Chemical or mineral?
This is a personal choice but as surfers, we have to deal with plastic waste and the effects of pollution when we hit the water so it makes sense that we would not want to affect the delicate ecosystem with chemicals just because it is sunny when the surf is up. That said we also want to protect ourselves against skin cancer and many natural protections are not proven to be effective, some of this may be due to big pharmaceutical companies owning many of the chemical-based sunscreen brands – that is a discussion for another day! But just to note that some of the natural or mineral products may not have the word sunscreen on them, this is because they haven’t been lab-tested or don’t meet the regulations.
You’ll find sunscreens come in two different types, chemical absorber sunscreens or mineral blocker sunscreens. Put as simply as possible the chemical versions block the UV and the mineral act as a barrier or blocker preventing it from reaching the skin (which explains why natural or mineral sunscreen is a paste or paint texture). You’ll find ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in the mineral versions and words like oxybenzone (also causes widespread damage to reefs) homosalate, avobenzone, octisalate and octocrylene in a chemical sunscreen. With Hawaii being set to ban the sale of sunscreen containing two of the chemicals above, oxybenzone and octinoxate, due to the effect of sunscreen on their reefs we always try and go chemical-free.
Personally, here at Freewave, we go for an organic or natural all-over sunscreen such as Green People or Moo Goo (widely available in pharmacies, health food shops or online). I know the pharmacy here in Bude stocks Moo Goo for example.
Then for the extremities, we prefer a surf specific brand such as Manda organic paste which can be purchased from Zuma Jay surf shop in Bude