A Surfer’s Guide To Skincare
You get up early. The sun meets you at the beach. You spend hours every day soaking in the saltwater and soaking up the rays. In some ways, you’re doing your skin a great service. In other ways, well… there’s room for improvement.
If you’re going to soak in something for hours on end, saltwater is a good choice. Since Biblical times, people have flocked to the
Dead Sea to soak in the saltwater and they still do today. Of course, the salinity of normal ocean water is less than that of the
Dead Sea, it still carries many of the same properties. For instance, saltwater is a natural exfoliant and, as such, it can help smooth and tone your skin. It can also help speed the healing process of any blemishes.
There are trace nutrients present in saltwater as well as seaweed. And while people pay good money for seaweed extract over the counter, you can get it for free (of course you have to extract it from your hair from time to time). Now whether the kelp in your hair or those small amounts of nutrients are helping or not is a question that has not been adequately answered. But some of the most radiant skin we’ve seen is on older surfers. Is it a natural phenomenon or do they just take better care of their skin than most people? We may never know, but our money is on it being a little bit of both.
What’s Not Good
Of course no matter how much seaweed you rub into your pores, the sun is beating down on you from above and up on you from the water. And the sun is bad (for unprotected skin anyway). If you’ve surfed for any length of time, you know the danger of the all-over sunburn you can get form the sun’s reflection off the surface of the water.
And just like there are good things floating around in the water, there are also bad things – everything from petroleum products (that tar that you know all too well) to all kinds of waste from passing ships. You’ve seen what washes up on the shore. And you know that in order to get to the beach it had to go past you (remember: no fear).
What You Can Do About It
Get a good sunscreen (SPF 30+). Of course it will need to be waterproof and sweat-proof (they are not necessarily the same thing – some hold up better than others). Also look for a tube with a built-in applicator. Some manufacturers make them with a sponge-type applicator so that you can apply the sunscreen without ever touching it with your hands. If you’ve ever had a hand slip off your board at an inopportune time, you know the value of this feature.
Wear a wet suit. The more skin you cover, the less can get burned – and the less you have to worry about keeping adequately slathered in sunscreen.
Even though you are soaking in water all morning, remember that water itself can break down the natural moisture barrier you have on your skin. So ironically, being in the water can have the bizarre (but measurable) effect of drying out your skin. Add to that the overall drying properties of the sun and your skin is going to be ready for a moisturizer when you get out of that shower. And whether it’s a hot shower before you go to the office or a cold shower right there on the beach, have a good quality moisturizer ready to apply after you towel off
And don’t forget your feet! They take a beating every morning. Pamper them a little with a nice hydrating foot crème – or better yet, a periodic pedicure. A little professional help form time to time will make your own personal routine maintenance that much easier.