Sunscreen might be one of the most important pieces of your surfing toolkit.
From session to session it might seem inconsequential, but in the long run, you’re going to be happier with your past-self for having used a proper sunscreen while you surf.
A few simple things go into choosing the right sunscreen to wear while you surf, they include:
- Protection from UVA and UVB radiation.
- Whether or not its going to sting and blind you if it gets in your eyes.
The Best Surfing Sunscreen
The best sunscreen for surfing is something that’s going to prevent sunburn, protect against skin cancer, last for a long time in the water, and won’t hurt your eyes or the environment.
There are 2 main categories of sunscreens: physical sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.
Physical sunscreen, often called mineral sunscreen, sits on top of the skin and reflects the UV rays away. These are made out of zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Chemical sunscreens soak into the sink and work to absorb UV rays. Chemical sunscreens contain different chemicals designed to absorb different types of UV radiation. These are also the category of sunscreen that’s been found to be harmful to reefs and ocean-life. The chemical oxybenzone and octinoxate are some of the ingredient to avoid, both of which have been linked as contributors to coral bleaching.
When shopping for sunscreen for surfing look for:
- Sunscreen that do not contain oxybenzone or octinoxate.
- Mineral sunscreens made from zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- Ingredients classified as non-nano, which cannot be absorbed by coral.
- That include reef-safe labels.
- An SPF of at least SPF 30.
- Sunscreen that specifies water resistance.
- Something that won’t run or sting your eyes – this might require some testing and personal preference.
Applying Sunscreen Before a Surf
For sunscreen to be most effective, you’re going to have to apply it properly.
Mineral sunscreens are going to start working immediately as you apply them. However, mineral sunscreens will lose effectiveness when they’re wiped off.
Chemical sunscreens need some time to be absorbed by the skin to start working. You’ll need to wait a little bit before getting into the water. If you’re using a chemical sunscreen, it might help to apply it before you leave for a surf and again before you suit up.
Regardless of water resistance, you should reapply your sunscreen every couple of hours if you’re going to be outside all day.