Finding a decent sunscreen for surfing in can be a traumatic ordeal. Many products start to run the moment you enter the water, stinging your eyes and hindering your shred in an unpleasant, even aggressive fashion — and that’s before you get burnt to shit because your sunscreen’s washed off.

So I was overjoyed when a cardboard box full of Swox turned up at Surf Europe HQ. Not that I really needed it yet — the single 50ml tube of Swox Zinc that mysteriously went missing from my mate’s wash bag in October 2016, and that I used on an almost daily basis all last summer, is still going strong. It’s good to know you’ve got back up, though.

Swox Sunscreen Zinc and Lotion

Never in the hundreds of times I’ve used it have the sun’s rays managed to breach my factor-50 defences, even during lengthier sessions; nor has it ever run in my eyes or irritated my skin. It’s a bit tricky to get off later on but that’s the trade-off with any zinc-based sunscreen. If you like you can get it in beige, which will be slightly less noticeable on the Bataplan dance floor later that day.

"Never in the hundreds of times I’ve used it have the sun’s rays managed to breach my factor-50 defences; nor has it ever run in my eyes or irritated my skin"

That's your face sorted, and Swox also do a standard lotion, in either factor 50 or factor 30, to lather over your various appendages, your chassis, your North Sea rig. The lotion’s still highly water-resistant, but doesn’t contain zinc so rubs in easily. All the plastic tubes, meanwhile, are not only recyclable but made from 49-percent-biobased plastics.

Swox Sunscreen Zinc and Lotion

The other thing maybe to bear in mind about sunscreen is its potential to wash off and damage coral reef. (The extent of this problem, particularly with regard to sunscreens like Swox that don’t readily wash off, is difficult to determine). The main toxic chemicals to look out for in sunscreen ingredients are oxybenzone, octinoxate, butylparaben and enzacamene, none of which you’ll find in Swox.

Swox Sunscreen Zinc and Lotion

Volume: 50ml
SPF zinc price: €20
SPF 50 lotion price: €18
SPF 30 lotion price: €16


Zinc oxide and titanium oxide are thought to be OK, although when they come in nanoparticle form, as they do in Swox, they seem to behave slightly differently. Research into their effect on coral is ongoing and inconclusive, but the signs so far aren’t overly promising.

But at the French beach break, or at square leg on a gruelling day of test cricket, or on the Bataplan dance floor, it's the only sunscreen you'll ever need.