The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Sunscreen: What You Need to Know

The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Sunscreen: What You Need to Know

The Ultimate Guide to Vacation Sunscreen: What You Need to Know


When it comes to planning the perfect vacation, sunscreen is often an overlooked but crucial item on your packing list. Whether you're headed to a tropical beach, exploring the mountains, or embarking on a cultural adventure, protecting your skin from the sun's harmful rays should be a top priority. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into everything you need to know about vacation sunscreen to ensure you have a sun-safe and enjoyable getaway.

Why Sunscreen Matters

Before we dive into the specifics, let's understand why sunscreen is essential for your vacation.

Chapter 1: SPF 101 - Understanding Sun Protection Factor

In this section, we'll break down the basics of SPF, helping you choose the right level of protection for your skin type and destination. Learn how SPF works and why it's a critical factor in sun safety.

Choosing the Right SPF

Discover how to select the appropriate SPF level based on your skin's needs and the sun intensity at your vacation spot.

Understanding UV Rays

Learn about UVA and UVB rays and their impact on your skin. UVA is responsible for skin Aging (UV...A for aging), and UVB is responsible for skin burning (UV..B for burning). UVA rays are deeper penetrating and cause cellular damage within a minute of unprotected exposure. They are also the primary culprit of melanoma-forming sun damage. That is why selecting a broad-spectrum sunscreen is a must.

Chapter 2: Types of Vacation Sunscreen

Explore the different types of sunscreens available, from lotions to sprays, mineral to chemical. We'll help you pick the best sunscreen for your preferences and skin requirements.

Mineral vs. Chemical Sunscreen

Get insights into the differences between mineral and chemical sunscreens, including their pros and cons.

Mineral sunscreens and chemical sunscreens, contrary to popular misconception, actually tend to work the same way - by absorbing UV and converting it to heat. It is not the case that mineral sunscreens block UV rays. They absorb 95% of UV and reflect the other 5%, but the 5% that's reflected is reflected forward (not outward, away from the skin) where it is then absorbed and converted to heat.

The key difference, then, between mineral and chemical sunscreens are that the active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are organic molecules whereas mineral active ingredients are inorganic molecules. Organic molecules contain a carbon bond, inorganic molecules do not.  

Do not be afraid of certain active ingredients because they are "chemicals". All sunscreens are chemicals. So is water and oxygen. You should pick a sunscreen based on your personal preference, not because a brand or blogger tried to scare you into one or the other based on pseudoscience or by cherry-picking a study that may have been funded by an interested party.

The thing to be worried about is UV damage, so if you're wearing sunscreen and/or using other sun-safety measures like seeking shade or wearing sun-protective clothing, then you're going to do great! 

Water-Resistant Sunscreen

Discover the benefits of water-resistant sunscreen for aquatic activities during your vacation. Many sunscreens are water and sweat resistant and the FDA requires testing to be done for water and sweat resistance. There are three levels: none, 40 minutes, and 80 minutes. If you are planning on sweating or swimming, it is highly recommended to use an 80-minute water and sweat resistant sunscreen. Be advised, however, that water and sweat resistant does not mean "waterproof". If you are swimming or sweating, you need to reapply sunscreen after that 80-minute period. You may need to do it sooner on high-UV index days, and definitely after you towel off. 

Chapter 3: Applying Sunscreen Correctly

Proper application is key to sunscreen effectiveness. Learn the right way to apply sunscreen for maximum protection.

Tips for Even Coverage

Find out how to ensure you don't miss any spots while applying sunscreen, including those often-neglected areas. The most crucial aspect of effective sunscreen application is to get a smooth application. This is actually why we tend to prefer chemical sunscreens (that is, sunscreens with organic UV filters). By virtue of the rigidity of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, it is much more difficult to get a smooth application. This does not mean it's impossible, but just that it is harder. 

Be sure to smoothly apply your sunscreen in an even layer. We also recommend applying sunscreen directly to your body and rubbing it in vs. applying to your hands and then rubbing it in. By applying directly to your arm, for example, in a straight line up the arm, you can ensure you are applying the appropriate amount without having to measure your sunscreen.

Reapplying Throughout the Day

Understand the importance of reapplying sunscreen regularly, especially during extended outdoor activities. 

One of the most important aspects of sun safety is reapplication. There are a variety of reasons that include the build up of oil and sweat in your skin that can introduce inconsistency in your smooth application, as well as high UV index days. It's vital to reapply at least every two hours, and even more frequently if you have a lighter skin tone, the UV index is exceptionally high, or you haven't been in the sun in a while.

Chapter 4: Vacation-Specific Sunscreen Tips

Different vacations call for different sunscreen strategies. We'll provide tips for various vacation scenarios, from beach getaways to winter escapes.

Beach Vacation Sunscreen

Learn how to stay protected while basking in the sun and swimming in the ocean.

This is the obvious spot to wear your SPF! Make sure it's 80 minute sweat and water resistant and broad spectrum. Don't forget to get all parts of your body. Some of the most neglected spots that result in skin cancer diagnoses are the tops of the feet, the middle of the back, the ears, and the back of the neck. If you don't have a friend with you to help you cover your back, Bask has made a unique bottle technology on all of our spray sunscreens (which are non-aerosol and free of chemical propellants) that allows you to spray it from all angles. So you can spray upside down and sideways, and get your back all on your own!

Ski Vacation Sunscreen

Discover the unique challenges of sun exposure at high altitudes and in snowy environments.

Skiing is sun burn city! And this is for a few reasons. 1) folks typically don't think they need to use sun protection, and therefore don't wear sunscreen to the slopes; 2) the altitude means you are quite literally closer to the sun and the UV rays are stronger; 3) the cold and wind weakens your skin barrier and makes it more susceptible to sun damage. Make sure to apply sunscreen on exposed skin when you hit the slopes! 

Adventure Travel

Get sunscreen advice for active vacations like hiking, biking, and more.

Chapter 5: Sunscreen for All Ages

Sun protection isn't just for adults. This section covers the sunscreen needs of children and seniors, ensuring the whole family stays safe.

Sunscreen for Kids

Explore options for kid-friendly sunscreen and tips for keeping children protected.

For kids, the tow most important things are texture and ease of application. For this reason, we often recommend spray so that you can quickly hit them with a mist as opposed to sitting them down to rub in lotion. The best move is to apply a base layer of lotion before heading outside - the sight of the pool or ocean can often be too much to get them to sit still - and then apply and reapply with spray once you're at the beach and throughout the day.

Sunscreen for Seniors

Learn how sunscreen can help prevent age-related skin issues and skin cancer.

For seniors, we believe that layering is caring. Base layer of lotion, and another layer of spray on top. Never use below an SPF 50, and make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. 


In conclusion, your vacation should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment, and proper sunscreen use can play a significant role in making that happen. With this ultimate guide to vacation sunscreen, you're armed with the knowledge you need to stay sun-safe and ensure a memorable and worry-free trip. Don't leave home without your sunscreen—it's your ticket to sun-kissed skin without the sunburn.

Final Thoughts

Remember that sunscreen is not just a vacation accessory; it's a vital tool for protecting your skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. By following the tips and advice in this guide, you can enjoy your vacation to the fullest while keeping your skin healthy and radiant. All of Bask's lotion products are great vacation sunscreen options because they are 3.4 ounces (100 ml) and can safely fit in your carry-on because they are TSA compliant. Safe travels!