Playing golf without sunscreen is like playing a round without golf shoes. You can get away with it every now and then, but it's a lot smarter (and safer) if you're wearing some. Unfortunately, many products that block the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays include ingredients you'd rather not have your body absorb. So how do you protect your skin and avoid any side effects? The products listed here are the safest on the market, won't make your hands too oily to hold onto a golf club, and won't burn your eyes over a must-make putt.
Though we recommend these sunscreens, we have to warn you: You'll look a little pale when you put them on. But maybe that's not such a bad thing. You can pretend you're under the weather and pick up an extra stroke or two from your opponent.
To expound on what makes these products better than others, it's important to understand that sunscreens fall into two main categories. There are those that contain mineral-based active ingredients that physically block the sun's rays, and there are those that contain chemical ingredients that absorb the sun's rays. The safest sunscreens are mineral-based, physical blockers. The ingredients to look for are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. If you instead see active ingredients such as oxybenzone, avobenzone or homosalate, it's a chemical-based sunscreen that has been linked to harmful side effects such as reproductive issues, allergic reactions and organ-system toxicity. Another ingredient to look for—and avoid—is retinal palmitate, a form of vitamin A that might speed the development of skin tumors.
In terms of the efficacy of a sunscreen, there's no reason to buy anything with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) higher than 50. The blocking ingredients will work for only a few hours, max, before you need to reapply, so SPF higher than 50 is overkill. The best thing for golfers about sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is that they don't make your hands overly slippery. That's important when you're holding onto a club. Also, the pasty-white lotions and sticks allow you to see where you need more coverage. A spray sunscreen leaves you guessing where you're protected.
Caribbean Solutions SolGuard SPF 25, $14, for six ounces
Kabana Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen SPF 35, $20 for four ounces
Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, $24 for six ounces
Raw Elements ECO Stick 30+, $16 for .6 ounces
Z Blok Clear Zinc, SPF 45+, $10 for .5 ounces