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Why I Never Buy Sunscreen in the US

Why I Never Buy Sunscreen in the US

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European Sunscreen– the Most Useful Souvenir?

Sunscreen is bulky, messy, and not particularly interesting, so you may be wondering why I would suggest picking up some tubes on your next vacation outside the US. It’s simple– the sunscreens available in Europe, Japan, Australia and many other parts of the world blow our sunscreen away. Foreign sunscreens contain some of the most effective UV-blocking ingredients available, like Mexoryl XL (not to be confused with Mexoryl SX, which is the similar, but less potent formulation available in the US).
best sunscreen to buy in europeMexoryl XL has been tested and used safely in Europe for over 20 years. Yet despite the EU’s stamp of approval, the FDA still had not approved one of the most effective ingredients used in sunscreens worldwide despite allowing  1372 other cosmetic ingredients that the EU has banned for health and safety reasons.

The Test: European Sunscreen at Tennis Camp

So the science says these European sunscreens work, but what about in real life? I brought a big tube of Vichy sunscreen that I’d picked up in Europe to tennis camp last summer to test out the effectiveness. After spending a full weekend chasing balls under the scorching sun, I can confirm that the European sunscreen works better than anything I’ve ever tried– I didn’t burn at all. I also loved that the European sunscreen absorbed easily (unlike zinc oxide, which leaves a chalky residue). I was glad I’d brought a big tube as it didn’t take long for everyone else in my group to abandon their Coppertone and ask to use mine.

Convinced yet? The next time you travel abroad, walk into any pharmacie, apotheke, or farmacia and head for the sunscreen section. Now comes the tricky part, as the tube may not list the ingredient Mexoryl XL front and center on the label. You may need to flip over to the back and scan through tiny writing for the word “Mexoryl XL”.  Fortunately, the word is the same in all languages.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Souvenir Finder Shopping Details

  • What: Sunscreen with the magic ingredient Mexoryl XL.
  • Where to Buy it: Practically anywhere except the US (approved in Europe, Japan and Australia among others). Look for it at the local pharmacy.
  • Packing tips: Sunscreen counts as a liquid, so put large tubes in your suitcase. Seal in a Ziploc bag as protection from leaks.

Do you have a favorite brand of sunscreen you buy while abroad?  Let us know in the comments!

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Monday 12th of February 2018

This is number one on my list ALWAYS. I think your website is right on the mark for good souvenirs. Headed to Portugal and never considered a hat. So..."Obrigada" for that tip!

Kristin Francis

Monday 26th of February 2018

Look for gold jewelery too-- I haven't written about it yet but bought a beautiful ring there. All jewelry must be over 18 carats by law.


Saturday 26th of November 2016

It looks like a useful product. I want to try.

Carmen Everywhere

Tuesday 23rd of February 2016

Excellent post. Never thought that much about sunscreens. But I travel a lot in Asia and with the scorching Sun there I am sure to need one that works really good. Thanks for the good advise on this.

Kristen Moux Events

Monday 21st of December 2015

I'll be traveling to Japan this coming March and happened upon your blog through a Pinterest post... looking for spring outfits. I totally enjoyed reading your best travel boots blog and will probably have to invest in one (more like bargain hunting). Since I'm from Hawaii and have almost no need for boots, the post was very helpful! :) Is there a particular brand of sun block that is good in Japan? I'll have to look up the translation. LOL. Is there any other must-get items I should look out for?


Sunday 6th of December 2015

Good to know, thanks for sharing