Looking for the best sunscreen for surfers? You’ve come to the right place. This summer my little boy went down to one of the surf board rental shops in town with his dad and went for his first lesson on Ericeira’s beaches. So, I scoured the internet looking for the best products possible, and learned that there are many other factors to consider when choosing the right one for you.
In a recent study, researchers found that surfers are 6 times more susceptible to developing skin cancer than the regular population. This is because they spend so much more time in the sun than the rest of us and directly suffer from the damaging effects of UV rays.
They probably don´t reapply often enough either! I know my little boy hates reapplying and has me running after him on the sand!
That’s why it’s so important for surfers to wear sunscreen when they hit the waves. Sunscreen not only helps protect your skin from sunburns and other sun-related issues, but it can also greatly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.
But with so many sunscreen options on the market, how do you know which sunblock is best for surfing? And what about skin type? What about the environment? So many places now ask that sunblock be reef safe… What does that mean?
In this guide, I’ll explain what I found out about how to choose the right sun protection and recommend the best sunscreen for surfers I found online.
In a rush?
In case you don’t have time to read it all, here are my top recommendations for the best sunscreen for surfers:
My personal favorite for my face– I loved how great Sunbum Original SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen smells and how clear the zink sunscreen is. It also didn’t feel oily – two thumbs up from me!
My husband’s favorite – Pedro really liked Sunbutter Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50 because it lasts an incredible 4 hours on his face! He also liked the tinted cream since he’s not a fan of the white cast left by others.
Best cheap sunscreen for surfers- Bondhi Sands SPF 50 Moisturizing Sunscreen, and Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen are both well priced around the 10 to 15 dollar range. This definitely makes my beach gear more affordable!
Most waterproof and best for kids– Waxhead Sunscreen Paste was my favorite for kids since it is so natural, and easy to apply and I like how I can see where I’ve applied it on my child. It also lasts really well in the surf and comes in a great tin.
Best lip protection – Just wow! We all need a little Jack Black, Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in our beach bag! My lips have never felt so good!
Sunbutter Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50– Best Tinted Cream
- Non-migrating formula so it stays on your skin until you wash it off
- Heavy duty SPF 50 skin defense keeps sunburn at bay for longer before needing to reapply
- Water resistant for 4 hours
- A nice golden tan tint keeps your face from looking ghost white and blends well into most lighter skin tones
- All Natural Active Ingredients mean your not spreading toxins on your skin
- Non nanoparticle zinc oxide, vegan and cruelty-free means it is 100% Reef-Safe so you don´t harm the environment or any animals when using this product
- It’s a little expensive but users swear by it, and say it’s definitely worth the money
- Due to the slight beige tint this sunblock is best for the face, but will slightly stain lighter rashguards around the neckline
🌊 Get your Sunbutter Tinted Sunscreen here!
50 SPF Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen– Best Priced
- Non-greasy, hypoallergenic formula means it’s perfect for sensitive skin
- Tinted light brown formula means no more white cast and great coverage
- Designed for avid water sport enthusiasts so it doesn’t melt on your face or wear off in the water
- 100% Reef-Safe, which means no chemical actives
- Gentle sunscreen that doesn’t burn eyes so it’s great for kids too
- Water resistant at least 80 minutes so you get at least an hour or two in the water before reapplying
- The tint does come off on rashguards, so it’s best used just on your face. It does come off after a few washes.
🌊 Get your Headhunter Heavy Duty Sunscreen here!
Waxhead Sunscreen Paste – Best for Kids
- 30 SPF means no sunburn
- Only 4 ingredients: 25% nonnano zinc oxide sunscreen, coconut oil, beeswax, vanilla extract so you know you have the most eco-friendly reef, safe sunscreen out there
- Perfect for kids, also FDA-approved for babies under 6 months
- Very small packaging at 2 oz, which means you can easily throw it in your purse or backpack
- It´s kind of a pasty white color, but some people like this look so they know where they have applied sunscreen.
🌊 Get your Waxhead Sunscreen here!
BLUE LIZARD Sunscreen Stick (Sensitive Mineral) – Best Stick
- Super practical stick format to make applying easy on face and tattoos
- 50 SPF Special formula for sensitive skin with no parabens, fragrances or dyes so your skin doesn’t react or break out
- Contains no oxybenzone or octinoxate to help protect delicate coral reefs
- Tiny size means it´s perfect for covering small bits like tattoos when you’re traveling
- If the white cast look isn´t for you you’ll need to rub it in quite a bit
- half an ounce really isn’t very much so does feel slightly expensive considering it’s as big as two chapsticks put together, but since it works really well, most people feel it’s worth the price for its practicality.
🌊 Get your Blue Lizard Sunscreen Stick here!
Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen– Best Clear Sunscreen with Zink Formula
- It smells amazing!
- This zink formula is clear which means no white ghost look
- SPF 50 formula is oil-free and water-resistant so it doesn’t clog your pores for over 80 minutes in the water
- Hypoallergenic with vitamin E, this formula keeps your skin moisturized and reaction free
- Cruelty-free and reef safe means this sunscreen really does protect animals in and out of the water
- It burns if you get it in your eyes, so not ideal for children but I loved it for myself!
- At 50 g the pot is rather small, but it does make it easy to tote
🌊 Get your Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Clear Sunscreen here!
Sun Zapper Zinc Oxide Sunscreen– Most Fun!
- Incredible 4 hours of waterproof SPF 50 zinc sunscreen for face protection so you don’t have to reapply
- Super fun white, pink and blue tint in travel stick form so you can throw it in your bag and go
- My son loved loved loved this! Painting faces with colors is a great way to encourage kids to wear sun protection
- Paraben-free zink oxide means this more natural product doesn’t irritate sensitive skin
- Only comes off with lots of soap and scrubbing which means it lasts really well in the water
- The colors stain clothes, but after laundering a few times, does come out fairly well
- The sticks will melt in the heat, so keep them in your bag
🌊 Get your Sun Zapper Zinc Sunscreen for face here!
Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen Oil-Free– Best for Acne Prone Skin
- One of the best-priced sun blockers
- SPF 50+ clear formula resists wearing off from water, rubbing, sweating or wiping for up to 80 minutes
- Dermatologist-recommended sunscreen means it’s lightweight, oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t cause breakouts or clog pores
- Oxybenzone free means it is more environmentally friendly and won’t irritate your sensitive skin
- Stings like crazy if you get it in your eyes so just be careful when applying- not for kids!
🌊 Get your Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen here!
- Reef Safe, Bait Safe, Boat Safe means it won’t damage the environment or stain equipment like some other sunblocks
- Fragrance-free made for anyone bothered by strong scents
- Water resistant up to 80 minutes means strong SPF 50 protection even in the water
- Mineral Sunscreen with an Ultralight finish means no pasty white look or heavy chemicals
- Well priced so it doesn’t break the bank
- Packaging is small, but each order includes 2 bottles of 3 oz
🌊 Get your Hook Ya Mineral Sunscreen here!
- SPF 30 water resistant up to 80 minutes
- Non-nano zinc oxide formula offers full protection and is reef-safe, cruelty-free, non-GMO and biodegradable to keep the ocean clean
- Gentle, moisturizing formula packed with nourishing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so your skin stays supple
- Comes in a reusable, recyclable, plastic-free tin
- Is solid, more of a paste, and doesn’t melt in the heat so great for traveling since doesn’t count as a liquid
- Since it is thicker, it definitely needs some rubbing in to be absorbed by the skin. It’s also suggested that the cream be warmed up before applying to help spread more easily
- Not the best on darker skin since it does leave a slight white cast, but also comes in a tinted version
🌊 Get your Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen here!
- Really great price!
- SPF 50 which is very water resistant up to 80 minutes so it’s perfect for extensive use in the ocean
- Formulated with Aloe Vera and Vitamin E so it’s extra hydrating and has a slight sheen to it
- Paraben, fragrance, and Sulfate Free so it’s suitable for sensitive skin
- Gentle, fast-absorbing, and dries to an invisible, non-greasy finish so you don’t have a heavy feel on your face
- No oxybenzone or octinoxate which makes it reef friendly
- Some people find the formula slightly too heavy for their face, but find it extremely moisturizing – it’s ideal for people with dry skin, but not mixed or oily skin.
🌊 Get your Bondi Sands Hydrating Sunscreen here!
Babo Botanicals Sheer Zinc Sunscreen– Best Spray On
- Spray makes it super easy to use on hard-to-reach areas like your back
- Goes on dry, not sticky, and has a mat finish so you don’t look shiny
- 80-minute water and sweat-resistant so you can use it underwater without burning
- Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free so it doesn’t irritate sensitive skin
- 100% non-nano zinc formula without active chemical components means it is reef safe
- It leaves a significant white cast, but can be rubbed in with a bit of persistence
🌊 Get your Babo Botanicals Sunscreen here!
Jack Black, Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25– Most Moisturizing
- Enriched with superior skin conditioners and antioxidants so it soothes and relieves dry, chapped, irritated lips – truly one of the most moisturizing lip products out there!
- Offers broad-spectrum sun protection with an SPF of 25 to protect against UV rays, windburn and temperature extremes
- Lightly flavored with black tea and green tea extract so your lip balm doesn’t taste artificial or too sweet
- This product comes in slightly earthy flavors, instead of sweet, which isn’t for everyone, but the variety of flavors makes up for this
- A little expensive at 8$ a tube
🌊 Get your Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm here!
Sun Bum SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm– Best Tasting
- Delicious coconut, banana and watermelon flavors which hide that yuck sunscreen taste
- Aloe and Vitamin E help protect and moisturize your lips
- It has a low melting point so keep them out of the sun
- Not as moisturizing as could be if you’ve got really dry chapped lips
- Flavors are quite sweet, so depending on preference these may not be for everyone
🌊 Get your Sun Bum SPF 30 Sunscreen Lip Balm here!
How to choose the Best Sunscreen for Surfers.
Surfing sunscreen, clear sunscreen and zinc sunscreen for face are truly some of the most useful surfing gifts. Read on for more on how to choose the best one.
Does it offer adequate sun protection?
This obviously the most important characteristic and the reason why we buy it! Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that states it provides broad-spectrum coverage, meaning protection from UVA and UVB rays.
These numbers are usually clearly listed on the product label. Waterproof or water-resistant options are the best for surfers and we like sweatproof options too since that means it won’t run and doesn’t burn eyes.
Does it stay on throughout the session?
When you choose a surfing sunscreen that is waterproof or water-resistant and sweatproof, it should stay on throughout your surfing session. Make sure to read the label for information about how long the product stays effective while swimming or sweating.
I’ve found that reading the product reviews will give you a better idea of how long it really does stay on, and how difficult it is to get off afterward, so keep that in mind. With most surfingsunscreens you’re good to go for at least 80 minutes, or a little over an hour. However, some exceptional brands will stay on for as long as 4 hours!
Do you want to see the sunscreen on your face?
It depends on personal preference. Some people may prefer to see the sunscreen on their face as an indication that it is applied and providing protection, while others may not want to feel or see it. If you would like to be able to see the sunscreen, look for a product that states “non-greasy” or “non-oily” on the label.
These types of sunscreens won’t leave your skin looking glossy and will be much less noticeable than oilier options. Nowadays you can buy clear zinc sunscreen, so keep this in mind if you don’t care for the white-cast look!
Is it reef safe?
Watch out! Some sunscreens are labeled as reef safe but still contain reef-bleaching ingredients. It’s best to choose one which is made with natural ingredients such as Non-nano zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, both which provide a physical as opposed to chemical barrier to harmful rays.
Chemicals like oxybenzone, octinoxate and 4-methyl benzylidene camphor, which can be found in traditional sunscreens, have been linked to coral bleaching so be sure to check the ingredient list before purchasing. Also, make sure it’s biodegradable and that the container can be recycled so it won’t contribute to ocean pollution!
Best Sunscreen for Surfers FAQ
Do surfers use sunscreen?
Yes, it is important for surfers to use sunscreen when spending time in the sun. You’ll often see them using thick white lines on their face. Sunscreen helps protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) exposure which can cause sunburns, accelerated aging and an increased risk of skin cancer.
Surfers should look for a waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 that has both UVA and UVB protection. Additionally, surfers may want to use other protective measures like clothing and sunglasses to help further reduce their exposure to the sun’s rays.
What is the best waterproof sunscreen for surfers?
The best waterproof sunscreen for surfers should have an SPF of at least 30 and provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Zink-based products are usually the safest for the environment and the most waterproof for the best all-around protection.
I recommend Sunbutter Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50, which is tinted so won’t leave a white cast, and lasts for a whopping 4 hours on your face.
Why do surfers put zinc on?
Surfers put zinc on to help protect their skin from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. Zinc oxide is a mineral found in sunscreen that acts as a physical barrier, blocking and reflecting UV rays away from the skin.
It has been used for centuries to protect against sunburn and other long-term skin damage caused by the sun’s harsh rays. Additionally, zinc oxide won’t wash off in water like chemical sunscreen ingredients so it can provide longer-lasting protection while you surf or swim.
What is the best sunscreen for surfing with zinc?
The best sunscreen for surfing with zinc is one with a minimum SPF of 30 and that contains at least 20% zinc oxide. It should also be water-resistant, sweat-resistant, and contain natural ingredients to provide extra protection from UV rays.
You can now buy zinc sunscreen in a tinted version which prevents the white cast so many people dislike it for. Sunbutter Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50 is a great option which also lasts an incredible 4 hours in the surf!
Is there a difference between sports and regular sunscreen?
Yes! Sports sunscreens are typically designed to provide long-lasting protection, even during strenuous activities like swimming or surfing. They also usually contain extra ingredients to help protect against other elements such as sweat, water and wind.
Regular sunscreens may not offer the same level of protection, be designed specifically for sports activities, or be as environmentally friendly.
How expensive is sunscreen for surfers?
The cost of sunscreen for surfers can vary greatly depending on the brand, type and SPF level. Generally speaking, zinc-based sport sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher will cost more than regular sunscreen but it is necessary to ensure long-lasting protection while surfing.
You may be able to find good deals on sport sunscreen so it is worth your time to shop around! You can generally buy great water-resistant sunscreen for between 10 and 20$ for about 3 to 5 oz of product.
How can I protect my lips while surfing?
There are several products to help protect your lips while surfing. First, you should use a lip balm with at least SPF 15 or higher and preferably one that contains zinc oxide like Z Block Lip Balm to help shield your lips from the sun’s harsh UV rays.
There are also specially-formulated surfers’ lip balms, like that is designed to provide long-lasting hydration and protection while in the water.
The Best Sunscreen for Surfers: The Wrap-Up
There are soooooo many options out there! I hope our adventure in the sun has helped you find the best sunscreen for surfers to throw in your bag. I know that after trying all of the above we’ve got sunscreen coming out of our ears and hopefully won’t burn for years to come!