Among surfers, it can feel like reef-safe sunscreen is akin to fine wine. Each person has a personal preference. One surfer’s go-to is another’s get-away-from-me. Fortunately, we’ve found a reef-safe sunscreen that’s quite a crowd pleaser.
At The Salt Sirens, we’ll share what we like and dislike about the Surfmud Lotion in this reef-safe sunscreen review.
This post is not sponsored. Product purchased by us.
The quick lowdown: Surfmud comes in multiple forms; a tinted face cream sold in a 45g tin and a 50g and 125g lotion. There is also a version made for babies (125g). All are rated SPF 30 and are 4 hours resistant.
Price: Lotion (125g) costs about $25 AUD; Covering cream (45g) costs about $23 AUD.
Our rating: 4.5/5 — Surfmud is one of the best reef-safe sunscreens we’ve tried. It rubs in clearer and easier compared to many other mineral based sunscreens on the market. The tinted face cream is a nice change from a stark-white zinc. However, it would be nice if there were a range of shades offered for surfers with darker skin tones. We recommend this product.
Will Surfmud stain my clothes? Yes, almost all zinc based sunscreen stains clothing unfortunately. Apply Surfmud after your wetsuit/rashguard is already on.
Where we tested Surfmud: We reviewed Surfmud in the tropics–surfing and scuba diving. We reapplied every three hours. No burns noticed.
Reef-Safe vs. Other Sunscreens: What You Need to Know
Reef-safe sunscreens are mineral based, using non-nano zinc oxide and titanium oxide to form a protective layer on top of your skin. ‘Chemical’ sunscreens use an ingredient like oxybenzone to protect against UVA/UVB rays. Chemical sunscreens typically soak into your skin. This is why all mineral-based sunscreens (reef-safe sunscreens) are harder to ‘rub in.’
For this reason, it’s not necessarily fair to review chemical sunscreens against mineral-based sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are more damaging to the reef and to your body, but are easier to apply and rarely leave a white film behind.
We are only reviewing Surfmud against other reef-safe sunscreens.
The packaging for Surfmud is convenient and distinct. The tin is convenient for carrying around and you can even pocket it during a surf session, as it’s nearly water tight. The lotion comes in your standard squeezable tube, but feels a bit more robust than the ‘big brands.’ It’s a sunscreen package with clear branding–take what you will.
The ingredients on the lotion aren’t listed clearly. There is a paragraph explaining what’s in the sunscreen and what these ingredients do, but is this the comprehensive list? Always weary of greenwashing, we’d prefer to have the list of ingredients given to us straight and dirty–ideally near the informative blurb of what these ingredients do.
The Surfmud lotion rubs in much easier and clearer than other reef-safe sunscreens like Garden Goddess or the mineral sunscreen offered by Australian Botanicals. This is a major plus!
On land, the white layer isn’t obvious for those with fairer skin tones. Underwater (while scuba diving), this layer is a little more obvious but won’t leave a thick, white residue on your gear as much as many other reef-safe suncreens might.
The covering cream is easy to apply and rubs in tan. Because it sits as a thick layer on your skin, it won’t run into or sting your eyes.
Covering cream (tin): Zinc oxide, coco caprylate/caprate (coconut), beeswax, lanolin, kaolin (clay/mud), iron oxide (coloring).
Lotion: Zinc oxide, jojoba oil, beeswax, benzyl alcohol. (Unsure if this is the complete list as the packaging isn’t super clear.)
You have to put a lot of trust into sunscreen when you pick it up for the first time–especially if you’re heading out for a long surf session in tropical heat and humidity. In this Surfmud review, most of us were a bit skeptical about whether this new (to us) sunscreen would offer adequate protection. Fortunately, we returned with supple–not sun-scorched–skin.
To get Surfmud off of your skin, use a mild facial cleanser. For the rest of your body, a post-surf sugar scrub will clean it off easily and keep your skin feeling fresh.
If you like Surfmud you might also like: Avasol, Stream2Sea.