Protecting your skin from sunburns is essential for any outdoor activity. Not only is it of big importance to keep our skin healthy, but any pain or discomfort must be avoided to fully enjoy that sunny day.
In this article we share some of our own tips and tricks in regards to this topic. Both information and helpful equipment is what we focus on.
Apply Every 2 Hours
This has obviously crossed your mind in the first place, but we want to take a moment to share a few details. Did you know that experts advise you to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours? It’s true! Sunscreen usually works for 2 hours after which it loses its effectiveness.
Any water activity, including snorkeling, will have an impact on sunscreen. Sunscreen is often water resistant, which means that water penetration into its formula is avoided. However, they’re often not waterproof! That’s why some people advise swimmers to reapply a new layer after every swim. Especially if you use a towel to dry your skin.
SPF (Sun Protection Factor)
Depending on your skin, always seek advise which SPF is the right choice. Generally speaking, experts say that an SPF of 30 – 50 is a good choice for most of us. To stay on the safe side, or if you have a sensitive skin, a higher number could be necessary. We cover SPF 100 sunscreen in our snorkel gifts article.
It’s also important to choose a product that offers “broad spectrum” protection. This means that the specific sunscreen protects your skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
Reef Friendly Sunscreen
We talked about reef friendly sunscreen in our article about snorkeling and the environment. The thing to understand, is that not every product that claims to be reef friendly is in fact reef friendly. You must check which ingredients are used in order to tell. We link to an article at the bottom of this page that explains all the details. But here’s a product we use ourselves:
A pack of 2 costs around 15 bucks at Amazon.
Protecting Your Feet From UV Rays
Feet have thin and often sensitive skin. Sure, you could be just fine with an effective sunscreen. Some people however prefer to cover their feet with either swimming socks or shoes. Not only does this help to avoid sunburns, but they protect your feet from scratches, stings and heat.
We recently wrote an entire article about water shoes for snorkelers. One of the main reasons why people grab a pair is cold feet. Some shoes are able to keep your feet warm, so if you struggle with that, feel free to give it a read.
UV protection is not the main purpose of snorkel fins. But if you experience sunburns on your feet regularly, and if you enjoy flexible swimming, they could help you out. Some fins can even be worn in combination with water shoes or socks.
Protecting Your Hands From UV Rays
For anyone with sensitive hands or fingers, gloves for snorkelers could be a helpful gadget to own. Just like shoes, they protect your hands from UV rays and keep them warm. Probably not a necessary addition to your snorkeling equipment, but who knows they’ll just do the trick.
Hands receive a lot of sunlight throughout the day. They’re often not covered and sunscreen can wear off quickly. Regular reapplication and moments in the shade are of help as well.
Protecting Your Body From UV Rays
The biggest advantage of snorkel rash guards is their protective layer. If you plan to snorkel in a rocky area, scratches or wounds are a possibility. However, they’re also available with UV protection. For a quick snorkel session, people often don’t prefer to wear one for many reasons. But if you have a sensitive skin and experience sunburns easily, they can definitely help you out.
People usually wear a swim or snorkel vest in order to float. They’re available in many different versions, even inflatable. Obviously, these vests will cover your upper body and not your legs. When we snorkel we often face our back towards the sun. Always have that red back after a day of swimming? Do you find it hard to stay afloat? Well, consider one of these vests.
If the gear above is just “too much” for you, consider to simply wear a shirt. However, make sure it comes with decent UV protection. They’re available with long and short sleeves. If you’re interested, they’re usually around 20 bucks and can be found at Amazon (link to the shirt below on the right).
Protecting Your Face From UV Rays
Before we start: Snorkeling with a mask that covers your entire face can be dangerous. Yes, they’re very popular and many people enjoy them (and so do we). But it’s of big importance to understand their risks and downsides. We cover the details in our full face snorkel masks guide (and we don’t promote, use or advise UV protecting snorkel masks).
But yeah, if you get yourself a decent product that has been tested in a variety of ways, this could protect your face from sunburns. Be aware that your ears, cheeks, neck etc won’t be covered, so you still need to use sunscreen in these areas. We link to the official Smaco website at the bottom of this article (which is the mask we show you below on the right).
Protecting Your Head From UV Rays
For bald people, or anyone with insufficient hair on their head, a swimming cap can be very helpful. We did a little research and found out that some sellers claim their caps protects against UV rays. Just like we mentioned before, doing your own research is necessary. Simply ask any manufacturer directly to be absolutely sure.
Most caps protect your ears as well. And some even cover a bigger portion of the face. There’s a lot out there. We don’t link to any products when it comes to caps because we never tried them ourselves.
UV Protection On The Beach
Your choices are really almost endless. Now that we covered UV protective snorkel gear, let’s also take a look at what you could be wearing on the beach or when hiking (or wherever you’re exposed to sunlight).
UV Protecting Hats
When you’re not snorkeling, relaxing on the beach is probably a nice thing to do. As long as the wind allows you to wear a hat, why not? Hats create an area of shade and can even cool you down a bit. If they come with decent UV protection, some people will find them very beneficial (like bald people for example).
UV Protecting Shawls
If you want to cover your neck, a light and comfortable beach shawl is probably a wise choice. Some people even experience quite some discomfort whenever winds start to appear. If you wear one anyway, why not opt for a version that offers UV protection? A sunburn in our neck (especially the back of the neck) is a common problem.
UV Protecting Beach Dresses
Yes, we’re aware that these products showcase women’s gear. But don’t worry, there’s a lot for men to choose from as well. We’ll link to all available clothes a little further down below (for both men and women).
A beach dress can be comfortable, they allow you to switch from the beach to a local restaurant, or they simply make you look fashionable. Depending on their size, wearing one could cover a certain part of you body. If you get one with UV protection, you might need less sunscreen throughout the day. For anyone interested, here’s a link to our article where we discuss what to wear when snorkeling.
UV Protecting Beach Tents
For anyone who plans to spend the entire day on the beach, who knows a full day of sunshine is just too much to handle. We always go for a drink or a meal in the shade, or just for a walk. But if you want (or need) to stay on the beach the entire time, like snorkeling with kids for example, a tent could be a luxury to have.
Tents that block UV rays are available in many sizes and designs. You could just as well go for a small or partial one in case transportation is an issue. Luckily most UV protective tents are foldable and easy to carry with you.
UV Protecting Beach Umbrellas
If a tent is just too much for you, an UV protecting beach umbrella could do the trick as well. Most of us bring one anyway, so why not get one that protects you from UV rays? No need to carry a (sometimes) heavy tent, and maybe even no reason to get one of those hats or shawls. Depending on their size, they can fit one or multiple people.
All the gear we listed can be found at Amazon (for both men and women) from this link.
It’s advised to apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before we expose our body to the sun. Reapplying is necessary at least every 2 hours, or even faster in case you entered the water. It’s also best to apply it to dry skin.
Most of us adore the sun and its warmth. We can’t wait to head out on our inflatable dock and just chill for the day. Just remember: Sunscreen is necessary, even if you don’t feel hot.
If besides sunscreen you feel like an extra layer of protection, for example when snorkeling in Tenerife, consider some of the gear we listed above. Better be safe than sorry. Whether you’re a snorkeler or not, there are many ways to avoid a sunburn in water or on land. It’s a matter of personal preference, and whether or not you’re able to carry specific gear with you. Some locations are almost sunny all year round, like snorkeling in Hurghada (Egypt) for example. Other locations don’t offer any shades from the sun, like some islands for people snorkeling in Lombok (Indonesia). I’m just saying, be prepared!
A long story short: Proper UV protection is possible in style. No need to show up at the beach like this guy:
Save The Reef (If you’d like more information about reef friendly sunscreen)
Smaco (To learn more about their UV protected full face mask. Be aware: We’re not promoting this mask as we don’t know about its safety features – do your own research)
Queensland Health (How to get the best out of your sunscreen)