We all know that sunscreen is important, especially when spending time outdoors in the summer. But when it comes to surfing, protecting yourself from the sun can be tricky! Most sunscreen products don’t last very long in typical surfing conditions, even if they’re labeled waterproof. On top of that, many sunscreens contain harsh chemicals, which can be damaging to precious ocean habitats.

Luckily, there are specially designed sunscreen products for watersports that are meant to last all day and safe to use around coral reefs. We’ve prepared a list of the best sunscreen for surfing and sailing on the market, along with some advice on how to choose the best reef-safe surfing sunscreen for you!

How To Choose A Sunscreen For Surfing And Watersport – Buying Guide


What to Consider When Shopping:


SPF is short for sun protection factor, and it is the official way of quantifying how high the UV protection offered by a product is. A higher number means your skin will be more protected from the sun’s rays. Theoretically, people with lighter skin are more vulnerable to the harmful impact of the UV rays, while people with darker skin can afford to wear a lower SPF.

But considering that during surfing and watersports a lot of time will be spent in the sun, we recommend that everyone wears a high SPF product. The ideal number is at least 35, or 50 is your skin is very fair.


It should go without saying that you need waterproof sunscreen when you’re surfing or practicing watersports. Make sure the waterproof promise is indeed a reality by only choosing a product from a list of top-rated sunscreen for surfing.


More expensive is not necessarily better, though if a product really stands out as being dubiously cheap, you should steer clear of it. That being said, if a product contains some extra beneficial ingredients, like moisturizing or nourishing substances, this will be of course reflected in a higher price tag. In the end, it’s up to you do decide how well-performing you need your sunscreen to be.

Scent or Fragrance-Free

Most quality skincare products do not contain any scents or fragrance, for two reasons. First of all, some people have sensitive skin that reacts badly to the fragrance contained in cheaper skincare. Your skincare can also become a little more sensitive than usual under the influence of the sun’s rays.

Second of all, some pretty harmful chemicals can hide under the generic name of ‘fragrance’ in the ingredient list. When shopping for the best sunscreen for surfing and watersports, it’s just safer if you stick to fragrance-free.

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Ideally, your sunscreen for surfing should be easy enough to spread so that applying it doesn’t become a bother. But in reality, waterproof products may be thicker than regular products. If sunscreen is almost liquid-like and easy to spread, that means it contains a lot of alcohol in the formula, which means that it will easily wash off when water gets in contact with your skin.


Q: Can I or Should I Combine Zinc and Regular Sunscreen Together?


Most sunscreen formulas are either mineral (based on zinc) or chemical, based on various chemical filters. There are pros and cons to each type of sunscreen, and only by trying them out on your own skin can you tell which you get along best with.

If you’re among the lucky people with resistant skin, then sure, you can try combining both types of sunscreen for added protection. The sun’s rays can be so harmful if arriving on your skin unfiltered, that in this case, more is more. Add a layer of zinc lotion first, wait for it to dry, then follow up with an extra layer of long-lasting waterproof sunscreen.

Q: At the End of the Day, How Do I Get All the Sunscreen Off of Me?


Simply have a good shower and it should all be off. Since you’re showering every day, you might hurt your skin if you use a shower gel with strong detergents added. Feel free to use a mild one, even a cleaning gel for babies will do. To make sure that the shower gel really succeeds in taking all those chemicals off, help it with a shower cleaning mitt.

Q: What Else Can I Do for Sun Protection While Surfing?


While you’re actually surfing, there’s not much you can do besides making sure you’re covered up in top-rated sunscreen for surfing.

Still, you can consider using a beach umbrella while you take breaks from surfing, for the extra UV protection. Sun hats are also a good idea when you’re not really on the surfboard.

Q: Why Not Use an SPF Factor Higher Than 50?


Even the best sunscreens on the market, whether they are designed for watersports or not, only go as far up as 50 SPF. If you do see some products labeled with SPF 55, there’s not really much difference between one with SPF 50 and higher.

Globo Surf Overview

Surfing is perhaps the sport that exposes you to sunlight most, so sunscreen should be a top priority for all surfers. Those who practice watersports need to take some precautions as well, especially for their face and hands. Depending on the exact watersport they practice, their wetsuit might already provide at least some protection.

Regardless, everyone who spends time in the direct sunlight should take their sun protection seriously. But when adding water to the mix, the risk of sunscreen getting washed off means you need to look for reliable waterproof formulas. We hope that our list of the best sunscreen for surfing and watersports helped you find the ideal choice.

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What kind of sunscreen for surfing and watersports did you use up until now? Are you happy with it?  Share your tips with our surfers’ community in the comments!