Best Sunscreens for Surfers

Whenever they ask me what it takes to surf, I answer: willing power, a surfboard, maybe a neoprene but always, always ALWAYS sunscreen.
Cesar Alvarez
Cesar Alvarez


Surf nomad

Roaming the globe with a surfboard and a laptop, crafting digital stories that ride the wave of surfing culture.

Whenever they ask me what it takes to surf, I answer: willing power, a surfboard, maybe a neoprene but always, always ALWAYS sunscreen.

We have already talked about the surfboards and the wetsuits and the motivation you already have, now comes the time to get serious and recognize that the sun, no matter how much we like it (because we love it, right?) is harmful to our skin.

Due to the decrease in the thickness of the ozone layer, ultraviolet rays produce more burns on our skin and over time, reduce its elasticity, cause premature aging and most importantly - can cause skin cancer. 

Taking care of our skin becomes a responsibility to our future self. He (or she) will want to keep surfing and you know it.

The skin's memory and the mirror effect: positive and negative effects of the skin.

It is well proven that the sun is beneficial for your health: it is good for the heart, it provides essential vitamin D for our body to absorb calcium for bones and helps patients with depression. But because of lack of awareness or ignorance, we often enter the water without protecting our skin and, after a while, it reddens, peels or even burns in such a way that blisters can appear, which in addition to causing pain, can eventually turn into moles and melanomas that trigger skin cancer.
That's why dermatologists talk about “skin memory”, because the adverse effects of Ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) accumulate over the years and directly affect their DNA; it kills the cells. They also weaken the immune system.
And it doesn't depend so much on the natural color of our skin or on protecting yourself in the shade when you're not surfing, but keep in mind that the sun's rays bounce off the sand and there's no escape even if you're under an umbrella.
And things get worse on the surfboard: the effect of the sun multiplies because we are surrounded by water that reflects it. This is known as “the mirror effect.” 

What to consider when choosing the ideal sunscreen 

At stores and pharmacies we can find countless brands such as ISDIN, Roche Possay, Vichy or Heliocare, which are considered to be the best on the market. However, as we surfers usually spend many more hours exposed to the sun than the average person, all year round and also wet, so the ideal is to find a Protector that is much more powerful (with a high SPF), waterproof and if possible, environmentally friendly.  The latter is also a priority for us.

- Water resistant sunscreens
How many times has it happened to you that from so much going out and getting in the water, you notice that all the cream has come off? And how many times has it happened to you that it ends up getting into your eyes? The solution: using waterproof products. They are thicker than the others, so it is likely that you will have more time to spread and may leave residue on your skin, but they are the only alternative. It's worth it in pursuit of the health of your skin. 

-Powerful: With a protection between 30 and 50SPF.
I'm sure you've heard of 'max protection'. They are those protectors that filter the negative ultraviolet rays to the skin (UVA and UVB) and exceed an SPF index beyond 30.
SPF is the time of sun protection that we have in the face of exposure to sunrays. For example: if you usually burn within twenty minutes of being in the sun, with a factor 30 you would delay that effect for thirty times longer. Consider how tanned you are at the time and don't forget to apply it whenever you feel you need it. There's no rule.

- Environmentally friendly: with filters of mineral origin
There are three types of sunscreens in creams: chemical filters, physical filters, and minerals.
The former are not biodegradable, usually contain nanoparticles and will leave residues in the water, so they have a considerable impact on the environment, affecting the ecosystem of algae and animals, so we strongly advise against them.
Those who use physical filters are composed in their formulation of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that pigments the skin to create their protective shield, are much more uncomfortable to spread and leave residue in the water again.
The only option we consider are mineral filter sunscreen: just as effective, with very complex formulations to stabilize with natural substances but totally environmentally friendly.
They're harder to find, but I've come here to help you.

Recommended sunscreen options

By their texture, you can find them in cream, gel or stick format.
In the case of the first two, the difference is that those that are gel, will spread more easily and absorb sooner, but those that come in cream, are usually more resistant and durable.
We recommend that you use creams and gels for the body and reserve the stick format for the skin of your face, as it is thinner, more sensitive.
Here are some brands that meet our requirements:

Zinka Nosecoat

It's possibly the one you'll find in any surfer's backpack. It's the coolest because its color  and packaging have been designed with us in mind. Specially formulated for the face and specifically for the nose.
It is one of the most powerful sunscreens on the market because it is resistant to the most extreme weather conditions, totally effective in windy, hot, cold and humid climates. Blocks 100% of UVA and UVB.

Mádara Cosmetics

They are very easy to apply, they have mineral filters and translucent protection.
They use zinc oxide instead of titanium dioxide because their particles block UVB and UVA rays. They also incorporate hyaluronic acid, raspberry seed oil, stem cells of a plant called Dragon Head that contains antioxidants and extracts of oak bark, green tea leaf and grape, with great moisturizing power.

Freshly Cosmetics
It is manufactured only with SPF 50 in two types: for face or body. Composed of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide of mineral origin, it is also moisturizing because it carries cranberry, almond oil and avocado, aloe vera, astaxanthin and vegan hyaluronic acid. It contains no nanoparticles and is biodegradable.

They contain only organic mineral filters and are free of nanoparticles. Offers broad-spectrum protection for UVA rays such as UVB with a pleasant texture that leaves no residue on the skin. The interesting thing about this brand is that it is designed for young skin prone to excess fat and therefore oily skin

are natural cosmetics, and despite having physical filters it does not contain nanoparticles, they assure that it is 100% free of toxic, the brand does not test its products on animals and is a vegan product suitable for use during pregnancy and lactation.

They have SPF 30 UVB/ UVA protection for face and body. 

Alma Secret
One of the new brands incorporating sunscreens, with a very light and soft texture.  They provide a light pink hue that prevents white residue on the skin and combine mineral physical filters in non-nanoparticle size and a biotechnological asset of natural origin extracted from stem cells of Arab cotton. 

They have two types of sunscreens, for face or body, which protect against UVA, UVB, blue light and IR (infrared) rays.

Amapola Bio
It contains 61% organic ingredients, based on zinc oxide as a mineral filter and enriched with antioxidants and buriti oil that moisturizes the skin. If there are young surfers in your house, this is the best option for the little ones.

Now you're ready to go back to your board and catch the next wave, while you also take good care of your skin.

I'll just tell you an anecdote that happened to me the last time I flew back in my last surfari: I was stopped at the airport to do an explosive trace detection test and it was positive. How come? My sunscreen contained zinc. Good thing the security guards themselves are aware of these things.