Any boat lover will tell you there’s no better place to spend a sunny afternoon than on the water. No phone calls or emails to answer. No distractions from electronic devices. Just grab your best tanning lotion, a cooler full of snacks and beverages, pull up anchor and set sail. What could be better?
The only way to spoil a day like that is to return to shore as red as a lobster because you forgot to reapply that tanning lotion or use sunscreen. When you’re on the water, it’s as important to be sun smart as it is to be boating smart.
Unprotected skin can burn after just 20 minutes in the sun, but when you add in the increased intensity due to the reflection off of the water, the whole process speeds up. So before you start the motor or hoist the sail, take a refresher course on proper skincare.
> Tanning Lotions
Tanning lotions typically accelerate the tanning process, not prevent it like a sunblock product. A “tan” is when the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays react with the deeper layers of skin tissue to produce melanin, which is the pigment that darkens. The more exposure the skin has to the sun, the darker the pigment becomes; however, there’s also a greater risk for skin damage.
If you still want a sunkissed look, choose tanning lotions with moisturizing ingredients. When melanin is produced, skin becomes dehydrated. Look for products that list components such as hempseed oil, Shea butter and vitamin E. Avoid formulas with alcohol because that will further dry out your skin.
Sunscreens either scatter the sun’s light so it bounces away from the body or actually absorb the UV rays before they penetrate the skin cells. It used to be that sunscreens worked against only UVB rays; however, research has shown that both UVB and UVA rays negatively affect skin. The newest formulas, called “broad-spectrum,” are intended to protect against both types of rays. In order to qualify as broad-spectrum, the sunscreen must contain benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone (Parsol 1789), and ecamsule (Mexoryl).
When choosing sunscreen products look at its SPF, or sun protection factor, which basically tells you its strength. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone, regardless of skin color, start with SPF 15. If you have fair skin, burn easily or have a family history of skin cancer, go with a higher SPF, and don’t skimp when applying it. Rub in the first application at least 15 minutes before climbing aboard your boat. Be sure to cover the back of your neck and ears. Also, swipe on lip balm with SPF protection.
A Perfect Ending
Whether you choose a tanning lotion or sunscreen, remember to reapply the product every few hours or after swimming. For extra protection, wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses so the only thing you regret at the end of the day is that you couldn’t stay out on the water longer.