When I was considering going on my recent trip ChicaBrava Surf Camp in Nicaragua, the strong sun gave me pause. While I love warmth and sunshine, my pale, cancer-prone skin is not so drawn to equatorial lands. I hated to think of what might happen to it in even a single day of surfing. 

So I began researching sun-protective gear. I contacted Solartex, a company which specializes in such items. They generously sent me a surprise package of products to test in the field. And thank goodness they did. Because their water hat made by Sun Day Afternoons was an absolutely genius item I didn’t even know existed. Not only did it keep the sun out of my face, the brim shaded my eyes.

Being a complete surf newbie, my first question was how do you keep your sunglasses on? My light-sensitive eyes were shocked by the answer: You don’t. Sunglasses stay onshore. Between sun and salt water, my eyes were squinty and less than happy. The hat was their savior. Blue with black trim, it features an adjustable brim, a neck-shielding cloth in back and a strap that keeps it firmly in place. I wiped out just about every way imaginable as I tried to learn to stand on a surfboard, and never once did I dislodge my hat. 

Solartex also sent me a one-piece suit made by Stingray. With a sun protection rating of UPF50+, this made a huge difference between burning and not burning. The sleeves ended just before my elbows and the pants ended a few inches above my knees. It zipped up the front all the way to my neck. The lightweight, chlorine-resistant fabric didn’t feel too hot even on a summer afternoon in Nicaragua. It retails for $67.90. 

blog_suit and hatMy four surfing companions at ChicaBrava looked a lot sexier than me in their bikini bottoms and rash guards, hair blowing in the wind. But between my water hat and my Stingray suit, I was the only one who didn’t get burned. And if you’re like me – someone who tries to hide beach visits from her dermatologist – then you’ll understand choosing a water hat over sex appeal. Also, the other surfers’ rash guards constantly slid up, leading to stomach chafing from the wax on their boards. My one-piece suit stayed put. 

Solartex sells Tropical Sands sunscreen, which rates 30 SPF and contains zinc oxide and titanium oxide to provide a physical barrier against the sun. An 8 ounce bottle costs a very reasonable $18.90. My dermatologist recommends this sort of physical block, rather than the chemical blocks employed by many sunscreens. Tropical Sands is also biodegradable and reef-friendly, and says so on the label. This is important because some eco parks in environmentally sensitive areas might require this of your sunscreen. I know when I was preparing to go to the Galapagos I couldn’t  find this designation on any products in a regular store. 

So I have to say hurray for Solartex. They make it easy to protect your skin from the sun. 


Hat photo courtesy of Solartex.

Surfing photo by Jerson Barboza.