The Best Sunscreen For Surfing 2024 (Stay Safe, Surf Longer)

the best sunscreen for surfing

Looking for long-lasting protection when you’re surfing, even in the harshest conditions? Well, you’re in exactly the right spot.

We’ve considered water resistance, SPF level, and ingredients to bring you the best sunscreen for surfers.

So don’t cook your skin for no reason. Grab one of these carefully selected picks and surf all day, knowing you’re staying sun safe.

We spent countless hours researching and testing various surf sunscreens to bring you the best protection for surfers (no nasty chemical sunscreen included). Let’s dive into our top picks.

the best sunscreen for surfing

Our Favourite Sunscreen For Surfing All Day Long

Skin cancer is no joke, and making sure you’re getting the sun protection you need is essential, especially as you age.

Let’s look at some of our favourite reef-safe sunscreens that are long-lasting, water-resistant and kind on your skin.

Editor's Choice
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - Travel Sunscreen...
Value Choice
Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50...
EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 | Natural Organic...
SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen - Eco...
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - Travel Sunscreen...
Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50...
EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 | Natural Organic...
SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen - Eco...
Editor's Choice
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - Travel Sunscreen...
Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen - Travel Sunscreen...
Value Choice
Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50...
Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50...
EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 | Natural Organic...
EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 | Natural Organic...
SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen - Eco...
SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen - Eco...

We’ve personally vetted all of these sunscreen brands, and we can verify they all pass the Honest Surf check as great surf brands.

Waxhead Sunscreen Paste SPF 30 (Editor’s Choice)

Waxhead Zinc Oxide Sunscreen – Travel Sunscreen…
  • Coral Safe Sunscreen – Only 4 ingredients: 25% non nano zinc oxide sunscreen, coconut oil,…
  • Sport Sunscreen – Scored #1 by the EWG Sunscreen Guide this chemical free sunscreen is built for…
  • Sunscreen Reef Safe – Ocean safe sunscreen, surfing sunscreen and all sports sunscreen. This reef…
  • Sun Screen Protector for Face – This physical sunscreen for face is a true watermans sunscreen and…
  • Apply – Rub finger in sunblock paste to warm. Dot, spread and rub on nose, face, lips and ears. Goes…

If you’re looking for a natural, reef-safe sunscreen to protect you during long sessions, Waxhead Tinted Surf Sunscreen is our recommended pick.


  • Made from only four edible-grade ingredients, this mineral sunscreen is safe for sensitive skin and won’t sting eyes or run.
  • The tinted formula lets you see exactly where you’re applying it and stays on top of the skin, providing true UVA and UVB coverage.
  • Waterproof for 80 minutes, but I’ve pushed this much longer with an extra thick layer and still no sign of burning.
  • Two shades let you closely match your skin colour and avoid that I’ve been playing cricket look.


  • The sunscreen is thicker than common sunscreens, which some people may find off-putting.
  • Apply with the utmost care. The tint is killer if you get it on your clothes or car upholstery. The stains may never come out; you’ve been warned.
  • The small tin container gets ridiculously hot if you leave it in the sun, much to my unpleasant surprise (not a con, but I thought I’d let you learn from my mistake).
surfer riding a small wave at a tropical surf spot

We’ve used this sunscreen extensively on Honest Surf trips, and it’s a massive winner with us. The tinted formula means you won’t miss any spots, and the sunscreen stays on even during marathon sessions in the ocean.

So don’t go getting fried on your next trip to the waves. Get your hand on a pot of Waxhead, and keep those nasty sunburns at bay.

Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50 (Value Choice)

Headhunter Heavy Duty Reef Safe Sunscreen SPF 50…
  • Superior Skin Defense – Provides heavy duty SPF 50 skin defense against damage. Reef safe. Will not…
  • The Original Sunscreen for Surfing – Designed for surfers and avid water sport enthusiasts….
  • All Natural Active Ingredients, 100% Reef-Safe – This reef-friendly sunscreen is made with natural…
  • Fast and Easy Application – Gentle formula that won’t sting eyes. Applies and absorbs easily….
  • Travel-friendly Convenient 3oz Size – Headhunter SPF 50 sunscreen comes in a slender and…

Headhunter has been around for a while now, and for a good reason: they make epic sunscreen!

This new heavy-duty surf sunscreen is a solid, water-resistant choice that’s an absolute bargain.

We all know what it’s like when times are tight, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your skin to the sun gods.

This surf sunscreen from Headhunter can be applied all over the body, and it’s by far the cheapest option that isn’t packed full of nasty chemicals.

And what is it made of? It’s made from 100% natural mineral ingredients making it reef-safe and skin-kind.


  • The squeezy tube makes quick application easy when you can’t wait to paddle to the waves.
  • Its low price makes it perfect for applying liberally to your arms and legs.
  • Special formula won’t sting your eyes, even when sweating buckets.


  • This is more like a cream than a full sunblock, and it’s not quite as water-resistant.
  • The white colour isn’t as nice as the other tinted options on this list (just my personal opinion).
  • You’ll never squeeze out the bit stuck around the tube lid.
  • It’s a tiny bit greasy.
several surfers riding a wave in the sunshine

We love Headhunter’s heavy-duty offering because it’s a cheap way to keep our whole body slathered in waterproof sunscreen.

We recommend combining this with one of the better-quality surf sunscreens on this list so you can use the Headhunter on your body, arms and legs and save the good stuff for your face.

EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50

EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro SPF 50 | Natural Organic…
  • NATURAL SUNSCREEN Non-Nano Zinc Oxide non-chemical extra-strong SPF 50 protection against UVA and…
  • REEF & OCEAN SAFE Our natural non-chemical sunscreen is Oxybenzone and Octinoxate free two chemicals…
  • WATER-RESISTANT Beeswax creates a natural barrier that helps seal moisture into the skin, making the…
  • HOW TO USE Apply sleek sustainable convenient stick directly onto the face it slides on with a…
  • PURE & NATURAL Made with simple, 100% natural, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and chemical-free…

EiR NYC Surf Mud is just as much a surfing sunscreen as an absolute treat for your face.

Packed full of fatty acids and antioxidants, this stuff will keep your skin ultra-hydrated even after getting battered by the sun and wind.


  • The all-natural, non-chemical ingredients are safe for adults and kids.
  • The non-nano zinc oxide provides extra-strong SPF 50 protection against UVA and UVB light rays for the hottest of surfs.
  • The beeswax creates a natural barrier that helps seal moisture into the skin and makes it water-repellent.
  • Great if you want to tackle those sizzling midday surfs in the tropics.


  • It’s a bit thick and hard to spread, leaving a white residue on your skin.
  • The cardboard packaging can leech moisture if left in the sun, leaving you with a dried husk.
  • It’s a very light tint, and unless you’re pale, this isn’t going to blend too well.
powerful carve on a sunny day

I’ve had the pleasure of testing this one, and the stick glides smoothly, but you need a few passes to build up a good layer.

The chocolate scent is a nice touch, and the ingredients are all natural and safe for the environment.

The non-nano zinc oxide protects against harmful UV rays, and the beeswax creates a natural barrier that helps moisturise your skin.

EiR NYC Surf Mud Pro is the per cent choice for someone looking for a natural, reef-safe sunscreen that treats your skin with the utmost care.

Surf Durt Sunscreen SPF 30 (Planet-Friendly)

SurfDurt: Original Reef Safe Sunscreen – Eco…
  • REEF SAFE & CRUELTY-FREE: SurfDurt is a reef safe sunscreen made with 11, food-grade ingredients and…
  • NATURAL MINERAL SUNSCREEN: SurfDurt’s only active ingredient is safe for you and the reefs: non-nano…
  • PERFORMANCE DRIVEN: Premium, surf-resistant sunscreen that offers UVA and UVB, broad spectrum, SPF…
  • PRODUCED IN CA, USA: This natural sunblock with non-nano zinc oxide is produced in San Diego, CA…
  • YOU’RE THE REAL SOLUTION: We know our natural sunscreen with non-nano zinc oxide is truly amazing,…

What’s not to love about Surf Durt, the name, the bamboo pot or the fact surfers make it over in San Diego?

This sunscreen is made from 11 ingredients, including coconut, avocado, and jojoba oil, that are all as safe for you as they are for reefs and the marine life in and around them.

This stuff is super thick and feels glued to your skin after putting it on. You can get smashed around by the waves, and this is not coming off.

The biggest standout here is the minimal carbon footprint of this sunscreen, with no need to be flown across the planet before it eventually gets used on surfer’s faces.

surfer riding a wave in the midday sun


  • I surfed for three hours with this stuff on and couldn’t see any red, which couldn’t be said for the friend I surfed with.
  • The bamboo pot is a nice touch.
  • Chocolate scent makes putting this on a real treat.


  • It’s a bit thick and hard to spread.
  • I felt like my face couldn’t breathe with this stuff on, but that may just be me.
  • You need to scrub to get this stuff off, and I mean scrub!

Tropics Sun Stick SPF 50 (Sensitive Skin)

If you struggle with sensitive skin, this sun stick from the guys at Tropic could be the perfect fit.

Made from a combination of green algae, vitamin E and tamanu oil, it’s a real treat for your skin.

If you’re surfing over in Indo or somewhere equally hot, pair it up with Tropic Lip Shade, designed to protect the thinner, more delicate skin, preventing those nasty chapped lips.


  • Very easy to apply, with a nice smooth feel as you roll it across your skin.
  • Great for kids who struggle with cream and spray sun cream.
  • Made from a whole load of natural ingredients straight from nature.


  • It’s definitely on the pricier side compared to others on this list.
  • It does have a white shade, which means it doesn’t blend perfectly with your skin colour.

You can grab it here.

How We Picked Our Favourite Sunscreen For Surfers

When choosing the best surf sunscreen, we wanted to make sure we had an option for everyone, helping them surf for longer without getting burnt.

We considered as many things as possible to guarantee we brought you the best.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF)

The SPF number on a sunscreen bottle indicates the protection it provides against UVB rays. The higher the SPF, the more protection you get. We only picked sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, so you’ll always be protected in the surf.

Broad Spectrum

A broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for premature ageing and skin damage, while UVB rays cause sunburn. We looked for sunscreen labelled as “broad-spectrum” to protect you against both rays.

Water Resistance

If you plan on surfing, choosing a waterproof sunscreen is a must. We specifically looked for 80 minutes (the max) of water resistance, even though these sunscreens can provide hours of water resistance if applied liberally.


Some sunscreens contain ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin or harm marine life. We opted for sunscreens free from oxybenzone and octinoxate, which harm coral reefs.

Frequently Asked Questions

We answer your questions and concerns, so you know you’ve got the right sun protection in the water.

What are the best sunscreens for surfing?

Water-resistant with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 and ingredients that aren’t going to harm the ocean we all know and love. It’s that simple.

What are some good surf sunscreens for sensitive skin?

If you have sensitive skin, choose a gentle sunscreen that won’t cause irritation. Avoid nasty chemicals and stick to one of the great natural options on this list.

Is Surf Zapper a good surfing sunscreen?

Sun Zapper’s many colour options are fun, but there’s a noticeable lack of coral or reef-safe ingredients. It’s a good option if you’re stuck and can’t grab anything else, but I’m not a fan.

How often should I reapply when I’m surfing?

Ideally, you want to put a new layer on every hour and a half, but it’s not always an option when the waves are pumping. If you think you’re heading in for a long session, spread a bit thicker.