Protecting Your Skin while Engaging in Water Sports If you’re new to water sports, particularly stand-up paddboarding, you might have experienced a painful sunburn while at the beach or pool in the past. This is due to the reflection of the sun’s rays off the water that can cause serious damage to your skin. To prevent this, it is important to apply a high-quality sunscreen or sunblock.
The dangers of not using sunscreen or sunblock are many. Immediate effects include sunburn, but over time, repeated sun damage can cause dry, wrinkled, discolored, and leathery skin. The most severe of all is skin cancer. The Cleveland Clinic recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, but for those who spend a lot of time on the water, it is best to use one with an SPF of 80.
It only takes 15 minutes for the sun’s harmful rays to cause irreversible damage to your skin. That’s why it’s essential to take protection seriously.
Sunblock vs. Sunscreen: Understanding the Difference Although sunblock and sunscreen are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Sunblock is a thicker material that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, which physically blocks the sun’s rays from reaching your skin. Sunscreen, on the other hand, absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If you have sensitive skin, it is better to use sunblock as some people experience skin irritation from using sunscreen. If you must use sunscreen, look for a product specifically designed for sensitive skin.
What to Look for in Sunscreen or Sunblock When shopping for sunscreen or sunblock, consider the following:
- Waterproof or water-resistant properties, as you will be getting wet and don’t want it to come off your skin.
- The duration of protection. Although it is best to reapply regularly, look for a product that lasts a long time.
- The SPF rating. The higher the SPF, the better the protection. A minimum of SPF 30 is recommended by medical professionals, but SPF 80 is ideal.
Best Practices for Safe Sun Protection Here are some best practices to follow to ensure your skin stays protected while engaging in water sports:
- Reapply every two hours, even if the product lasts longer. Contact with water can reduce its effectiveness.
- Cover all exposed skin, including feet tops, hands, and ears.
- Use sunscreen even on cloudy days as ultraviolet radiation can still penetrate through clouds.
- If you feel a sunburn coming on, reapply sunblock or take a break to prevent further damage.
- Consider wearing UV protective clothing for extra protection. If you’re wearing a rash guard, make sure it has UV protection.