So, you’re on the hunt for the best surf sunscreen? Good! It’s about time us salt-washed water babies started taking skin health seriously. Some studies have it that surfers are up to three times as likely to develop melanoma. You don’t have to be a doc to know that ain’t good. What’s more, who wants to have that on their mind as they paddle out into the crystal-clear reefs of Sri Lanka or gaze down the sunsets of the Baja California? Nope. Us neither.
Thankfully, help is at hand. Yep, there are lots of ways boardies can cut the chance of skin damage and make their riding all the safer. They include wearing decent SPF rash vests and getting up for the dawnie instead of hitting the waves midday (five coffees for me, please!). On top of that, choosing the right sun protection is absolute key…
There are some corkers on the market today. This guide runs through some of the very best surf sunscreen products out there. It’s got ones that champion their eco credentials, some that are great if you’re the sort that smudge your sunscreen on the pop up, and options with that all-important zinc infusion. Let’s get started…
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What surf sunscreens are here?
- SurfDurt Original Sunblock – Our top all-rounder
- Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 – Best for frequent surf travelers
- Salt & Stone SPF 30 Facestick – Best for surfers with dry skin
- Zinka Facestick SPF 50 – Best clear-look surf sunscreen
- Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer – Best eco-friendly option
- Sun Bum Signature Mineral-Based Moisturizing Sunscreen – Best non-sweat for hot surf destinations
SurfDurt Original Sunblock *our all-round top surf sunscreen for 2022!
There are loads of reasons why SurfDurt is right up here at the top of our list of the very best surf sunscreen products for 2022. It’s riding high with thousands of happy customers, and pretty much everyone we’ve spoken to is now a converted loyalist. We think the highlights are in keeping it simple; keeping it healthy.
SurfDurt has just 11 active ingredients. 100% of em’ is food-grade, which means they are non-toxic by definition. There are two great pluses to that. First, it’s better for your skin. You won’t have to worry about causing even more damage with harmful parabens and whatnot. Second, it’s a gift for the ocean. There’s no danger to corals or those lovely sea turtles that might be joining you on the evening sesh – we can all hope, ay?
SurfDurt’s anti-sun tech is powered by 23% non-nano zinc oxide. That really is gold dust in the world of eco-friendly protection products, and some competitors only manage around 5% or so. It means you get the bonus of the anti-UV but without zinc particles that can absorb into the skin. in addition, we love the packaging and the general vibe of the company!
- Non-nano zinc oxide protection – the best out there!
- 100$ food-grade ingredients
- Water resistant to 80 minutes
- Needs to be reapplied for longer surf sessions
- There are three colors. Decisions, decisions.
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Face Stick
Here’s an easy-to-pack sunscreen from a family company that we’ve really enjoyed using on our trips to the beach in the past. With 50 SPF rating, it’s strong enough for the sunnier surf destinations that might be on your bucket list – Mexico, Sri Lanka (we took one to the island in early 22′ and it was a tool we’re so glad we had!).
We also like that it comes from a firm that knows their surf. One office is located in Cocoa Beach, FL (the home of one Kelly Slater – heard of him?) and the other is in the wave-washed reaches of Encinitas, SoCal. So, it’s tried-and-tested, sunny surf territory, you feel me?
That all generally puts this one in good stead. Then we’ve got the details: (1) It’s a broad-spectrum sunscreen, so it protects from both UVA and UVB light. (2) It’s infused with 5% zinc oxide, which works to physically block the rays from getting to the skin. (3) It’s hypoallergenic and has good ratings from surfers with sensitive skin. On top of all that, it’s totally vegan and reef friendly!
It’s also worth pointing out just how convenient this stick is. The folk at Sun Bum say ‘trust the bum’. We think what they’re trying to tell you is that it’s super annoying when sand gets in your sunscreen. That’s why they’ve gone for a simple, roll-on device that’s a cinch to chuck in the beach bag.
- Easy to pack and doesn’t get sandy on the beach
- Zinc oxide infusion
- 100% vegan
- Needs to be applied 30 mins before going in the sun
- >20% zinc oxide
Salt & Stone SPF 30 Facestick
The Salt & Stone range has become something of a favourite among surf travelers who really keep an eye on the quality of the products they whack on the skin. It’s formulated with all-natural ingredients. That means Jojoba, sunflower oil, Shea oil, and infusions of Vitamin E to create a combo of natural fatty acids that are all thought to help moisturise dry or damaged skin. The upshot? It’s a great option if you’re skin’s already feeling the sun and you want something to help repair while you keep on surfing.
When it comes to the key features on the UVA/UVB protection front, the Salt & Stone SPF 30 Facestick doesn’t disappoint. It offers an impressive 22.5% non-nano zinc component (the holy grail of surf sunscreen protectors if you ask us) along with water resistance up to 80 minutes. It’s also super easy to apply. Simply push up the stick with the gauge at the bottom and drag it across your face. It’s low on residue and doesn’t leave a mark.
(There’s also a 50 SPF version for hardcore sun protection if needed).
- Strong moisturising components
- 22.5% Zinc
- Proper reef safe (no oxybenzone or octinoxate)
- Not designed specifically for surfers
- Some users say it can sometimes leave white marks
The Zinka Nosecoat is a long-time fav with surfers. We can see why. It’s light, easy to store, and is loaded with that all-important zinc component for keeping the rays at bay. Mhmm…It’s ticks pretty much all the boxes for long surf trips. On top of that, it comes from a company that has over 30 years in the sports sunscreen industry. They even have their own Zinka Surf Team, with prolific riders like Maddie Franz on board.
Okay, so Zinka clearly know the demands of surfing. But what’s in it? Well there’s 20% zinc oxide. You also get a huge chunk of beeswax in there, which helps to soothe damaged skin and moisturise on application. On top of that, the product is broad spectrum, which means it takes care of both UVA and UVB, along with other natural infusions like Jojoba seed oil.
Zinka also offer loads of different colors in the offing, from tan brown to zingy greens and blues. Our only downside is that there’s some alchohol in it and there has been some talk of the octinoxate not being okay for reefs, so that’s one worth checking.
- Infused with ingredients that soothe the skin
- Easy to roll on
- Clear on touch
- Not certain if it’s reef safe
- Very expensive per Oz.
Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer *The best surf sunscreen for ethical thinkers
Raw Elements Tinted Facial Moisturizer does much the same job as the other natural options on this list. However, it aims high to be the best surf sunscreen of all by adding in a few nice ethical features. It’s completely GMO free and rated to be cruelty-free. That means it’s not been tested on animals. In fact, it’s got the fully fledged Leaping Bunny accreditation, so you know it’s all legit.
We also really love the branding and the look of the product. It’s just a hands-down premium feel. Even better than that, the whole thing comes in a re-usable plastic container and the rest of the packaging is totally biodegradable. It’s essentially the top product for eco-conscious surfers.
That said, there’s not much skimping on the tech. The Raw Elements comes with UVA-UVB broad-spectrum protection. It’s packed with a whopping 23% non-nano zinc oxide (the holy grail, remember?), and it puts a cherry on top with some lovely extras that leave the skin feeling as smooth as that elusive flat day in Batu Bolong – think sunflower oil, coffee bean and hemp seed.
- Really eco-friendly
- Officially rated as cruelty free
- 23% zinc content
- Cheap per Oz!
- Flat containers don’t make it easy to apply
- Only 30 SPF rating
Sun Bum Signature Mineral-Based Moisturizing Sunscreen
PRICE WHEN REVIEWED: $20.37 (that’s $45.27 an ounce)
The second of the Sun Bum brand on this list comes in the form of their signature stick. There’s no denying it’s a cool piece of kit – just check out that slick, unpretentious black packaging. We like the look but it’s a little shame that it’s all plastic. Still, it’s a breeze to apply. Just roll out the little clicker and off you go. It’s the sort of thing you won’t regret dropping in the wetty bag if they A-frames are rolling in but the forecast is saying they won’t stick around too long. Feel me?
Sun Bum have also covered all the features that most surfers will look for in the best surf sunscreen going. There’s zinc oxide in there (but maybe a tad too little at just 7%). You’ve got beeswax (great if the nose has already picked up a bit of a burn). Oh, and the whole thing is PABA-frree and paraben free. The only thing we’re not certain of is the octinoxate on the ingredient list – some say that’s not the best for reefs! If you’re surfing em’ you might want to choose something else.
The stand-out feature of this one though is its consistency. The folk at Sun Bum call it “Non-Migrating”. In normal talk that means it’s pretty hard to rub off and you won’t go spreading up your arms and wetsuit when applying. It also helps with the water resistance, and means you won’t sweat it into your eyes on the hardest of surf sessions. All good things.
- Hard to smudge
- Doesn’t come off with sweat
- Stylish, compact packaging
- Perhaps not 100% reef safe
- Only 30 SPF
What surf sunscreens are here?
- Suntribe All Natural Zinc Sunscreen – Our pick for the overall best surf sunscreen in 2022
- Fuka Eri – The eco option
- The Zinka Zinc Nosecoat – For the sunniest places of all
- Sun Bum Original Sunscreen Face Stick SPF30 – Surfers with oily skin or acne
- SETT Surf – Eliminates smudges and running into the eyes
- Aloha Sun Stick SPF 50+ – For sun-sensitive people
Suntribe All Natural Sun Stick *our all-round top surf sunscreen for 2022!
The Suntribe All Natural Sun Stick is the bees knees. Seriously, it’s got pretty much all the features you could want out of your H2O-ready skin protector. The best component is in the name: Zinc. That’s in the ingredient list of virtually all the best surf sun blockers out there.
It’s great at fending of UV. It’s also all-mineral based and natural. Better yet, the one here is non-nano zinc. That means the individual particles of zinc are simply too small to absorb into your skin so you shouldn’t have to worry about extra irritation and whatnot.
Suntribe clearly had surfers on their mind when they designed this product. They’ve enlisted WSL pedigree Tim Latte from Sweden to be part of their team, along with pro kiteboarders and sailors. But we don’t need no A-listers to tell us that it works.
We’ve had this bad boy on a month-long trip to the Canaries last year and it was fantastico. It lasted two of us for 28 days of surfing straight! That’s like two months per person! We also loved that it’s not just about stopping the burn. Suntribe comes with coconut oil and beeswax to moisturise as you surf. Our skin felt da bomb after sessions. Which is a change.
As if that’s still not enough, this product is made 100% eco friendly with ocean safety in mind. It’s all-natural ingredients, so worry not on those Sri Lankan corals or those Aussie reefs, folks. Surf away. Finally, it’s now in stick form! We used to have the flat round tin on our list, but this easy-apply pusher is the best yet.
- Non-nano zinc oxide protection – the best out there!
- Lasts ages
- All-natural ingredients
- Lovely tin packaging
- We left ours a couple of months and it didn’t look too good.
- Only 30 SPF, but apply right and you’re good to go
Okay, so there’s a hefty price tag with the Fuka Eri. But by golly are them some enticing features. Before we get into why it’s unquestionably one of the best surf sunscreens out there, let’s talk eco credentials. There are more reef-safe, non-paraben products cramming this market than you can shake a coralstone at. We’re yet to find one that’s quite as environmentally clued in as Fuka Eri…
The whole thing is void of chemical ingredients. There’s not a single hydrocarbon chain or whatnot in the mix, just jojoba seeds, parkii butter, and cocoa to name just three of the all-natural additions. On top of that, the formula is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. It’s reef safe and fine to use in any water environment. Green-conscious surfers eat your heart’s out.
Fuka Eri is developed by surfers who lived in the wave mecca that is Bali. That means you can rest assured it’s got the toughness for long sessions – we know there can be lots of smudging on the Bingin reefs, ay. They’ve gone for a non-nano zinc active core, which gives an enviable 50 SPF. It’s fast becoming our go-to choice.
- Really eco-friendly
- No chemical ingredients at all
- It can dry out fast, so it’s usually only good for one surf trip
- Some people don’t like the colour it makes on the skin
The Zinka Zinc Nosecoat
If zinc is what you’re after, and we think that the majority of surfers should be, then Zinka is a company you’ll want to know about. They’ve been crafting no-nonsense screens aimed specifically at water sporters and surfers for more than 30 years. They bill themselves as the “original action sports sunscreen company” and, with a base in sun-splashed Southern California, we think they know a thing or two about keeping the rays off.
They’ve got a whole series of sunblocks on offer, but the one we can’t help but return to is this small, pocket-sized tube of goodness. It’s heavy on the zinc, so it tends to push away the rays harder than other products that prioritize blending in. That makes it a cracking choice for midsummer surfers in sunny corners of the UK, like Cornwall, but also a fantastic option for surf trips to tropical spots like Sri Lanka or Costa Rica.
- 25% zinc!
- Very small and easy to carry around to different surf spots
- Good for places with strong sun
- Colours far too bold for some surfers
- Easy to lose – we’ve done it a few times 🙁
Salt & Stone SPF 50 Mineral Face Stick
The Salt & Stone range has become something of a favourite among surf travelers who really keep an eye on the quality of the products they whack on the skin. It’s formulated with all-natural ingredients. That means you get hits of sunflower oil, Shea, and infusions of Vitamin E to create a combo of natural fatty acids that are all thought to help moisturise dry or damaged skin even while you’re out in the water.
This stick from Surfdome comes with 50 SPF, which is the strength you’re going to want for those seriously sunny destinations and even the UK in the middle of June or July. It’s also got only a slight tint, so it’s the choice to pick if you’re not a fan of big white stripes across your face and prefer something that blends in. Reapply this one every 80 minutes and make sure you get it on at least 15 minutes before you head out.
- 50 SPF covers lots of destinations
- Vitamin E infusion
- Very sweat resistant
- Premium product
- Plastic packaging
We’ve only used the SETT stuff on one trip but we were sufficiently impressed to whack it up here with the best surf sunscreens for 2022. The main reason? There’s a generous beeswax component that means it rarely starts smudging or melting all over your face and eyes. Anyone who’d taken to the water in balmy Mexico will know that’s important, especially when you have the tonnage of Puerto Escondido shorebreaks bearing down.
But beeswax isn’t the only reason why SETT makes it here. We also found it super easy to apply. Pop the lid, poke up the tube, and it glides on like a 9″ on Waikiki. Moreover, it’s easy-peasy to pack and the design is pretty darn cool – don’t pretend you weren’t thinking it!
SPF wise it’s only 30, but you should be reapplying this regularly anyhow, and we’ve already mentioned how that’s a breeze. The key ingredient, as ever, is that zinc. We also like the inclusion of Vitamin E (good for existing sun damage) and shea butter (smoooooth). SETT also make it quite clear: This was “tested on surfers, not animals”!
- Hardly ever runs
- Vitamin E component helps sooth already damaged skin
- Cool design and all that jazz
- 30 SPF max
- Can leave some white marks
Aloha Sun Stick SPF 50+
Aloha have packed their product with so much mineral protection that it’s one of the longest lasting options on the market right now. There’s a hefty core of both non-nano zinc and titanium dioxide. That cranks up the SPF rating to a whopping 50+, which is a whole load higher than many other products on this list. The upshot? This could be the one to go for if you have sun-sensetive skin or just don’t have the discipline to paddle back out and reapply (although you should be doing that anyhow!).
Strength aside, we also love the eco features. These guys have paid very close attention to what TRULY makes a reef-safe block reef-safe. As such, they’ve ditched the oxybenzone, OD-PABA, and 3-Benzylidene camphor chemtrails in favor of 94% natural ingredients. Each stick contains 20g, which they reckon should last anything from a few weeks to a couple of months.
- 50 SPF makes it good for sun-sensetive types
- 96% natural ingredients
- All mineral
- Packaging deteriorates if it gets wet
- Often out of stock
If you have used any other products like this and think we’ve missed something from our selection of the best surf sunscreen products on the market today, please get in touch! We always love to add more impressive UV blockers to our pieces to help keep surfers healthy.