A brief history of Zinc in Surfing

A brief history of Zinc in Surfing

Title: The History of Zinc and Surfing

Surfing's roots run deep, and alongside its evolution, a timeless ally emerged: zinc. Unlike traditional sunscreens, which absorb UV rays, zinc's unique prowess lies in its ability to act as a physical barrier against the sun. This distinction has made zinc a cherished choice among surfers, allowing them to bask in the sun for extended periods while staying protected from its blazing intensity. Often dubbed the original sunscreen, zinc's legacy has woven itself into the very fabric of surf culture.

The History of Zinc
Long before the advent of modern sunscreens, surfers turned to zinc for sun protection. Zinc oxide, with its distinctive chalky appearance, became the go-to solution against sunburn and the lurking threat of skin cancer. Unlike sunscreens that absorb UV rays, zinc sits atop the skin's surface, creating a tangible barrier that reflects and scatters the sun's energy. This ingenious feature transformed the surfing experience, allowing riders to stay out longer, chase waves, and truly immerse themselves in the ocean's embrace.

The history of zinc in surfing is as intriguing as it is impactful. Chalk-coloured zinc oxide products, often containing the shiny bluish-white zinc metal, were ingeniously mixed into wax- or petroleum-based ointments or creams. This concoction served as the earliest form of sun protection for surfers and beachgoers alike. In Europe, this blend first came to prominence in the early 20th century, where it found its place as a balm for irritated skin.

As surfing culture expanded, so did zinc's role. From its European origins, zinc-based sun protection found its way to coastal shores around the world. Surfers, who shared a deep affinity with the ocean, recognized the importance of preserving their skin while revelling in their passion. Zinc was no longer just a practical necessity; it became a symbol of surf culture's resilience and connection to the natural world.

Preserve the Legacy, Embrace the Future
However, as the world became increasingly conscious of environmental concerns, the sustainability of zinc-based products came under scrutiny. Many traditional zinc sunscreens were composed of artificial ingredients and packaged in plastic tubes, creating a paradox where protection for one's skin came at the cost of harm to the environment.

Surf Balm's Zinc rekindles the historic bond between zinc and surfing while addressing the sustainability challenges of today. Handmade in Cornwall, this zinc pays homage to the tradition of sun protection while embracing eco-friendly values. Crafted from 100% natural ingredients, including the quintessential zinc oxide, Surf Balm's Zinc marries protection with preservation, offering surfers and beach enthusiasts a sun shield that aligns with their love for the oceans.

In the journey through the history of zinc in surfing, we discover more than just a practical sun protection method. We uncover a narrative of evolution, connection, and sustainability. As you venture out to catch the waves, consider the legacy you carry with you—a legacy of zinc, of protection, and of harmony with the environment. With Surf Balm's Zinc, you honour the past while securing the future, ensuring that the sun's brilliance is enjoyed with reverence for both the ocean and the skin it kisses.

Back to blog