best suncreams for surfing

Best Sunscreen For Surfers

If you are heading to the beach this Summer then you will want to ensure that your skin is well protected. As we have become more aware of the impact the sun can have on our skin, the range of skincare products available has increased. If you are taking part in any form of water sports then you will want reassurance that you are safe while in the water. We have taken a close look into the impact of water sports on sun creams. This way we can give informed recommendations on the best sunscreen for surfing.

Quick Verdict

This high performance sunscreen will protect your skin in the surf and on the beach.

A broad spectrum sunscreen that is non-greasy and contains anti-ageing properties.

Do I Need A Different Sunscreen For Surfing?

Water sport hobbies such as surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing require you to spend extended periods of time either inside the water or on top of it. This leads to increased exposure to the sun, which in turn increases your risk of sunburn or skin damage. While you don’t necessarily need a specific sunscreen for surfing, there are some things that you will want to consider when choosing the best sunscreen for surfers.

What Is The Best SPF Level For Surfing?

When you go on holiday, especially if you are from the UK, you often hope that you will come back with a nice healthy sun tan. Everyone dreads the question “how was the weather?”  as they stare at your pasty skin. This can lead to people choosing a low factor of SPF as they try to increase their overall level of suntan. 

However, if you are going surfing and likely to be outside for a long period of time you should really opt for a sunscreen with a higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating. The SPF rating essentially tells you how effective a sunscreen product is at blocking out the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. You need to ensure that you choose a sun cream that has high  level of protection against the sun’s UVB rays. 

UVB rays are the primary causes of sunburn and will lead to increased risk of skin cancer. When researching SPF levels and the impact of UVB rays I was shocked at the difference between some of the lower SPF levels and there ability to protect your skin. 

SPF 15 sunscreen blocks out 93% of UVB rays

SPF 30 sunscreen blocks out 97% of UVB rays

SPF 50 sunscreen blocks out 98% of UVB rays.

I had always assumed that a lower SPF rating would result in a better tan. I also thought it just meant I would need to reapply more frequently. It is clear however, that by choosing a low SPF factor sun cream there is a greater risk of harmful UVB rays affecting the long-term health of my skin. It is for this reason why I would highly recommend you choose a broad spectrum SPF 30 as a minimum for protecting your skin while surfing.

The Best Sunscreens For Surfing

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sun Cream

Good sun scream for surfing

I love a smart brand design and Sun Bum sunscreen has taken their brand and developed some high quality sunscreen that is very popular with the surf community. This sun cream is really easy to apply. Some of the cheap sunscreen can feel like lead paint when on. Sun Bum Sunscreen is light to spread over your skin and it comes with a very nice scent. There are different options available.

There is specific facial cream, spray bottle or your standard bottle to hand method. As a product designed with surfers in mind, this sunscreen is highly water resistant. Sun Bum recommend applying at least 30 minutes before entering the water to ensure full absorption.

For those looking for an anti ageing sun cream, Sun Bum comes with Vitamin E and doesn’t contain any paragons. This is helpful for anyone looking to maintain their youthful looks.

Overall this is an effective sunscreen for surfers and is reasonably priced.

Non greasy sunscreen

Life Jacket sunscreen was borne out of friendship between three men who were affected by cancer. Several of their friends who were only in their 30’s suffered from cancer. As disaster sometimes does, it triggered greater insight into holistic health. The impacts of skin cancer led them to create this product and it is something worth trying.

Life Jacket sunscreen is a high performance range of sun cream that has been engineered by Scientists, such as Dermatologist Professor Christian Aldridge. With this product you get the feeling that you belong to a community as there is genuine care and passion for reducing the effects of sun damage.

There is a range of skin care products that Life Jacket make, but specifically we have worn the Life Jacket Sun Protection Gel. At SPF 50+ this broad spectrum sun block offers great protection form the sun. It has anti ageing ingredients and is free from toxins. I like this product as it leaves your skin feeling free to breathe. Some sun creams feel thick and heavy when on, whereas this absorbs really well and doesn’t cause any eye stinging when in the water.

This is a premium skincare product, so you expect to pay slightly more than others. With a vast range of other products I am considering subscribing to other areas such as their daily moisturiser as I have enjoyed using their product.

Mineral Sunscreen

SETT mineral sunscreen is a natural 100% mineral sunscreen. This is designed to keep the ocean and reefs that we surf, safe. For that reason alone any keen surfer should consider this sunscreen.

As a cream it rubs in easily to give a completely clear complexion when wearing this. Some of the ingredients inside contain healing properties and help to improve your overall skin. If you work outside this would be a good sunscreen option as the Jojoba Oil and Aloe Vera will help improve your skin over time.

If you have children with sensitive skin then this sunscreen will work well. The fact that SETT suncreen is 100% mineral means that there isn’t a risk of skin irritation, so it’s perfect for little ones to wear.

This is a very water resistant sunscreen. It’s broad spectrum and high SPF rating make it a good sunscreen for surfers.

Best non toxic sunscreen

Based in Sweden, the Suntribe company will know a thing or two about the need for sun protection. This is a nice product that is made up of natural ingredients. The Suntribe brand has a range of products especially suited for sports. This is great as products such as this are tested to a higher standard. They understand that you will be in the water or sweating, so the need for a high performance sunscreen is greater than those you get at the supermarket.

A negative about this product, which only effects those who dislike it, is the coconut scent. I personally love the smell of the cream, but it’s worth noting that it is scented due to the coconut oil.

Suntribe sunscreen is safe for the environment and 100 natural. It works well in the water thanks to the beeswax found within the cream. This help it stay on the water for longer while surfing.

Best all day sunscreen

Riemann P20 sunscreen is probably the most mainstream sunscreen on the list as you can easily find it in supermarkets and other stores such as boots.

P20 Suncreen has a bold claim in the fact it’s a single use sun cream. It’s unique selling point is the long lasting protection. This is great for a day at the beach as it means you don’t need to be reapplying with sandy hands.

I am sceptical that a single application would suffice after a full day at the beach. Multiple trips in and out of the sea to surf or bodyboard, with towelling off could jeopardise your skin safety. It is however a great overall product. It sinks into the skin well and has a high level of UV protection.

You might have looked at the price of this product before an wondered “why is Riemann P20 expensive?”. As a single use product this sunscreen should last you longer as you are not re-applying as much as you would with some more basic sunscreens.

Surfer Sunscreen

Blue Lizard sunscreen is one of the best sunscreens for surfers in Australia. I first found out about it when I was living in Byron Bay. I was surfing The Wreck or The Pass two or three times a day and inevitably got burnt. The cream I was using was your standard supermarket stuff, which wasn’t very water resistant. Long story short I was recommended it and found it to be a great option. It’s super resistant to water and lasts up 80 minutes when wet. That makes it competitive against any of the other sunscreens on this list.

It is broad spectrum, so protects you against all the UV nasties. it is also free from active chemical ingredients and parabens. They love their coral reef in Australia, so it’s made with care in mind for the ocean.

While not many people in the UK will have heard of Blue Lizard sunscreen, I could write an article about the best sunscreen for surfers without including it on my list. Give it a go and let us know what you think.

What Is The Best Water Resistant Cream For Surfing?

Once you have chosen the correct level of SPF, you will want to ensure that you choose a sunscreen that will be able to cope with you being in the water for prolonged periods of time. It is important therefore that you choose a sunscreen that is labelled as “water resistant” or “very water resistant”. Some of the more basic sunscreens can wash off quickly when wet and therefore reduces the overall effectiveness of the product. 

Sunscreens that are designed for water-based activity will have additional ingredients inside that make them superior to a basic sunscreen.  For example, they will have film-forming ingredients that create a barrier on the skin’s surface. This helps to keep the sunscreen on your skin rather than being washed away.  This is helpful as it means when the sun cream on your face is wet there is less chance of it running into your eyes. If this hasn’t happened to you before I can assure you it is a very unpleasant experience. 

Other good ingredients within surfing sun creams are things such as emulsifiers and stabilisers.  These help with the water resistant ability of the cream and how to ensure protection even after exposure to water. 

One of the main benefits of highly water resistant sunscreen is that they will have been tested under standardised conditions. There is a certain level  these creams must meet in order to advertise themselves as water resistant. This gives a little more security when you are in the water as you know the product you are wearing is keeping you safe.. 

The sunscreens on our best sunscreen page are all highly water resistant and safe to use when swimming on holiday or spending time in the water. It is important to make sure however that you do reapply frequently, especially after towelling. The cream might be water resistant, however if you’re rubbing your towel all over it there is a good chance you end up wiping it off! 

How Long Before I Apply and Reapply Sunscreen If I Am Surfing?

This is not job advice, this is to do with your use of the cream. Choosing the right sunscreen is one thing, but make sure you cover your whole body before heading into the water. Sunburn is not only a health problem in later life, it’s also a real pain to live with. If you’re on your holiday, you don’t want all your memories to be spoiled by a bright red face. So spend the right amount of time applying the cream to all exposed areas.

I recommend doing it before You head to the beach as it means you can properly apply the cream with a mirror to ensure you hit all the key areas. It’s useful too as you’re giving the cream time to properly sink into your skin to strengthen the protection level. I hate applying sun cream at the beach as you end up with sand all over your hands and this is unpleasant when rubbing cream into your body with sand (although it is a great exfoliant). 

Once you’ve applied your sun cream make sure your hands are wiped clean as I have previously found myself wiping out and I try to push off the board and the sunscreen has acted as a lubricant making my hand rather slippy.

The recommended reapplication time is two hours. If you’re getting wet try to keep to these as a maximum guidance to avoid any unnecessary skin damage. 

What Are Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide Sun Creams?

Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are sun creams that sit on top of the skin. These types of sun creams work by reflecting or scattering the ultraviolet radiation away from the skin. You might have seen cricketers use these. I remember asking my dad “what is the white cream on there nose” as I was watching the ashes. Well I now know that it’s a mineral sunscreen that forms a barrier. 

These types of sunscreens are useful if you have any scarring or thin skins areas that need protecting. They are especially effective in blocking UVB rays so give a greater level of protection. If you’ve previously had health issues related to sun exposure then they might be worth using. The one main drawback to zinc or titanium sunscreen is the white markings. They are very thick and therefore take time to remove. This is worth bearing in mind if you plan on heading out after your beach trip and want to avoid going to a pub or restaurant with a white nose!

How To Protect My Skin At The Beach?

Aside from choosing a broad spectrum sunscreen, there are other ways to ensure that your skin is well protected while you are at the beach. 

Wear protective clothing. Due to the UK water temperature you will need a wetsuit. If you are going to spend a couple of hours in the water, wetsuits are a great method of keeping you warm and protecting your skin from UV rays. In a long sleeve wetsuit, almost all of your body is well protected. However, if you are just going bodyboarding and don’t intend on spending a prolonged period of time in the sea,  then choose a rash vest to help cover you up.  

Having some shade through a beach tent is also a great way to protect your skin. Beach tents are incredibly easy to use and really help to enhance your time at the beach.  I would therefore recommend getting one of these as it will give the option of seeking shade when the sun is at its strongest. This is normally between 10am and 4pm.

I’d also recommend that you take into consideration ways to protect those forgotten areas such as your lips and your scalp. There are specialist sunscreens that will protect your scalp.  I have a friend who is bald so he just uses his standard sunscreen to ensure he does not burn his head. However, anyone with hair might need something a bit more bespoke, unless you like the greasy look. So try to find yourself a spray on scalp protector that can go between your hair and ensure that your scalp is suitably protected. In terms of lip care there are a wide range of UV lip balms that ensure your lips will not get burnt while surfing.