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What sunscreen to surf?

Sunscreen is a “must have” for surfers because not only do we have to take into account the sun, but also the glare coming off of the water.

The added element of the water washing onto our faces, makes a strong and resilient water proof sunscreen a must. Regular everyday sunscreens don’t usually cut it when it comes to surfing, especially when you like to surf more than an hour at a time. Obviously different conditions lend themselves to different strengths of sun exposure, but to be on the safe side, surfers should try the strongest options (SPF 30 or above) to keep themselves from sun damage.

Sunscreens can be categorized by both physical and chemical blocks

Chemical sunscreens usually go on clear, while physical blocks are usually thicker and white or tan. Oftentimes sunscreens will have both. Physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and are usually zinc, coconut oil or titanium dioxide. Some argue that these sunscreens are arguably “safer” because they are not as full of chemicals. The cons of these sunscreens are that they are very thick and require a more careful application. Also, they are tougher to get off. The pros are that they are gentler on the body and the ocean environment because they are non-toxic.

Chemical sunscreens include ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. The pros are that these sunscreens generally rub in better, go on clear and don’t require as careful an application. They are thinner and can be warn under make up or physical sunscreens. Often you can wear them longer as well. The cons, it has been argued, are that these chemicals can possibly interfere with a persons’ hormones and are can cause discoloration on the skin after prolonged use.

All of that being said, it is all about the surfers preference and if they prefer a strong chemical sunscreen that ensures a long surf session, or a physical sunscreen that they may need to apply more often. Not all sunscreens are created equal, so choosing the right one is up to your own judgment and whether or not you are comfortable with some of the ingredients in the popular brands.

The list below includes the top 5 sunscreens (chemical and physical blocks) that have been recommended by surfers themselves:

1.) Vertra SPF 50  

2.) Shade Sunscreen (mineral skin and sun care)

3.) Head Hunter Sunscreen

4.) Sun Bum (SPF 50)

5.) Shiseido Sun Protection Stick

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Written by Pakaloa

PAKALOA is a surfing and lifestyle brand. Live to Surf, Surf to Live.

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