Previously I talked about the importance of haircare for swimming, and then I quickly realized that skincare is just as important given UV damage, chlorine irritation, bug bites, and other irritations that may occur for frequent swimmers.
I’m not a medical professional and this blog is not to diagnose or treat any symptoms or skin issues. Please be sure to consult your physician or nurse first.
With that said, let’s dive in!
Understand the High UV Index for Long Swims
When it comes to skincare for swimming, we can’t avoid the topic of UV protection and sunscreen. Before we get to that, the easiest way to protect your skin is to understand the UV index and simply avoid hours during the day when you are likely going to get severe sunburn.
Most weather apps will show you the UV index by the hour and predict what it’s going to be. There are also dedicated UV apps to help you see it more visually, such as UV Index.
Generally speaking, I avoid swimming between 10am and 4pm. But it also depends on the weather and your specific geographical location. So it’s best to rely on your weather apps or UV apps.
Skincare for Swimming (Our Top Picks)
Now we have covered UV index, the next unavoidable topic is sunscreen!
There are so many types of sunscreens and brands out there. I have personally tried over a dozen of them. Let’s review the best ones!
But first, you need to know how to apply it properly, and when.
- Wait 15-20 minutes after sunscreen application before entering the water, as the sunscreen needs time to absorb.
- One ounce of sunscreen is the amount that should cover the arms, legs, neck, and face of the average adult. If you are spraying on the sunscreen, be sure to rub it in to avoid missing a spot. For difficult-to-reach spots, you can ask a partner or a friend to help you out.
Banana Boat Sports Ultra SPF 50+ (Best Spray Sunshine)
We consistently keep them in stock. They are light to apply and water resistant.
About this product (from Amazon)
- SUPERIOR ENDURANCE VS. SWEAT & WATER — From family fun to hardcore competition, Banana Boat Sport Sunscreen provides strong sun protection that stays on so you can play on
- CLINICALLY PROVEN UVA/UVB PROTECTION — This SPF 50+ broad-spectrum sunscreen spray protects skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays
- LIGHTWEIGHT, BREATHABLE FORMULA — Non-greasy feel won’t weigh you down
- HIGH-PERFORMANCE SUNSCREEN — Water & sweat resistant for up to 80 minutes
- FREE FROM oxybenzone and octinoxate
A similar alternative is Copperstone Sports SPF 50+.
Coppertone SPF 50 Sport Clear Sunscreen (Best Clear Sunscreen)
If you are tired of spray sunshine, or you want to protect missed spots on your skin better, try the Cooperstone sport clear sunscreen. It goes on clear and cool. And it’s free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, PABA, Parabens and other not-so-natural stuff.
The only catch for this? Do not apply too close to your eyes and it might feel a bit stingy. I prefer leaving just a bit on my face and focusing on the rest of my body as needed with this clear sunscreen.
Thinksport SPF 50+ Mineral Sunscreen (Best New Product)
Finding the right sunscreen for your face is important. I’m currently exploring the Thinksport brand. The coverage is good and the ingredients are quality. It is more difficult to spread eventually and can appear quite whitish on your face. Still worth a shot! I’m keeping this item given its potential.
About this product (from Amazon)
- SAFE, NATURAL PROTECTION: Thinksport sunscreen provides effective sun protection for athletes, sports and active use. The broad spectrum UVA & UVB sun cream is suitable for daily use on even sensitive skin, offering gentle defense against the sun’s rays.
- EASY APPLICATION: The hydrating body and face sun cream is quick and easy to apply, and protection from the sun begins instantly. The fast absorbing SPF 50+ sun lotion won’t leave your skin feeling oily or sticky, and has no unpleasant chemical scent.
- CLEAN MINERAL FORMULA: The first sunscreen to pass Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, Thinksport vegan, Leaping Bunny certified sun creams contain no PABA, parabens, phthalates, BPA, oxybenzone, avobenzone, petroleum, gluten, dairy, or toxic chemicals.
- WATER RESISTANT: Ideal sunscreen for sport and other activities that make you sweat. Our sun cream provides the highest water resistance per the FDA, offering continuous protection for up to 80 minutes in the pool or sea before the sunscreen should be re-applied.
- Accurate Ingredient List: Our updated packaging guarantees precise ingredient listings while preserving our unchanged formulas. Rest assured, there have been no changes to our ingredients. Our fragrance is derived solely from natural oils, ensuring a pleasant scent without any harmful effects. Note: “Natural Fragrance Oils” simply describes the natural oils used to provide a delightful aroma.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch (Best Lightweight and Oil-Free Sunscreen)
Who doesn’t love Neutrogena products? Especially when it comes sunscreen for your face, nearly any of the Neutrogena products will work. I’m in love with the dry-touch, oil-free products. They feel so smooth and clean on my face.
Clothing as Sunblock (SPF50)
Who knew you can actually wear a sun protection shirt while you swim?! These long sleeve UPF 50+ UV shirts are great. Instead of spraying sunblock all over your body and missing a few spots, a single shirt is all you need. It takes seconds to put on and protects you while you swim. They also come in over a dozen vibrant colors.
There are also men’s equivalent UPF 50+ shirts available.
Should you choose long or short sleeve UPF shirts? I typically opt for long sleeves if they are available because I’m quite sun-sensitive, including my arms. But short sleeves work well too if you are less sensitive to the sun, and short sleeves allow you to move more freely while you swim.
Dive Stuff Pre-Swim Chlorine Neutralizing Body Lotion
This stuff really works! At $13 a bottle, this isn’t something you will necessarily need all over your body. Instead, I tend to use it to focus on my problem spots such as my shins and lower legs in general. If you see dry patches on your skin, or where you know you will likely get irritated from chlorine, you can apply this lotion before you hop into the pool to protect your skin.
Body Wash for Swimming
There are also not many options for body wash for swimming. Tri Swim once again is dominating a less competitive category, I think! For the most part, I believe using regular body wash or a bar of soap will probably do the job, especially if you are already applying pre-swim lotion. However, Tri Swim body wash does seem to do a good job by actively removing chlorine from your body. My skin feels smoother and the scent of Tri Swim’s products is always wonderful.
There aren’t so many after-swim lotions available, but Trim Swim has one I find quite moisturizing, and a good alternative is Hawaiian’s After Sun Body Butter. There are other options as well and generally speaking I prefer lotions with aloe and/or coconut oil as main ingredients for after-sun and after-swim lotions.
Aloe and Aloe Spray
Wanna treat your body to some super soothing aloe spray or aloe gel? I’m currently digging any and all aloe sprays. Not only are they easy to apply, but also feel incredible on your body. I start from my face, then neck, and my entire body after I get out of the shower.
Bug spray for mosquito, ticks, and insect bites
Finding the right bug spray has been challenging. I don’t like spraying harsh chemicals directly on my body so I’m always on the outlook for more gentle and natural bug spray products. I’m glad to have discovered Mosquito. They have insect repellent as well as patches to help reduce swelling.
About this product (from Amazon)
- Comprehensive Protection: Defends against mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, stable flies, black flies, gnats, chiggers & sand flies
- Dual-Action Pump Spray: Easy face & body application with a moisturizing water-based solution or cloud-burst mist for maximum coverage
- Long-lasting: 14-hour protection from mosquitoes & ticks (including West Nile Virus carriers); 8-hour protection from other biting insects
- Skin-Friendly Formula: Non-oily, non-greasy, non-sticky & moisturizing for a comfortable feel
- Travel-Ready: Pocket-sized & water-resistant, perfect for tropical areas & extreme outdoor adventures
- CDC-Recommended: Safe & effective alternative to DEET; won’t damage plastics or synthetic materials
- Family-Friendly: Suitable for pregnant women & all family members, with a pleasant, fresh scent
Another long-time favorite product of mine is the Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Deet-Free spray. The smell is more intense than you think but they do work well.
About this product (from Amazon)
- MADE WITH OIL OF LEMON EUCALYPTUS: This DEET-free insect repellent provides you with protection during adventures in the backyard and on the go.
- REPELS MOSQUITOES FOR UP TO 6 HOURS: This repellent keeps you and your family protected for hours, so the fun doesn’t have to end.
- REFRESHING SCENT: This DEET-free personal repellent leaves you with a cool, refreshing scent so you don’t have to put up with the usual bug spray smell.
- REPELS: Create a barrier against mosquitoes, including those that may transmit the Zika, West Nile, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.
- NOT GREASY OR STICKY: Formulated with oil of lemon eucalyptus to provide protection without leaving your skin feeling sticky or greasy.
Conclusion: Skincare for Swimming
Skincare is important for swimming. Whether you are swimming a few days a week or twice a day (like me), it is vital to care for your skin, and your hair before they become problematic because it takes more time to heal than it is to protect.
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It’s also fun and social. Without healthy skin, it will make it that much harder to want to get into the pool. So start protecting your skin and you will find yourself healthier and happier in no time!
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