best sunscreen for surfing

The 6 Best Sunscreen for Surfing in 2024 – Buyers Guide

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Surfers are highly exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, water reflections, and sand, which are significant factors behind skin damages, including skin cancers. Sunscreen products provide surfers with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) as well as protection from UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreen is composed of compounds and elements that ensure sunblock by absorbing UV light.

There are a lot of sunscreen products and brands in the market today. It can be overwhelmingly challenging to know which sunblock product best suits you. In this article, you will find an outline of some of the best sunscreen for surfing, factors to consider when picking the best sunblock for surfing, and everything you need to know about sunscreens

best suncreen for surfing


How to Choose the Best Sunscreen

Before you buy any sunblock product, there are several factors that you must take into consideration. Such factors include;

Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF)

The SPF factor is the level of protection that a sunscreen product is likely to offer you against the effects of direct sunlight. For example, applying a sunblock with a 30SPF implies that the product will protect your skin 30 times the level of protection you would have with bare skin. A 30SPF sunblock will block over 96.7% of the UVB rays. You should consider buying a sunscreen with SPF factor ranging from 15 to 50. The level of protection offered by SPF is influenced by factors such as how well the sunblock is applied, abrasion from towel or clothes, and swimming.

UVA and UVB protection

Most sunscreens will indicate the level of protection you will get from UVB and UVA rays using five stars. A sunscreen with four to five stars is safer for your surf. The sun radiates UV light in three wave lengths, including UVC, UVB, and UVA. Among these, only UVA and UVB rays are penetrable through the earth’s atmosphere. While the SPF blocks the UV radiation, it is vital to protect yourself from UV rays.

Water Resistance

An average sunscreen will wear off quickly when exposed to water. However, a good sunblock is one that is surf-specific and water resistant. Although there are no sunscreens that are 100% waterproof, surf-specific sunscreens are not easily washed away by water. This means that they will offer you protection for a relatively good span. Ensure that the surfing sunscreen you pick is surf-specific.


Good sunscreens are made using either natural ingredients or chemical compounds. Chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone and octocrylene work by absorbing UV radiations. Natural ingredients, on the other hand, will comprise of minerals such as Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide, which function by deflecting the UV radiations. A good sunblock will have a combination of both the non-nano natural ingredients and chemical ingredients.

Other Factors

Other factors to consider while purchasing sunscreens include Vitamin D Factor, price, and the method of application. Sunscreens can either be applied as a cream or as a spray.

Good sunscreens should have a balance of deflecting the UV radiations and absorption of the Vitamin D into the body, which is a nutritional requirement for the body. Without Vitamin D, children are likely to have soft and weak bones, which results in rickets. Excessive sun radiations, on the other hand, can lead to skin cancer. A balance of the two is necessary.

The Best Way to Use Surfing Sunscreens

For sunscreens made from minerals such as zinc oxide, you can apply at the onset of surfing. This is because protection begins right away for natural ingredients. On the other hand, you will need to apply sunscreen 15 to 20 minutes before surfing, when the sunblock you have is made of chemical ingredients. Regardless of the type of sunblock you apply, you must make sure that you have applied it evenly across all the exposed parts of your body. Applying the cream or spray in a rush will have you miss some parts. Therefore, you need to take your time to apply the best surf sunscreen, for best results.

Take Caution

It can be perilous to go surfing when using topicals such as benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics. These substances are highly photosensitive, which can increase your chances of getting skin cancer. Regardless of your skin color, you might want to have a good amount of surfing sunscreen applied on your face and other exposed parts of your body. Do not take chances.

The Best Sunscreen for Surfers

Here is a guide on some of the best surfing sunscreens

Headhunter Adult Lifestyle Sunscreen

This is a top-rated sunblock product for watersports and surfing in product reviews of major stores such as Amazon. It is perfect for application on the face and the rest of the body. This Headhunter lotion has an SPF of 50, with both UVB and UVA blockers. This makes it a perfect choice for face and skin protection. It is free from Para-Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA), which causes skin irritation and unsafe when it goes into the mouth. The non-migrating formula applied in the making of this sunblock ensures that it does not migrate from the surfer’s face to the eyes when applied. Personally, I find this sunscreen to be my ultimate surfing sunblock product because of its hypoallergenic properties. It is unlikely to cause any form of allergic reactions.

• Does not sting the surfer’s eyes.
• It is highly water-resistant.
• It is non-greasy and easy to spread.
• It is fragrance-free.
• Lasts for a long time in the event of sweating and exposure to water.

• Contains zinc oxide, leaving a white residue on the skin.
• Dries up after a short while from the time of application.
• Difficult to remove.

Vertra Kona Gold Face Stick

The Vertra sunblock comes in form of thick sticks suitable for water sports and surfing enthusiasts. It has an SPF of 38, with broad-spectrum protection from the UVA and UVB radiations. The surfer’s skin is guaranteed protection to over 80 minutes of exposure to sunlight while surfing. Its unique tint signature makes it an ideal sunblock for all skin tones. Vertra Kona has been tested on world-class athletes and endorsed by the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association. The tests report concludes that the Vertra Kona Gold Face Stick is highly waterproof and ideal for phototoxic surfers.

• It is non-greasy and easy to apply.
• Highly water-resistant.
• Has UVA and UVB blockers.
• Ideal for application on the face

• Does not last for a long time.
• Not easy to apply in other areas of the body such as around the neck. You will need a brush to apply.
• Reapplication is necessary for effectiveness.

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen

Since its creation in 2010, Thinksport Sunscreen has been top-rated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). It is free from most harmful ingredients such as oxybenzone, PABA, and UV absorbers. Thinksport has an SPF of 50, providing users with a high level of protection from UV radiations. It has a record of being among the top sunscreens to be qualified by the Whole Foods Premium Care. This is an ideal surfer’s sunscreen because it provides them with a water resistance of over 80 minutes of water activity. No need to worry about your exposure to water while surfing. Thinksport contains zinc-oxide formulations, which deflect the UV radiations without leaving a sticky feel on your skin.

• Highly water resistant.
• Fewer chemicals and free from fragrances.
• It is not allergic and does not sting the eyes.
• It is reef-safe with an EWG rating.
• Ideal surfer’s sunscreen for adults and children.

• Requires reapplication for a long span surf.
• Can be difficult to spread when applying.
• Can cause some chemical-burn sensation on some skins.

Kokua Sun Care Natural Zinc Sunscreen

Kokua Natural Zinc has a top rating of ‘1’ in by the EWG. It does not contain harmful substances such as phenoxyethanol and phthalates. It has an SPF of 50, providing a broad spectrum of protection from UVA and UVB radiations. Kokua Sun Care has a high concentration of zinc oxide compared to other surfing sunscreens. This concentration rates at 25%. It is made of antioxidant ingredients which protect the body from toxins. Such ingredients include Spirulina, Plumeria extract, Noni Honey, and Macadamia nut oil. Kokua Sun Care can be used by individuals struggling with eczema, the hypoallergic, or psoriasis. Kokua Sun Care meets one of the world’s strictest standards by being Palau Reef Safe.

• Highly water-resistant.
• Non-greasy and non-sticky.
• It is eco-friendly.
• Ideal for use by both adults and children.
• Ideal for use on the face and the body.
• Lasts for a long time.
• Very easy to apply.
• Smooth and gentle for the skin.

• Can give chemical-burns on some skins.
• Reapplication is necessary.

Goddess Garden Mineral Sunscreen Lotion

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Goddess Mineral sunscreen is made with organic ingredients to protect the skin from UV radiations. These minerals include non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Goddess Mineral is free from harmful chemicals such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, and octocrylene. It has a Leaping Bunny certification for its reef safety and cruelty-free properties. Goddess Mineral has an SPF of 50, providing surfers with protection from UV radiations. This is also an ideal surfer’s sunscreen because it allows for water resistance of up to 80 minutes of water activity. The lotion will help you enjoy your surf and swimming without worrying about your skin.

• Contains organic lavender oil, making it easy to apply.
• It is highly water-resistant.
• It is lightly scented.
• It is reef safe and ideal for sensitive skin.
• Rubs in easily.
• It is an ideal sunscreen for surfers who want to spend more time on their surfboard as it lasts for a relatively long time.

• Difficult to clean after it dries up.
• Causes stains if it comes in contact with bright wears.
• Can cause some skin irritation on some individuals.

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Sunscreen

Neutrogena has an SPF of 50, which protects the skin from ageing as well as from the effects of direct UV radiations. It provides two times better protection from sun rays compared to other mineral surfer’s sunscreens. It is formulated using 100% zinc oxide. Neutrogena is also made using a Dry-Touch which ensures that the sunscreen dries while retaining a greasy feel. It is also hypoallergenic. Users will not have to worry about skin irritation and allergic reactions. Neutrogena contains antioxidant components which protect the skin from toxic substances. This is also one of my favourite sunblock because it is non-comedogenic. This means that it does not clog skin pores after use. World leading dermatologists recommend Neutrogena.

• It is highly water-resistant.
• It is fragrance-free.
• It is gentle on the skin and does not sting the eyes.
• Does not leave an oily residue on the skin after application.
• Can be applied invisibly under makeup. Effective when applied with a moisturizer.

• Not suitable for individuals with sensitive skins.
• Too greasy and thick for makeup.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do Surfers Wear Sunscreen?

Yes. Surfers do wear sunscreens. When surfing, especially in extremely hot conditions, you will require a complete surf gear. A good surfboard and the best sunblock are some of the most vital items surfer’s should carry. Sunscreens surfers have low chances of getting affected by the sun’s harmful rays. The best sunscreen for surfers will protect your skin all through your surfing session.

What Sunscreen has the Most Zinc Oxide?

Zinc oxide provides one of the gentlest feels as well as the most effective broad-spectrum sunscreen properties. Kokua Sun Care Natural Zinc Sunscreen has the highest percentage of non-nano zinc oxide in the market. This percentage goes up to 25%. All the best sunscreens have Zinc oxide in high concentration.

Which is the Best Sunscreen for Watersports?

Headhunter sunscreen is the best sunblock for watersports. Its non-migration formula enables participants of watersports to undertake water activities without worrying about the migration of the sunblock.

Which Sunscreen is Best for Swimming?

Kokua Sun Care is the best sunscreen for swimming. This sunblock has holistic properties that accommodate individuals with different skin conditions.


Ultra Violet rays can cause severe damages to the surfer’s skin. Best sunscreens are available for use by surfers to protect their skins from exposure to UV radiations. There are numerous types of sunscreens, such as Headhunter, Vertra, Goddess Mineral, Neutrogena, Kokua Sun Care, and Thinksport sunscreens. To know the best sunblock for surfing, you should consider such factors as the SPF factor, the Vitamin D factor, water resistance, and the ingredients used. Most importantly, sunscreens surfers should know the state of their skin by having it tested by a licensed dermatologist. This way, you will know which sunscreen for surfers is best suited for your skin.