Sun Protection: My Favorite Products for Staying Safe in the Sun
I’ve always been a water baby. From a very young age, I wanted to be in the ocean as much as possible. I grew up in California and spent most of my summer days at various beaches in Southern California. Swimming in the ocean and riding the waves was about as good as it got. Unfortunately we didn’t know as much about sun protection then as we do now.
I live in South Florida now, and as a paddler I’m out on the water as often as possible, so I am exposed to the sun pretty much year round. And it gets hot here. The sun is intense and the burns and sun damage can be awful. On any given weekend, I am out on the water for 4-6 hours, typically right in the heat of the day. And on race day, I’m in the sun for even longer. I have tried a LOT of different products to avoid looking like a leather handbag. Some have been successful, others not so much.
Some of my favorites are Avasol, Bullfrog, and Ocean Potion. I had used Ocean Potion’s “Faces” for years. It’s a zinc cream that not only protects from burns, but it keeps my face from getting darker (which has been a problem due to freckles and sunspots). Then I would use Bullfrog “Water Armor Sport” on the rest of my body that would be exposed to the sun. Admittedly, it was a bit greasy, but it stayed on for the entire time I was out on the water and I never got a burn, even with one application. The downside in my opinion? It did allow my skin to darken, so I would end up about 6 shades darker by the end of practice with some not-so-lovely tan lines. I loved the fact that I didn’t burn, but I didn’t really love those tan lines, nor the fact my body was getting quite dark. I’m not necessarily opposed to a nice tan, but we all know that the darkening of the skin is not healthy.
This year, I was introduced to Avasol sunscreen. My first “test drive” of their products was in January (yes, we need strong sunscreen even in January here in South Florida!). I tried out their “Surfer’s Barrier Stick’ and was impressed straight away. It’s a nice zinc-based sunscreen that really blocks the sun. I used it all over my face and had absolutely no burn or any funky darkening after hours in the sun. And, get this: their zinc products aren’t like other zinc products that leave you looking white and ghostly. They come in two shades, tan and dark, so it basically matches with your skin tone and doesn’t leave you with that weird white face.
OK, so Avasol is good protection against the sun, but there is more to it. It’s good for you AND for the planet! Their sunscreen is natural and organic and they use environmentally and socially conscious methods of obtaining their ingredients. But wait, there’s more! The packaging for the Surfer’s Barrier Stick is 100% biodegradable. How cool is that? If you ever spend time on a beach in Miami you will notice just how many plastic bottles are lying around in the sand or bobbing in the water. Why? Because they are plastic and don’t biodegrade! So, imagine a sunscreen container that is biodegradable and therefore won’t be on the beaches long after your grandchildren have passed. Cool, huh? And their liquid sunscreen containers are all refillable so you don’t need to throw out the container and create more waste. Yep, these guys are really thinking about the environment and especially our oceans. Major kudos to them! As a paddler, you’ve got to love that.
If you are interested in learning more about their products, check out this video:
My next quest is to find the perfect lip sunscreen. I thought I had found it in Burt’s Bees Lifeguard’s Choice, but apparently due to FDA regulations, they can no longer offer lip products with SPF ratings, so it is not on the market anymore. This is a major bummer since Lifeguard’s Choice is the only thing I have found that truly protects my lips when I’m in the sun for hours. I am picky about my lip protection and hate the way that most sunscreens taste like the chemical products they use in them. That is just gross. Others that don’t have a nasty taste somehow don’t seem to stay on my lips for longer than about 30 minutes. So, I’m still on the hunt and certainly happy to hear any recommendations. Maybe Avasol will create my perfect lip sunscreen?