When you are spending all day in the sun, engaged in the game of golf, it’s important to find effective solutions that work in a high-performance environment so that you can focus on connecting, being present, and enjoying the game of golf. Because every individual comes to the table with a unique health and genetic history, the answers to each of the questions that follow will vary based on your own needs and preferences—and although the sunshine, the fresh air, and being outside in nature are all very beneficial to our health, too much sun can be problematic.
As a holistic physician who has spent years working with golfers in my private practice, I’ll answer your burning questions and equip you with the knowledge to keep your skin safe and golf game golden.
How early before a round of golf should sunscreen be applied and reapplied, and why?
Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before the round to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication is also just as important, and most sunscreens need to be applied once every two hours, but make sure to check the label on the sunscreen you choose and monitor your skin to see how you feel. If your skin burns easily, it never hurts to take extra precaution and reapply it a bit early.
What should golfers be looking for in a sunscreen? And are there chemicals we should try to avoid?
Golfers should look for a sunscreen that aligns with health and performance, with water and sweat resistant qualities. I often recommend, because it is water and sweat resistant, provides ‘excellent’ UVA protection and a ‘good’ balance of UVA protection in relation to the SPF rated by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. I’ve also seen it work well for golfers clinically, which always builds my confidence in a product. This product, in particular, is zinc-based, has an SPF of 30, and uses other natural ingredients for full spectrum sun protection. It also includes bentonite clay, which is beneficial when sweating to absorb excess oil when the heat of the summer comes into play.
When I look for products to recommend, I often double check ingredients and safety ratings with the EWG as they review consumer products and provide recommendations accordingly. Conveniently, they also have an online Guide to Sunscreens with healthy sun and product tips based on their latest research.
As for ingredients to avoid, there are many especially in the most popular, conventional brands, such as aluminum and UV filters like oxybenzone, to name a few- both of which can potentially add to whole body toxicity, increase the risk of oxidative damage and cancer, causing far more harm than good.
Is a foundation with SPF enough to protect a golfer’s skin during a round of golf?
It depends what kind of foundation; however, I would definitely consider the ingredients, along with the performance by checking in on your skin and how it is holding up throughout the round. Under the shade of a hat and sunglasses, you may be good to go, but it never hurts to apply a layer of non-toxic sunscreen before your foundation for additional precaution.
What’s the very best way to treat a sunburn?
The Fundamentals- a healthy, antioxidant-rich, whole foods diet, shade, lots of water, deep sleep, aloe, a healing moisturizer, like shea butter, and time!
Clothing is a great way to protect your skin from the sun as it provides the best protection from UV rays, by naturally shading your skin.
Some golf apparel companies make clothing with built-in SPF. What brands carry these types of clothing and what should golfers be on the lookout for?
Although clothing is a great way to protect your skin, not all clothing is created equal. The color, material, coverage, and tightness of the weave all affect the amount of protection provided. As an aside, UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor, indicating how much UV radiation penetrates the fabric and is absorbed by the skin. Whereas SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, the rating most of us are familiar found in sunscreen, as it measures the amount of time it takes for sun-exposed skin to redden.
As a rule of thumb, lightweight and light-colored fabrics offer less protection than a tightly weaved, dark, and heavy alternative. Now, though, major athletic brands sell women’s clothing with a UPF of 50+, which is an ideal number to shoot for. A UPF rating of 50+ means that only one-fiftieth of the sun’s UV rays are able to pass through, significantly reducing your skin’s exposure to UV radiation.
Are sun sleeves a worthy investment?
Sun sleeves are a great, lightweight protective option. However, as a golfer, in a high performance or relaxed environment, it’s all about touch, connecting to the grip of the club and feeling good and confident in your own skin so you are able to enjoy the game and get into the zone. Now, most sun sleeves have a glove-like component, which could be a potential distraction from the game itself. So, I would chalk sun sleeves up as a personal preference.
Though, a great hat, lightweight-long sleeve shirt with UV protection, and sunscreen should do just as well.
What type of headwear works best for protecting golfers’ ears and necks?
From visors to classic baseball caps, from bucket and perforated options, there are many choices on the market that can provide a great amount of shade. There are even hats often coined sun or adventure hats with neck drapes, which I’ve rarely seen on the golf course but hey, they are out there and with confidence, you can rock anything!
Any hat is better than no hat.
What should golfers look for in their on-course eye-wear?
For golfers, clear vision is one, if not, the most important part of the game. Great sunglasses can protect your eyes from UV radiation. The key, though, is to get a set of lenses that work for you in terms of coverage, contrast, and fit. There are many different options out there that will protect your eyes from the sun, but as a golfer, you will want to find the correct color lenses that best suit how you’d like to see the course.
Many golfers prefer to play without glasses, or will just choose to use them in between shots, removing them when it’s time to address the ball or read a green. Others love the contrast of brown or gray lenses and often, feel better with sunglasses, especially when challenged with light-sensitive eyes.
Common complaints include lens fog and distortion, so just make sure to keep these variables in mind as you consider what will work best for you!
Do transition glasses offer enough protection for golfers on the course?
Yes! Transitions lenses can protect your eyes by blocking both UVA and UVB rays.
Additional precautions: If you are playing on a regular basis, you may want to strategically play around the sun by heading to the course early in the morning or in the late afternoon as UV radiation peaks between 10 am and 2 pm.
Finally, keep it simple, use your intuition and focus on what works for you. You know your body better than anyone. I’ve seen neutral products work wonders and the purest of the pure cause problems, so test, apply, and continue to rework and adjust along the way!
Being able to spend time outdoors is one of our favorite parts of the game, but sometimes hours under the UV rays takes its toll. Thankfully, our friends over at Leaders Cosmetics have us covered. If you’ve had too much fun in the sun, check out their line of facemasks that can help soothe your skin.