Surfing is best performed in sunshine - strong sunshine ideally. It helps make duckdives beautifully blue from below, it'll almost certainly turn an ordinary grey seascape at your local into highly Instagrammable fare.
It'll highlight your hair just so, it'll allow you to make your own delicious vitamin D and avoid the onset of rickets, and seasonal affected disorder (SAD).
And yet the relationship is intrinsically complicated, it's something of a paradox. We seek sunny surf situations - in boardshorts ideally - as often as possible, but we're warned to keep our boards in the shade, lest their virginal white become yellowy yuck. We're told to avoid hanging wetsuits in direct sunlight, which will punish their seams and stiffen their suppleness.
And you've seen what it does to your shortboard... well it can do much worse to your face. While you can always just order a new board or buy a new wetsuit - funds depending - you only ever get one head. One grid, one dial, one boat race.
Try not to fuck it up.
Thing is, there are suncreams, and there are suncreams. Some of them contain nasty toxic stuff that might be worse for you than the harshest of midday sun. Some of them contain nasties that can affect water quality and damage reefs. To that end, the State of Hawaii recently passed a law banning the sale and use of cheap, nasty toxic suncreams.
We've curated the 3 best shred-friendly, Hawaii-legal sunblocks that'll keep you young and beautiful, while not harshing the planet's blue/green mellow.
SWOX Sunscreen Zinc 50 Beige
With no perfumes, parabens, paba, oxybenzone, eye-irritants or greasy residues, the Swox is easy to apply, absorbs quickly and is extra water-resistant. The beige zinc is for the most vulnerable parts of your face: nose, cheeks and forehead, with UVA and UVB filters combined with zinc and titanium, no perfumes or alcohol.
Aside for rippers like Jordy and Marlon on the Swox team, there's even a surfer called Gareth Budge on their site who is a ginger, so you know this stuff really does work for all folk, no matter how cruel a genetic hand nature has dealt them.
Vertra Ehukai Beige JJF Signature SPF38
Vertra almost certainly has the raddest surf team going. Full on legends like JJF, Dorian, Lenny, Fanning, Simpson... ok so maybe not Brett Simpson.
But whatever, the team is legit. Someone once told me that if you order some you get a letter from Shane Dorian. I'm not sure if that's true, but I do know Shane is massive fan of the SE podcast.
John John’s relatively pasty flesh needs as much protection as is it can get from the punishing tropical sun, and his own strong eco cred saw him personally involved in coming up with the formula that he put his name to. All Vertra products are Broad Spectrum, Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Free, Reef Safe, and Paraben Free.
The JJF Series provides the ultimate in water resistant, head-to-toe protection against the sun.
Seventy One Percent Eco Sun Shield SPF50+
Developed between the SW France surfing hubs of Hossegor and Biarritz, the Seventy One Percent range boats quality, natural products made by surfers for surfers.
The French have a bit of a thing for saying non, it's one of the things they do best, and Seventy One Percent have had their fun with it, too. Borrowing Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' slogan, their site boasts that their products contain 'No paraben, no nano-particle, no petroleum, no phenoxyethanol, no silicone, no problem.' Yes please!
With bees' wax for a velvety touch, organic sunflower and jojoba oils, no only is it moisturising, revitalising, anti-wrinkle and softening, it sounds like it might be quite yum on toast (it isn't). Also boasting excellent mineral filters, and organic vegetable glycerin, it's non-comedogenic, and all-round epic.