Surfing offers us an unmatched rush as we harness the ocean's power, but it also brings a very real threat to the health of our skin. The sun above us is an indiscriminate force, with UV rays that pose a universal challenge to all skin shades.

This isn't just another sunscreen sermon; this is an inclusive guide for all skin types, navigating the science of UV damage, the reality of skin cancer and aging, and the essential strategies for protecting your skin.

The Burning Reality: Sun Damage Statistics

Up to 90% of visible signs of aging are due to sun exposure.

UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, are responsible for much of the wrinkling, leathery texture, and pigmentation we associate with “weathered” skin. This isn't just an aesthetic concern; it's a marker of the cumulative damage caused by the sun.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer globally, with approximately one in every five Americans developing it by the age of 70.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour. For us surfers, who typically spend extended periods of time in the sun, these statistics are particularly sobering.

UVA and UVB rays do not discriminate by skin color.

While deeper skin tones may stave off wrinkles a bit longer due to higher melanin content, they are not immune to the photoaging effects of the sun, which can lead to hyperpigmentation and uneven skin texture. People of color can and do get skin cancer, and it is often detected in later stages when it’s more difficult to treat.

Regardless of your skin tone, applying sunscreen should be as much a part of the surf routine as waxing the board.

Skin Protection: Beyond the Basics

Our passion for this topic runs deep, as it's closely intertwined with the very inception of our brand.

On a surf trip to Hawaii, under the relentless sun, the concept of sun protection transformed from an idea to a necessity for us when one of our founders had to cut their surfing short due to the risk of serious sunburn, it highlighted the critical need for effective sun protection.

Through our extensive and ongoing research, we've gained a wealth of knowledge on sun protection.

Here’s our guide to realistic solutions for sun protection tailored to the unique demands of our surfing lifestyle, featuring a few of our favorite products that we trust and recommend.

Cover Up:

Surf attire with UPF protection is crucial. Look for UPF 50+ garments that cover as much skin as possible. Wetsuits, rashguards and leggings are a great way to minimize the amount of skin you expose.

Apply Mineral Sunscreen: 

Use a reef safe zinc oxide-based sunscreen for its broad-spectrum, physical protection. Remember to apply it generously on all exposed areas, including easily forgotten spots like your ears.
One of our current top picks is Eir NYC's Surf Mud Pro stick. Its thick, sticky consistency ensures it stays put for your entire session, even if you're prone to rubbing your eyes. Not only is it reef-safe and crafted from all-natural ingredients, it also smells like chocolate. Plus, their commitment to sustainability is evident in their packaging. Though its pale creamy color might leave you looking a bit like a mime – a small trade-off for dependable sun protection.
Surfmud Natural Zinc Tinted Covering Cream is the weapon of choice for darker skin tones. This reef-safe, natural sunscreen is free from harmful ingredients and offers superior sun protection packaged in a compact, travel-friendly tin.

Wear A Hat: 

Protecting your scalp is vital as it's a common site for skin cancer, especially among surfers. Wearing a hat not only serves as a crucial preventive measure but also offers shade for your face and eyes, helping to reduce signs of aging like wrinkles and sunspots.
Enter our Shadeseeker Hat – Designed to stay put even in the most challenging waves, it shields your head and neck from the sun, sparing you the hassle of a lost hat rescue mission.

Apply Lip Balm with SPF: 

Lips are vulnerable to UV damage too. A lip balm with SPF can prevent burns and skin cancer on the lip area.
Sun Bum’s fragrance free Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm It's fragrance-free and features 8% zinc oxide, enriched with hydrating Shea Butter and Vitamin E.

Protect Your Eyes:  

Shielding your eyes from UV rays is challenging. While surf-specific glasses exist, their practicality in the water is still questionable, as we haven't tested them ourselves. Opting for a peaked hat is a simpler, yet effective alternative, helping to reduce glare and provide some shade.

Post-Surf Skincare: 

After a session, wash off the saltwater, which can dry out and damage the skin.
Oils of Aloha Pure Kukui Oil can be a usefull to remove any excess zinc left on your face and provides soothing natural relief for dry skin.
Apply a moisturiser with antioxidants such as vitamin E to help repair and soothe the skin. Don't forget to apply more sunscreen if you're hanging out in the sun after surfing!

Regular Dermatological Check-Ups:

Dermatologists can spot early signs of skin damage and take action to prevent progression to cancer. They can also provide personalized advice for your skin type and surfing habits.

We know sun protection talk isn't as exciting as a perfect wave, but it's critical. Let's redefine the surfer's silhouette to include the armor of sun protection.