Imagine yourself out on the open water, riding the waves on your surfboard, feeling the adrenaline rush through your veins. The sun is shining brightly overhead, providing the perfect backdrop for an incredible day of surfing. However, as much as you love the sun, it can also pose a threat to your skin. Sunburns are a common occurrence for surfers, but fear not! In this article, we will explore some practical tips and tricks to help you safeguard against those pesky sunburns while enjoying your favorite water sport. So grab your sunscreen and let’s dive into the world of sun protection for surfers!
When it comes to protecting your skin from harmful UV rays, wearing sunscreen is essential. But not all sunscreens are created equal. To ensure the best protection, you should choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This means that the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays, which are the two types of ultraviolet radiation that can damage the skin. Look for a sunscreen with a minimum SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 30. The higher the SPF, the more protection it provides against the sun’s harmful rays.
In addition to choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen, it’s also important to reapply it frequently. Sunscreen wears off over time, especially when exposed to water or sweat. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, or even more often if you’re sweating heavily or spending a lot of time in the water.
Sensitive areas of the body, such as the face, ears, and back of the neck, are particularly vulnerable to sunburn. Be sure to pay extra attention to these areas and apply sunscreen liberally. Don’t forget about your lips either – use a lip balm with SPF to protect them from sunburn.
Lastly, consider using waterproof sunscreen, especially if you’ll be spending a lot of time in the water. Regular sunscreen can easily wash off, but waterproof formulas provide more durable protection. Just remember to still reapply it regularly, as even waterproof sunscreen can wear off over time.
Use Protective Clothing
In addition to sunscreen, protective clothing can also provide an extra layer of defense against the sun’s harmful rays. Consider wearing a rash guard or wetsuit while surfing. These garments are made from materials that offer a high level of UV protection and can prevent sunburn on areas of the body that are covered by the clothing.
Covering your head is another important aspect of sun protection. Wearing a hat with a wide brim can provide shade to your face and neck, reducing the risk of sunburn on these sensitive areas. The hat should fit securely to avoid being blown off by the wind, and choose a hat made from breathable fabric to prevent overheating.
Don’t forget to protect your eyes as well. UV rays can damage your eyes and increase the risk of conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun. Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays to ensure proper eye protection.
While it may be tempting to spend all day on the beach, exposing yourself to the sun’s rays for extended periods increases the risk of sunburn. Taking breaks in shaded areas is a great way to give your skin a break from direct sunlight. Seek out natural sources of shade, such as trees, cliffs, or buildings, to reduce your sun exposure.
If natural shade is limited, consider using a beach umbrella or tent. These portable shelters can provide a refuge from the sun’s rays and allow you to rest and relax in a shaded area. Make sure to position the umbrella or tent to block direct sunlight and create a cool and comfortable spot for yourself.
Surf During Off-Peak Hours
To further reduce your exposure to the sun, try to avoid surfing during the sun’s peak intensity, which is typically between 10 am and 4 pm. Instead, take advantage of early morning or late afternoon sessions, when the sun is not as strong. Not only will this help minimize the risk of sunburn, but it can also provide a more enjoyable surfing experience, as the beach is often less crowded during off-peak hours.
Sun exposure can lead to dehydration, so it’s important to drink plenty of water while surfing. The combination of physical activity, exposure to the sun, and salty seawater can quickly deplete your body of fluids. Drink water before, during, and after your surf sessions to maintain proper hydration levels.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can increase the risk of dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it increases urine production and can lead to fluid loss. Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, also has diuretic effects. Instead, opt for water or electrolyte-rich beverages to replenish your body’s fluids and avoid dehydration.
Wear a Hat and Sunglasses
We’ve already mentioned the importance of wearing a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face and neck from the sun’s rays. But it’s equally important to choose sunglasses with UV protection. The skin around your eyes is delicate and can easily get sunburned, so wearing sunglasses helps shield this area from UV damage. Look for sunglasses that offer 100% UVA and UVB protection to ensure maximum eye protection.
Take Advantage of Natural Shade
While seeking out shade is important, sometimes finding a suitable spot can be challenging. In such cases, position yourself near cliffs, trees, or buildings to take advantage of natural shade. These structures can provide a barrier between you and the sun, reducing your overall sun exposure.
Protect Your Lips
Don’t forget about your lips when it comes to sun protection. Lips are often overlooked but are just as vulnerable to sunburn as the rest of your skin. Apply a lip balm with SPF to keep your lips moisturized and protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Reapply the lip balm throughout the day, especially after eating, drinking, or wiping your mouth.
Be Mindful of Reflection
Water, sand, and snow can intensify UV radiation, leading to increased sunburn risk. When you’re surfing, keep in mind that the reflection of the sun’s rays from the water can easily reach your skin and cause sunburn. This is especially true when the water is calm and acts as a mirror. Remember to take extra precautions in these environments, such as wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and sunglasses, and seeking shade whenever possible.
Check the UV Index
Lastly, make it a habit to regularly check the UV Index before heading out for a surf session. The UV Index is a measurement of the intensity of the sun’s UV radiation and provides guidance on the level of sun protection needed. Be aware of the sun’s intensity levels and adjust your activities and sun protection accordingly. If the UV Index is high, take extra precautions and limit your sun exposure as much as possible to avoid sunburn.