An SPF Primer: A Surfer’s Quick Guide to Sunscreen

PJ_LA_2 0343Surfers spend their lives in the sun, which exposes them to massive amounts of UV. Just like it’s important for everyone to use daily sun protection, it’s infinitely more so for us outdoorsy folks who live our lives in the sun’s warmth. In order to make sure you don’t get burned, read up the following issues involving the sun and sun protection.

Even if You Can’t See It, It Can Still Hurt You
Believe it or not, you can still get sunburned, even if you can’t see the sun. Cloudy days still pose a sunburn risk, since clouds don’t block the harmful UV rays that will sizzle your skin. And, since you aren’t sweltering, you are more likely to stay out longer, exposing you to more UV and making the issue worst. So, even if it is overcast or rainy, make sure you slather on that sunscreen.

More is More
While there is some controversy surrounding the efficacy of SPFs over about 15 or 30, whatever level you choose, make sure you put enough on. Doctors recommend at least a shot glass’ worth of this important protective goo to cover your whole body. And, don’t forget to put some in the oft-missed spots, like on the tops of your ears and on your eyelids.

You may think that once you put on your sunscreen (a half hour) before heading out into the elements that your job is done. Well, it isn’t. You can sweat, rub, and wash sunscreen off during water activities, so you need to reapply every two hours, after each session in the water, and after toweling off. So, do your due diligence and keep rubbing that stuff all over throughout the day.

If you don’t like covering yourself in (UVA and UVB) sunblock, you can always cover your skin. Keep in mind that many fabrics have a UV protection factor of less than 5, so you may still want to put some sunscreen on if you are going to be outside all day. Hats are also great for protecting your face, but out in the water they may not be as practical. Unless you want to wear a full suit with a hood, booties, and gloves (which may be appropriate in the winter…or if you live in the arctic), make sure you still hit your face, neck, hands, and feet with some SPF protection. Then again, you could always take up night surfing.

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