Best Sunscreen for Surfing: A Complete Buying Guide

The good news is that there are sunscreen products that are designed especially for water sports such as surfing. This means that they are formulated to last all day. To help you make a wise choice in choosing the best sunscreen for surfing, we have rounded up a list of the five best options out there. Check them out!

Top 5 Best Sunscreen for Surfing

Badger SPF 35 Sunscreen

Rating: 4.5/5

Technical Specs:

  • Item Volume: 2.9 fluid ounces
  • Skin Type: All Skin Types, Sensitive
  • Sun Protection: 35 SPF

Product Description

  • Safe Sport Sunscreen

As a company, Badger sets a good standard for safe and simple sunscreens that provide protection to your skin and that of your family. It comes in a broad spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen that comes with five simple ingredients – organic sunflower oil, clear zinc oxide, organic jojoba oil, organic beeswax, and sunflower Vitamin E.

Because of this combination of ingredients, this sunscreen is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic, making it ideal and recommended for all skin types, including those with sensitive skin.

  • Environment Friendly

This sunscreen is environmentally friendly, safe for the reef. This only offers the guarantee that it is also safe for you. Sunscreens made under the Badger brand are formulated without chemicals, such as oxybenzone, which is known to be harmful to humans and corals.

This sunscreen lotion is top-rated for efficacy and safety under the EWG sunscreen guide. It is also biodegradable, providing you the needed protection for your skin without unnecessarily endangering marine life.

  • Non-Whitening Mineral Zinc Oxide

This sunscreen cream can be rubbed in clear and is ideal for most skin types and tones. Its mineral zinc oxide ingredient safely stays on the surface of the skin, scattering ahead while absorbing both UVA and UVB rays, not necessarily absorbing right into the bloodstream. It is also formulated to naturally sweat and water resistant for around 80 minutes, making it ideal for water activities such as surfing, swimming, skiing, and others.


  • Cruelty-free
  • Long-lasting protection
  • Hypoallergenic      


  •   Skin becomes greasy after application

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen

Rating: 4.5/5

Technical Specs:

  • Item Volume: 177 ml.
  • Skin Type: All Skin Types
  • Sun Protection: 50 SPF

Product Description

  • Broad UVA & UVB Spectrum

Sunscreen users have been led to believe that those sunscreen products with very high SPF numbers (such as 70 and 100 SPF) offer more protection than one that features 30 SPF. This is generally not true. This sunscreen offers up to 97% protection against UVA, and up to 99% protection and coverage against UVB. This means that, unlike other products that claim to have a broad-spectrum formulation, Thinksport actually delivers.

  • Water Resistant

When it comes to sunscreen lotions and creams, there are three water resistance levels – non-water resistant, water resistant (up to 40 minutes), and water resistant (up to 80 minutes. This formulation is rated with the highest water resistance level, according to FDA standards, with up to 80 minutes of water resistance protection. It also offers broad-spectrum coverage and protection for both UVA & UVB, at an SPF of 50.

  • Mineral Based Formulation

This sunscreen lotion features a mineral-based formulation, which is quite rare for a product amidst a sea of chemical-filled sunscreens. As a mineral-based product, it can also offer a good amount of whitening, while being a non-nano zinc oxide formulation. As a matter of fact, it is free from biologically dangerous chemicals such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, phthalates, paraben, and others. This is also a good reason why it is reef and environment-friendly.


  • Environment friendly
  • SPF 50 protection
  • Non-aerosol formulation    


  • Quite pricey  

Waxhead SPF 30 Sunscreen

Rating: 4.5/5

Technical Specs:

  • Item Volume: 3.7 fluid ounces
  • Skin Type: All-Skin Types (including sensitive skin)
  • Sun Protection: SPF 30

Product Description

  • Safe Ingredients

The manufacturer of this sunscreen has said no to using ingredients and additives which are not safe for the body. In contrast, the ingredients used in the production of this product are body-safe, reef-safe, and baby-safe. It does not feature octinoxate, oxybenzone, as well as petrochemicals, and junk chemicals. It offers a real broad spectrum out of 25% of non-nano zinc oxide. This sunscreen uses only certified mineral and organic ingredients that are 100% toxin-free, offering neat protection for your skin, minus the petrochemicals.

  • Non-Greasy Formulation

This non-greasy cream features a non-irritating, tinted formulation. It is also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, or even more. It comes in a stick form, which is quite easy to apply. This means that it will not sting the eyes. Sensitive skin loves being protected by this sunscreen’s use of coconut oil zinc oxide that is formulated using four organic ingredients, offering face-safe and broad-spectrum overall coverage.

  • Ease of Application

One thing that makes this product a standout in this list is the fact that it comes in stick form. The ingredients used in the formulation are amazing, offering the highest allowable content of zinc oxide. It also smells good, with vanilla, and safe enough even for sensitive skin.


  • Safe vanilla scent
  • Natural ingredients
  • Easy to apply formulation


  •   The sunscreen is highly visible on the screen

Ethical Zinc Mineral Sunscreen

Rating: 4.5/5

Technical Specs:

  • Item Volume: 4.16 ounces
  • Skin Type: All Skin Types (Including Sensitive Skin)
  • Sun Protection: SPF 50

Product Description

  • Natural Ingredients Used

This sunscreen only uses natural ingredients, certified by ECOCert. This includes the use of Australian-formulated natural zinc oxide mineral as one of its active ingredients. As such, this natural formulation is suited even for the most sensitive skin type. It is a low irritant, making it ideal for use even on children.

  • Reef and Ocean Safe

Aside from being safe and effective on human skin, this sunscreen for surfing is also reef and ocean safe. It features non-nano zinc oxide formulation and oxybenzone free, which makes it highly safe for all coastal areas anywhere in the world. For this reason, you can enjoy your favorite water activities without feeling guilty that you are somehow causing bad effects on the environment.

  • More than just SPF

Other products come in the form of chemical UV absorbers which are actually inadequate when it comes to providing a safe level of protection to the skin. As a matter of fact, SPF ratings only measure the protection that is provided against UVB, but not taking into consideration the possible damage caused by UVA.

  • Ethical Zinc

This sunscreen is known to use ethical zinc in its formulation. It has been designed specifically to improve the protection and performance against UVA protection, offering consistent and safe protection covering the UV spectrum against both UVA and UVB. While other commercially available chemical sunscreens are found to cause damage to ocean life, and not to mention the possibility of free radical damage, hormone, endocrine, and DNA disruption, this sunscreen for surfing are very safe for use.


  • High broad sunscreen protection
  • Reef and ocean safe
  • 80 minutes water resistance    


  •  Some white cast after application

Sun Bum Sunscreen

Rating: 4.5/5

Technical Specs:

  • Item Volume: 1 fluid ounce
  • Skin Type: All Skin Types
  • Sun Protection: SPF 50

Product Description

  • Clear Zinc SPF 50 Sunscreen

The use of original clear zinc in this formulation makes this product as natural as it can be. It is safe for everyday use, and especially during those days when there is more exposure to the heat of the sun. This can be used around 15 minutes before actual sun exposure, applying liberally to all skin areas, but avoiding the more sensitive eye area if possible. In order to achieve the best results, it is also recommended to apply after 80 minutes of activities in order to achieve maximum protection from the sun.

  • Moisturizing Sun Protection

This sunscreen is a non-comedogenic, Sonny, and dermatologist approved product. It adds an extra layer of protection to your face, delivering UVA and UVB. This water-resistant, oil-free, and reef-friendly, offering a good level of SPF 50, which is great for all skin types.

One important way to ensure that the skin is protected accordingly is to moisturize your skin well. This sunscreen is free from potentially harmful chemicals such as octinoxate, oxybenzone, gluten. It is hypoallergenic, paraben, and cruelty-free to make sure that you will enjoy your day of surfing under the sun.

  • Skin Friendly Ingredients

This sunscreen is enriched with Vitamin E, which is a known antioxidant, helping to neutralize the presence of free radicals. This vitamin also serves as a moisturizer, preventing signs of premature aging. It is also designed to even for the most sensitive types of skin. Thanks to its use of safe ingredients, it has been recommended, approved, and tested by the Skin Cancer Foundation.


  •  Moisturizing capabilities
  • Original clear formulation
  • Trusted manufacturer reputation   


  •   The smell is quite strong

Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for Surfing

In order to get the choose the best sunscreen for surfing, there are a number of features and factors that need to be taken into consideration. Making sure that they are included in your list will make sure that you have access to the most effective options out there. Here are some of them:

Water Resistant

Of course, since you are engaging in a water-related activity, it only makes sense to get waterproof sunscreen. However, it is important to check that this promise of being waterproof is real by selecting a product from a rated surfing sunscreen brand. It is also recommended to apply sunscreen either every 30 minutes or 80 minutes, depending on the sunscreen protection promised by a certain product.

Fragrance or Scent Free

Most skin care products that boast of high quality do not contain fragrance or scent. There are valid reasons for this. For one, some users have sensitive skin. They usually have a bad reaction to fragrances that are often a common addition to cheaper products. Note that your skin may become more sensitive because of being exposed to the rays of the sun.

Also, some harmful chemicals may be added to a general fragrance name in the list of ingredients. When getting the best options on sunscreen for water sports and surfing, it is generally safer to choose smell and fragrance-free products.

Thickness and Texture

Generally, your pick on a good sunscreen product for surfing has to be easy to spread. This will make sure that applying it to your skin will not become a hassle. However, it should be noted that water resistant products are generally thicker in texture compared to regular ones. As such, if your selected sunscreen product is easy to spread and liquid-like, then it may contain a lot of alcohol in its formulation. This means that the sunscreen will just be washed off easily when in contact with water on your skin.


Of course, this is a personal thing. However, it should be noted that being expensive does not mean being better. Of course, if you notice that a product is unbelievably cheap, then it may just be too good to be true. Check the list of ingredients. If you see extra useful ingredients, such as those that ensure nourishing or moisturizing properties, you may expect a product that is pricier than others. Bottom line, it is up to you to make a decision regarding your budget for your sunscreen choice.


What are other effective ways to protect the skin against the sun while surfing?

When you are surfing, you only have a few options in protecting your skin aside from making sure that you are using the best sunscreen for surfing. After all, if you want to cover yourself up, it may be uncomfortable for you to use items such as a beach umbrella during surfing breaks just to get extra protection.

Can I also use zinc with a regular sunscreen and combine them together?

Most formulations of sunscreens are either chemical (usually using different chemical filters) or mineral (zinc-based). There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of sunscreen product. You will only be able to determine which one works for you best when you actually try them out on your skin to see the results.

If your skin is resistant, you may want to try combining together both sunscreen types for extra protection. More is better, given that the harmful rays can be quite harmful when they reach your skin without filters. In order to see the best results, you can apply a layer of zinc-based lotions first, allowing it to dry, before applying another layer of waterproof sunscreen of another type.

How can you remove the sunscreen at the end of a surfing day?

A good shower will remove all the sunscreen off your skin. Because you shower daily, it may be dangerous to use a shower gel added with strong detergents. It may be best to use a mild shower gel, one that is also safe for babies. To ensure that the gel removes the chemicals off successfully, you may want to use a cleaning mitt.

Is it possible to just use an SPF lotion above 50?

One thing that needs to be understood is that even the best options on sunscreen products currently available on the market, whether designed for water activities and water sports, are only available with a maximum of 50 SPF. If you come across products with 55 SPF, the difference in output is not really different.


There is no doubt that surfing is one of the sports that easily exposes you to the sun. For this reason, sunscreen should always be a part of your surfer kit and should be given priority. If you are into water sports, certain precautions need to be taken into consideration, especially when it comes to protecting your hands and face. While your wetsuit may already give you a level of protection, adding the best sunscreen for surfing on your list is a good thing. This is particularly true if you love spending time under direct sunlight. As such, make sure to choose only the best – one that can handle the addition of water into the mix. The list above is among the best options out there, and a good place to start looking for your top pick!