Surfing and Sunscreen go hand in hand in the Sunshine State of Florida. When the surfing is great all day long, staying out of the sun between 10 and 2 is impossible! What can you do to avoid baking to a blistered crisp, but still go surfing all day long? Sunscreen. Before you say, “That’s basic knowledge, surfers know to use sunscreen.”, we wanted to inform you that all sunscreens are not created equal. There are many ways to categorize sunscreens, and we want to talk about the category of Physical vs. Chemical blockers. Why? Because we want you to be the healthiest surfer you can be.
Physical Sunscreen blockers block the sun physically like a rash guard, hat, umbrella, or coconut tree would. They are formulated to sit on the surface of your skin and physically block by shading. Zinc oxide is the most common form, and the one EZride Surf Instructors use. Try to find a brand with the most zinc oxide, and other natural ingredients. Ingredients you can easily spell and pronounce.
Chemical Sunscreens, however, work by producing a chemical reaction. They absorb UV rays and chemically change them to heat. This seams EZ on the surface, but there are some alarming facts about chemical sunscreens that literally goes below the surface. Partly because chemical sunscreens have ingredients that are penetration enhancers, after applying the sunscreen, the chemicals are present in urine, blood, and breastmilk samples long after application. That means the chemicals are inside your body, not staying on the skins surface. If that has you thinking, “so what?”, know that some of the chemicals mimic hormones.
Oxybenzone is a common ingredient in sunscreens, and is a weak estrogen. The CDC states they detect oxybenzone in 96% of Americans. Thier information found that adolescent boys with higher oxybenzone levels had significantly lower testosterone levels (Scinicariello 2016). Other studies on pregnant women report significant changes associated between oxybenzone exposure during pregnancy and birth outcomes. That is enough to make a knowledgeable surfer consider their sunscreen choice.
Along with chemicals like Octinoxate, Homosalate, and Octocrylene, the preservatives in sunscreen can produce allergic reactions as well. Methylisothiazolinone is a common preservative and was rewarded “allergen of the year”. It is even found in products labeled safe for babies.
Why are some of these ingredients allowed to be in sunscreen? Apparently the FDA did not review hazards of sunscreen ingredients. They were grandfathered in in the 1970s.
So, when we discovered this information we decided to only use physical blocker sunscreens. We also want to give you a bit of the same information so you can make an educated decision for your surfing family.
When we started surfing, the sunscreen options were very limited. We even made our own! Now there are more informed consumers and more options to purchase. EZride Surf School recommends a physical blocking sunscreen that uses zinc oxide. The use of a rash guard is wonderful at covering a large portion of the body, so less sunscreen is needed. High quality sunscreen can be more expensive than your average store options, so a rashguard helps cut costs. Rashguard rental is included in every surf lesson package. A zinc face stick is also a nice option and helps protect because it stays on longer and doesn’t run into eyes as easily.
Dont be embarrassed by a white zinc oxide face. The other nano, clear, fragrant, lotions, and sprays may appear nice on the surface, but they dont stay on the surface of your skin. Use a rashguard, eat healthy, and educate yourself to make informed decisions. If you cant give up the look and feel of your chemical sunscreen, look for an option without Oxybenzone.
All these measures will help you surf longer and be able to go surf the next day. When the swell doesn’t stop, you dont have to either because of a bad burn. Do you have a favorite sunscreen? Share with us.
See you in the line up!