As a kitesurfer you are exposed to other extremes besides wind and water. Especially the sun can spoil a kite session for us kitesurfers. Most of the time, you don’t notice until the evening or the next morning that the sunscreen wasn’t enough. Therefore, it is important for us kiters to think about adequate sun protection in addition to the appropriate material and wind.
Before kitesurfing even starts, everything revolves around the right wind for the course or kite session and the ideal spot to start, continue practicing or kitesurfing. But another very important point is the protection from the sun, because especially on the water and in the snow we are strongly exposed to it.
Many don’t really think about this until they are out on the water in more southern kiting areas or especially in the summer and want to avoid sunburn. But the thought of sun protection should start much earlier and you should already take a short time to know the most important facts.
Sun protection isn’t just about making sure you don’t get sunburned or spend too long in the sun. You should also know the facts about ingredients and the danger to nature. There are many countless sunscreens that promise you absolute protection, and to some extent they will. But you should pay attention to your skin compatibility in addition to the environment when making your purchase.
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Proper sun protection when kitesurfing
To protect yourself well from the sun, the most important thing is not sunscreen. There are several behaviors that you should know and follow even before applying the cream. Especially when you’re out on the water or in the snow, which is additionally reflective and enhances the effect. Even a cloudy day does not protect from UV radiation. Depending on the angle of the radiation and the clouds, the UV rays can be even stronger than on sunny days.
Therefore, you should align your kite session with it, or protect yourself even more thoroughly.
- stay mainly in the shade, especially between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- never stay too long in the direct sun
- wear dark, tight clothing
- in the best case certified UV-protective clothing (Lycra, Neo)
- wear polarizing sunglasses/kite glasses (min. UV 400 marking)
- wear headgear (helmet, cap,)
- avoid the tanning bed (no better protection)
- use at least an SPF of 20, preferably 30
- do not apply the sunscreen too thinly (about 6 teaspoons for an adult)
- the protection acts only after about 30 minutes
- reapply after water (also waterproof creams)
- sweating also affects the protection
When it comes to sunscreens, there are different types. Here it depends on what type of skin you are and whether you react to the sun. So, if you have dry skin, you should use creams because they are more oily. Lotions are more fluid because they have a higher water content and are therefore easier to apply. Gel is well suited for sun allergy, because it does not contain fats and emulsifiers.
The sun protection factor (SPF) should not be less than 20, no matter what skin type you are. It says that the time you can be in the sun increases by 20 times. The time depends on your skin type. There are 6 skin types in total. Thus, skin type 2 can be in the sun for about 20 minutes, which translates to 400 minutes at SPF 20. But most people apply sunscreen too thinly, so you should expect to see 60%. Which is 240 minutes in our example.
When you buy a sunscreen, you should also make sure that the word “broad spectrum” is included on the package. So besides the SPF that protects you from UVB rays, you are also well protected from UVA rays.
TIP: Especially the face and most of all the nose, are much exposed to the sun. Be it on the water while kiting or in everyday life. Therefore, a zinc stick is recommended for your kite session to protect your face. It is often available in different colors, depending on your liking.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s best to avoid sunburn, otherwise your risk of skin cancer will increase. This begins even with a slight redness. In addition, in this way you prevent sunstroke, which can also affect you if you are not careful. That’s why your first thought, no matter what the latitude, should be predominantly sun protection.
NOTE: In addition to protection during our favorite sport, you should also think about adequate sun protection in everyday life. Especially avoid the midday sun, never expose yourself to the sun for longer than is appropriate for your skin type, and be vigilant throughout the year. Even if you stay in the shade all day, you still get 50% of the UV rays. Keep in mind that even tanned skin isn’t really better protected, and don’t apply sunscreen too thinly.
The best thing to do is check the UV index where you are. With an index of 1-3 no additional protection is needed, from 4-7 you need good protection and from 8 it is best to avoid the sun altogether. There are also several apps that show you the UV index.
Microplastics and chemistry
Have you ever thought about the fact that you can harm the environment, as well as yourself, if you use sunscreen and go into the water with it? Although it is increasingly considered by manufacturers and often required by consumers, you should give some thought to the product, its ingredients and how harmful it is to the oceans and your skin before buying a sunscreen. This way you can be sure that you and nature are well protected.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that your sunscreen doesn’t contain chemical or mineral UV filters. At its best, it conforms to the Hawaii Reef Act (Without the UV filters octinoxate and oxybenzone). Chemical filters penetrate the skin and have also been detected in the blood and can cause hormone disruption. The mineral titanium dioxide filter, can damage the lungs, which is especially a problem with sprays and it can enter the organism. In addition, it should not contain microplastics.
Ideally, your sunscreen should contain a zinc oxide filter. This is currently the safest UV filter that protects coral reefs and marine life, while also not harming us.
Suntribe*– the natural sunscreen
On our research trips we are outdoors a lot and not only exposed to the sun on the water. In addition, we now have a little man with us, which makes you think even more about the right protection. There are now several suppliers on the market for natural sun protection. We were able to intensively test the brand Suntribe* on our road trip through Croatia and Portugal and would now like to introduce it to you in more detail.
NOTE: Especially children under one year of age should not be exposed to direct sunlight. Opinions differ here on whether to slather sunscreen on children so young. But they get UVA and UVB rays even in the shade, and that’s why I protect our son additionally with UV clothing and a sunscreen when we’re at the beach or outside for longer periods of time. Here, the organic children’s sunscreen from Suntribe* has protected us well in a natural way. It is suitable from 6 months.
Suntribe* was founded more than three years ago by Karl, Hampus and Julia because they wanted to revolutionize the sunscreen industry. Especially in this industry, almost anything is allowed, without regard for health and nature. That’s why they’ve made it their mission to develop safe, natural sunscreens that are 100% free of synthetic chemicals and unnecessary ingredients like fragrance and preservatives. They use only organic oils, waxes, butters and natural minerals in their products and put them through rigorous, real-world testing.
Additionally, they produce in a GMP & COSMOS organic certified facility in the heart of Europe. But they also produce as sustainably as possible in other ways.
TIP: All Suntribe products have SPF 30, this is because the SPF scale is not linear and therefore SPF 30 protects against 97% of UVB rays and SPF 50 protects against 98%. Thus, it is not a big difference. But with SPF 50, a different filter would have to be used and that’s why Suntribe relies on SPF 30, because there is almost no difference and the UV filter remains natural. You can find out more at Suntribe.
On our trip we had with us the organic sunscreen, the organic children’s sunscreen*, the organic sun stick with zinc in brown*, the organic zinc sunscreen face & sport in red*, the organic after sun balm eucalyptus & jojoba* and the organic lip balm with hemp* for radical moisture.
Especially the zinc cream* and the zinc stick* we used intensively during our kite sessions and were very satisfied. They come in white, red, blue and brown. So you can decide for yourself whether you prefer a more striking or subtle color.
The sunscreens are a bit unusual at first because they are not pure white, the consistency is coarser and the smell is earthy. But it doesn’t end up being a nuisance. When applied, they leave a light white film, so you can see where you’ve been. On the skin it feels good and you have the feeling to protect yourself and the environment ideally. From the smell, I liked the children’s sun cream better, otherwise they are very similar.
The Aftersun Balm* is a little thicker to apply and you have to like the eucalyptus smell. But it cools and it helps the skin to regenerate. The lip balm is also pleasant on the lips and provides a good feeling.
At first you have to get used to the different consistency and smell, but then they are not different from known creams and feel good on the skin. Our little man also tolerated the cream very well.
The zinc stick* in particular is easy to use and both make you feel good about protecting your face well on the water. I also didn’t get sunburn on my nose like I usually do from time to time. But if the skin was a little redder after all, the Aftersunbalsam* provided a good remedy.
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