Believe me as a ranga with pale skin, not really made for the Australian climate and countless sunburns later I know what I’m talking about. Now, I don’t want to spoil your surfing fun by telling you how bad the sun is for you (skin cancer, wrinkles – only to name a few) and rather tell you which sunscreen I found works best for the common gidget.
Banana Boat Sports 30 spf +
That’s my almost favourite, available in most pharmacies and even at petrol stations in case you discover on your roadie that you forgot that miscellaneous item for every surftrip. It’s pretty thick pasty sunscreen, which lasts for hours. Banana Boat Cream does not rub off easily either. So no sunscreen in your eyes. You’ll appreciate if you ever had the unpleasant feeling of super chemical sunscreen in your eyes. It’s pretty painful, makes you half blind and teary. Not recommended in the surf. Seriously distracts you from the wave catching business. Anyway, Banana Boat is a safe bet.
Cancer Council Sports SPF 30 +
Mmh as much as I would love to say it’s the very best so everyone buys Cancer Council sunscreen and supports the Cancer Council, I’m not convinced. It’s simply not as thick as Banana Boat and Ripcurl, on the plus side you don’t look like a ghost after putting it on. But it tends to come off easier and as mentioned above it’s not fun if you get it into your eyes. Look, it’s definitely better than no sunscreen at all but it’s not great for your extended surf session in the middle of summer.
Ripcurl SPF 30 +
That’s my favourite out of all. Smother it all over and you’ll be sunburn free. It’s a bit harder to rub in than the others and might leave a bit of a ghostly white film on you. That’s because there is some Zinc in built in the cream. The other slight disadvantage, you go through heaps of tubs of that cream in a short period because it’s fairly thick and you don’t get it in normal pharmacy’s but surfshops only. Funny enough I discovered it in Indo when I ran out of my other sunscreen. They had it at the Ripcurl store and it’s been my fav ever since. Especially as a ranga in Indo, this is the ONLY sunscreen that prevents me from getting roasted.
Nivea Sun SPF 30+
Forget it. You may as well put your normal day-to-day moisturizer with SPF on. Yes, it smells really nice, yes it’s easy to rub in but it’s useless. Sunburn guaranteed and I find it’s not really waterproof. Not waterproof is bad because it comes off and if you are unlucky it comes off and runs into your eyes. So not only will you get burnt but half blind. Nothing worse than sunscreen in your eyes than on your face.
To be fair it still might work if you are one of the beach babes working your tan on the beach but a no go if you are heading out for a surf.
If you are a newbie, you probably wonder why some guys wear make-up in the surf. It’s probably Zinc and it’s not only a chemical but also physical barrier. Let’s no sun through at all. I don’t like it though. Not sure if I’m allergic to it but you can feel it in your face and I tend to start rubbing it off anyway because my nose is itchy and it’s driving me insane. Some people swear by it and if I have to go out during lunchtime because the surf is just sooooo amazing and I can’t wait I’ll put some on my face and even on the back of my knees.
Some smart arse but nevertheless smart advice when it comes to sun protection:
- Best protection is still clothing. I would not recommend to ever ever surf during lunchtime in summer in just your bikini I know I know it looks so much better and it’s actually quite nice to surf only in your bikini but it’s not worth the bad sunburn. Get a rashy, shirt and shorts that cover your bum (sorry guys). Limit the bikini only surf to dusk and dawn.
- Some drastic measures for the super pale amongst us. Simply try to stay out of the sun and not surf during the hottest hours of the day, no matter how much sunscreen I put on, I still get burned. You maybe blessed with darker skin but that does not mean your are not affected by the sun (dark skin does not stop your skin from getting wrinkly because of too much sun.)
- Another sunsmart cookie tip: It says it on the back of every sunscreen. Put it on 30 min before you get into the sun. It’s there for a reason and it’s true. I always put on sunscreen before I get into the car (yes, car on the way to surf, I know there is no sun in the car) and then smother another layer all over 5 min before I had into the surf.
- And final smartarse advice: Wear sunscreen all year round –it’s not just summer you should be wearing sunprotection. Even in the middle of winter, the sun is strong, which explains my year round white turtle neck imprint from wearing a wetsuit.