We take a look at some of the best waterproof sunscreen and sun protection kit for sailors on the market for...

Constant exposure to the sun can be both the highlight and the pitfall of life on board for sailors. As much as fine weather makes for a better sailing experience, the combination of intense UVA and UVB radiation and the reflective properties of water can lead to accelerated skin damage and an increased risk of cancers.

And while there are plenty of great sunscreens on the market, not all of them can withstand the splashes and sprays of saltwater that sailors encounter. A water-repellent or water-resistant sunscreen that protects sailors’ skin even when exposed to wet conditions is therefore an essential item to keep on board.

When looking for the best waterproof sunscreens, it is also important to consider what ingredients they are made of. Many sailors are conscious that we need to protect our oceans by choosing products that contain less harsh chemicals, such as certified reef-safe sunscreens.

Mainstream companies like La Roche-Posay or SunBum make great sunscreen, but their products haven’t made this list because they contain chemicals like Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octocrylene and Homosalate, which the US National Ocean Service has defined as the most damaging chemicals for marine life.

We’ve personally tested and selected the best water-resistant sunscreens below that balance an effective product with ingredients that are less damaging to our oceans. Read on to discover the best waterproof sunscreen and sunblock to bring on board this summer…

9 of the best waterproof sunscreens


Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport SPF 50

Size: 236ml

Reasons to buy 

– Lightweight consistency with no white cast – works just like a moisturiser
– Vegan, cruelty-free and reef-friendly ingredients
– Water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes
– Comes in 30% recycled packaging
– Most cost-effective

Reasons to avoid

– Not mineral-based
– Sun protection resistance is reduced in water

Hawaiian Tropic is one of the few sunscreens that actually feels like a moisturiser while providing SPF 50 protection. It has a lightweight, barely noticeable feel and rubs in just like body cream. For those who like scented products, it has the added bonus of a tropical scent. It also works out as one of the cheapest sunscreens per millilitre.

Unfortunately, the water resistance can be reduced if you’re fully submerged but it should do a fine job of protecting wearers while on board if you reapply dutifully. The ingredient list is pretty reef-friendly considering it’s not a mineral sunscreen and the packaging is made from recycled materials.

Buy now on Amazon

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Riemann P20 Original SPF 50+

Size: 200ml

Reasons to buy

– Spray bottle for easier application
– Up to 10 hours of protection, which is still 90% effective after swimming
– 80 minutes of protection in the water
– Recyclable packaging
– PABA and preservative free

Reasons to avoid

– Feels sticky
– Does not have a great smell
– Not mineral based

Produced in Scandinavia, P20 was invented in 1979 by Claus Riemann to help protect his friend’s skin during a stay in Africa.

It offers impressive day-long protection and is still highly effective at keeping your skin safe after contact with water. Olympic sailor Michael Hestbæk is one of a number of professional athletes that swear by the product.

It might not have the best smell and can still feel a bit greasy on the skin, but the long wear SPF 50 protection is worth it if you don’t want to worry about reapplying. Although it is not a mineral sunscreen the ingredient list looks reef-safe and the packaging is also recyclable.

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Banana Boat Sport Ultra SPF 50

Size: 177ml

Reasons to buy

– High SPF coverage
– Non-greasy feel and lightweight consistency
– Water resistant for 80 minutes
– Bottle sprays at any angle

Reasons to avoid 

– Not certified as reef safe
– Can burn eyes

Banana Boat is a well-trusted brand which offers some of the highest SPF protection across its range of products (up to SPF 100).

The compromise is that while it feels good to wear and keeps you safe from the sun, the ingredients aren’t classified as reef-safe and some users have commented that the product can burn if it gets into your eyes.

The SPF 50 should be high enough coverage for sailors and the spray bottle that can work from any angle eases the application process and has a slightly more lightweight feel than the cream lotion.

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Daylong Extreme Liposomal Sun Milk SPF50+

Size: 100ml

Reasons to buy

– Water-resistant for three hours
– 10-hour sun protection
– Free from the most dangerous chemicals for reefs
– Fragrance-free
– No white cast

Reasons to avoid 

– Thick and greasy feel
– Can cause clogged pores
– Non-mineral based

Daylong sunscreen has the high quality you would expect from a Swiss pharmaceutical brand. It’s also a good scentless choice if you don’t enjoy wearing highly-perfumed products.

Sailors could easily wear this SPF 50+ cream for the whole day without risking a sunburn, plus the product boasts the highest level of water resistance on the market at three hours. The impressive level of protection does result in quite a thick and sticky feeling product, however, which may cause a break-out for those with more sensitive skin.

It isn’t a mineral sunscreen so may not be entirely reef-safe, but it is free from the worst-offending chemicals.

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Blue Lizard SPF 50 Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen

Size: 89ml

Reasons to buy

Free from the most dangerous chemicals for reefs
– Water and sweat resistant for 80 minutes
– A little goes a long way
– Fragrance-free

Reasons to avoid

– Slight white cast
– Cannot be certified as fully reef safe

Developed in Australia, Blue Lizard sunscreen claims to have been trusted by dermatologists for more than 20 years. The company is named after a colour-changing chameleon and is unique for featuring bottle tops and caps that – like the lizard – change colour when exposed to harmful UV rays in order to signify to users when to apply the product.

While it cannot be fully certified as reef-safe, the ingredients list for Blue Lizard’s SPF 50 is paraben-free and excludes the most damaging chemicals.

Users have commented that the product can leave a slight white cast on the skin but many praise the fact that a small quantity can go a long way.

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Kokua Sun Care SPF 50 Reef-safe Sunscreen

Size: 89ml

Reasons to buy

– Water resistant for 80 minutes
– Mineral-based and made with fully reef-safe ingredients
– Vegan
– Comes in eco-friendly packaging

Reasons to avoid

Thick, waxy consistency
– More expensive

Kōkua Sun Care products have been designed in Hawaii for sailors, by sailors. The SPF 50 sunscreen provides 80 minutes of water resistance and is completely reef safe, containing natural ingredients like macadamia nut oil and plumeria extract that nourish your skin and won’t sting your eyes.

The recyclable packaging is eco-friendly too but you’ll pay more for your cleaner conscience as this small bottle works out as pricier than many other products.

As with most mineral sunscreens, it can be thicker to apply and harder to remove. A tip is to warm the bottle up in your hands for an easier application and use the scrubbing cloth in the package to remove all traces at the end of the day.

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Coola SPF 30 Mineral Sun Silk Crème

Size: 44ml

Reasons to buy

– Fully reef-safe
– Weightless feel – barely even noticeable on the skin
– Water-resistant for 80 minutes
– Contains all-natural ingredients that nourish the skin

Reasons to avoid

– Mineral spray only offers SPF 30 protection
– Mineral sunscreen has a thicker consistency than Coola’s regular sunscreen
– Leaves a slight white cast
– Most expensive per millilitre

Coola makes one of the best-feeling sunscreens. When applied from the spray can, the product is released as a fine mist and is barely noticeable, making it a perfect option for those who hate the thick and sticky feel of other sunscreens.

The original has the best consistency but the brand has now developed a fully reef-safe mineral-based version for eco-conscious sailors to enjoy.

The only downsides are that protection is considerably lower (only up to SPF 30), the mineral product is less easy to find in the spray can form and the product does leave a slight white cast on darker skin tones. It’s also one of the most expensive sunscreens per millilitre.

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LifeJacket SPF 50 Sunscreen

Size: 100ml

British brand LifeJacket Skin Protection stresses that men often aren’t as good at protecting and checking their skin as women and are twice as likely to die of skin cancer.

Its mission is to prevent skin cancer in men. It offers a range of moisturisers and waterproof sunscreens available individually or in different packs with high (30) or very high (50) levels of SPF that are non greasy, water resistant and reef safe.

It also makes a range of UPF 50+ clothing including tee-shirts and long sleeve shirts and a wide brim sun hat with elasticated cord.

Buy it now from Amazon

Ocean Potion Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen

Size: 200ml

The Ocean Potion Sport 50 Sunscreen Lotion is a non-greasy waterproof sunscreen that also offers ‘reef-safe’ protection from the sun, meaning it doesn’t include many of the chemicals found in other suncreams.

This should be particularly important to anyone who cares about the natural world around us, but there is also a practical point too. Hawaii has, in recent years become the first US state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The ban came into effect in early 2021, and it seems likely other states and nations will follow suit.

Aside from the eco-credentials, this sunscreen resists water well and its 50 SPF protection is very high – and is really what you should be looking for if you’re going to be in strong sunlight for any period of time.

Ocean Potion Sport 50 is also enriched With sea plants and antioxidant vitamins B, C & E to protect and nourish skin.

Buy it now from Amazon

Best sun protection gear for sailors


Red Original Quick Dry Microfibre Changing Robe

Dryrobes are the latest thing in beach chic it seems and have fast become a fashion accessory. But they remain practical for those who want to get in and out of the sea frequently. During the long summer evenings in particular you may want to stay in the water as long as possible and a cosy dryrobe could help you dry, change and warm up quickly. This has a breathable, waterproof outer shell, adjustable long sleeves and a valuables chest pocket. £145.

If space and drying are an issue, the Quick Dry Changing Robe might be more suitable – made from absorbent and antibacterial microfibre towel material, it packs into a stash bag and is a third of the price of the dryrobe above.

Buy it now from redoriginal.com

Gill Pursuit Cap

The Pursuit Cap from Gill is one of the few sailing hats that comes with a retaining lanyard. A clip on the end attaches to your collar, so you’re less likely to find yourself fishing one of these out of the oggin.

Available in bright blue, dark blue, graphite or silver, it features a UV treatment of 50+ and a generously-sized peak to help keep the sun out of your eyes. The underside of the peak is also designed to absorb light reflected from the water.

Breathable fabric (polyester for easy cleaning) and a wicking headband should help you keep a cool head in the heat of battle on the race course.

Buy it now on Amazon

Florence Marine X UPF

John John Florence, the world’s top surfer and a pretty handy sailor, has developed a new line of apparel badged Florence Marine X. At its heart are products designed for longevity and sourced and made sustainably using almost exclusively recycled materials.

Shunning the fast fashion route, its model is “one built on adherence to quality, performance and a responsibility to look after the places we explore,” says Florence.

These UPF shirts caught our eye in particular. An increasing number of sailors in the tropics and shorthanded sailors wear hooded garments and full skin coverings. These are made with 100% recycled polyester yet offer UPF 50+ protection and contain breathable and anti-bacterial panels.

The built-in hood and gaiter should prove a blessing for those who feel the rays scorching the back of their necks during long days afloat.
Also available as tee-shirts or long-sleeve Ts without the hood, or hooded rash vests.

Buy it now from florencemarinex.com

Musto Evo Sunblock LS Tee 2.0

“Sail for longer in the Evolution Sunblock Long Sleeve T-shirt. The UPF 40 shields you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. The cotton blend t-shirt combines comfort with durability to create a lightweight t-shirt you can wear on the mountain, on the water or at the marina.”

Buy it now from Musto

Rheos floating sunglasses

The crow’s feet wrinkles I can take. The long term damage to my eyes from glare and UV on the water I find increasingly concerning. So finding and wearing suitable polarising sunglasses which offer full UV protection is essential. Other than my trusty SunGods, the lenses of which can be replaced (and I have found need to be as the lens coating can delaminate in saltwater), the three types of shades I have worn most recently are from Bolle, Oakley and Rheos.

Rheos offers durable, affordable shades for men, women, and children that are made with super light frames to ensure they float. Their hydrophobic lenses are 100% UV protective. The company was founded by a husband-and-wife team from Charleston, S.C, and all models use signature Nylon Optics, to offer enhanced clarity and impact resistance.

I have been trying its Palmetto model in Gunmetal/Marine ($55) and have found the lenses to be wonderfully clear afloat, blocking out harsh reflections and helping to identify what’s below the surface. However, I have found the arms stretch out a little, so they don’t stay put so easily on the top of the head.

Rheos has partnered with clothing brand Southern Tide, to launch a new line of sunglasses for the summer including this Edisto range ($78).

Buy it now from Amazon

Oakley Clifden sailing sunglasses

If you prefer flatter lenses to the curved wraparound style, but still want protection from the sides, Oakley’s Clifden might be what you’re looking for.

Oakley says that the polarised lenses are set apart by the fact that they’re made using an infusion moulding process that forms a single layer, as opposed to several layers bonded together with adhesives.

Side shields provide protection around the outside edges of the lenses and a ‘bridge blocker’ fills the gap in the middle over the nose. Lenses are available in a range of tints, the ‘Deep Water Polarised’ being suggested for sailing.

Buy it now from Amazon

MeacoFan 260

I enjoy the heat of summer, but need it cool at night or in my office to work. This neat unit arrived on the cusp of a heatwave last year and proved invaluable on land and afloat. My shed office only has one set of doors, no opening windows, so ventilation is an issue. Equally, our boat only has a small overhead hatch above the main berth.

This MeacoFan is compact and lightweight at just 490g, so ideal for taking between the two. It is also blissfully quiet – without the loathsome rattle of many cabin fans – which means you can leave it running through the night or while working or without it driving you to distraction.

The base incorporates non-slip grip and a low light nightlight. The Meaco is charged via a standard USB Micro C port and has four fan speeds, with the lowest speed providing up to 14 hours use on one charge. I used it for weeks on end at night and praised the gentle breeze it wafted over my face as it regularly sent me to sleep.

Buy it now from Amazon

Yellow leaf hammock

A hammock is surely the definition of relaxation. And as yachts have plenty of standing rigging to hang one off, keeping an easily stowable quality hammock aboard can make for an instant stress reliever.

Each Yellow Leaf hammock is handwoven by the craftswomen of the Mlabri Tribe – “the people of the yellow leaves” – in the hills of Northern Thailand. So you can relax knowing you are helping to harness their skills and artistry and create job opportunities in an area of poverty. Made from weathersafe materials.

Buy it now from Amazon

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