How to avoid sunburn while snorkeling


Hey guys! So you are thinking about or actually want to go snorkeling. With temperatures soaring, there’s a high chance people are heading to the beach to cool down. I recently dived into the waters myself with my kids for an afternoon of snorkeling. Unfortunately, even underwater, there is no guarantee that we are protected from harsh and strong UV rays

UV protection while snorkeling

The chance of getting sunburn is even higher while snorkeling because the water reflects the sunrays. Therefore, taking care of high–level UV protection is crucial if you plan water activities! During snorkeling, the most compromised areas are the head, the shoulders, the waist area, and the calves. For the best protection, wear high UPF swimming suit, cover the head and apply ocean safe sunscreen on the uncovered areas!

UV protection clothing

Clothing is the simplest and most important line defense against sun rays. Even your everyday clothing provides UV protection. For example, a normal white cotton T-shirt has UPF5 protection. It is better than nothing but not effective for staying a long time in the sun. The best way to avoid sunburn is wearing special UV protection clothing with high UPF rating that effectively absorbs and blocks the harmful radiation. These lightweight, high-elasticity and fast-drying materials are the best to wear on the beach and for any water activity!

  • TSLA’s original Rashguard Tops lineup designed specifically for water sports and Surfing
  • Durable high-density fabric that protects against rashes and abrasions. Stretchable fabric with water shedding capabilities
  • UPF 50+ : Fabric that protects against 98% of harmful rays for all day protection.

Best fabric for sun protection

As mentioned above, all clothes provide a certain level of sun protection but fabrics with spaces between the fibers are not effective in blocking harmful UV rays so they can reach the skin. Tightly woven, high-density synthetic fibers like lycra, nylon, polyester offer great protection. The color is also important. Dark and vivid colors block harmful UV rays more effectively than light ones. It is also important that if the fabric gets stretched, thin and transparent, it loses the majority of its sun protection feature. To be on the safe side, buy clothes that have at least UPF30 rating!

What does UPF mean?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor represents the fraction of UV rays can penetrate the fabric and used to indicate the sun protective feature of clothing. UPF is similar to the SPF rating for sun care products. It was originally enhanced by the American Society for Testing and Materials Committee. The higher the UPF, the better the protection. UPF50 rating means that the fabric will allow 1/50th of the UV to pass through the fabric. In other words, it blocks approx. 95 % of the UV-B rays and 98 % of the UV-A rays.


Wear rash guard for snorkeling

After ruining our holiday a couple of times due to sunburn, I learned the lessons well and never leave for a snorkeling holiday without UV protection clothing. Rash guards and swim shirts are the best for active water sports offering high-level sun protection and allowing free movements thanks to its properties. But what is exactly a rash guard? These type of clothing used mainly for water sports protecting the wearer against irritation, rash, and sunburn. Thanks to the high elasticity, light spandex, polyester and nylon fabric it is lightweight and doesn’t limit movements.

  • 82% Polyester, 18% Spandex
  • Color block striped Rashguard top features quick drying, breathable, moisture wicking fabric for all day comfort
  • UPF 50 fabrication protects skin by blocking harmful Ultraviolet UVA and UVB rays
  • Banded crew neck swim top with raglan sleeves allows arms for full range of movement

Head sun protection

Your head is almost all the time out of the water during snorkeling, and the wet scalp can burn faster than other parts of your body. Don’t think you only need sun protection if you have a bald head since hair doesn’t protect the delicate skin on your head. Sunburn on your scalp could be painful and dangerous (think about heat stroke). Moreover, skin is very sensitive on the neck and on the ears too. Therefore, we recommend you never go snorkeling without taking care of your head sun protection, even if you plan a short session only. You can wear a hooded rash guard shirt or full body UV protection suit with a hoodie.  Also, you can get head sun protection items separately as well. Swim cap or UV protective swim bandana works the best. But alternatively, even a simple multifunctional sport headband can do the job too!

COPOZZ Diving Skin, Men Women Youth Thin Wetsuit Rash Guard- Full Body UV Protection

  • Full body cover diving skin provides the best protection against sea lice, jellyfish, coral reef and other biological irritants. Perfect to wear in the ocean or any other water area.
  • This full suit is perfect in all conditions. Full-body & long-sleeve design with a special UV protection coating layer helps to reduce harms from sunlight. 
  • Dive skin made of soft and luxurious Lycra spandex, comfortable to wear with great ventilation, no color fading

Sunscreen for snorkeling

For responsible snorkelers and ocean lovers, when buying a sun lotion it is important that it is safe for the reefs and biodegradable. Our advice is to use a full-body rash guard as the main protection so that you can minimize or even skip using sun lotion. Never buy sun care products that contain dangerous ingredients like Oxybenzone and octinoxate. Mineral sunscreen with non-nano Zinc-Oxide and/or Titanium-dioxide are safe to use like the ThinkBaby Safe sunscreen  or Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen  products. For more information in this topic and to know how mineral sunscreen works, read our detailed ocean safe sunscreen post!

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