While you’re out on the water enjoying yourself, you don’t want to be worrying about if you’re getting too much sun or if you’re going to end up with a wicked sunburn on your face. And you definitely don’t want to end up cutting your paddling time short just because you’re not protecting yourself from the sun’s rays.
Always wear a good sunblock before hitting the water with your SUP. Even if it is not a particularly sunny day, you should still apply sunscreen because the sun’s UV rays can still reach your skin. And long term sun exposure can lead to skin cancers and all sorts of other unpleasant experiences – including early wrinkling of your skin!
Why You Need To Apply Sunblock For Water Sports
Even if you’re new to the sport of SUP, there is a good chance that you went to the beach or to a pool when you were growing up. And if you recall, you always got a worse sunburn when you were in the water, right? That’s cause the sun’s rays can do some wicked damage to your skin when they reflect off the water and onto your face and other exposed skin areas.
But if you apply a good sunscreen or sunblock when you’re out enjoying your water sports, then it works to prevent some of the harmful ultraviolet radiation from sinking into your skin and causing some potential damage.
The most immediate danger of not wearing sunscreen or sunblock is that you can get a sunburn on the exposed skin. However, repeated sun damage like this cannot be reversed and leads to dry, wrinkled, discolored, and leathery skin. And the most serious damage is skin cancer.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that should use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, with higher SPF ratings offering better protection. However, we advise that you look for something closer to SPF 80 if you spend a lot of time out on the water.
It takes as little as 15 minutes for irreversible damage to be one to your skin from the sun’s rays.
Sunblock vs Sunscreen – What’s The Difference?
Though these two things are often used interchangeably, they are actually not the same thing. Sunblock is often a bit thicker material than sunscreen, and it often contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. The ingredients of sunblock literally block the sun’s rays from hitting your skin. However sunscreen has ingredients in it that actually absorb the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
If you have sensitive skin, then you’ll be better off with sunblock because a lot of people experience skin irritation from sunscreen use. If you absolutely have to use sunscreen, then try to find one designed for people with sensitive skin for the best results.
What To Look For
There are a few different things that you should look for when shopping for a bottle of sunblock or sunscreen. One of the most important is that it is waterproof or water resistant. Since you’ll likely be getting wet, or at least a bit sweaty, you need to ensure that you’re using something that won’t come off your skin when it gets wet.
How long does it last? The bottle will tell you how long the protection should last once you apply it to your skin. While we suggest that you regularly re-apply it for the best protection, you should still look for something that is long-lasting.
What is the SPF rating? We suggest that you get the highest SPF protection rating that you can find, but at a minimum look for SPF 80. If you can’t find anything that high, keep in mind that medical professionals suggest a minimum of SPF 30. The higher the SPF rating, the safer your skin will be from sun damage.
Things To Remember
Now that you know what to get to protect your skin, there are some best practices that you should be aware of before you hit the water in your skin protectant.
- Re-apply it every two hours. Even if the bottle says that it is good for a longer period, you should re-apply every couple of hours if you’re getting wet. Why? Because contact with the water breaks down some of its protection.
- Apply it to every bit of exposed skin. This includes feet tops, hands and the tops of your ears.
- Use it even on cloudy days because even though you don’t see a lot of sun, the ultraviolet radiation can still travel through the clouds.
- If you feel yourself getting a sunburn, then get out of the water to re-apply your sunblock or just to call it a day and prevent any further damage.
- We UV protection clothing when possible to give yourself some extra protection since the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate most fabric. If you’re wearing a rash guard, make sure it’s one with UV protection.
Young woman using sunscreen on the sea background — Photo by belchonock/DepositPhotos