Surfing and the sun go hand in hand. We often spend the day basking in its rays and warmth each time we hit the waves.
The good news is sunshine helps our bodies in many ways. One example is improved sleep. More daylight exposure helps the body regulate melatonin for a better night’s rest. Our bodies also produce more vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, which maintains calcium and contributes to stronger bones.
But we all know there is a darker side to sun exposure, and it’s not just the visible signs of aging.
Researchers at Bond University in Australia uncovered a startling statistic in their studies. They found that surfers are three times more likely to get melanoma than non-surfers. Melanoma is not as common as other skin cancers, yet it is the most dangerous.
Preventing surfing sun damage
None of us want to look any older than we need to, and we certainly don’t want to risk melanoma. The trick is to make sun protection a routine. It’s a new year and a great time to make that resolution for yourself!
Here are 3 ways to prevent sun damage (and look good doing it).
1. Wear sun protective swimsuits
Sun protective swimsuits in years past were not as attractive as we would have liked. Where were the flattering features, the super cool designs, the extra protections like sleeves and thumb holes?
Thankfully, times have changed.
Sun protective swimsuits have come a long way in terms of functionality and attractiveness. Say goodbye to boring!
When you shop for your sun protective swimsuit, look for these features to maximize your sun protective benefits:
50+ UPF: UPF is a measure of sun protective fabric effectiveness. UPF provides UVA and UVB protection. As an example of number measurement, consider that a measure of 50 blocks 98% of UV rays. That means you don’t need sunscreen for those protected areas (win, win!).
Long sleeves: Long sleeves on a sun protective swimsuit protect your arms and your back, rather than being exposed in a traditional swimsuit.
Thumb holes: Thumb holes at the end of long sleeves allow sun protective coverage for your hands too.
Zipper: A zipper makes a sun protective swimsuit easy to pull on and off, and is a figure-flattering accessory.
4-way stretch: A good 4-way stretch is imperative for comfort, fit, and ease of movement.
You can also consider a full body DiveSkin for even more fabric skin protection (we also call them SurfSkins because so many surfers love them!). Many paddlers and divers find the extra sun protection beneficial too!
2. Wear sunscreen on exposed areas of skin
Yes, we all have sunscreen in our bags. Some of us are really good at using it. Others, not so much. The important thing to know is how best to use it, because there are a few tricks.
Shake sunscreen well: Particles can clump in the container. Shake it well to mix before applying.
Use enough sunscreen: Use one ounce to cover your entire body. A handful is about one ounce.
Watch for expiration dates: There’s a reason for that expiration date. Sunscreen can degrade over time. Update your sunscreen when needed.
Apply 30 minutes before sun: Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow for skin absorption and reduce the likelihood it will wash off when you sweat.
Environmentally safe: It’s become clear over time that sunscreen chemicals are destructive to marine life and marine ecology. New environmentally safe options are becoming more popular.
3. Avoid midday sun exposure
We’ve all heard this recommendation and wondered if midway sun exposure was actually more detrimental to our skin health. And guess what? It is.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends limiting exposure to midday sun between 10:00am and 4:00pm because UV rays are at their most intense between those hours. The sun’s rays have a shorter distance to travel through the atmosphere, causing UV levels to be highest, and more damaging, than other times of the day.
Midday rays are also more of a risk at higher altitudes because there is less atmosphere to absorb them.
If you must be out in the sun during midday hours, be sure to use the above protective measures for optimal protection. Wear sun protective swimsuits, follow good sunscreen practices for exposed skin, and limit sun exposure during midday.
Surfing is a sport we enjoy. It develops a healthy body and healthy mind. To that end, be sure to care for your body’s health and limit unnecessary sun exposure. The simple steps listed above will do wonders for reducing skin cancer incidence, helping you maintain a more youthful appearance, and make your day more enjoyable overall.
See you in the swells!
Now with more patterns than ever before! View SlipIns sun protective swimsuits with 50+ UPF sun protection and inspiring ocean-themed styles to make your surfing sesh the best it can be.