4 Ways to Fight the Sun on the Water

Sun in cloudy sky

Long days on the water are a blast, but you need to protect yourself. Whether you’re swimming, waterskiing, fishing, or just hanging out on the boat, you are constantly being exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun (even on cloudy days).

Sun exposure can give you painful sunburns and strain your eyes, but most concerning is that it also increases risks for certain types of skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation states that one in five U.S. adults will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70 and 86% of melanoma (a malignant type of skin cancer) cases are related to excessive UV ray exposure from the sun (more information and stats found here). Although these stats are concerning, there are plenty of options out there to help you safely enjoy your time on the water.


Woman in hat wearing sunglasses with sunscreen on nose
Image by chezbeate from Pixabay

The most obvious way to combat the sun’s harmful rays is to make sure you apply sunscreen. If you’re out on the water, you definitely want to use a ‘sport’ sunscreen that is water-resistant.

Note that I did not say waterproof. Make sure you read the label on your sunscreen because most water-resistant sunscreens suggest reapplication after about two hours or after toweling yourself dry.

One of the most common questions regarding sunscreen is: what is best choice for SPF? Dermatologists associated with the Skin Cancer Foundation suggest that SPF 30 is a solid all-around choice for most people as it blocks 97% of UVB rays (these are the UV rays related to skin cancers).

For individuals with sensitive skin or a history of skin cancer, however, SPF 50 (blocking 98% of UVB rays) or even higher is recommended.

Note: If you have a medical history of skin cancer, please consult your dermatologist regarding your sun exposure limits and sun protection needs.

Polarized Sunglasses

Man and woman on beach wearing sunglasses
Photo by Joey Nicotra on Unsplash

Ever forget your sunglasses on a boat trip? Ouch, that dull eye pain does not feel good. The glare off of the water can really strain your eyes and sun exposure is actually known to damage your retinas.

Although standard sunglasses do help some, get yourself some polarized lenses. These chemically-treated lenses reorganize how light rays reach your eyes and filter out glare and harmful UV rays.

An added bonus is that polarized lenses help you see more sharply in sunny conditions and also allow you to see more clearly through the water (a huge plus for fishermen).

A Good Hat

Woman in swimsuit at beach wearing a hat
Photo by Jens Kreuter on Unsplash

Your face and neck will get the brunt of sun rays on the water. A good hat will keep the sun out of your eyes and offer protective shade to your face and the back of your neck. Although most folks opt for a baseball cap, this will leave your neck exposed.

Check out full-brimmed hats like this Tilley LTM6 Airflo Broad Brim Hat at Overton’s that will offer you exceptional protection from the sun.

Sun Protection Clothing

Man in blue sun shirt
Image by Overton’s

Sun protection doesn’t mean you have to slather your entire body in sunscreen. There are also a variety of breathable clothes that are made of sun-blocking materials with SPF ratings as high as 50+.

If you prefer to wear a ball cap, wear one of these sun-blocking shades around the back of your neck. Any part of your body that is not covered, however, should be covered with sunscreen.

How do you beat the sun on the water? Share your tips or questions below.


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