The unsexy side of surfing (and how to eliminate it)

The surfing scene is stuffed with wholesome hunks and bronzed babes. You know the ones: golden, tousled locks and long, lean limbs.

Yet the reality of surfing is far from this picture-perfect image. Let us introduce to you the oft-concealed and totally unsassy side to surfing — and help you deal.

Matted hair

Behold the mass of crusty, matted locks. Photo: Clementine Gray
Only beachwear models actually have thick, luscious hair. The average surfer has nascent dreads gathering underneath a mass of crusty locks dried out by the sun and salt.

The only “thick” thing about a surfer’s hairdo is the spate of matted lumps. These often have to be cut out, since combs tend to break under such an arduous task.

Try to rinse your hair after a salty splash and lather your locks in coconut oil to help minimize the impact of repeated exposure to salt and sun. Brushing your hair (if it’s not too late!) is a neat way to reduce dreads, and it’ll make your mom proud.

Surf wax rashes

Chafing skin: painful and unsightly. Photo: Courtesy of David Chatburn
Nothing signals unsexy more than the word “chafing.” The friction between surf wax and body parts, with a dollop of abrasive seawater thrown in, creates the perfect recipe for a red, raw rash that’s not only sore, but looks plain horrible.

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Vaseline has been the prototypical solution for swimmers and surfers alike, but it’s not particularly eco-friendly. Instead, opt to rub sunblock on your thighs/armpits to reduce rashes. Get extra points if you use an eco-friendly brand to minimize damage to the marine environment.

Don’t forget to wash your hands after application or you could have a very slithery takeoff.

Nasal-cavity drainage

Post-surf relentless nose drip. No solution for this one except to laugh it off. Photo: Clementine Gray
After a surf, water trapped in the nasal cavity just loves to stream out at the most inappropriate moments. (Think downward dog in yoga class or getting racy in the bedroom.) It could be hours later, but look downward and a mighty torrent is unleashed.

Could there be anything less sultry than mopping up a nose drip?

Ain’t nothing you can do about this one. Embrace it.

Wetsuit stench

A dry bag is ideal to stuff that stinky suit into post-surf. Photo: Clementine Gray
C’mon, everyone pees in their wetsuit. The problem lies in you having a quick wee and then catching a last wave in. Worse if you are carpooling: Everyone can smell the (strongly scented) elephant in the room on the ride home.

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Buy a heavy duty dry bag to store your wetsuit in your car and lock away those odors.

Mildewy car smell

This pile of gently decaying beachwear hasn’t seen the light of day in months. Photo: Clementine Gray
Who diligently pulls their wet towel and damp suit out of the car after a session? Not the average surfer. Instead, these moist items lie forgotten under a seat or in the trunk, roasting and rotting in the hot sun beating into the car, creating an unmistakable whiff of decay.

Offer a ride and the unwitting victim will be hopping into a smelly cesspit topped off with an array of unwashed apparel littered about your surf wagon. Grim.

Easy-peasy. Put damp bits into your dry bag so you remember to hang them out.


Not even remotely sexy. Photo: Courtesy of Matt Oberski
Surfers epitomize tanned limbs and sun-bleached hair, but there’s always a balance. Too many rays and you’ll be just another victim of sunburn. From rouged eyelids to raw lips and peeling parts, sunburn is super unattractive.

RELATED: To really save your skin, go beyond sunscreen

Slather on your sunblock, wear an SPF lip balm or, best of all, cover up with a T-shirt and these tropical Akela surf leggings or Sensi Graves surf leggings. Of course, avoidance is a good tactic: Opt for early morning surfs to avoid the sun’s harshest rays.

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