Sunscreen Safety

I know we’ve talked a lot about water sports and other water activities I recommend in this blog. But we’ve never really discussed sunscreen safety and honestly, it’s about time—especially since I know a lot of you are paddleboarders, surfers, and beach lovers like me. So, buckle up because today, we’ll look into the dangers and health risks of not wearing sunscreen, the benefits of sunscreen safety, and of course, a few sunscreen recommendations. 

I know having nicely tanned skin can be popular among water sports fanatics out there, especially the ones who are just starting out. I admit we do love some Vitamin D from the sun! But the thing is, wearing sunscreen doesn’t actually prevent you from getting a great tan. In fact, sunscreen just helps your skin avoid getting burned. So I guess there’s really no excuse not to protect yourself from the sun!

And sure, I advocate doing different outdoor activities and having fun under the sun. But I also believe in staying safe and caring for your body so we can all enjoy more adventures in the future. That being said, let’s start by talking about the dangers and health risks of not wearing sunscreen when doing your favorite water sport. So, here’s everything you need to know about sunscreen safety!

Dangers and Health Risks of Not Wearing Sunscreen

Sunscreen Safety 1

The first thing you need to know about sunscreen safety is the dangers of exposing yourself to harsh sun rays without proper sun protection. No matter how complete your gear is or how early in the morning you go out in the water, you still need to put quality sunscreen all over your body. (Yes, including your face, that’s the most important part of sunscreen safety!) 

Just the mere fact that you’ve been exposed to UV rays for hours can lead to small to major skin damages.

Diving into it, here are examples of specific ailments you can experience if you don’t practice proper sunscreen safety:


The most common and fastest sign of sun damage is sunburn. If you’ve ever been to the beach and you’ve had *too much* fun in the sun, you’ll probably know how it feels to have red, painful skin that feels hot to the touch. This is actually considered a first-degree burn since the outer layer of your skin experienced a thermal burn.

Sometimes, if the burn is severe (second-degree burn, it can even show symptoms like skin swelling and blisters—and I know none of you wants that, so my advice is to practice wearing sunscreen every time you go out into the water. You can even go as far as reapplying your sun protection every two hours to really make sure you don’t end up with painful skin that can hinder you from enjoying your favorite water activity.

Skin Discoloration

Skin discoloration due to sun damage comes in the form of sunspots, freckles, uneven skin tone, melasma, solar keratosis, and more. Most of these signs of damage don’t really affect your overall health, but some can lead to more serious illnesses like skin cancer. To prevent this, sunscreen safety is highly recommended. You can opt for at least SPF 30 (or more). 

Skin Aging

When it comes to water sports enthusiasts, beach lovers, or even sailors, the most common sign of sun damage is skin aging. This can be in the form of wrinkles, farmer’s lip (Also known as Actinic Cheilits; It’s a precancerous symptom that looks like a cracked lip), and age spots. Just take a few minutes out of your day to wear a nice quality sunscreen to prevent these symptoms.

Skin Cancer Risk

Having constant exposure to the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. This is why it’s important to understand the power of prevention by using something as simple as sunscreen. Some examples of skin cancers you can get through UV exposure are squamous cell carcinoma, Bowen disease, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma (which causes the majority of deadly skin cancers). 

Benefits of Wearing Sunscreen

sunscreen safety
Enjoy the sun safely ☀️

Now let’s move on to the brighter side of things and talk about the benefits of regularly practicing sunscreen safety. After all, our skin is the largest organ in our body, so I guess it’s just appropriate to protect it so that it can function the way it’s meant to be—all while we’re enjoying our time in the water. 

Prevent Your Skin from Sunburn

Like I mentioned before, sunburn is the most common type of sun damage. That being said, if you take the time to use sunscreen from head to toe, you can prevent sunburn. The less the discomfort, the more energy to enjoy water activities that you love, am I right?

Reduce Skin Aging Signs

Taking care of your skin also comes with keeping your collagen (that protein in your connective tissues) production and connective tissues healthy so that you don’t lose skin elasticity. To do this, you will have to—wait for it… yup! You will need to wear sunscreen to keep your skin from getting premature wrinkles, age spots, cracked lips, and more.

Reduce Your Risk of Getting Skin Cancer

Woman sunbathing with sunscreen safety
Mature woman feeling free at the beach

Skin cancer is the worst disease you can develop since it’s easily prevented just by using sunscreen regularly. Anything higher than SPF 15 is great to lessen your risk of getting skin cancer due to sun damage.

Less Damage to Your Blood Vessels

You’ve probably never heard of this since it’s not widely talked about. But, regularly practicing sunscreen safety can help protect your skin’s blood vessel walls from becoming thin.

Wondering why this is important for water sports enthusiasts like us? Well, to put it simply, think blood vessels can lead to more sensitive skin, which means you’ll be more prone to bruising and bleeding if you ever hurt yourself during your exciting water adventure. So the key to avoiding this is.. you guessed it! Wearing your favorite sports sunscreen! 

Sunscreen Safety: Buyer’s Guide

Woman sunbathing
Overhead shot of cheerful woman sunbathing

Before we get into my sunscreen recommendations, let’s dive into the different types of sunscreen and how it works. This will help you choose which kind is best for your skin type, sensitivity level, or even the type of water activity you will do. Here are the three most common types of sunscreen you need to know:

Mineral Sunscreen

This type of sunscreen sits on top of your skin’s surface so it can act as a blocker to prevent harmful UV rays from penetrating your skin. It deflects and scatters the UV rays away from your body. Because of its ability to protect your skin at the surface, this type of sunscreen can protect you from UVA and UVB rays.

Mineral sunscreen can be your quick fix sunscreen since it’s already effective the moment you apply it to your skin. However, I don’t think it can be a very effective sports sunscreen since it can be easily removed or sweated off, and it can give you a white cast commonly seen in your favorite lifeguard’s face (lol!).

Chemical Sunscreen

On the other side of the spectrum, we have chemical sunscreens, the type that is absorbed by your skin and can sit in the deeper layers than mineral sunscreen. Now, just a warning, chemical sunscreen works when the UV rays penetrate your skin so it reaches the chemicals in the deeper layers. This means it’s not very protective when it comes to UVA rays.

It’s also helpful to know that chemical sunscreens take effect at least 20 minutes after application, so you made need to apply them earlier than usual. Oh, and it’s also not recommended for sensitive skin such as rosacea-prone skin (reddish skin) or people with hyperpigmentation (skin discoloration).

Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen

This one is the best type of sunscreen by far since a broad-spectrum sunscreen can protect you from both UVA ad UVB rays. A broad-spectrum sunscreen can be the most effective when it comes to preventing sunburn and other types of skin damages caused by harmful UV rays. 

Product Recommendations

Now that you know all the important things about sunscreen safety, I’ll let you in on my top five product recommendations. I’ll mention the best sports sunscreen, the best beach sunscreen, the best sunscreen for surfing, and more. 

La Roche-Posay Anthelois Melt-In Sunscreen Milk

Price: $21.99 to 35.99
Type: Broad Spectrum
SPF: 60

For my beach-loving readers out there, I recommend using a broad spectrum SPF. This La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milk can be used for both the face and body and is a broad-spectrum product with SPF 60. It’s oxybenzone, otinoxate, and oil-free and is dermatologist recommended. This is one of the best beach sunscreens for people with sensitive skin.

This product is also great as a sports sunscreen since it’s water-resistant, non-greasy, and suitable for all skin types. Oh, and the best part is, this sunscreen affordable and can easily be purchased online. 

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick

Price: $11.99
Type: Broad Spectrum
SPF: 50

This product is the best sunscreen for surfers since it’s vegan and reef-friendly. That means it’s safe to use in the ocean and will not contribute to the chemical pollution in the water. It’s also a broad spectrum natural sunscreen with 50 SPF so surfers can get protected from both UVA and UVB rays. 

One cool thing about this sunscreen is that it’s in a stick form. This makes it a great sunscreen safety item. It was made this way so it’s easier for surfers or beachgoers to apply without getting any sand sticking to you. The only downside of this product is it’s only a face sunscreen.

Pro tip: As long as your sunscreen is safe to use on the face, it’ll also be safe enough to be used on your body, especially on the neck, hands, or chest.

Banana Boat Light As Air

Price: $9.49
Type: Broad Spectrum
SPF: 50

Next on our sunscreen safety product list is this Banana Boat Light As Air Faces. It’s a chemical, reef-friendly, broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion with SPF 50 that is perfect for people on the go since it’s so lightweight and breathable. It’s also non-greasy, fast-absorbing, and water-resistant so you don’t have to wait that long to dive into the water.

This Banana Boat sunscreen is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation to you know it can protect you from the harmful rays we get from the sun. And of course, the best thing about it is it’s very affordable and can easily be bought on Amazon. Oh, and it’s scent-free too!

Sun Bum Original SPF 50

Price: $15.19
Type: Broad Spectrum
SPF: 50

Fourth on our sunscreen safety list is another Sun Bum item. I recommend this product as the best sunscreen for the body since it’s an easily sprayable item. With this, you don’t need to ask your friends to put sunscreen on your back since you can just spray it yourself. And since it’s octinocxate and oxybenzone-free, this sunscreen is reef-friendly and vegan.

This Sun Bum sunscreen spray has SPF 50 and is a broad spectrum so it can protect you from both UVA and UVB. It’s also hypoallergenic so it’s great for surfers, beachgoers, paddlers, and other water sports enthusiasts who have sensitive skin (you can also use it for both face and body!)

BLUE LIZARD Mineral Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 50 Spray

Last updated on 27/09/2023 14:31

Price: $19.99
Type: Broad Spectrum
SPF: 50

And of course, the last one on our sunscreen safety product list is the BLUE LIZARD Mineral Sunscreen Sensitive SPF 50 Spray. This broad-spectrum sunscreen comes in a spray bottle so it’s easy to apply. And since this sunscreen is unscented, oxybenzone-free, and octinoxate-free, it’s reef-friendly and great for people with sensitive skin.

I highly recommend spray-on sunscreens since you can easily pack them with your gear and it’s easy to reapply. This means it’s also a great sports sunscreen for those of you who love being active under the sun. And if you think this spray is too strong for your sensitive skin on the face, BLUE LIZARD offers a face version of this sunscreen.

So there you have it, those are all the things you need to know when it comes to sunscreen safety. To summarize what we’ve talked about, remember that there are many dangers and health risks you can get if you don’t practice proper sunscreen safety. And on the other hand, if you’re a regular sunscreen user, there are also many benefits you can get.

We also discussed the different types of sunscreens which are mineral, chemical, and broad-spectrum sunscreens. And lastly, I gave you my top five sunscreen recommendations as a part of my sunscreen safety tips. 

I hope this article was helpful and that you always remember to wear sunscreens whenever you’re out and about in the water. Oh, and don’t forget to leave me a comment below if you have more sunscreen safety tips or product recommendations!

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