my epic Israel and Jordan desert trip coming up earlier this year, I spent a ton of time gathering recommendations and testing out a bunch of new sunscreens against ones I already used so that I could didn’t have to dread slathering it on.

9 of the best sunscreens for travel | Face sunscreens, spray sunscreens, biodegradable and ocean-safe sunscreen, lip sunscreen | Best sunscreens for every kind of travel, that don't break the bank. #sunscreen #travel #bestsunscreen

These are the nine best sunscreens for travel that I’ve found—non-greasy sunscreen for face, great body lotions, and lip sunscreen.  I’ll talk about what I love (and anything I don’t like) about each of my faves below.

[Note from 2019:  these do NOT include the Korean face sunscreens I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with…I have a separate post on those]

Just to give you a little background on my skin:  my face would be classified as combination, but I am a SWEAT MONSTER and prone to super greasiness, and sunscreen usually makes my face break out (and I have great skin normally, my face never breaks out otherwise).  Sunscreen makes me super shiny and gross in pictures too, so I hate that for travel pics in addition to the breaking out.  I don’t burn easily, I tan really well, but my skin is really sensitive and it doesn’t take much to irritate it.

Here’s my other amazing discover:  My Favorite Korean Face Sunscreens & Moisturizers

Just a note before we dive in—I don’t work directly with any of these brands, but I may make a small affiliate commission from any Amazon sales that come through clicks from my links (which I greatly appreciate, and at no extra cost to you).  All opinions are, as always, completely my own!

So without further ado, the best sunscreens for travel…the ones I swear by

For your face:

For non-greasy more intense protection

La Roche-Posay Anthelion Clear Skin Face Sunscreen for Oily Skin with SPF 60

It should feel greasy.  It should smell funny.  IT DOESN’T.  This sunscreen is matte but provides a much higher SPF than most moisturizers (which typically start feeling sunscreen-y after SPF 30).  Also a little goes a long way, which is a packing godsend.

The matte finish makes this a win for any scenario—from the beach to hiking to walking around all day.  I used it on my face the whole time I was in Mexico and was super happy with it.  Do watch out, I don’t think it’s waterproof, so make sure you re-apply if you’re splashing around in the pool.

For walking around a city all day:

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

This sunscreen treads the line nicely between moisturizer and sunscreen.  I haven’t tested it for intense pool/beach sun, but for walking around a city all day it does a great job.  It isn’t greasy—it’s light and feels like regular moisturizer but with an amped-up SPF.

You could definitely make this your only facial moisturizer/sunscreen for a trip and be covered under most circumstances.  Doesn’t clog pores, feels more like a true face lotion.

For normal wear (including city touring):

CeraVe Moisturizing Facial Lotion AM, SPF 30

@farewhispers recommended this, she said her dermatologist had given her a sample.  I’ve frequently brought this as my face moisturizer on a normal city trip (like my weekend in Istanbul), to save on toiletries space.  I’m actually using it as my regular day moisturizer right now because I ran out of my regular one…because #adulting is hard sometimes.

For your body:

For solo travelers, reaching your back, and easy reapplies:  

Sun Bum Moisturizing Sunscreen Spray, 6oz Bottle, Oil Free, Hypoallergenic

All my solo travelers feel me—trying to make sure you’re truly sunscreened on your back when you’re alone is HARD.  (Side note, also hard to put after-sun lotion or aloe on your own back when you’re burned…my Aruba trip taught me that.)

Spray sunscreen makes it easy to re-apply constantly, and I like that SunBum is made with good ingredients.  My one caution is that the bottle doesn’t last as long as some other spray sunscreens I’ve had

Alba Botanica Hawaiian, Coconut Spray Sunscreen SPF 50

Similarly, I discovered this spray sunscreen in time for my most recent Aruba trip, because I was looking for ocean-safe and biodegradable sunscreens I could use on a snorkeling trip without harming the coral reef.

I ended up using it not only for my back but also for re-applying all over my body in Aruba due to how much sand I was coated in—rubbing lotion in wouldn’t really work very well!

For all-day sun:

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Moisturizing Broad Spectrum Sun Care Sunscreen Lotion – SPF 30

I’m a big fan of this one and the SPF 15 for any kind of trip where you’re going to go through a boatload…beach vacation, sitting by a pool all day, cruise.  My bestie and I used to do an annual trip to (outside) Vegas in June and just lay by the pool for two straight days in the desert heat, and she’d bring this for us to slather ourselves with every two hours.

We’d literally go through almost two full bottles in two days, but we never burned once.  This is also my favorite in terms of how it makes my skin feel, not greasy at all but actually soft and moisturizing.

Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30

I picked this up in addition to the Alba one above because it’s supposed to be biodegradable and ocean-safe, so it doesn’t destroy the coral reefs.  I used it for snorkeling but also just for laying out at the beach, and in Aruba’s close-to-the-equator sun, it did a great job.

For anytime you don’t need gobs of SPF coverage:

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Moisturizing Broad Spectrum Sun Care Sunscreen Spray – SPF 15

Take the best of the two previous entries, and you’ve got this one.  You have the convenience of a spray suncreen but super affordable and does a good job.  Doesn’t feel greasy, doesn’t make my skin feel awful.  This and the SPF 30 are solid gold…as long as you’re checking a bag, the two Hawaiian Tropics ones are some of the best sunscreens for travel (they’re just bigger so can’t go in carry-on).

For your lips:

Blistex DCT Daily Conditioning Treatment SPF 20

This is literally the only thing I’ve found that works for my lips.  My lips are super sensitive to everything sun and I swear by this stuff.  I’ve used anytime I’m out in the sun for more than a couple minutes ever since I was a teenager and my lips went all weird.  I buy it in 6-packs because I go through so much of it.

Runners up…fine, just not my favorite personally:

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45

I used this for years, but I’m not a fan of it for my face.  Just makes it too greasy, and eventually makes my face break out.  But it does a good job protecting my skin and so I’ll still use it for my body from time to time when I need something more intensive—case in point, used it on days 2 and 3 of my Mexico vacay to protect some skin that got a little crispy on day 1.

SunBum face stick 

Love the idea, but the execution just didn’t work for me for some reason.

On the “pro” side, I loved that it’s solid, so it’s easier to travel with.  I like that SunBum’s ingredients are quality and not weird.  But the stick is too thick, because of the shape it didn’t spread well, not sure it really protected.  But tons of people swear by it, so wanted to mention.

So there you have it, the best sunscreens for travel, no matter what you’re looking for!  I’m always on the lookout for new and better sunscreens, so let me know what your favorite is in the comments!!

Looking for tropical inspiration to use your sunscreen??

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9 of the best sunscreens for travel | Face sunscreens, spray sunscreens, biodegradable and ocean-safe sunscreen, lip sunscreen | Best sunscreens for every kind of travel, that don't break the bank. #sunscreen #travel #bestsunscreen

Comments (20)

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  • thelocallatingal

    August 30, 2017 at 6:17 am

    I live in cancun and actually sunscreen is part of my daily routine and make up! Sometime we don’t care enough about our skin, thank you!!

  • Keri|flipflopweekend.com

    August 29, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    Great post! Living in Florida with fair Irish skin, I go through buckets of sunscreen. I use the Neutrogena Helioplex on my face, but definitely may need to try the La Roche!

    1. Jessica

      August 29, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      Definitely give La Roche a try! I’ve used the Neutrogena for a long time and it’s good, but still greasier than I’d like. If I re-apply constantly my skin starts to have trouble (on my face specifically). The La Roche is amazing!

  • Tatum

    August 29, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    So 1) I’ve been super careful about my skin recently and love how you incoprated these for travel! Pretty much stay out of the sun reduces wrinkles haha but vitamin d goes a long way! 2) I actually know the owner of sun bum and it’s one of my favorite! Mainly because it smells like banana laffy taffy! Great post!

    1. Jessica

      August 29, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      It does smell so good! I hadn’t placed the exact smell before but you’re spot-on.

  • Rebecca Westlake

    August 12, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    7!? Ahhh, I need to pick up my game and choose just one to start with even. My poor skin :(. Do you know if dogs should wear sunscreen? (@contentbarista)

    1. Jessica

      August 12, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Yeah, that’s how I was. I started with Cerave because it was really easy and I didn’t need to do anything intense. I’d recommend that one if you want it to be an everyday moisturizer too, and aren’t going to be in super intense sun. However, if you’re going to be in a tropical climate or intense sun I’d start with the La Roche Posay. Highest SPF and matte, it’s basically amazing. I’m honestly not sure on dogs…I know they can, but their fur does provide some natural protection. To be safe I’d ask your vet about that!

  • Monica Rivera -P

    August 12, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I use Elta MD and Cerave ????????

    1. Jessica

      August 12, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      They’re both great, and recommended by dermatologists!

  • Jasmin

    August 7, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Great post. It’s important to wear sunscreen everyday. I’m a fan of glossier ultra shield sunblock

    1. Jessica

      August 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      Is glossier the brand? I’ll definitely look it up if so!

  • stephanieehmke

    August 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Sunscreen for lips is always the one spf that I forget, but I regret it the moment that I forget! I’m going to look into the one that you suggested!
    -Stephanie | http://www.nudelipdiaries.com

    1. Jessica

      August 7, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Most people forget about their lips. My lips are crazy sensitive to sun (whereas the rest of me barely burns), and also sensitive to a lot of chapsticks, so took years to find one that works for me and I’ve been using this one for 15 years or more!

  • Krissy @thoughtfullyunraveled

    August 7, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Sunscreen makes me break out so much!! That Elta MD is the only brand I’ve found to not make me break out. Love that stuff!

    1. Jessica

      August 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      It’s so great! And no one would know you’re wearing sunscreen, none of that shiny grossness. I’ve been super happy with that La Roche-Posay too, for higher SPF coverage. No grease and no breaking out!

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