How not to get burned in the tropics

Complete list of sun protection products and tips for their use
Surfing is good for your health – it’s a sport. But at the same time, it is associated with extreme conditions: I can’t think of a place where the water is warm, and the sun is moderate, either one or the other.

Hence the nuances, somewhere it is necessary to be insulated and escape from ultraviolet radiation. This article is about the second option: not burnout in the tropics.

Driving during the day in tropical latitudes, you can get severe skin burns, heatstroke, and even a corneal burn.

The fact is that while surfing, you may not notice overheating because you are constantly refreshing yourself in the ocean

At the same time, you received a double dose of radiation: direct sunlight and reflected from the water and the reef bottom.

There are two ways to protect yourself from the sun: dressing and smearing.

Surf clothes

To protect their arms and shoulders from the scorching sun, surfers wear Lycra – tight elastic T-shirts made from a unique fabric similar to swimsuit fabric

However, Lycra is different; recently, large surf brands have begun to produce surf lycra, which is barely distinguishable from ordinary T-shirts but is made of material that dries super quickly.

In principle, you can ride in a regular T-shirt, but Lycra sits more tightly on the body, does not bulge up much, so it is generally more comfortable.

Also, it is best to wear long-sleeve Lycra in the middle of the day. A small loop is often sewn to the front of the inner seam of the lower edge of the Lycra, through which you can pass the tie of the shorts so that the Lycra does not pull up.

ЛАЙКРА: ткань или одежда для серфинга?
For girls, special Lycra is made, which looks like a one-piece swimsuit with long sleeves. Convenient and cute

It is somehow not customary for surfers to wear long pants, but happy owners of susceptible white skin near the equator at noon should not hesitate and put on leggings.

In addition, beginners need Lycra and leggings to not rub their stomach and legs on the soft top surface; this often happens first.
Another helpful accessory is panamas and caps

There are unique surf versions that are fastened under the chin, but, as practice shows, you can ride in a regular cap in conditions that are comfortable for you.

Falling from the wave, you must, in any case, accustom yourself to cover your head with your hand, the same movement will hold the lid, and when you come out and have to overcome the breaking waves, you can grip it in your teeth.

Headdresses perform two functions at once: firstly, they cover the head so that it does not overheat, and secondly, they cast a shadow on the face and eyes.

On a clear day, your eyes can be “burned,” especially if the waves come from the sunny side, and one way or another, you look a lot towards the merciless luminary.


Let’s start with the usual sunscreens

In the tropics, you need to use a minimum of SPF 30+, preferably 50+ at once.

Although you are aware that protection is not directly proportional to the written number, the dependence is somewhat logarithmic: SPF 15 cream blocks about 93% of UVB rays from contact with the skin, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 almost 99%.

The difference, it would seem, is not significant, but given that the protective layer cannot be renewed during skiing, it is better to take it to the maximum right away.

For those who do not read the instructions, I remind you that you need to smear with the cream half an hour before entering the water so that it can be absorbed into the skin, that is.

First, we spread, then we warm up

My burning experience is rich and varied. The worst burned out in Hawaii was when I learned to surf for the first time in my life. Somehow I didn’t think and didn’t read it anywhere; somehow, I smeared myself with weak sunscreen and went in a bathing suit into the very heart and, naturally, lay on the board most of the time. As a result, I could only stand or lie on my stomach; the skin under my knees hurt so much that it was torture to bend my legs.

Surf zinc

This paste is brewed from natural oils, wax, and zinc oxide

Even waterproof sunscreen with the proud inscription “SPORT” is quickly washed off the face. It would help if you had iron willpower not to rub your eyes and nose, emerging after the wipeout.

Therefore, especially for surfers, they came up with an extraordinarily dense, opaque paste for protection from the sun – zinc. The main protective properties of zinc paste are due to the ZnO compound.

I will tell you that zinc oxide is widely used in cosmetology and pharmaceuticals for those afraid of chemistry.

For example, it is added to toothpaste and used as a component of dermatological medicines.

ZnO has drying, anti-inflammatory, astringent, absorbent, and antiseptic properties. It is safe for the skin and, in some ways, even beneficial.

For surfers, the most important thing is that zinc does not transmit UVB rays.

It is even better when titanium oxide (TiO2) is added to the zinc composition

This compound is also absolutely safe – titanium oxide is used in pharmacology and the food industry (as a food additive, it is designated E171).

TiO2 also protects from the sun, but this time it blocks the UVA rays.

The difference between these rays is as follows: UVB burns the upper layers of the skin; it is because of them that we turn red, like tomatoes, immediately after prolonged exposure to the sun. UVA, in turn, penetrates deeper and damages the delicate inner layers of the dermis.

The rest of the zinc components are beeswax, which gives the paste viscosity, natural oils to make it easier to smear, moisturize the skin, and dyes for color.

Zinc without stain is white. There are zinc pastes of all colors of the rainbow, but this means that they contain artificial dyes, which is not so good for the skin of the face, and it doesn’t look peculiar.

The most excellent option is beige or light brown zinc, to which natural cocoa powder is added as a colorant

Cover the face with zinc in a uniform, not too thick and thin layer. It is convenient to do this if it is packed in a unique applicator, similar to an antiperspirant; if the paste is in a jar, we “stain” our fingers, then we “stain” the face with them to a uniform cadaverous shade.

You can apply more on the wings of the nose since these places are often wiped. I always smear zinc on my lips in the very heart, and I also apply it on the skin around the eyes.

It is not very useful since it dries out already thin skin, but of two evils: smear or burn. If you do not rub your face hard, the zinc will easily hold out for the entire two hours of riding.


Moles and fresh scars should also be protected from prolonged sun exposure, and they are also most reliably covered with zinc.

New spots, even small ones, are essential to hide from the tropical sun because they darken, and this pigment lasts for years.

After rolling, the zinc should be wiped off to allow the skin to breathe. It is convenient to remove it with wet wipes, but you can also dry it, although you must rub your face hard.

The easiest way to remove zinc is with cotton pads soaked in oil, any will do, but in the tropics, it is nice to use coconut.



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